Tab Buttons Mac vs. Win

Richard Gaskin ambassador at
Sat Jul 18 01:49:01 EDT 2020

Bob Sneidar wrote:

 > I would LOVE to find out how Livecode for Mac draws those beautiful
 > tab buttons so I can duplicate it on Windows, because DAYAM are the
 > Windows ones ugly!

Around the turn of the century I wrote to Bruce Tognazzini, back when he 
was still taking email questions.

I asked him about the proper placement of confirmation and dismissal 
buttons (often "OK" and "Cancel") in cross-platform apps.  I was 
familiar with his early research on how the Mac layout (confirmation on 
the right) matched eye tracking studies on scanning order, and thus was 
a better solution.  On Windows reading order is used (confirmation on 
the left), which might seem better but not in UIs; dialog boxes just 
aren't read as much as skimmed, so rather than taking in each line 
individually as we do when we read, most folks more or less just scan 
from upper-left to lower-right, where on Mac the action button awaits.

So I asked Tog:

"Given that the Mac way is borne out by research, wouldn't it be better 
to use to Mac way in my Windows apps as well?"

He was kind enough in his reply, acknowledging that at least my heart 
was in the right place with wanting to "do the right thing" by the user. 
But he was also blunt: I had missed something even more important than 
research.  I had overlooked the significance of user habits.

When a user spends years with an OS design, they build up a cognitive 
and muscle memory, so strong that even when research shows an advantage 
to a different means, the consistency winds up outweighing it.

In short, he suggested I do Windows things on Windows, and leave Mac 
things on Mac.

Who am I to argue with Tog?

  Richard Gaskin
  Fourth World Systems
  Software Design and Development for the Desktop, Mobile, and the Web
  Ambassador at      

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