Monday, August 29, 2005

Spotlight

One of the things Apple does that really pulls my plonker is the way it uses its customers as beta testers. Its first iterations of any product generally reveal some pretty amazing oversights in the way they’re put together, which only gradually get ironed out over many revisions.

OSX is a perfect example of this, although Pages and Keynote have also had their flaws. 10.0 was unusable. 10.1 at least resembled an operating system. 10.2 was a small improvement. 10.3 introduced the sidebar and brushed metal in the finder but, for all that, was really starting to get somewhere. 10.4 again, much better, but introduced new features that seemed to have been developed by the hair on a monkey’s arse.

My pet hate in Tiger is Spotlight. Now, I can see what Apple are trying to do here, and I applaud it even though at first glance it’s not much good to someone who, like me, has an iPhoto library full of IMG_xxx. Nevertheless, it has found ways to prove itself useful - in my case, I have about a thousand screen and teleplays that I’ve downloaded over the years, and Spotlight is just terrific if I want to find every Buffy script written by Jane Espenson featuring Spike. Just accept I may have legitimate reasons to do so.

However, Spotlight’s implementation, especially within the Finder, is utter shite.

I’ve read dozens of reviews of Tiger since it came out, and none, not even John Siracusa’s dissertation, have mentioned my pet peeve.

Look at this:



What’s wrong with this picture? Aside from the fact that it’s a Finder window masquerading as something else? See under the toolbar? That strip of locations to search? Servers, Computer, Home and what the now? The options don’t fit in the window, and that’s fine. But where’s the damn horizontal scroll-bar? Idiotically, the only way to see the rest of the options on that bar is to actually resize the window. Never mind that this is inconsistent with the rest of the system - the tool and sidebars manage to resize with the window, at this stage of our computer use it’s counter-intuitive and totally opaque.

The full window should look like this:



But say you open it for the first time and see this:



How the hell are you going to know that there are further options beyond “Others?” That you’re not restricted to searching only by Kind or Last Opened? You’re not, and I’m at a loss to understand why the size of the search window has to be the same as the size of the item window it switched from. Or why, in fact, it’s not a completely different window that opens at the right size.

It’s lame, half-assed and unfortunately indicative of Apple’s priorities as a whole that this can go unchanged for two dot releases. It’s cool that they want to get the bedrock of the OS stable and solid, but you can’t do that while ignoring the day to day obstructions that users face to a smooth workflow.

These kinds of things need to be caught and repaired, and since there’s little chance of seeing Path Finder 4 any day soon, can I please re-iterate:

Apple, fix the fucking Finder!

Category: Computing and Web

4 comments:

  1. dude....the majority of your posts are more about your mac problems than they are screenwriting. if you've having that much trouble with your powerbook, why not try asking apple directly for assistance, or even just switching to a pc?

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  2. You're right, there have been problems lately, but they are the first ones I've had in six years, so no way am I switching.

    Anyway, the troublesome disk is to be returned, and writing will be back on track soon.

    What would you like me to blog about?

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  3. Heh... It's "Ed Wood Plan 9 bad" You'll probably like that post and the rest of his blog...

    (I see this was written first, but it is funny how I read both of your sites and the both of you noticing the same thing...)

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  4. Thanks for the recommendation. I hadn't seen DrunkenBlog before, bit I'll be checking it out from now on.

    The weird thing is that even though this moronic search behaviour is evident in both the Finder and iTunes, in Mail it actually works properly!

    Do these dev teams not even talk to one another?

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