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That Option Key

Things blow back.


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These are two 'File' menus from Apple's Preview.app for Mojave. The one on the left is the standard menu. The one on the right is what you get when you hold down an option (⌥) key.

See the differences?



Not counting the separator lines:

  1. Line 4: 'Close Window' → 'Close All'.
  2. Line 7: 'Duplicate' → 'Save As'.

Line 4 is irrelevant here. Line 7 is not.

Some time ago, Apple decided to fully and completely make 'Save As' disappear. Despite it being around since the beginning of the GUI era. Despite it being rather more than simply 'Save As'. Despite a lot of people finding numerous ways to utilise it to improve their workflow. Suddenly 'Save As' was gone.

Template menus in IB changed. The old APIs remained but were no longer eminently available. If you wanted the traditional 'Save As' functionality then you kept your old menus or copied old menus into new projects.

Over a period of several years and through a succession of updates, the 'Save As' command gradually made a comeback. Now it's almost like in the good old days. All that's different is the encumbrance of having to press that option key. Maybe that encumbrance will soon disappear. Surely it needs to.

The Steve Jobs Way

The above is very much the Steve Jobs way of doing things. Steve may not be with us anymore (RIP) but the Steve Jobs way of doing things still is.

Whereas you might otherwise gradually introduce a new feature by making it available as an 'opt-in' and only phase the old version out when user response so dictates, perhaps keeping the older version as a fallback over an interim period, Steve's way is to just drop things in people's laps, this is now the way of doing things, folks, you just struggle with it - because, in Steve's way of thinking, customers don't know what they want until you give them what you know they want but they don't yet know they want.

What the customers say they want is not what they need, and so forth. It's a great kick when it works, but things don't always work that way. The wisest in the industry know how to hasten slowly and with caution.

Apple eliminated the floppy on their iMac back in the 1990s. More recently they removed most of the ports from their laptops. They introduced a 'Touch Bar' that nobody really wants and fewer still can fathom.

The option key options can be cool. There are several of them in the system. They add significant functionality to an existing feature set. They don't turn things topsy-turvy.

'Save As' made a comeback. Someone at Apple understood that their way of doing things was wrong.

About Rixstep

Stockholm/London-based Rixstep are a constellation of programmers and support staff from Radsoft Laboratories who tired of Windows vulnerabilities, Linux driver issues, and cursing x86 hardware all day long. Rixstep have many years of experience behind their efforts, with teaching and consulting credentials from the likes of British Aerospace, General Electric, Lockheed Martin, Lloyds TSB, SAAB Defence Systems, British Broadcasting Corporation, Barclays Bank, IBM, Microsoft, and Sony/Ericsson.

Rixstep and Radsoft products are or have been in use by Sweden's Royal Mail, Sony/Ericsson, the US Department of Defense, the offices of the US Supreme Court, the Government of Western Australia, the German Federal Police, Verizon Wireless, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Microsoft Corporation, the New York Times, Apple Inc, Oxford University, and hundreds of research institutes around the globe. See here.

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