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Interface Extensions

Actually, I'm not really worried about featuritis -- you guys 
are all obviously quite good at setting reasonable limits. My 
"feature frenzy" comment was just a meta-observation from a strongly 
biased observer who desperately wants a working copy of InfoFactory 

I agree completely that elegant extensions to the standard Macintosh 
interface can be found and are worth exploring. That these are 
rare should not necessarily deter us, and I am not dogmatic about 
this, but my skepticism level rises dramatically when contemplating 
changes to the way in which fundamental file operations such 
as Save, Revert, and the like, are handled. 

Good extensions I've seen are consistent with the underlying 
themes inherent in the model being extended. E.g., triple-clicking 
in text selection as an obvious extension to double-clicking. 
The really best ideas concern themselves more with the underlying 
principles of good interface design, rather than a strict adherence 
to the rules themselves, or a blind loyalty to the implements 
of the interface themselves. In fact, bad extensions frequently 
seem as though they were extracted from some kind of Interface 
Construction Set: an icon here, a button there, but with no thought 
behind the usage. 

Thus, Silicon Beach Software's use of thumbwheels in Super3D 
represents a very nice alternative to scrollbars, and a fabulous 
example of how the use of real-world metaphors almost always 
works well. Placing a disk icon in the trash to eject a disk, 
on the other hand, is a really BAD, poorly thought-out "extension".

I got fairly excited about your idea of using inclusion lists 
themselves to represent an historical trace, but apparently the 
idea's been previously considered -- I hope we can pursue this. 
I strongly favor Roger's notion of some sort of graphical representation 
(perhaps this is a 1.1, or even 2.0 addition). I'm not sure a 
tree is the best way to represent the notion, but if it is, I 
really like the way Terri's handled user-traversible trees in 
her genealogical application.

Finally, although I was a badge-bearing deputy in Apple's Interface 
Police for years, I'm not necessarily married to their Human 
Interface Guidelines, particularly across product platforms. 
Since we have a wider constituency than just Macintosh users, 
it's important to consider the broader issues relevant to all 
of our users, including Sun and Windows users (although I have 
no idea what sort of standards exist in those communities). Greg's 
suggestions regarding vi conventions, for example, seem quite 
appropriate for vi users.

-- bobp

PS (Questions for: Roger->what kind of interface do we expect 
to be predominant among our Sun customers? and Ravi->are there 
published interface guidelines for Windows?)