December 8, 2003

Something to See

This morning before dawn I had drifted back for the third time to a series of disturbing dreams. Dreams always disturb when they take place in some distorted mindmap of Las Vegas -- even if you are winning, which I was not.

Then, drowsing in the warm dark, I sensed my wife bending over me and felt her breath on my cheek as she whispered, “Wake up, there’s something you have to see.”

Groaning to myself, I rose and slipped on my robe to follow her down the stairs into the kitchen. She’d made coffee and stationed herself on a stool in front of the sink. She handed me a cup and turned towards the kitchen window. “Out there,” she said.

Our modest house is high on a hill overlooking Laguna Beach in Southern California. There are no street lights up here so we always have the town and the ocean spread out below us. We can see over the town and up the coast to the northwest. Outside are the hills beyond Laguna, the lateral shafts of towns extending out up to Long Beach, Catalina Island and scattered about like guardian lightships the flares and beams from the drilling platforms.

Above the sink is a small horizontal window common to kitchens made in the late 50s and early 60s. It’s a small window but this morning it framed something extraordinary.

Overnight the full moon had curved down the dark sky until it began, at just the right moment and just the right angle, to catch the first light of the sun rising over the coast range behind the Laguna Hills.

At that time and in that place, the moon painted a long pale orange swath on the sea and hovered red gold above the coastline. Far below you could see the Pacific Coast highway as it rose up out of Laguna and carried the cars of people leaving early for work up the slope and out of sight, their red tail lights pulsing against the darker streak of the avenue.

And for a few instants, the window, the moon, the coast and the ocean and the avenue aligned so perfectly that you could believe that stream of cars commuting from the town to their unknowable destinations were rising up, commuting ever so gracefully to the moon.

Just once. Never again. Something to see.

Posted by Vanderleun at December 8, 2003 11:03 AM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

Dock Animation. Sometimes animating icons in the dock can be useful in communicating the status of the system or application.

Posted by: Barbara at January 12, 2004 5:53 PM

Adhere to Window Models. Document windows, Utility windows, Click-through, Layering, Drawers, Controls. How do users open windows, how do you properly title windows?

Posted by: Watkin at January 12, 2004 5:54 PM

Drawers. Similar to Sheets, this is a "child" window that gives users access to items that do not always need to be present. But when do you use a drawer and when do you use a palette?

Posted by: Francisca at January 12, 2004 5:54 PM

For example, if you see an AIM window peeking out from behind your browser and you click on it, that window will come to the front, but the main application window will not. The Viewer is another example. The Aqua system of layers works well in many instances, but not in all. Thank goodness that the Dock is always there to come to the rescue. I know that clicking on an application icon in the Dock will always result in not only the application coming to the front, but also any non-minimized windows associated with it. And if the application is active but no windows are open, clicking on the Dock icon should create a new window in that application.

Posted by: Ciriacus at January 12, 2004 5:55 PM

To put my money where my mouth is, in each new article I'll build a hypothetical application that illustrates the guidelines I'm covering. Today's application is called "Paint" and will be based on the photo-illustrative icon I created in my last article. Together we will complete each step, and by the end of the project we should have a well-designed, 95%-100% Aqua-compliant application. I'll leave some room for personal preferences and the fact that Apple changes the OS every few months.

Posted by: Christiana at January 12, 2004 5:55 PM

Dock Animation. Sometimes animating icons in the dock can be useful in communicating the status of the system or application.

Posted by: Machutus at January 12, 2004 5:55 PM

Dock Animation. Sometimes animating icons in the dock can be useful in communicating the status of the system or application.

Posted by: Sampson at January 12, 2004 5:56 PM

To help you become a good Aqua citizen, Apple has created a few guidelines. I've put together a brief overview of them, and we'll be tackling many of them in the months to come.

Posted by: Sampson at January 12, 2004 5:56 PM

The simple fact is that, when all other factors are equal, where will consumers spend their money? I believe that in the long run, the best looking, easiest-to-use applications will also be the most successful. I think that's why Apple encourages developers to write programs that are 100 percent Aqua-compliant.

Posted by: Jesse at January 12, 2004 5:57 PM

So far in these articles, I have only dipped a toe or two into Aqua's pool. I have covered basic aspects of building an Aqua-compliant application, including the building of photo-illustrative/3D application icons. Now it's time to address other components of our Mac OS X application.

Posted by: Henry at January 12, 2004 5:57 PM