Applications in next Ubuntu

Eric Dunbar eric.dunbar at
Fri Jan 21 16:29:38 CST 2005

On Fri, 21 Jan 2005 21:48:06 +0000, David Marsh wrote:

> [Ah, it's amazing how the festive season gets in the way of ongoing
> discussions..]

Now I understand. I was wondering why this thread re-surfaced.

> Eric Dunbar wrote in gmane.linux.ubuntu.sounder
>  about: Re: Applications in next Ubuntu
> >> Will Backman wrote in gmane.linux.ubuntu.user
> >>
> >> > While I also dislike the one button mouse, it was a well-researched
> >> > design decision by Apple.  Most users are confused by multiple mouse
> >> > buttons.
> >>
> >> For beginners, this is probably true. But as you learn more you soon
> >> start to feel hampered by the restrictions that entails - having to hold
> >> down extra keys (bleh, bleh!) or flick up to the menubar when you want
> >> to use additional features.
> >
> > It isn't probably true, it is true based on Apple's (extensive)
> > research! As has been observed by many users on these forums
> > (including some Windows-origin users) "normal" (the bulk of) users do
> > not use the right-click and either find it intimidating or irritating.
> By definition, the majority of users at any given time are either
> beginners or novices, so this _is_ expected behaviour.

But, the thing is that even experienced users _don't_ use the second
mouse button. I am around people who've been _using_ Windows computers
at work for a decade, or often even more. These users have never
installed an app in their life, or had to trouble-shoot a connectivity
problem (b/c that's what the help desk or local IT guy was for) and
yet they still do not use the right mouse button. For them, a single
button mouse would be a more usable option since they would have a
greater click area.

> And while ensuring that an OS provides as much assistance to novices as
> possible is a Good Thing, it shouldn't at the same time detract from the
> capability to have 'power user' features.

One button mice certainly don't limit a "power user's" features. Mac
OS X has full right- and middle-click support as much as Windows does,
but, unlike too many Windows apps, ALL commands have to be accesible
in a sensible manner since the bulk of Mac users don't have
multi-button mice.

> > Right-click, and especially middle-click require a level of dexterity
> > that older users often don't have and have never had to develop.
> Right-clicking difficulties would strike me as a little unusual, to be
> honest (I usually have two fingers almost hovering over button 3 and
> could nudge my pinkie over with little difficulty, giving a choice of
> any or all of 3 fingers) but I can't see it as being a problem for a
> large section of computer users. Besides, if a system is sensibly
> designed, there should be nothing in a context menu that isn't
> accessible elsewhere for those that need it.
> Middle-click, I'll certainly grant you, though. I could certainly do
> with a slightly fatter and slightly more responsive scroll wheel/button
> on my mouse..

Believe it or not, but the dexterity of users is exactly why Apple
doesn't use multi-button mice. The majority of people don't use
computers enough to properly develop those skills, and, even if they
do develop the manual dexterity, they may not possess the mental
dexterity required.

> >> > Also, developers must design with a single mouse button in
> >> > mind.  Rather than hiding functions in context menus, which are less
> >> > "discoverable", functions must exist in menus.
> I didn't say that functions in context menus shouldn't also appear
> elsewhere. But for some users it's certainly handy to have the context
> menus as well.

> >> It's a shame nobody (bar the MagicMenu hack for the Amiga) implemented
> >> the idea of having *all* menus pop-up under the mouse for ease of use.
> >
> > Which is probably why Amiga died a quick death ;-).
> Hrrmph. I did say it was an optional hack!
> And it was bloody neat: you hardly had to move the mouse at all, it
> definitely sped up my computer usage.
> (In fact, iirc, it might even have been possible to click to bring up
> the menu and then cursor through them with the keyboard, even quicker)

<Shudder> The GIMP model of GUI-design. So fundamentally flawed that
there's a reason only The GIMP implements it and desperately needs to
ditch it! Again, I must qualify that: It's a very inefficient model
for most people (partly because we don't usually use it, but mostly
because it's not very usable), but that doesn't mean it should
disappear entirely from The GIMP.

> > Seriously though, the first paragraph in this section is key -- one
> > button mice force software designers to actually _THINK_ their
> > software through from a _USER'S_ POV,
> ..which is a Good Thing.

But not from a developer's POV since it requires thought (which is why
in the 80s Mac apps took longer to develop but were so much more
usable... _all_ non-internet apps of note were born and refined on Mac
(MS Office (if it weren't for the Mac, MS wouldn't have beat
WordPerfect down ;), Photoshop, Quark, etc.)

> >> And the lack of scrollwheels is a *major* pain (I know you can get
> >> replacement mice for Macs, though).
> >
> > For you & me it is, but I've seen experienced Mac users who have 15 or
> > 20 years of computing experience in a real environment who have no use
> > for multi-button mice
> Well, of course not, as the Mac was designed that way, ie it was designed
> (unlike Windos where design was often random or counter-intuitive, and
> for a long time Unix/Linux wasn't necessarily much better).
> However, scrollwheels are the kind of kewl thing that Mac-grokking
> people would probably actually really dig.
> It's a shame Apple didn't bite the bullet at some point and introduce a
> new Mac mouse with a bifurcated button with a scrollwheel in the middle.
> It has to be said that Apple's renowned design doesn't always apply to
> their mice, take the form-over-function 'puck', for example.. :-(

Ugh. The P-h-uck as it was lovingly referred to. That was the epitome
of cheap and bad design (& Apple was hurt by that cost saving

I think Apple is floundering in terms of what to do with the one
button mouse. It's a good thing for most users but there's a sizable
user base for whom the one button mouse is limiting. Fortunately the
solution is as simple as walking into your local computer store and
buying a USB mouse, but, I do believe that Apple should come up with
its own 2+1 button mouse.

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