The father of the Mac Jef Raskin has is "very disappointed" with the Macintosh interface.
Raskin claims: "The interface is so complex, there's so many parts to it, that I have to go to other people and ask them how do you do this."
The revelation came in an interview on Berkeley Groks, a weekly radio science programme broadcast in Berkeley California.
Despite Mac OS X's claims of stability Raskin said: "The Panther keeps on biting me, crashes once or twice a week. The whole system crashes, individual programs crash pretty often still."
He also criticizes Apple for not including a manual with the operating system: "There's no nice manual that leads you from the beginning: here's what all these different things do and if you do this, you need to use this secret trick.
"Right now I can go back between my Windows machines and into my Macs, hardly having to think at all, they are so similar and they are both quite dreadful."
One button or two
Raskin's desire for ease-of-use goes back to his original conception of the Mac. Having witnessed the struggles of some students in the computer lab at his university he concluded that it the way the computer systems were designed that was causing the problems.
He explains: "I realized that we should be designing computer systems to make them easier to use and that was more important than what I was being taught in my computer science classes. It was the interface that was clearly most at fault."
But he does not stand by all his initial ideas of what would make the Mac interface easy to use. For example, having seen the three-button mouse developed at Xerox Parc, Raskin felt that it was too confusing. So he decided to opt for only one button. "I figured that if there was only one button, there would never be any question on what you have to press the number of ways of using a one-button mouse." However, he now admits: "I think this was probably a mistake."
He explains: "One of the reasons I made the mistake is that there is a certain school of industrial design dating back to the Bauhaus which says that designs have to be simple, uncluttered, and clean. In particular, don't put writing on it except for brand names or logos. If we had had a multiple-button mouse with two keys, labeled something like "select" and "activate," it would have been much easier to use, but the idea of putting writing on keys did not occur to anybody, including me. If I was designing one today, it would have two buttons and they would be labeled."
Regarding the suggestion that the Mac was influenced by work at Xerox Parc Raskin says: "The contributions of Parc are very broad, very deep, many many brilliant things were done there and many of those things later were to appear in the Mac and other computers. But a lot of the ideas people said came from Xerox Parc had already, I had already thought of or actually implemented before there was even a Xerox Parc."