October 9, 2003

Drawers 99% Bad

Mac OS X brought with it an abomination of user experience on par with Clippy. They’re known as drawers and essentially they’re little windows which slide out from the sides of parent windows. You can find them in Mail, Preview, and now iCal. You won’t find them in Safari, iTunes, or Apple’s Pro applications. What kills me about drawers is that they aren’t calculated into the width of a window so if you’re trying to maximize the window you’re working in you have to drag it by hand. Worse, if you’re already working in a maximized window, the drawer will slide out off the edge of the screen! This is not good experience design. iCal recently moved some of its functionality from a floating window to a drawer. I hated the floater but the drawer is worse. What’s more, this iCal drawer is something you need to use all the time. Stuff you need access to all the time should not be placed in drawers. Apple’s Mail program has the same nonsense. Safari, iTunes, iMovie and many other apps get by just fine without drawers. Camino has (had?) a nice feature which would resize the window when the drawer was shown, Transmit uses drawers smartly, and the search drawer in the new Preview looks cool. But for the most part, drawers are 99% bad. Sigh.

[Less ranty: Check out the new iPulse. It’s beautiful. No drawers either.]

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Mark Shewmaker

Has 99% bad somehow become a universally understood blurb of webspeak? I bet Jakob N. winces everytime he sees it…

As for drawers..I like them. But I don’t use a laptop. Like many other aspect of OSX’s UI, drawers don’t scale down well. They seems to be designing the UI in terms of one of those football-field sized LCD panels they sell….

Walt Dickinson

How about “Drawers Considered Harmful”? I agree that the drawers make more sense on a big fat screen where maximizing your windows is less of a necessity.

Mark Nichols

I, too, was dismayed at the inclusion of a drawer in iCal. I use CodeTek’s excellent virtual desktop software and one desktop is exclusively for iCal. Before I had the app stretched to fill the screen nicely. Now I have to reduce it’s width by about a 1/3rd in order to see the drawer when I use the apple-I key combination. Phooey. BTW, I’ve got a 15.2 inch Powerbook set at the maximum resolution.

I’d like to see a preference setting to allow switching between a popup and a drawer.

Rachelle Bowden

all these marks are confusing me

Walt Dickinson

I was thinking about that too. I may change the system to display last names too.

Rachelle Bowden

or if you implemented some sort of username and didnt allow doubles. or if you just put “mark s.” and “mark z” it would cut down.. i guess there could still be dupes though.

I totally agree with you on the drawers problem.

About iPulse: It’s gorgeous. I played for half an hour with the preferences and got it to a shape that sort of works for me. The problem is… it stil is too distracting. I also tried all the default jackets, they all look cool but I can’t do much with them. Except showing it off to my linux/windows colleagues :->

I’ll stick to Menu Meters, they do the same thing and use fewer resources in less space. I find it to be a much more elegant solution.

Mark Nichols

I’m not confused. I know which Mark I am. ;)