Saturday, 7 February 2009

New 10.6 Cocoa Finder to feature iTunes-like list view with skimming? [Mockup]

Click on the image above to view actual size
Rumor has it that the Finder is (finally) being entirely re-written in Cocoa for 10.6 Snow Leopard. Whilst Apple's stated intention is to focus on improvements under the hood, rather than new features, do we really believe that they'll be able to resist adding new things, especially considering that they're doing a Finder re-write anyway, and Windows 7's release is imminent?

This blog has had some success with Finder predictions before - correctly anticipating the introduction of Coverflow. Here's what MacPredictions thinks is coming next:
  • Tabbed browsing (finally)
  • Search by people and locations (similar to iPhoto '09)
  • New list view with Quick Look skimming (list layout similar to iTunes 8, but with skim groups similar to iTunes 8 Grid view, or iPhoto Events)
As usual, this is all just speculation - I have no sources to support these predictions.


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  2. As a fan of OS 9's spatial Finder (of which OS X Findr, even with nice, pretty features like Cover Flow, pales in comparison), I can only dread a rewritten Finder. It is bad enough Finder, even in "spatial" mode, acts inconsistent with the spatial metaphor (most annoyingly, when folders randomly open in non-spatial Finder), I can only assume a rewritten Finder would spell worse things ahead for users like me.

    (Funnily enough, I rarely used OS 9 - I'm a recent Switcher from Windows, and annoyingly, Windows XP has a better implementation of a spatial file manager).

  3. Hi rajanr.

    I suspect you're right - Apple may finally abandon icon view (except on the Desktop) and replace it with Grid view instead (as per iTunes 8).

    The spatial Finder was a great idea in its day, but the metaphor was stretched a little too far to accommodate today's networked environments.

  4. Hi Graham,

    I don't think that with networks, there is reason to abandon spatial Finder altogether. There could have always been a concurrent Finder browser - which is how it is done on Windows 95-XP, where in spatial mode, users can open a folder in Explorer which is the browser mode.

    What annoys me when Finder does behave inconsistently. For example, Finder doesn't automatically change the layout of folders (or even providing that option). When opening an alias on the desktop to a folder, it remembers how the user wants to view the folder, but when browsing from any other point, it doesn't.

    Then again, I find the loss of spatial-lity in other applications - especially Apple's apps. It used to be the toolbars, except in rare cases, were separated from the document window, but now most apps except the most classic of applications don't do this anymore. I don't think it adds usability - in fact, when I work on several Pages documents, for example, I don't see how it adds to usability that there are toolbars to every window visible. On Photoshop and Office (when all the toolbars are undocked from the window), there is a lot less screen clutter.

  5. Hi,

    I agree the inconsistency is annoying. I think that you're right in terms of offering a dual-mode for Finder: spatial or browser. This seems to be what they had in mind with the lozenge button top-right on Finder windows, which switches the Finder to something more resembling <=OS9. However, it's a pretty half-hearted implementation, and I suspect it will be abandoned in some future release. It was really just there to appease OS9 switchers, and those days are now long gone.

    On reflection, I think the death-knell for spatial Finder was the Unix file system in OS X. You immediately have spatial problems as soon as you show the Desktop as a folder within the user folder, but I think it's very important to do this, so that the user understands the file structure of their home directory.

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