Amar Sagoo

17 November 2005

Have they never heard of scrollbars?

When Apple introduced the iTunes Music Store, one thing I hated about it straightaway were those views that have left and right buttons to page through a list of albums. At first I thought it was forgivable, given that the iTMS is more like a web site than a rich client interface. But after a short while I noticed that my eyes had become conditioned to move after clicking those arrows, trying to follow the animation. The problem is that they would never be in sync with the actual animation, especially since there's always a delay, which conjured up my old friend, motion sickness. I've now actually developed a habit of looking away right after clicking the arrows, and look back only after the animation is over.

When Tiger arrived, I was shocked to see the same awful paging view used in the Dashboard when you're adding widgets. The delay there is not nearly as bad as in the Music Store, but why on earth would you not use scrollbars for something like this?

It baffles me how Apple, out of all companies, keeps throwing decades worth of interface design wisdom out the window. They've done it with window title bar controls, with the Dock and with the Mail toolbar, to name just a few obvious examples. Jef Raskin once said that instead of interface architects, Apple has been infested with decorators. I think he had a point.

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