Leopard could introduce a radical change

May 16th, 2007
New iPad puzzle game:
Art Scrambles

BlackFriars’ Marketing raised an interesting idea: Leopard might do away with windows. A radical idea with a daunting list of complications…but interesting. Afterwards, others commented about whether it makes sense, and whether it’s really possible, even using Core Animation.

Read Core Animation Indeed for examples of existing animation in Mac OS X.

Whether doing away with windows makes sense is impossible to say until you know the particulars of what would replace them. Windows have been around a long time, like forever, but they’re not perfect. Something someday will replace them.

New products like Apple TV and iPhone don’t use windows at all, so it’s not a stretch to think they might disappear eventually on the desktop as well. True, you don’t multitask on those products in the same way—AppleTV does one thing at a time, and even if iPhone let’s you take a call while looking at photos, you can only do one visual thing at a time, and it’s the visual multitasking that windows really enable.

Windows have their limits. Open enough of them, and multitasking can get harder. Then, windows can get in the way, which Exposé was introduced to work around. Still, it’s hard to say whether it’s actually time to replace windows.

But it is possible. And existing applications would never have to know.

In Tiger, when Preview displays a picture and Safari displays a web page, they draw into a simple rectangle of a certain width and height. They own the rectangle they draw into, and barely know windows even exist.

rendering_1.png

Mac OS X owns the windows. It wraps windows around what Preview and Safari draw. The applications remain unaware of the details of the window.

rendering_2.png

Leopard could eliminate windows to display the applications in an entirely different way, and the applications would never know.

rendering_3.png

It would be backwards-compatible too.