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Apple, Google, and You

January 16th, 2009

A nice conceptual user interface comparison here. It strikes me that the latter of the three interfaces is the kind that people churn out using FileMaker, MS Access, 4th dimension etc. These tools encourage interfaces like this in the way they are built, especially through wizards that automatically generate for instance a search form for a particular table in a database. I was once a user of such a specialized piece of database software — it was a 4D application written by a small company of three programmers to help with the administration of public Norwegian music schools (in other words, truly obscure). The forms looked exactly like in the third example except that all dialog boxes had an aquarium-themed image background. Occasionally the developers would visit our customer site, taking suggestions for improvement. “Could you do this?” we’d say. “Sure, it will be in the next release” they’d respond, usually keeping their word. Until one day, when we asked “Could you add a field to each customer where we can store X?” and their answer was “Sorry, no can do, for there is no more space in the dialog box.”

- Eirik Bakke

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