How long have Mac users lived with the Desktop and Finder? Over 25 years. What’s the next great way to manage our way around computers? Touch? Maybe.
Touch is an intuitive handheld navigation method, but won’t make a transition to help us manage our way around a Mac’s Desktop and Finder, right? Or, will it? To find a better way we go back to the future and look at Raskin the app and Raskin the inventor.
Back To The Future
Jef Raskin was a human-computer interface expert. He died a few years ago. Raskin is best known for his work on the original Mac back in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Much of the Mac’s Desktop and Finder metaphor came from Raskin.
That was then. This is now. The way we manage files, apps, and interact with our Mac hasn’t changed much since Raskin’s Mac efforts went public in 1984.
It’s still a Desktop and Finder world. What’s the next great thing? Maybe it’s touch. But not touch in the way we use our iPhones. Touch in the way we use a Mac. Only different. Better? Maybe.
Raskin is a Finder replacement which changes the way we interact with our Macs. Finder? Desktop? Goodbye. And, with the right equipment attached to your Mac, perhaps easier, perhaps better, certainly different.
Raskin is inspired by Jef Raskin’s work in computer-human interface and takes advantage of new technology, specifically Apple’s Magic Trackpad, to give you a different way to navigate your Mac, going beyond mere point and click, yet in an oddly familiar way.
Visualize And Tap, Not Point And Click
Raskin creates a visual interface to your Mac so you can open apps, open documents, open images, all without digging around in the Finder. Gone from the Mac’s Desktop are the clutter of all those windows and files—replaced by a visual image of everything.
Launch Raskin the first time and it digs through your Mac’s files and folders and applications to find what you’ve used most, then spreads them out like a wide, flattened contact sheet. No windows. Just a broad surface and columns that act like folders.
Caveat? Raskin takes a long time to find everything.
The left side of Raskin is reserved for your Applications. Everything else is defined as Places (like folders). You can still use your mouse and point and click to navigate, but it’s an effort. Raskin works especially well with Apple’s Magic Trackpad. You can still use the mouse and point and click to navigate and use menus, but the Trackpad is more fun.
Use your fingers to slide across Raskin to open Places, navigate inside, even tap or double tap to use Mac menus—all from the Magic Trackpad, not the keyboard or mouse.
Pinch and zoom. Tap. Double tap. Navigating Raskin is almost acceptable with a standard mouse and point and click, but improved with Apple’s Magic Mouse, and even intuitive on a gesture capable MacBook or MacBook Pro but it’s a delight when using the Magic Trackpad.
The full list of all you can do using Raskin is substantial.
Create and group documents into new Places (folders) by drag and drop.
Rename anything on the fly. View all apps with open Windows (like in Expose’). Resize, display, hide, and arrange everything quicker than in the Finder.
Maybe Apple is setting us up for the Mac of the future which is even more intuitive than using a mouse or keyboard. Or, not. I don’t see either device being replaced by a trackpad of any kind. Those would be additional, not the norm.
Why not? As interesting and somewhat intuitive as Raskin appears to be, any app that requires a whole series of videos to demonstrate and explain isn’t really all that intuitive, is it?
And, there’s the real world conflict of having to bounce back and forth between trackpad and keyboard and mouse (Raskin is not the device to enter text, but combined with some kind of voice input, might be a game changer).
Raskin also requires extra time to scan your Mac, and seems to love RAM. Still, Raskin thinks different. It’s both interesting and fun, if not a little frustrating at first, therefore, it requires a little time get a good feel for how to use it.
Is Raskin a glimpse into the future of Mac? Possibly. The Finder and Desktop are aging but familiar usage metaphors. Raskin is more derivative than revolutionary; merely a different way to do the same things; not faster, smoother, or easier. Just different.
OK, ready for a little fun? Check out Extreme Politics, Hit Whores, Me, And The Mac. It’s my view on politicians and writers who use Macs to inflame voters and incite readers.