Genii Weblog

Consistency or OS optimization?

Sun 23 Oct 2005, 10:49 PM

by Ben Langhinrichs
A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

One of the challenges of supporting multiple operating system platforms is deciding whether to strive for consistency across platforms, which can quickly become a dive for the lowest common denominator, or to strive for OS optimization, where the best possible use of the OS is achieved, and users have to learn to expect different things from different platforms.  In general, we have tried to steer a middle course, taking advantage of what we could without severely effecting consistency.  In Version 1.2 of CoexEdit though, we are running into one of these areas where consistency is hard to come by, but the lowest common denominator is too low to aim for.

The issue is file attachments.  On Windows, we can use the API to render a graphic with a file attachment name , such as Image of icon with embedded name, which looks like a Notes attachment.  On AIX or Linux, we can have little better than Image of icon without nameCOEXUserManual.doc, with the underlined name after the icon, or even worse, Generic file attachment iconCOEXUserManual.doc, with the generic file icon and the name after it.  We could have just the icon, but the name seems fairly important.

So, what do you think we should do?  Do we stick with the lowest common debominator of Generic file attachment iconCOEXUserManual.doc for all platforms, or use that for AIX and  Image of icon with embedded name for Windows?  One additional consideration is that most CoexEdit users use it on Windows, but a few important ones use it on AIX (or would like to).

Copyright 2005 Genii Software Ltd.

What has been said:

383.1. Doug Cohen
(10/24/2005 07:30 AM)

In terms of file type association and recognition, it seems important to have the 'Word' icon appear for a Word attachment. This allows the end user to see that there are x number of Word documents on the given page.

An an example, looking at this blog entry, you can easily see the 3 'Word' icons, even though one is off to the side. Having the blank icon is just not as beneficial.

Being a CoexEdit customer using AIX, I would personally like to see 'Word' icon with the name, even if the layout is a little awkward.

383.2. Tim Tripcony
(10/24/2005 08:40 AM)

Our organization is developing a preference for displaying the link only with no icon. This is primarily because of how cluttered a paragraph can become when littered with attachments (see above).

For a few file types, though, I'd recommend importing Domino icons (i.e. actn103.gif or vwicn142.gif for Word) and prepending the link with the graphic; an indication of the file type is retained without disrupting the visual flow of the paragraph as much as the typical attachment icon.