“When you want to set down an idea, you should be able to go to your computer or information appliance and just start typing: no booting, no opening the word processor, no file names, no operating system.” (xviii, Jef Raskin, The Humane Interface. 2000, Addison Wesley)
A couple of years ago, by way of Brian (who seems to always be reading some great books), I read the phenomenal, The Humane Interface by the late, great Jef Raskin, one of the creators of the Apple Macintosh. It is a absolutely wonderful book, and for anyone meddling with user interface design it is a must read.
One of the things the book dealt with, which I at first had a bit of trouble getting my head around, was a suggested method of operating the computer through quickly written commands. One of the examples from the book was, say you’re writing something and you need to do a quick calculation on a few numbers. On most normal OS’s today you need to switch out of the application you’re working in (unless of course you do most of your work in a calculator application, in which case this does not apply to your… you loon!). But with the system Raskin suggested, you would hit a ‘command key’, write for instance CAL and then the calculation and finally press enter. Voila, the calculation would be inserted right where you need it. A small example of course; wait for it.
Now what I only learned this morning through Chris, was that Jef Raskin’s idea is in the process of becoming reality through a company co-founded by Aza Raskin, who, as the name implies, is a son of Jef. The company is Humanized, and their product is called Enso.
Now it is unfortunately a Windows-only product as far as I can tell. But seeing as how I suffer each day at work for not having Quicksilver at my fingertips, perhaps it is time for Windows to get its comeuppance? After all, many of the thoughts Jef Raskin presented in his book, like for instance modeless user interfaces are advocated by the HIG for OS X, but surprisingly few of them are present in Windows.
-Now I’ve yet to try the trial, being on my Mac, as I am. But I’m wondering if this won’t soon become a need-to-have on Windows, for me at least.- I’m currently running the trial here at work.
PS: How long before someone does an Enso interface for Quicksilver?
Update: First impressions have me wishing you didn’t have to hold down Caps Lock to perform a command. Rather I would like for it to work like Quicksilver, in that the window stays open until you press enter.
I’m currently not entirely sure what happens if I’ve typed in a command and then want to cancel. In Quicksilver I would hit Escape. Figured out how to cancel