What's the best UI you've used?

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If you're a musician, you probably notice things in music that regular folks miss out on. Likewise if you're, I guess, anything professional.

We've probably all used a website or app at some point where, as programmers and people who can appreciate that sort of thing, we stop for a moment and say, "wow, that's really good."

What's been an example of that for you, and what made it special?

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It's always relative, but my first experience using an iPhone was fairly mind-blowing. It was UI meets hardware that made it possible, but it was so far ahead of any other computer interface I'd ever used.

The swiping and scrolling and pinching, etc. We take it all for granted now, but holy cow!

 

I remember seeing a video about an interface, where people from some university projected a map onto a table and used their hands to pinch-zoom and rotate. It predated phone interfaces by a few years as I remember, but I thought, "this is the future" at the time, and when it came out on phones, when it became normal, I guess... yeah. Very cool.

 

You'll find, if you dig far enough, that almost all of the big 'killer' UI features on smartphones originated elsewhere. Inertial scrolling for example, was a Palm thing long before Apple even thought of the iPhone.

The same is true of a lot of tech though. The ancient Greeks had steam engines, but only ever thought of them as a curiosity instead of putting them to practical use.

You'll find, if you dig far enough, that almost all of the big 'killer' UI features on smartphones originated elsewhere.

This is kind of Apple's whole thing, though.

The idea of a mouse, having tiled windows on a desktop, a few other ideas... All came from Xerox's teams. They gave Jobs a tour and showed him what they were working on and Apple put all those ideas into their "made for the home" computers.

 

Probably odd for most people here, but the first time I started using workspaces on the Linux desktop was like this for me. My first experience with this was using XFCE4, which lets you literally push the mouse pointer off the side of the screen as if you were moving it to another monitor to swap work spaces.

Because I'm nearsighted, I've always been big on maximized windows, but until recently I didn't have enough money to even consider a multi-monitor setup, so when I first learned about workspaces, combined with that switching gimmick in XFCE4, my first thought was literally "Holy crap, this is amazing! Why isn't this available on MacOS and Windows?".

 

I've always hated programming until I discovered Unity. What's amazing about it, is that I can see my code turned into something visual. It's just like making your code alive.

UI in Unity is user friendly. It's a mix between drag and drop and coding. For me, it's best of both world.

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Ben Sinclair profile image
I've been a professional C, Perl, PHP and Python developer. I'm an ex-sysadmin. Back in the day, I had a geekcode which I'm not going to share with you. 418 I'm a teapot.