The Design of Software (CLOSED)

A public forum for discussing the design of software, from the user interface to the code architecture. Now closed.

The "Design of Software" discussion group has been merged with the main Joel on Software discussion group.

The archives will remain online indefinitely.

Unification of hardware and software design

I was at a talk quite a while ago by Bill Buxton, an important designer guy, who now works for Microsoft.

He was talkign about the iMac, and how its design evolved. He made an interestign point about the original iMac. His observation was that the original iMac's hardware and software were designed separately from one another. The teardrop design of the case was an inspired one, but held no relation whatsoever to the software design, except perhaps for the candy-coloured icons used in the OS.

If I remember correctly, Bill made a statement that from now on, no good computer design will be able to take that path. All hardware design should take into account software design, and vice-versa. The iPod is an example of this. The hardware click wheel is obviously designed specifically for the menu layout, as are the buttons for navigating menus. They work well together, and would not work well if either the hardware or software were changed.
Garth Shoemaker Send private email
Thursday, January 26, 2006
The unification is true for single purpose tools. Consider variable speed drills that are powered by rechargable batteries. There is some software at work in those drills, that's specifically customized to work with the physical aspects of the drill itself. The iPod and X-Box are similar.

A general purpose computer with interchangeable parts and multiple functions, cannot be as easily... focused. However in a nod to Bill Buxton, a lot of people have been talking about building and selling single-focus computers.
Thursday, January 26, 2006
Yes, admittedly it is more difficult to unify software and hardware design in a multi-purpose tool, such as a computer. I will put forward a few examples of where this has been done, though:

1. The new Apple mouse and OS functions. You can use the mouse quickly switch between applications, and go to the desktop.
2. The Apple laptop movement sensor. People are using it for more than it was intended, namely to use laptop tilt as an input device for software.

Anybody have other examples?
Garth Shoemaker Send private email
Thursday, January 26, 2006

This topic is archived. No further replies will be accepted.

Other recent topics Other recent topics
Powered by FogBugz