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Ask Slashdot: Is the Rise of Skeuomorphic User Interfaces a Problem? 311

Posted by Soulskill
from the add-to-dictionary dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The evolution of user interface design in software is a long one, and has historically tracked the capabilities of computers of the time. Early computers used batch processing which, is mostly unheard of today, and consequently had minimal human interaction. The late 60s saw the introduction of command line interfaces, which remain popular to this day, mostly with technical users. Arguably, what propelled computer use to what it is today is the introduction of the ubiquitous graphical user interface. Although graphical interfaces have evolved, in principle they have remained largely unchanged. The resurgence of Apple saw the rise of skeuomorphic graphical user interfaces, which are now starting to appear on Linux. Are skeuomorphic designs making technology accessible to the masses, or is it simply a case of an unwillingness to innovate and move forward?"
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Ask Slashdot: Is the Rise of Skeuomorphic User Interfaces a Problem?

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  • Does it matter? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Microlith (54737) on Tuesday August 28, 2012 @11:18PM (#41161701)

    Specifically in the case of Linux, does the presence of skeuomorphic UIs in some applications really matter if the user decides "hey this sucks" and rips it out at the roots and installs something more to their liking?

    I don't think any evidence has been provided that shows such UI designs are better than a well laid out traditional UI, but people will try whatever they can. So long as it isn't rammed down my throat, that's fine.

  • Certain backward areas have advanced, and various devices always in some way connected with warfare and police espionage have developed, but experiment and invention have largely stopped.

    I guess one could/should expand that to "various devices always in some way connected with warfare, police espionage or distracting entertainment".

  • by kgeiger (1339271) on Tuesday August 28, 2012 @11:21PM (#41161723) Homepage
    and I cannot find the little floppy disk icon to save the item. Where'd it go?
    • by Compaqt (1758360)

      I don't know. My vision is a little weak.

      I'm trying to find my magnifying glasses so I can find the magnifying glass icon so I can search for the floppy disk icon.

  • skeuwhatzit? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rueger (210566) * on Tuesday August 28, 2012 @11:25PM (#41161745) Homepage
    Obviously someone just swallowed a thesaurus and burped out "skeuomorphic".

    The linked Wikipedia page describes it thus: "Many music and audio computer programs employ a plugin architecture, and some of the plugins have a skeuomorphic interface to emulate expensive, fragile or obsolete instruments and audio processors. Functional input controls like knobs, buttons, switches and sliders are all careful duplicates of the ones on the original physical device being emulated. Even elements of the original that serve no function, like handles, screws and ventilation holes are graphically reproduced."

    First, I'd argue that most software doesn't emulate physical artifacts - we don't "pull" open file drawers for instance. Second, this doesn't sound like anything that's really about GUI, it's just prettying stuff up - much like the concept of "skins."

    The Apple reference... oh sigh.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Check out these examples from Apple: http://medialoot.com/blog/skeuomorphic-design/

      It's the correct term to use, not burped out of a thesaurus.

    • Most software doesn't, but there is a lot of software that does. Pro audio tools are the worst for that. Reason was the most annoying instances of it I can recall, making a bunch of inconsistently functioning rackmount units, usually having knobs despite being used in a keyboard and mouse environment.
      • Re:skeuwhatzit? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by iluvcapra (782887) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @01:04AM (#41162425)

        Hi, I'm a film sound designer and re-recording mixer in my day job. Knobs and analog gauges are much easier for user population to visualize and interpret. You're dealing with people who have decades of training with analogue equipment -- also, IMHO knobs are a superior widget in many cases, because (if they're implemented properly) you can drag the mouse pointer further away from the knob to increase precision.

      • by tgv (254536)

        Although Reason looks particularly annoying to me (never used it), imitating physical equipment does have a function. Usually, the controls on physical equipment are presented in a logical way, grouping by function, emphasizing important controls, etc. You can call it conventional (in the sense of "based on or in accordance with what is generally done or believed"). If the software mimics (copies, imitates) this, it's because the makers don't have a better idea, so they just copy the old and proven design.

    • by chrismcb (983081)

      First, I'd argue that most software doesn't emulate physical artifacts - we don't "pull" open file drawers for instance. Second, this doesn't sound like anything that's really about GUI, it's just prettying stuff up - much like the concept of "skins."

      You are right, MOST software doesn't. BUT there is a trend, pushed by Apple, to design UI close to the original device, when possible.

      The Apple reference... oh sigh.

      I'm not sure why you are sighing. This skeumatic stuff is part of Apple's design guides. First time I've ever seen it in a companies design guide.

  • Bad Design (Score:4, Insightful)

    by countach (534280) on Tuesday August 28, 2012 @11:26PM (#41161753)

    I have to say I fall on the side of saying that skeuomorphic design is bad. The classic one is the latest iPhone podcast app which looks like an old reel to reel tape recorder. I mean I'm in my mid 40s, and I only saw one of these once when I was a tiny child, and even then it was obsolete.

    As for the leather bound notes and address apps, I've never owned a leather notes folder and I've never owned an address book with the letters down my side. My mum had one when I was a small child, but I haven't thought about such things for ages. As these devices expand into so many countries and new cultures, I'm sure these references are going to seem even more obscure and ridiculous.

    • by linatux (63153)

      Since young'ns don't know what a floppy disk is, the 'Save' icon is lost on them.
      Envelopes for email & phones probably won't be far behind.

      At least magnifying glasses are still reasonably recognisable for when the font gets too small - now get off my lawn!

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 28, 2012 @11:50PM (#41161927)

        The "young'ns," having never had to deal with floppy drives, are more likely to expect the icon to actually save the document. Instead of the inevitable bad sector error.

        • by Grishnakh (216268)

          I grew up with floppy disks. IME, they were extremely reliable in the 80s and early and mid 90s. It was rare for them to go bad, unless they'd been mistreated. But towards the end of their reign in the late 90s, they started getting really unreliable. I think this is because they became an afterthought, only included in PCs because of Windows driver disks and inertia, and people weren't using them much, so the drive makers and or the floppy disk makers cut costs, making them very unreliable. Back in th

          • by mug funky (910186)

            the probably got less and less reliable because we kept using those same disks from the 80s :)

            the density increased at some point, too.

            that said, i once spent a frantic and thankfully successful afternoon re-installing the OS on an archaic piece of telecine hardware that came as a block of 30 3.5" disks. every one of them worked in the c. 1991 disk drive.

            the only reason it died in the first place was a power failure while writing to it's internal SCSI disk. you'd think that sort of thing wouldn't corrupt

      • Some minor tweaking and it's an SD card icon, all good.

        • by gmhowell (26755)

          Some minor tweaking and it's an SD card icon, all good.

          Just as useless to a Mac owner as a stack of punchcards.

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward

            A stack of punchcards being the icon for 'compile' in Visual Studio...

      • by bmo (77928)

        Since young'ns don't know what a floppy disk is, the 'Save' icon is lost on them.

        Indeed.

        I'm going to make you feel old.

        http://i.imgur.com/Ml8hc.jpg [imgur.com]

        --
        BMO

      • Do you actually know what a physical radio button is? You can glean from the words that its a button on a radio, but that doesnt give you a whole lot of information. And yet I bet you use the software versions of radio buttons, and call them as such, without batting an eye. Same with the iconic floppy disk, symbols often outlive what they originally represented, just like probably half the words in this post(post? Will the youngins understand that, they have probably never used a physical bulletin board
        • by Gordonjcp (186804)

          It's a button like the row on the front of a radio, where you can select one preset radio station by pressing a button. Only one button can be selected at a time.

          How do you tune the radio in your car?

          • The buttons are no longer "selected" in that only one can be depressed at a time, they are merely interfaces to an embedded system anymore. They havent been the "press one and all the others pop out" for quite some time, and yet people who have never used an actual "radio button" understand the concept completely.
          • by ChatHuant (801522)

            How do you tune the radio in your car?

            The same way everybody does, I assume, or perhaps a little easier since for my set the closed oscillation circuit was tuned to the three standard waves at the Marconi factory, which means I can mostly use the aerial ammeter alone.

            All I have to do is adjust the open and closed circuits to resonance, and locate the proper secondary inductance for the maximum aerial current. After doing that a few times it hardly takes me more than a half an hour anymore. Of course, I use the shortcut of turning the co

    • Re:Bad Design (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Darkness404 (1287218) on Tuesday August 28, 2012 @11:39PM (#41161847)
      I think the problem is how do you come up with attractive designs that don't borrow from the physical world. The thing about obsolete things is that they stay as that item in the mind and are often distinctive. Even when they don't stay as that item they still can be used as a concrete representation of an abstract concept, take for instance the floppy disk. Even if you don't know what a floppy disk is, you do know its the symbol for "Save" and I think that would be hard to replace.

      Sure, we could have spartan UIs with no decoration and they'd still be functional, but they'd lack the attractiveness and little touches like Apple's "stitching" on iCal, things that make Apple products what they are. The digital world is filled with abstract concepts that need an easy reference for people to use. Text takes up too much space if its supposed to be readable so a picture is about the only option and it needs to be distinctive and not easily confused with something else.
      • Re:Bad Design (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Guy Harris (3803) <guy@alum.mit.edu> on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @12:39AM (#41162275)

        I think the problem is how do you come up with attractive designs that don't borrow from the physical world.

        As opposed to the problem of coming up with attractive designs that do borrow from the physical world, which is a problem that iCal and Address Book, by virtue of looking like ass in their skeuomorphic versions, don't solve.

    • Yes, but it looks better. It gives the UI a consistent design metaphor, something to design around besides the default GUI toolkit. I mean, which looks better: the stolen design metaphor, [niemanlab.org] or the default UI elements [ggpht.com]?

      Ideally, a creative artist could come up with something that breaks free from the constraints of reality, and transcends traditional UI design to become something great. Until we have such a Neo-Picasso, using physical objects as a design metaphor is better than design dictated by default UI el
    • by cgenman (325138)

      In this case it seems like the issue isn't necessarily skeuomorphic relevance but the iconicness of the skeuomorphism chosen. Setting up your preferences doesn't need gears to turn, but in this case that older required interface clearly communicates the intended usage. A notepad app that looks like a yellow sticky, in my opinion, triggers certain automatic assumptions about the usage and impermanence of the data. Again, that's useful. On the other side, the Game Center app that looks like a craps table

  • by iplayfast (166447) on Tuesday August 28, 2012 @11:28PM (#41161767)

    After looking up skeuomorphic and realizing that it meant current designs that reflect the original designs where the current design is cosmetic, and the original was practical I realized that this is a very stupid article.

    Apple is progressively moving towards fewer and fewer button.
    Windows are doing their windows 8 thing.
    Ubuntu was a 1 hour try before giving up on their unity interface.
    Kde is still my favourite. (It's like the Rolls Royce of UI IMHO)
    Gnome is the kid who never get's used but always gets installed.

    What does this have to do with maintaining cosmetic designs I have no idea. I think the guy picked a word out of a hat in order to get a link to postman deliver aps spot on the front page.
    Good job...
     

    • by chrismcb (983081)

      Apple is progressively moving towards fewer and fewer button.

      While Apple suggests using fewer buttons, they also recommend:

      Consider Adding Physicality and Realism

      Which is basically the definition of "skeumorph"

  • rise? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I would hardly say there's a "rise". The mail "envelope", the attachment "paperclip", the color "palette", the directory "folder" icon, the clock represented as an "analog dial", the video "movie reel"...

  • Finally! (Score:5, Funny)

    by tpstigers (1075021) on Tuesday August 28, 2012 @11:38PM (#41161841)
    I've been waiting years for a chance to use 'skeuomorphic' in a conversation.
  • by Latentius (2557506) on Tuesday August 28, 2012 @11:38PM (#41161845)

    This might have been a question to ask perhaps 5-10 years ago, when such things were all the rage (brushed metal, faux glass, reflections, etc.), but it seems that of late, between interfaces like Android (especially Honeycomb and later) or Microsoft's Metro, things have been taking a sharp turn away from skeuomorphism and decidedly towards an unabashedly digital styling.

    • by c0lo (1497653)

      ...interfaces like Android (especially Honeycomb and later) or Microsoft's Metro, things have been taking a sharp turn away from skeuomorphism and decidedly towards an unabashedly digital styling.

      Agreed. Call me decrepit, but I reached the point I consider paying for some actual styling [datamancer.net].

    • Apple wants to manipulate the shine on a button based on the title of a phone...too lazy to search for the article, though. Also wait until Apple will bring such stuff to the desktop, Microsoft will immediately announce that it is easier for users to navigate and use Metro if it looks like a cork board.

      The interface of Android on the other hand, I think Google will not go down that road.

    • by chrismcb (983081)
      Apple's IOS user interface guideline recommends

      Consider Adding Physicality and Realism

      So yes it is relevant

  • Move forward? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    "Batch processing" is not mostly unheard of. It still exists as an important component of all modern operating systems. Ever heard of cron jobs or process scheduling? Both of these require you to write code (or rather script, in the case of cron), but it's still a form of input to the OS.

    After batch jobs came CLIs, which are also essential, but for other forms of user interaction where you don't want to go through the firewall that some graphical designer put in the way of you.

    Mouse-and-keyboard-GUIs, such

    • by spauldo (118058)

      "Batch processing" is not mostly unheard of. It still exists as an important component of all modern operating systems.

      I would imagine the percentage of computer users in 1960 who were familiar with batch processing is much higher than the percentage of computer users who are famiiar with it now.

      Touchscreen based computers appear to be good for people that barely ever bother to change the settings of the program they use. While I could never imagine myself in this category, I understand the need and I think that it's an interesting step.

      Touchscreens were, until the advent of the PDA and cell phone, relegated to specialized computing. The ATM at my bank is a perfect example, or the fuel kiosk at Pilot truck stops you can use to print fuel receipts and track your points. They're popular on PDAs and cell phones because small keyboards are difficult to use and pointi

  • Yes (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ubrkl (310861) on Tuesday August 28, 2012 @11:49PM (#41161921)

    Yes it is a problem, and seems to be taking us backward in terms of usability. Apple is the worst for this, imo, their iPhone interface for setting an alarm is abysmal, hard to use with any accuracy, because you're sliding dials around, which have physics attached to them. So instead of being able to type in: 7, 3, 0 on a keypad, you're forced to deal with 3 different dials, pushing up & down until it gets it right. (It also stinks of 'hey, lets use multitouch for EVERYTHING).

    Also, accessibility takes a hit, as you're now dealing with pictures of physical things, and all people are left with are the equivalent of ALT tags on images with image maps.

    • by blackpaw (240313)

      God yes. I remember when the QuickTimer player changed its volume control from a simple linear slider to a teeny *knob* that you had to rotate with a mouse. It was incredibly painful and easy to get wrong.

      I'm still searching for a VOIP app that doesn't try to mimic a cell phone. I guess I should be grateful they don't try and use a rotary dial interface.

      • God yes. I remember when the QuickTimer player changed its volume control from a simple linear slider to a teeny *knob* that you had to rotate with a mouse. It was incredibly painful and easy to get wrong.

        Beat me to it. It was one of the major items in the Interface Hall of Shame, though I can't find that page anymore.

        I'm still searching for a VOIP app that doesn't try to mimic a cell phone. I guess I should be grateful they don't try and use a rotary dial interface.

        Could be worse. You might have to talk into the mic and say "hello, central, get me Murray Hill 5-9975." :)

        • by JPLemme (106723)
          I found it! (And I've looked a couple of other times in the past to no avail.) I did a GIS for "IBM RealCD", thinking to post a link to the picture-less archive.org copy and a separate link to some GIS results of the interface, and the RealCD pictures were from a heretofore unknown mirror of the site. (Way back in the day, I used to have this site bookmarked; I was bummed when the domain lapsed.) But enough about my google-fu...

          http://hallofshame.gp.co.at/index.htm [gp.co.at]

          Some relevant pages: (The rest of the
    • by Tom (822)

      Contrary to what you assume, Apple did actually do usability studies on precisely this feature.

      Their result was that yes, it is less precise and takes slightly longer, but it is more fun and users preferred it. That's why they went with it.

      As for accuracy - how important is it really that your alarm goes off at 7:30 and not at 7:29 ?

      • Their result was that yes, it is less precise and takes slightly longer, but it is more fun and the average user preferred it. That's why they went with it.

        FTFY

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @12:15AM (#41162099)

    Avoid unfamiliar terms, even if you link to a page explaining them. As you can see, 90% of the discussion here is about how an unusual word was used where GUI would have served the same purpose, which not only takes away a lot of space from a discussion about the actual question, but also made me skip pretty much all of it because I didn't come here to discuss the pros and cons of showing off ones word stock but whether GUIs are troubling. But now, instead, I wrote this note, which adds about as much to the actual discussion, but might serve you as a reminder to avoid things that take away attention from the actual question you're asking.

  • In order for user interfaces to be able to move away from skeuomorphic techniques one has to consider the willingness of the audience. Web design has been a great test bed for this very things. For many years using anything beyond the base set of html controls + date pickers was considered largely pointless, as businesses needed interfaces that took very little training. As the web evolved into a more entertainment oriented place, technologies like DHTML, Flash, and Javascript allowed designers to experimen
    • by Guy Harris (3803)

      As for "useless areas or designs" such as torn edges or leather borders, this is all about aesthetic. It's doesn't take a scientist to understand that people like things to look appealing. In the same manner a gamer loves his graphics to look as realistic as possible, so does any other user who sees imitation materials on their screen. Well designed abstract or purely digital layouts can look very nice, but they do not invoke most people's sense of value and worth.

      And they also don't invoke most people's sense of "who's the fucking idiot who decided that making iCal look like a type of calendar that most people these days have never used is more important than having enough fucking contrast between text and background, even in the title bar/toolbar?" The only people who are used to that type of calendar are older people who need the contrast the most.

      (At least in Mountain Lion they apparently realized that the three-pane view in Address Book is actually useful, and

      • While the contrast issue doesn't have much to do with this topic, the page swipe most certainly does. I can only account this to Apple's attempt to either maintain interfaces across devices (more of which are touch these days), or to further the use of their "Magic Mouse". While I do find this mouse very useful, page swipes like this are not very intuitive to me on a desktop. Clicking on a bookmark ribbon just seems worse. As I mentioned in my previous post, people are already fairly accustomed to calendar
  • by nri (149893) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @12:19AM (#41162133)

    Didn't Samsung just do that to Apple ? Made it look familiar, like an iPhone, but underneath its a sh1t load better :-)

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It's just design. There are going to be some instances that work really well and others that are not so great. There will always be people that complain about things that look pretty, preferring to spend their time in front of a command line.

    Skeuomorphic design is just in fashion at the moment. Hardware goes through design fads too. Brushed aluminium, wood grain, gloss white, matte black, bright colours, etc.

    • by c0lo (1497653)

      I don't see the issue

      It's just design.

      If the use of that design costs (in implementation) the host an arm and a leg (e.g. in terms of CPU and memory), I might have an issue with it. Remember what effect had disabling the Aero UI on Vista? Or switching the desktop to "Classic View" on early XP?

  • by scdeimos (632778) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @12:27AM (#41162183)
    The more they Think Different, the more they think the same.
  • We are living in the modern aesthetic, as defined by the Bauhaus et al back in the day.

    There isn't anything inherently wrong with other aesthetics. Form should follow function, but that doesn't mean you can't embellish things a bit.

    I mean, there's no reason to be a Nazi about it.

    Digital stuff is totally plastic - look at something like Bombardier's Guild on the iPhone: it has a ridiculously fun steampunk look. Why not?

    • by c0lo (1497653)

      There isn't anything inherently wrong with other aesthetics. Form should follow function, but that doesn't mean you can't embellish things a bit.

      Inherently? No. Pragmatically? Whenever the form affects the cost of the function, some may object (e.g. switching off "Aero" on Vista. Switching to "Classic View" on early XP).

  • " Are skeuomorphic designs making technology accessible to the masses, or is it simply a case of an unwillingness to innovate and move forward?""

    Neither. It's a move backwards in every sense of the word (Bob is calling and want you back in the middle ages). And we can thank it to Apple (oh my, just look at their sk.m. UIs lately), since lots of people mimic them just because they are Apple.
  • Probably neither (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Pikewake (217555) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @01:57AM (#41162749)

    The only type of software I've seen where this is the norm is music software, especially VST plugins.
    I guess the thought behind this is: "If you emulate the sound of a classic synthesizer, why not emulate the look-and-feel of it as well?"
    Of course it is easier for someone who has actually played the physical instrument to find the correct controls, but I think it's more a question of aesthetics than usability.
    The idea has carried over to instruments and effects that have no physical counterpart: If you have an analogue-sounding synth you'll get knobs and patch cables ( moog style); if it's a FM synth you'll probably see a lot of labled push-buttons (Yamaha DX7) and so on.
    Electronic musicians love their gadgets and now that we don't fiddle with actual knobs and sliders anymore, we still like to be reminded of them in the UI.
    Still, I don't think this represent "an unwillingness to move forward". Maybe part nostalgia and part the fact that these devices looked great and inspired you to play them.

  • In architecture... (Score:4, Informative)

    by theNAM666 (179776) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @02:10AM (#41162829)

    it's called 'facade' versus 'functionality.'

    The classic counterargument is that Courbusier advocated frill-less (and thus cheaper) "functional" towers, but himself chose to live in a replication of a medieval Italian villa.

    +5 karma to those of you who get the 'Blade Runner' reference.

  • by Tom (822) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @02:29AM (#41162929) Homepage Journal

    Someone desperately wanted to use the word "skeuomorphic" in a /. submission.

    Aside from that, was there any actual content? I didn't notice any.

  • Nobody forces you to use those interfaces, but for people new to technology it can help if they can relate certain functions to their real world analogues.

  • by biodata (1981610) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @03:53AM (#41163405)
    We used to do this crap in Windows in the early 90s - notebooks with rules lines and faux punched holes, folders with flaps that opened, old fashioned analogue clocks - and we stopped because it was stupid.
    • by Blakey Rat (99501)

      Google's repeating them too. Remember that brilliant concept in Windows 2000 where menu items you didn't use very often would "disappear"? And you'd have to take an extra step to actually see the full goddamned menu? Remember how it was stupid and confusing and it got patched-out of the OS and Office ASAP?

      Oh hey look at the new Folder list in Gmail. Way to resurrect a terrible concept that we all tried and rejected 13 years ago, Google.

  • by T.E.D. (34228) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @08:43AM (#41165689)

    Its no nice they've now come up with a jargon term for brain-dead GUI design.

    I'm not exactly a trained professional GUI designer, but even I know that the computer offers unique user-interface possibilities and challenges that are completely different that what you have with physical objects. If you don't take this into account, but just slavishly copy the physical object, you aren't even bothering to design. I don't think failure to design really merits a special name like this.

    I once worked on a project that involved creating a kiosk-like system for USN destroyers to handle water valve switching within the ship. We had pictures of the old system, which was a kiosk with a subway-like map of the piping drawn on it, with pushbuttons placed in various locations in the drawing to allow opening and closing of the various valves. The obvious issue here is that the operator has to work out in their head what combination of valve states will case the water to flow in the pipes the way they want. It seemed to me to be a great idea that we were compterizing this, because we could give them something better.

    The task of making the GUI was given to one of those guys on our team who is really productive, but doesn't do a lot of actual thinking (I'm actually kinda jealous of folks like that). He of course just drew the same map on the screen, using the same colors, with pushbuttons in the same places made to look as much like the original pushbuttons as possible.

    The waste of the computer's potential in doing it this way actually annoyed me so much, I worked through several lunches to make an alternative. The system I came up with actually drew the network to look like cross-sections of pipe, and would fill in for you which pipes had water flowing through them (based on the condition of all the valves) by showing blue water in the pipe or not. The valves were drawn to look like simple valves, but with indications on them that the were active objects.

    It turns out that (unbeknonst to me) we were in a backchannel political competition with another vendor for our project. When the project engineer saw this design, he got all excited and said "This is the kind of thing that will sell this system." I can't say for sure he was right, but I know we didn't end up losing the project. That isn't why I did it though. I just couldn't stand the idea of sticking our poor users (sailors) with that dumbass interface.

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