[Dev] Native Platform Integration [was User interface]
Michael R. Bernstein
webmaven at lvcm.com
Sat Oct 26 12:12:09 PDT 2002
On Fri, 2002-10-25 at 23:36, Curt Hibbs wrote:
> Michael R. Bernstein wrote:
> > The main difference between XUL and wxWindows is that a XUL app will
> > look exactly the same on every platform, whereas wxWindows uses the
> > native widgets on each platform.
> > Depending on the scenario, this is either good or bad.
> In UI discussions there is usually a lot of talk about native platform
> look-and-feel. What is often overlooked (and, in my opinion, more important)
> is native platform integration. This was a hot topic last January on
> comp.lang.ruby. Here is an excerpt from a post made by Sean Russell that
> made a pretty clear case:
> == begin quote ==
> One thing that *n?x users tend to be blind to is the importance of
> cooperation between an application and the desktop. In my mind,
> look-and-feel is a minor issue compared to how well an application
> integrates with the environment in which it is running.
> Consider: StarOffice and KWord. My wife is an author, and is not what you
> would call a computer afficianado. StarOffice is a much better word
> processor than KWord (at the moment). It is more feature complete, and it
> doesn't suffer from the printing problems that plague KWord. KWord is
> currently WYSI*not*WYG. Despite this, she uses KWord. Why? Because the
> current version of StarOffice/OpenOffice doesn't support copy/paste from
> the X clipboard. This means she can't copy from Netscape, or Konqueror,
> into StarOffice, and this is unacceptable.
> I propose that the strongest argument for using native toolkits is to gain
> this integration with the user's desktop. You can emulate look-and-feel,
> but you can't emulate integration.
> == end quote ==
> WxWindows (like SWT mentioned in the quote above) uses native widgets where
> possible and because of this, delivers a higher level of integration with
> the native platform than most other toolkits (including XUL).
Curt, while I agree with your premise (integration is more important
than look and feel), I feel your conclusion is a little overstated.
In point of fact, Mozilla *does* integrate with the native platform to a
large extent. The specific example that you quoted, copy-and-paste,
works great between Mozilla and the desktop, and so does drag-and-drop.
Now, it is certainly possible that there are other examples of native
platform integration that Mozilla does not currently support or emulate,
but a lot of work has been done in this area.
Actually, some headway is being made even in the look-and-feel realm,
with recent versions of Mozilla (1.2 betas, I believe) picking up the
native theme under GTK when using the 'Classic' Mozilla theme, and HTML
form controls picking up the native theme under WinXP. Admittedly (not
having tested this capability myself), this more likely addresses the
'look' rather than the 'feel'.
None of this actually negates the point you made (that wxWindows has
better integration) but it does weaken it somewhat.
The point you made in another email regarding XUL making MVC separation
more difficult, is important as well, but not one I have the experience
to comment on knowledgeably.
Overall, it seems to me that core GUI development will be easier with
wxWindows, but that non-core GUI extension will be easier with XUL. Both
barriers to entry are important, but to different audiences.
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