Window Systems Should Be Transparent


Commercial UNIX window systems are unsatisfactory. Because they are cumber- some and complicated, they are unsuitable companions for an operating system that is appreciated for its technical elegance. Their clumsy user interfaces clutter the view of the operating system. A good interface should clarify the view, not obscure it. Mux is one window system that is popular and therefore worth studying as an example of good design. (It is not commercially important because it runs only on obsolete hardware.) This paper uses mux as a case study to illustrate some principles that can help keep a user interface simple, comfortable, and unobtrusive. When designing their products, the pur- veyors of commercial window systems should keep these principles in mind.

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