Raskin on skins, themes, and preferences

by Rael Dornfest

There's more than one way to skin an OS -- and that just may be a problem. osOpinion talks with Jef Raskin, UI authority, creator of a little thing called the Macintosh project, and author of The Humane Interface, on skins, themes, preferences, and other ways to boggle customize your GUI.

[There's] science behind interface design, it isn't all opinion and guruism. Unfortunately, it's easier to believe that you know what's best (because you're a human) than to go and learn the science.

. . .

Right now, the available systems are dreadful. I can't blame people for wanting to customize them. Too bad you can't customize them in the right ways.

While I hop my iBook up with my share of UI enhancements and key-combo tricks, I tend to steer clear of anything that obscures usability for my guests or my ability to make head-or-tail of a factory configured system. More akin to the sub-optimal (and, let's face it, just plain sad) viewing experience of an un-TiVO'd television than a hell-on-earth, tricked-out, key-remapped emacs disaster. So cmd-space doesn't bring up LaunchBar, there's only one dock, and IE's navigation buttons are HUGE; at least the scrollbar's still a scrollbar, clicking on the titlebar doesn't sprinkle the window with invisibility dust, and shift-cmd-q still logs me out.