Screens Around Town: Cars.com, ESPN, InDesign2, Adium, and MyFonts Matt 03 Apr 2006

25 comments Latest by Matt Carey

Readers submitted the following Screens Around Town:

Complain@cars.com

Complain@cars.com

Adam A: Here is a screen I encountered on cars.com. Gotta love that email address, huh? It just screams out, “We value your input”.

Game Flow

Game Flow

Braxton Beyer: ESPN has an interesting graph they have added to their game pages. It is nice because you can see when there were lead changes and also how big of a lead a team obtained at any point in time.

InDesign2: Postponed Recovery

InDesign2: Postponed recovery

Phil Walmsley: Why would it ask you to postpone recovery until later? Wouldn’t a user want to recover the data now? Every option seems to lead to “No”, or “Maybe later”. InDesign is playing hard to get.

Drag the Duck

Drag the Duck

Ryan Allen: Here is a shot of something that really grabbed me. It’s what’s presented to you when you open the dmg for Adium (www.adiumx.com). How many times have you had to awkwardly drag an application into Applications after a dmg does something custom with Finder? These guys have a symbolic link to Applications making it super easy (even for grandma)!

Font Preview at MyFonts

Font preview at MyFonts

Jes Sherborne: MyFonts has a really interesting rollover feature on their website: when they link to a font, they show a preview of it on hover. This makes it much easier to see whether a font is worth exploring in depth. Having the price included is a nice touch as well…For an example, check out their blurb on Berthold.”

Got an interesting screenshot for Signal vs. Noise? Send the image and/or URL to svn [at] 37signals [dot] com.

25 comments so far (Jump to latest)

Vance 03 Apr 06

That ID one drives me nuts! Every time I see that, I have to reconsider what I should click on, and I never seem to know what it did or plans to do with my decision.

It should just have a “Get my f#cking document open NOW” button.

Anonymous Coward 03 Apr 06

I’m surprised you missed this:

http://www.sitepoint.com/article/application-fluff-hot-air

Suthers 03 Apr 06

That Adium sym-link is one of those little things that makes me love OSX - you would just never see anything like it in Windows ;)

Dana O 03 Apr 06

I’m pretty sure the font preview thing was first done on Veer’s site (not that it matters). I think Veer does a better job using it on their site — especially right on the “type” home page along the middle left side (under “what’s hot” type listing.

Anonymous Coward 03 Apr 06

No offense, but 37 Signals is not immune to this. See this post from Jason this morning in the Basecamp forums:

“renaluelle, you seem to want everything — why don’t you use the API to build something for yourself?’

Jamie Tibbetts 03 Apr 06

That Adium sym-link is one of those little things that makes me love OSX - you would just never see anything like it in Windows ;)

The Adium thing is nice, but the whole “.dmg” delivery mechanism is one reason not to use OS X. Just try and explain the concept of .dmg files to your parents, and you’ll understand what I mean. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to walk fellow Mac newbies through the process of “installing” software using .dmg files.

user: “What’s this .dmg file?”
me: “Just double-click that file, and it will mount on your desktop.”
user: “Huh?”
me: “A little hard drive icon will show up on the desktop.”
user: “Oh. Ok. Now what?”
me: “Just copy the application to your Application folder.”
user: “Where is that?”
me: “Double-click your hard drive icon. It’s right inside there.”
user: “Ok. I copied it into the Applications folder, but it’s not there.”
me: “Huh? Are you sure?”
user: “Yeah. It’s not there.”
me: “You sure you copied the application into your Applications folder?”
user: “The application? I just copied the whole thing.”
me: “The whole thing of what?”
user: “The thing on the desktop.”
me: “No. That’s the mounted disk image. You have to copy just the application.”
user: “(silence)”
me: “Double-click the thing on the desktop. See the application? It’s the icon of a bird. Drag that to your Applications folder.”
user: “How do I copy it?”
me: “Just drag it over the Applications folder, and a little ‘plus’ sign will appear. When you drop the file, it will copy.”
user: “Ahhhh. Ok. Now it’s there.”
me: “Excellent. You’re all set.”
user: “Can I delete the .dmg file now?”
me: “Yeah.”
user: “What about the thing on the desktop?”
me: “Just drag it to the trash can, and it will disappear.”

On Windows, you just double-click an installer and follow the simple instructions. No mounting, dragging, or opening Finder windows. Still think OS X’s .dmg files are superior? ;)

Ok. Enough ranting. I just had to get that off my chest.

The “complain@cars.com” email link is classic, btw. :)

JF 03 Apr 06

Yeah, dmg’s are redic. It’s one of the new things about OS X that doesn’t feel right.

Tomas Jogin 03 Apr 06

Re: DMG, once you _do_ understand them though, they’re really practical.

Edmundo 03 Apr 06

It’s similar on Windows XP with the whole “compressed folders”. People think they can be used like a real folder even though the files are uncompressed on some temp folder, and although one thirty-seventh of the programs might work well with these files, when you start including executing programs inside compressed folders and such then it just opens a cascade of problems.

A zip file is NOT a compressed folder. >:o

Matthew Dickinson 03 Apr 06

DMGs work well for their purpose. They are not meant to be installers. There is a separate packaging and installation application for that purpose. Opening a DMG, then double clicking a PKG file is not too difficult to explain. I just wish everyone would take the five minutes to make installer packages and also check the box which lets the user determine the installation path.

Carlos 03 Apr 06

Windows software unfortunately requires the use of installers the majority of the time, whereas Macintosh traditionally has just been drag and drop applications. Remember the days when you could easily copy Norton Utilities from one computer to another by just dragging the Peter Norton icon for the application? So easy and reliable.

DMG is not to blame. DMG is just the modern equivalent of a floppy disk. If you explain it the right way, your parents should be relate to the floppy disk concept of opening it and ejecting it.

I personally don’t understand the huge problem of copying an application to the Applications folder, since most people still have the sidebar turned on and a shortcut to Applications is right there already. Open the DMG, drag icon to the left, eject image….done.

Anonymous Coward 03 Apr 06

If you explain it the right way, your parents should be relate to the floppy disk concept of opening it and ejecting it.

Classic. If you explain it the right way. It’s so easy that it needs to be explained the right way.

Carlos, don’t you get the point?

Jake Ingman 03 Apr 06

I’ve always loved that about Adium. It also highlights how incredibly easy the OS X install process is.

Someone mentioned how easy it was to just double-click an installer in windows and follow the simple instructions. Was that a joke? When coaching someone through the process I very frequently find myself asking, “uh, what does the screen say now, what are your options, what boxes are checked, what does the little box say”. Then I usually give up and just say “just click OK, YES, INSTALL, NEXT, or ACCEPT until you don’t see anything anymore”.

dusoft 03 Apr 06

Jake: maybe, that’s the point - most of the users will give up and just install the darn thing.

Powerusers will however choose some options and then install it.

Apple’s DMG is just too complicated and does not offer th easiness of the installation.

But, yes, for hardcore Macinotosh users it is hard to say that Apple is wrong this time.

Edmundo 03 Apr 06

Also, DMG is not as bad as the typical windows installation:
http://uncyclopedia.org/wiki/Installation


I’m not really defending DMGs, though…

Tracey 03 Apr 06

I must admit, the OS X installation process is different from Windows but after you understand what is happening, you should find it easier.

Why I hate Windows installers and applications: Sure, everyone is familiar with the concept of double-clicking on the installer application and following the instructions, BUT what happens in the background? Windows installers copies files to specific directories, modifies the dreaded registry and litters your filesystem with bits and pieces everywhere. Some apps require you to restart your computer.. And for what? So they can modify your startup and TAX your computer with libraries, background apps, services and taskbar icons.

Not to mention some applications do not come with uninstallers and some even take you to a webpage when you want to uninstall to ask you MORE freakin questions! (Are you sure you want to uninstall my useful application ?!)

This is very reason I switched to Linux for normal, everyday tasks. Windows applications just do not leave well enough alone… Do I want 10 applications serving me pop-ups when I boot my computer asking for attention? Example: Antivirus apps: HEY UPDATE ME! Java: Did you know a new update has been released? Windows Update: (sound: pop) New updates! Click here.

Umm.. no thank you. (sorry for the rant!)

Luke Noel-Storr 04 Apr 06

I’ve seen a DMG for another application with the same setup as the Adium one above (I think it was for Elgato’s EyeTV).

It always makes me wonder why they don’t all do it that way, it’s such a nice touch.

elv 04 Apr 06

The Adium thing seems counter intuitive to me. Why should I drag an app to a folder sitting in the same .dmg ? This is stoopid.
They’d rather use an installer, even if it only copies a file to the Applications folder :
“Click here to copy this software to the Application folder on your hard drive”. Boom. There you are. It tells you what it does, so you understand what will happen.
The Adium thing goes the other way, you have to understand what happens behind the scene before you even use it.

Jerome 04 Apr 06

I preach .dmg all the way for distributing applications. Sending an application off in a .pkg installer format is overkill and annoying for many users (basically any that aren’t ‘new’) A package just screams system level files, where a .app on a .dmg is like hey, I’m the only one you want. I get incredibly irritated about any application that just installs itself hitching a ride in a pkg which is meant for installing things that aren’t drag & drop (as stated on apple’s site about software distribution i believe)

Michael Ward 05 Apr 06

I can’t vouch for new users but the .dmg thing was the first wow moment for me using the mac. “What? I download this file, open it and drag that icon to wherever the hell I want it?” - remember, it doesn’t need to live in Applications. It can live on the desktop or wherever, and you can move it whenever uou want. The entire app is that little icon, just how it should be!

Charles Jolley 06 Apr 06

I think not having installers on the Mac is one of the best things about it, if only because it forces developers to keep everything inside the app bundle instead of spreading files over hells half-acre. This really helps keep your Mac stable since you can reliably uninstall most software.

Coming from a former maker of Mac software (I used to work for Nisus Software), I know that some developers will tend to want to put files everywhere. Apple is doing users a great service by making it easier for developers to keep everything inside the app than not to.

-Charles

PS. The first time I saw this use of the symbolic link Applications folder was with DragThing (http://www.dragthing.com). It’s genius. I hope all Mac apps do it in the future.

Nick 06 Apr 06

In a better world we could safely use “Internet-enabled” DMGs, which are really incredibly slick. Basically, Safari automatically mounts them, copies out the .app, places it on the desktop, unmounts the image, and trashes it. So you go from clicking on the link to download to having an actual clickable program in zero steps.

Unfortunately, the “auto-open safe files” preference in Safari is too dangerous from a security standpoint.

Matt Carey 09 Apr 06

Off topic I know but…

Are there any issues with posting screens (or any other piece of design work) and reporting on it (in a critical or non-critical way)? By that I mean copyright, or the companies concerned being unhappy with negative comments?

I ask because I was putting a page together for my site with some examples of ‘bad’ design for a particular topic and it occurred to me; am I allowed to post these images/scans and will the companies be unhappy about it?

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