Thoughts on software and life.

Thursday April 8

jerky iApps

I have to give Apple a lot of credit for the elegant UI design of the iApps. However, I find myself cursing these lovely pieces of software far too often, even though I really want to love them. The main reason they annoy me is because their user interfaces are universally slow and unresponsive, while it seems rather obvious how to make them faster.

The iApps regularly process massive amounts of data (music, photos, and video) in response to user actions. Unfortunately, it seems that Apple's programmers like to kick off these slow operations synchronously in the UI event handlers that cause them. The end result is that you click a button and nothing happens for a perceptible moment, or you scroll a list and the scrollbar falls behind the mouse.

For instance, the iPhoto organize window scrolls at a snail's pace, even after Apple bragged about how fast it is for 4.0. Scrolling would be super fast if Apple would just re-draw the window before all the thumbnails are ready, and draw the unprocessed thumbnails with a temporary icon until they are ready. I can only assume that Apple would rather their UI look good than feel good. I suppose we're supposed to be motivated by the sluggishness to go out and buy an expensive G5 or something.

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