Comments on: Is the R3 GUI for businesses or consumers?

Carl Sassenrath, CTO
REBOL Technologies
28-May-2008 20:54 GMT

Article #0136
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There has been a lot of debate recently about VID, and what type of applications are intended to be built with it. I think some of this "confusion" came about because of requirements I've posted about the easy-to-use and easy-to-extend requirements of the R3 GUI design. But, we are talking about independent dimensions of the same domain, so let's try to unwind some of this confusion...

There are two main "camps" in the GUI debate: some want to build apps for businesses and others want to make apps for consumers.

I should point out that many years ago, there was a huge difference between these types of apps. However, with the popularity of the web as an application platform, the lines between these two are blurring. Consumer apps have been getting smarter, and business apps have been getting more user friendly.

There are good reasons for both trends. In general, as consumers learn more about using computers and other devices, they understand the more subtle interactions that they can have with the user interface. From web pages to cell phones to TV set-top boxes, the interface has become smarter and more powerful.

At the same time, businesses have noticed that most of their users are also consumers (outside the office), and have learned how to work things like cell phones and web site interfaces. Business users no longer run in fear when they see a background that's not silver or a button that's not gray. They have become more open to a variety of interfaces, and in fact, many modern business applications run within the web browser with more friendly interfaces.

So, what does this have to do with R3 and our VID GUI?

Simply put, I think R3 VID can do both. There is no reason to exclude one type of application or the other. First, the difference between business and consumer applications is not as great as you may think. Second, we're not going to remove the powerful features of VID that make business applications possible, nor are we going to delete those features that make consumer applications easy-to-write or more interesting to view. I'm certain we can do both quite well.

In R3 the differences in creating a business app and a consumer app will be where you, the application programmer, decide to direct your attention and efforts. If your focus is on functionality for businesses, then you will make sure that it works that way. You will use grids and drop down menus, whatever you need. Or, if instead you need fancy graphics for consumer appeal, that can be done as well. You can ignore grids and menus if you choose.

Running under both, the basic GUI engine, structures, functions, and events are really the same. It's just how you put them together and extend their features or graphical appearances that will determine the end user application style.

I fully believe that a GUI can be easy-to-use and easy-to-extend and also work well for business interface designers. I also think a GUI can include many powerful features that are not necessary to activate in every application, and consumer interface designers can decide what the need and don't need.



29-May-2008 0:21:14
I wonder if you recall the "Vidgets" term used by Icon: Visual Input Gadgets which is also "VID-gets" What I really like, though, is 'selective/additive inheritance' used by Unicon for its classes. I now spend more time in Curl than in any Smalltalk dialect so most days Curl seems like the best way to slice GUI bread. If we end up close to Unicon and Curl we will have done well: UNCODE and no explicit type declarations. For handy GUI bits, Curl has macros, which are hard to beat. I would like to think that the 3 expression-based languages (R3, Unicon, Curl) could learn from each other when it comes to ease of building GUI's. Curl out does Tk and most Smalltalks just for the ease of getting something built (until some nagging type checking starts to get in the way). Prior to moving to Curl I thought that (at least for Win32) Dolphin Smalltalk could not be beat for getting something maintainable built which would be flexible and easily visually inspected (debugged) ( which Ruby on Rails is not ), Compared to a Unicon Window or any Curl Visual, most Smalltalks starts to look clunky. And if a VisualBuilder of some kind is used, does the code from that tool look clean; my favorite horror story: VisualProlog (a great language implementation gone visually-wrong). The most sobering GUI set-back to me lately was the decision of Cincom to abandon Pollock Widgetry for VisualWorks Smalltalk. As for our RebGUI, it is in the direction of Curl but just not as easy to show someone how-to-do a common GUI task, in my experience.
Paul LYS
29-May-2008 8:35
Is the R3 GUI for businesses or consumers? The 2 my master. To achieve these goals, the GUI R3 must be rebolish, ie simple, flexible and rich (include a large collection of Vidgets base). These Vidgets must be readily combined, advanced and easily upgradeable. Because the real question is not an interface it is professional or consumer, but rather it is successful or not. It depends essentially designer, the computer language will only render it more or less difficult.
30-May-2008 4:52:02
I agree with that R3 and VID3 are not focused on specific users. Many applications are both for businesses and consumers like mail clients (thunderbird, outlook,...), browsers (Ie, Firefox,...), text editing (Notepad, Wordpad, Word).

The OS configuration tools are typical "app for anyone" : changing the screen resolution, managing printers, ...

When we have to make technical choices about what VID3 have to provide, we have just to imagine what code the programmer have to write to produce this kind of interface. Dropdown list box is very common (just open the "Display Properties" window in WinXP and count the number of dropdown displayed in this window). Then it must be part of Vid3 and easily customizable. Isn't it ?

Brian Tiffin
30-May-2008 9:03:43
This is personal choice; but I'd prefer getting to the business end of graphical design first and worry about artistic issues as a secondary concern. A personal choice from a coder that feels unskilled in visual arts.


30-May-2008 12:07:53
I think the title is a little bit of a misnomer and would still cause confusion. "Business" and "consumer" should rather have been "standardized" and "multimedia" GUI design methods, because you need "business oriented" GUI tools in order to produce a preferences window for a mediaplayer like VLC, which has very complicated preferences. This is also for building UIs for small scripts, tools and most applications. This is in the order of throwing a lot of standard styles into a layout and get that to work together. I believe the term used earlier here was "boring business app", but it covers way more than business apps.

"Multimedia" is for highly specialized interfaces, where it may not make sense to do any standardization, such as for arcade games or a menu on your TV. This is what we standard application developers don't want to do, when developing apps.

Fortunately VID3 should be able to do both, and if people are still not satisified, maybe someone can build an R2 VID style for VID3. :-)

Peter Wood
31-May-2008 10:02:23
I feel that being able to develop applications that truly fit into their environment is really important in both "business" and "consumer" applications.

2-Jun-2008 4:08:49
Rebol apps are really portable and can runs directly without any modifications on major platforms. To integrates with host operating system, VID2 et VID3 offers way to skin the standard widget. It allows the developers to not worry about the display of buttons, texts, sliders,... It allows also to use a Mac OS X skin on Win XP, even this is not so useful.

The problem is that UI style of an OS is not only the way of drawing widgets. Many Mac OS X apps have the same type of preference windows with a kind of icons tab bars. All Mac Applications use the same kind of top menu. Many Win apps use the tray bar (with is not present in Mac OsX).

Typical multiplatform apps like iTunes are not totaly identical on Mac and Win.

These different features and GUI must be managed by the developers and to build very well integrated apps the programmers need to write more code and plateform specific code.

19-Jun-2008 0:11:38
Customer UI ??? buisiness UI ???


I run outside my home sccream NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO and return to my computer to write the following

I don't see if any of you goes to an administration a bank or something BIG and borring the same way. SO AS far i SAW (i'm in france paris ....) OR they use HTML/java beanzed plug ined interface or they use MS-DOS VESA shaped UI ... any way VID2 is sexyier ^^

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