[Scribus] Look and feel

Gregory Pittman gpittman
Sun Feb 3 17:41:27 CET 2008

Roger wrote:
> It amazes me that look and feel - ONLY- applies to computer software.
> Cars and each of their components, fridges, tv's, cranes, bulldozers, 
> lawnmowers, toasters, injection molding machines, shovels, rakes, in fact most 
> of the things used in life have virtually identical "Look and Feel" to their 
> competitor's offerings yet competition abounds.
> But the UI of software -- oh no!  thats a patent issue.
There actually is a very competitive and protective spirit involved with 
things like automobiles. I recall reading an article where an inventor 
won a large settlement from several automakers for having invented an 
operating intermittent windshield wiper. The automakers 
reverse-engineered his design, implemented it, but then he realized it 
was a copy of his design and sued. And this is about a very small part 
of the vehicle. The visual appearance of autos is another matter, 
acknowledged difficult or impossible to protect against, and therefore 
you see Hyundais beginning to look a lot like a Mercedes or BMW.

Open source software makers have generally taken their cues from 
previous lawsuits between corporations. Apple, of course, sued but lost 
its argument against Microsoft's use of the whole Windows GUI concept 
(of course, this was something that Apple didn't totally invent all by 
itself either - Steve Jobs stole the idea of the mouse from the guy at 
Xerox who invented it). So now it is accepted that having a "desktop", 
and "icons" you can click on, to open applications into "windows" is a 
generic part of the way computers do and perhaps must work. The general 
turf of the windowing environment is pretty established -- menu bar, 
toolbar, keyboard shortcuts, sub-windows and sub-sub-windows, 
left-clicking, right-clicking, clicking and dragging and dropping -- so 
these seem safe.

Many of the complaints we hear about "why doesn't Scribus do 
such-and-such like AppX?" really relate to us being creatures of habit. 
The way AppX did or does something may have been an arbitrary choice by 
someone who was not the intended user of the software. I think we can 
agree perhaps that, in the end, Scribus should emulate the real-world 
environment of laying out a design on a 2-dimensional space, and allow 
the user to manipulate it in the ways he might in the real, 
3-dimensional world. In addition, though, there are many things that can 
be done with the computer that are prohibitively time-consuming or not 
physically possible, so these are incorporated too. One thus accumulates 
many different operations, many of those linked to others so that if you 
change the operation of one method, others much change as well. This 
then explains the resistance one hears to the question, "why can't you 
just change this one little thing?" And there are practical issues too 
-- compromises must be made. There is no such thing as a perfect 
application, just as there are no perfect automobiles, and the designers 
know this. For that matter, there is no perfect layout design -- at some 
point you must say, "This is good enough, it meets my standards of 
quality, but I have learned something with which I can make the next 
design better." Thus it has been with Scribus.


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