24
January
2007

User interface metaphors are getting dusty 23:12 on Wednesday

…the people who look at subclasses and see abstract base classes, and who love to move functionality from the subclass into the base class for no good reason other than architectural aesthetics. This is usually a terrible user interface design technique.

Again from Joel, this is a good argument against object-oriented UI design; which I – btw – HATE.

But the rest of the argument seems to praise real-world metaphors, which I’m not that fond of. It’s way too easy to go wrong with metaphors: think about a desktop with 500.000 files and you get the picture. And what about the people who have no idea of the idea being emulated? Where’s the benefit of familiarity for them?

Metaphor cafe sign
Metaphor cafe sign, originally uploaded by MR38.

In the real world you can only have one thing at one place at one time. It’s a silly limitation to emulate, and only in the name of keeping the consistency of the metaphor. Yet it’s done all the time.

Real-world metaphors obstruct development of innovative software. Spotlight search was not created around a real world metaphor. Music software stalls because of reliance on metaphors emulating 60s audio equipment. The software that moves music production forward realizes the metaphor creates more limits than possibilities. The same goes for the most powerful video software.

Time to move on, please.

Comments are closed.