Monday, April 14, 2014

Memories of Steve

Don Melton:

We were reviewing the bookmarks user interface in the yet-to-be-released Safari. At that time, all bookmarks were contained in a single, separate modeless window. It was homely but easy to implement.

And Steve didn’t like it. Probably because he didn’t want the complication of switching between windows. We started looking at how other Mac browsers did it. He didn’t like those solutions either.

So he turned directly to me, leaned forward with that laser-like focus of his and asked, “What would you do?”

Considering that what we just demoed was what I had done — or, technically, what my engineers had done — I was screwed. Everything else in the world seemed to fade away in a blur around Steve’s face, and for a moment I couldn’t think. But I didn’t panic. Or soil myself.

After a beat I said, “I actually like what Internet Explorer for Windows does, with the bookmarks in the same window as the Web content. I just don’t like how it puts them in a sidebar. There’s got to be a better solution than a sidebar, but I don’t know what that is yet.”

I liked the original design better than the current one, where the bookmarks are in the sidebar unless you’re editing them.

Steve didn’t like the status bar and didn’t see the need for it. “Who looks at URLs when you hover your mouse over a link?” He thought it was just too geeky.

Fortunately, Scott and I convinced Steve to keep the status bar as an option, not visible by default. But that meant we had a new problem. Where should we put the progress bar to indicate how much of the page was left to load?

This is what I’d always assumed was the reason Safari put its progress bar in the address bar. I’ve never liked that, and I always run Safari with the status bar shown so I can see on mouseover where a link will take me.

2 Comments

I vaguely remember writing about this elsewhere, but my favorite bookmarks design was that in Apple’s prior web browser, Cyberdog. The bookmarks editor (like everything else) was an OpenDoc part, and bookmark lists were essentially treated as documents. It was great when I was researching something to be able to create a Cyberdog bookmark “document” and save it in a folder with the rest of my work.

These days of course I use EagleFiler for this, but like many other things, I wonder why we don't seem to really be making much progress here. In fact in Safari we're sliding backwards. The Safari 6/7 bookmarks sidebar is a complete disaster, and in Safari 5 when page thumbnails were eliminated we lost even more functionality.

The thing I remember about Cyberdog, aside from the very clean UI, is that it was fast—which was odd because most other OpenDoc stuff was sluggish.

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