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November 26, 2002

Scorched finder

Posted by Mike on November 26, 2002 2:00 PM

As a newbie to Mac shores, drawn here entirely on the strength of OS X, it's sometimes hard to remember that there are "real" Mac people out there in the world... "gold star Mac people" who were bemoaning Centrises while I was still playing around with DRDOS, which hadn't broken yet.

So when I arrive by buying an iBook and eventually deciding I'm staying, all I'm doing is crashing a party that's been going on for a long, long time among people with a level of devotion and loyalty that's only occasionally touched elsewhere.

Daring Fireball's manifesto on "That Finder Thing" is a decent peek into the minds of "Apple people" who are still discomfited with the changes from MacOS 9 to OS X. Not for people who think impassioned pleas for interface sanity are unreadable regardless of the quality of the prose.

Choice quote:

The hallmark of the classic Finder is spatial orientation. That’s a buzzword, to be sure, and even long-time Mac users have little idea what it really means, mainly because you don’t have to know what it means to use the Finder.

In the classic Finder, there is no abstraction between the actual file system and the view of the file system presented on screen. A folder is either open or closed. If it is open, it is represented on screen in its own window. The size, position, and viewing options for an open folder’s window are always remembered, and are unrelated to the size, position, and viewing options of parent, sibling, or child folders.

There is a clear, cohesive paradigm at work. An open folder is a window; a window is an open folder.

There are rules; laws of physics for the Finder universe. One such rule is that Finder items can only appear in one place at a time. For example, let’s say you have a Finder window in list view, and you use a disclosure triangle to display the contents of a folder within that same list. If you then double-click that folder to open it into its own window, the disclosure widget in the list view window will close automatically, preventing the folder’s contents from being displayed in both windows at once. The reverse is true as well — if you go back to the list view window, and click the disclosure triangle for the open folder, the folder window will close automatically before the folder’s contents are displayed in the other window.

From my enthusiastic newbie perspective, OS X's just great. There are nags, but I've bought my way out of them with a few $7 (or free) haxies. It'd be easy to just poke sticks through the bars at the Mac people who aren't so happy and periodically laugh at them when they admit to using Classic, but we (new OS X emigres) are neighbors to them now, and their dismay is probably going to inform future change.

Worth a read, on a site generally worth following without me reminding you.