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Posts Tagged ‘ical’

Dear iCal team,

Wednesday, March 12th, 2008

iCalLet me preface my remarks by commenting (like many Mac users) on how much the platform and its software have enhanced my productivity. I have a deep appreciation for the consistently good software that Apple releases, and I miss no opportunity to evangelize on your behalf.

Leopard has been a huge step forward in a lot of ways for me – it’s made me an even more efficient and effective computer user. But something has been bothering me consistently ever since I upgraded months ago, and it concerns the usability of iCal version 3.

I use iCal on a regular basis, both as a schoolteacher and a university student. On Tiger it was extremely easy to create events and access / edit information related to them. I’d often have to make changes to the time of an event, or its recursion settings, or its notes. If the event drawer was visible, changing any of these things involved at most two clicks.

In Leopard, however, not only do I need to double click on an event after it’s been created to view it, I next have to click on the ‘Edit’ button, and then click once more on the element I wanted to change. In addition to all these clicks, the event editing callout never appears in the same place twice, which means a different mouse motion is needed each time. These features violate a number of interface design principles – recognition over recall, consistency, flexibility & efficiency of use, and user freedom.

Conversely, the events drawer seems to me to be an excellent interface design decision: it allows users to access events in the same way, in the same location, in any view; it merges viewing with editing in a convenient and intuitive way; it doesn’t cover up other events in neighboring cells during viewing or editing; and it offers a much more spacious area to display event information.

As far as interface design goes, it’s obvious to me that the better event editing interface is in iCal on Tiger. I’m sure there are even better solutions out there, though I don’t pretend to know what they might look like; nevertheless, I’m convinced that what replaced the event drawer in Leopard is a step backward for usability. Using iCal has become a frustrating chore, and an uncharacteristically unpleasant step in my workflow. Please bring back the event drawer and its intuitive design, or alternatively, an even more innovative interface.

Ever since I switched to the Mac platform, working on even the most mundane tasks has become a pleasure. The only real exception is when I’m in the iCal environment.

I hope that, in the future, I won’t need to qualify this statement. Thank you for all the work you’ve done to make my life easier. Keep up the innovation, and thanks for reading.

Best regards,


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