Imx Fix in my experience
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March 13, 2002 8:51 AM

There's a new OpenGL based 3D interface available for Mac OSX called 3DOSX, that looks pretty cool, but doesn't feel terribly productive to me. For a long time, folks like Jef Raskin and many other old school GUI pontificators have been saying that WIMP interfaces (Windows, Icons, Menus and Pointing device) are getting long in the tooth. But, I don't think any of the proof-of-concept 3D interfaces are going to replace WIMP any time soon.

The 3DOSX user experience is actually pretty good in terms of navigating the space, and always knowing where you are (in relation to everything else). Revealing that frame of reference is one of things that GUI professionals should always be striving to do and that present WIMP interfaces could improve upon. Forgiving its performance problems (one frame per second), 3DOSX is a far cry from the speed at which I can rifle thru WIMP based file directories, but is still a pretty good advance on a demonstration 3D interface from Microsoft. They represent the file tree as a hallway where you move forward and back to pick up files off of virtual easels. The files have thumbnail previews that help you understand what's inside. But while watching the demo video, I can't help but not know where I am in any sort of file hierarchy.

So, having a sense of spacial relationships between files would be a good advance, but here's a few problems that need to be overcome...

  • After finding the file I need, when I go and do something with it, will that be 3D also? I can't imagine working in TextPad or BBedit in a 3D interface.
  • 3D interfaces cause the user to manipulate the mouse WAY more than with a WIMP interface (which is a significant user experience issue in my opinion).
  • Performance issues for these interfaces are prohibitive (even with an NVidia GeForce).
  • I'm used to the WIMP interface and understand it. Plain and simple.