Death to Toothpaste! maybe...

Allow me to be an Apple geek for a moment.

Yes, while iTunes has nothing to do with writing (despite delving to our ears, favourite inspirational sounds), I wanted to bring it up due to the latest update. Specifically, the appearance! What struck me as interesting is the wild departure from what cocoa typically is expected to look like. It is frankly kind of dark. The selection bar on the left, in its equivalent of a Binder, is nothing but “goth,” and the overall feel of the rest is of dark grey, rather than airy gradients and colourful accents.

To be honest, I was never a fan of Cocoa’s look, all of those blobs of toothpaste sitting on air conditioner grills, though it has been slowly evolving toward something that appeals to me much more, namely, it has been evolving toward what iTunes looks like right now, and for the most part, I really like what I see. For those that know their Apple history, it feels amusingly similar to NeXT.

While I do doubt that the entire Cocoa system will end up looking precisely like iTunes, come Leopard’s release, I would not be too shocked either. I notice it also features some aspects that could only be the recently announced CoreAnimation, and they have been known to “introduce” new looks in flagship applications, before the rest of the world gets their treatment. If they put a bit of Leopard into iTunes for those spiffy album shuffles, might they have stuffed a bit of the new polish in there, too?

I can only hope.

Well, here’s to show you really can’t please everyone. I spent about 15 minutes yesterday trying to change the new iTunes look! I don’t like it at all. Too ‘boxy’ feeling to me. Has a kind of ‘new app’ feeling to it. Felt amateurish. And gloomy. The older look was much cleaner and seemed much more polished and pleasing to my own eye. And since I spend most of my day staring at, and working in, specific programs on my computer screen, the aesthetics of a program have a huge impact on me.

So I don’t like the new look at all and will be quite disappointed if that’s what all Mac apps will someday look like. Please, Keith, don’t implement this look in Scrivener! :slight_smile:

Different strokes…:slight_smile:


Hmm… I’ve got very mixed feelings about this one. I quite like the new scrollbars, but I’m not so sure about the black glossy selection thing. The main thing that worries me is the lack of consistency across applications these days, and I really hope that this gets addressed in Leopard. You now have different scrollbars, four different types of toolbar (pinstripe, metal, unified and the new i-apps look that iTunes has), different types of split view (eg. 1 pixel, grey, window background coloured, gradient like in Mail), different shades of blue background in source lists, and different highlight colours in source lists. What does it all mean? The Apple Human Interface Guidelines document hasn’t been updated in years, and it seems that Apple are going through a period of interface experimentation. This makes it hell for developers. Do we stick to the guidelines, and therefore have our apps looking like something from 5 years ago? Or do we try to emulate Apple?

The worst thing in all this for developers is that Apple often do not make these new “looks” accessible to developers until a couple of years after the fact, which means developers often have to spend a lot of time just trying to emulate an Apple “look” that could have taken zero time had Apple included their new looks in their development kit. A good example of this is the selection colour you see in Finder or many source list apps - you know, the blue gradient that you see when you select an item. This isn’t available to developers - only the bog-standard plain blue is available to developers. So anyone who wants a gradient - which is pretty standard across all Apple apps - has to implement it themselves; which is actually harder than it seems, and involves overriding undocumented parts of the system. So, the new subtle selection colour that you see in Mail and now this new black, glossy look - neither are available to developers. Likewise, split views. The single-pixel or gradient split views you see in Mail are not available outside of Apple. If we independent developers want our apps to look consistent with Apple apps, then that is more work for us… And so on and so forth.

And so forth there is no public way of getting a program to have the look of any of the i-Apps. My guess is that the gradient toolbar (which Scrivener uses) will completely replace the pinstripe toolbar in Leopard, and the darker gradient toolbar (which iTunes and the i-Apps use) will replace the Metal look. But who knows?

Apple used to be really big on consistency, and their Human Interface Guidelines were pretty much considered sacred. These days, it’s anyone’s guess. So I just hope that they decide on a look and make it easy for developers to ensure their own apps can fit in and not look outdated.

I feel about the same. I could live without the high contrast, glossy selection bar on the left. It, in my opinion, draws way too much attention to itself. It is the darkest element in the entire window, and a large quantity of dark at that. As for the rest of the interface, especially the scroll bars, I like it. As for it feeling a bit gloomy? What can I say, I am a gloomy girl!

I do hope they settle down on a look one of these days, but I’d be surprised. I have a feeling Steve Jobs is not a big believer in the necessity of unification, for whatever reason. When he stepped back in as CEO, that is when things started changing. Quicktime suddenly became this thing that looked nothing like anything else on the system, and it just went on forking from there after OS X’s release. “Pro” apps looking one way, sometimes substantial Cocoa revisions every single major upgrade, and an increasing number of variations within Cocoa itself (unified/metal/plain). If anything it is getting worse. Now we have another fork with iTunes. At least, it is a fork right now. Perhaps in the future it will represent a convergence, but it is just as likely that nothing else will ever use it again.

Those scrollbars do look like the ones in the Pro apps, though, so it may be that it is an indication of the future. But who knows? Guess we’ll find out next Spring…