Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Apple working on a Finder redesign

I read this with a fair amount of trepidation, as well as anticipation:

Revised Desktop, Finder highlight Leopard additions

In particular, this kind of worries me:
OS X 10.5’s new Finder features a new sidebar reminiscent of the Source list in iTunes. The sidebar is organized by Devices, Shared, Places and Search headers; a clickable triangle next to each header lets you close the section if you’re not using it.
The problem with this is that the sidebar is one feature in the OS 10.3 and 10.4 Finders that has been basically perfect just the way it is. Something that's nearly perfect should probably not be redesigned to the extent that they are talking about. Another problem is that, if they are moving towards an iTunes-like look for it, that means smaller stuff to click on. This is one of my most persistant annoyances with modern operating systems, especially the Mac: getting the damn mouse all the way across the screen to click precisely on some dumb teensy little thing is a lot harder than it was when a Mac's screen was only 512 pixels across. I sincerely hope there will be an option to continue to use the sidebar the way it currently is, rather than Apple's typical style of deleting the old functionality entirely to make way for new stuff that hasn't really been thought through all that well (Spotlight, anyone?).

Then there's this:
More significantly, the redesigned Desktop in Leopard introduces Stacks—a collection of folders that reside in the desktop. Apple sees Stacks as a way to clean up Desktop clutter. Files are collected in the Stacks for rapid access; click on the Stacks icon and the Dock and the files and folders fan out or appear in a grid. Clicking on one of those icons instantly launches the relevant app. You create Stacks by dragging any item or group of items to the Dock.

As part of Stacks, the redesigned Desktop will also feature a dedicated Downloads folder. Files downloaded via Web browsers and e-mail clients will automatically get routed to that destination—the Downloads icon in the Dock bounces when a new item arrives—with the most recent download appearing on top.

“This is a really simple way to keep your desktop clean,” said Brian Croll, Apple’s senior director of OS X product marketing. “[What] we were trying to do [was] make sure you really kept a very elegant, clean desktop. Because I think when you look at most pep’s desktops, there are files littered all over. So we’re giving a way to make it easy to keep your desktop clean.”
Excuse me, but what the hell business is it of Apple's if I keep my desktop clean or not? I find it incredibly useful to have icons cluttered around in certain places in my desktop, places that tend to not be occupied by windows of other applications. I also really, really like the ability to drag any image onto the desktop to automatically save a copy of it there. In my opinion, this is one of the greatest features of the Mac. I sincerley hope they don't mess it up.

On the other hand, it's been said for a long time now, by an awful lot of people, that the Finder was in serious need of attention. I just hope it's the right kind of attention.


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