Look and feel mechanism?

Pedro Duque Vieira pedro.duquevieira at gmail.com
Mon Dec 9 13:10:04 PST 2013

@Felix: Thank you for the kind words (although I don't consider myself a
rock star :-) ). As you mentioned I said I didn't want to make a iOS 7
native look and feel, I said it because I consider it broken as well as
many other influential designers do. Broken in the sense that it has
various wrong design decisions.

As for the discussion of native look and feels, I think a cross platform
look and feel that goes for the least common denominator and doesn't
violate any of the platforms look and feel guidelines is the best way to go.
As was already said having a native look and feel for each platform is a
ton of work, even if the framework does provide one (as Felix said, most
often is not even 80% identical) you still have to adapt the application
for each platform if you go this way. The real problem is the "feel" part,
each platform has a different standard set of controls, consider for
example windows 8 which for desktop app almost always substitutes menus for
a ribbon. If you go this way you better, as was already said, go with the
platforms set of tools to create apps, instead of using java/javafx.
Modena is an excellent cross platform look and feel that looks great,
something we never had in swing, at least not out of the box in the
framework. And I think this is the best way to go.
As for mobile, I think the same should be done: create a cross platform
look and feel. When developers choose java for this it often is because
they lake the necessary resources to build a native app for each system. A
good cross platform look and feel will speed up development and time of
delivery. I don't think you have to go native to have a great designed app,
there are various examples on mobile of great apps that don't use the
standard looking platform controls. There are even apps that go as far as
use almost only gestures with almost no controls.
  Checkout "Clear", a critically acclaimed app for its design, that almost
doesn't use controls: http://realmacsoftware.com/clear/ or "Paper" also an
app that is recognized by many as having an excellent design that also
doesn't use standard native controls: http://www.fiftythree.com/

On Mon, Dec 9, 2013 at 8:03 PM, Felix Bembrick <felix.bembrick at gmail.com>wrote:

> I am with you on the "design pattern" approach you refer to which is
> basically a higher level of abstraction than say one which actually
> specifies which widget types to use.
> But who is this "someone who loves the target platform" and how and when
> do they get to hook-in the actual widgets?
> While I agree JavaFX certainly has the ability to implement the high-level
> abstraction layer (as does pretty much any programming language, how
> (physically speaking) is someone going to link this with an actual
> selection of widgets on each OS?  Isn't *that* the whole problem here?
> Felix
> On 10 December 2013 06:50, Stephen Winnall <steve at winnall.ch> wrote:
>> Just to take a completely different tack: I have a sneaking suspicion
>> that the whole approach to UI design is wrong. Aside from the platform
>> abstraction thing, I wonder whether we shouldn’t be approaching UIs from a
>> design pattern perspective. The application programmer is the wrong person
>> to decide whether to implement a pop-up menu, a combobox or a selection
>> list: all the programmer needs to specify is “get me one or more elements
>> from this list”, and someone who loves the target platform (even Windows
>> ;-) ) should instantiate the appropriate widget for that platform.
>> JavaFX gives us the capability to do this.
>> I think we tend to think of ourselves as clones of Leonardo da Vinci,
>> capable of programming and design, when the truth is somewhat different,
>> the more so when we’re implementing stuff for platforms we secretly
>> despise… But now I’m ranting, sorry.
>> To get back to cross-platform looks. People are used to them because of
>> WWW and browser interfaces. But the desktop has no competitive advantage
>> over the browser idiom if it doesn’t do the user experience better. It’s a
>> question of quality as opposed to 80:20 in my view. It’s look AND feel.
>> Steve
>> On 9 Dec 2013, at 18:42, Felix Bembrick <felix.bembrick at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Agreed that Quaqua did a great job and lets not lose sight of the fact
>> that I am totally praising the efforts of everyone who has worked in this
>> frustrating and tedious area of UI development/support. I just think the
>> obvious talents of those people could be utilised for a purpose less likely
>> to drive them crazy!
>> Yes, Metal was an unabridged disaster but did you ever see Substance? I
>> thought that looked great on all platforms. And today there is also Cezanne
>> which isn't too shabby.
>> What's really needed is, as you say, some kind of platform abstraction
>> that handles all the OS specific details and then you code to use it.
>> Ideally this abstraction would result in the use of actual native widgets
>> but how you would apply all the features that come with Node to those
>> widgets I have no idea...
>> On 9 Dec 2013, at 22:49, Stephen Winnall <steve at winnall.ch> wrote:
>> On 9 Dec 2013, at 03:18, Felix Bembrick <felix.bembrick at gmail.com> wrote:
>> @Stephen, you are absolutely right about this.  But such an approach (and
>> pretty much *any* approach) to "emulated" native look and feels is fraught
>> with difficulties and complexities.
>> Firstly, it will *never* be possible to completely emulate the native
>> look and feel.  And, even if the differences are subtle, there is the very
>> real risk that the end user will have a very uneasy feeling using such a
>> look and feel.  At times it will even seem like an imposter.
>> Agreed, though Quaqua did quite a good (and unobtrusive) job for the look
>> on Swing on Mac OS X.
>> Secondly, you will be forever playing catchup as each new major release
>> (and also even each minor update) changes one or more of the behaviours
>> that you have so carefully emulated.  The result is that for a while at
>> least, your emulated look and feel is an even more obvious imposter with an
>> even more uneasy experience for the user.
>> Indeed. I’m not really a fan of reimplementing something that’s already
>> there anyway. It should be possible to use the native facilities via
>> appropriate APIs.
>> Thirdly, building such emulated look and feels is a *lot* of work (much
>> more than you would think).
>> Tell me about it :-) I spent a long time trying to create a Platform
>> abstraction for Swing which would allow applications to be moved from
>> platform to platform and adopt the native look and feel. The along came
>> JavaFX. But we missed out on the chance of developing a platform
>> abstraction there too.
>> My reasoning is: why bother?  Why not build a "JavaFX look and feel"
>> (akin to something like Nimubs in Swing) that simply doesn't even try to
>> look native?  Then you know for sure your app looks and behaves identically
>> on all devices and there is no hint of "imposter-ness”.
>> The answer to this question is relatively simple: Metal. Metal, you will
>> recall, was the one-size-fits-all look for Swing. And it was <expletive
>> deleted> and was a major reason for the failure of Swing (and thus Java) on
>> the desktop.
>> Ultimately, all cross-platform looks suffer from the same problem: they
>> don’t look right on any platform and often terrible on others. And ignoring
>> the feel of the target platform is the ultimate sin: users don’t understand
>> what the app is doing or why but often cannot articulate their feelings
>> because there’s no *observable* problem, only a “feelable" one. And so
>> another Java desktop app dies the death...
>> These days, many apps do not look 100% native and may have their own
>> controls or look and feel in general.  Why not channel all that massive
>> effort in constructing an emulated native look and feel into simply making
>> JavaFX better overall?
>> Agreed. Let’s define a platform abstraction…
>> Steve

Pedro Duque Vieira

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