June 20, 2009

“Ask Tog”

A couple of weekends ago, in the course of reviewing/culling hundreds of JDI feature suggestions, I was getting a little crispy. Amidst lots of good suggestions and the occasional chunks of profanity & ignorance, I saw the following:
“Ask Tog.”
Tog, in case you’re unaware, is Bruce Tognazzini, the pioneering interface designer who’s worked at Apple, Sun, and other companies. He largely defined what it means for a UI to be “Mac-like.”
Without more info, I can only guess at the commenter’s tone & intention. For all I know it was breezy & trying to be helpful. In the context of some other remarks from Mac users*, however, I read it as lazy shorthand for “You suck. Be more like Apple” (without any useful, actionable details, of course).
As it happened, I’d been reading AskTog.com earlier in the day and saw the following:

20 years ago, there was a simple application on the Mac for doing basic edits on photos. It was called Photoshop. Today, Photoshop is a powerhouse of sophistication, capable of working miracles in the hands of a professional. Adobe has been in lock-step with their users, increasing Photoshop’s sophistication even as their users increased in theirs… A new user can become productive in Photoshop in 10 minutes, even if it takes another 10 years to learn everything.

Now, I’m sure Bruce could point out plenty of shortcomings in the Photoshop UI–as I often do–but it was still nice to read his observations. I don’t take them as some kind of absolution, and of course we’ll keep grinding away at usability issues (more details on that soon), but hearing some recent props from the original Mac interface guy felt good.
* Personal fave: “Make the mac version look like a mother f______ macintosh program. Jesus f___.” Classy, constructive, and specific, just like I like ‘em.

Posted by John Nack at 12:55 PM on June 20, 2009
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