I have some thoughts on the future of #UI on non-mobile devices and the role that #FLOSS can play.

1. It seems that all proprietary software companies are de-prioritising their desktop OSes, in terms of focus and resources. Microsoft is doing weird tablet hybridisation and Apple is just porting iOS junk back from the iPad.

This creates a vacuum, as there is no modern desktop UI. Nothing's been done since roughly OS X. It's been 18 years. More than my whole adult life.

2. There will be very little financial incentive to fill this vacuum. Desktop OS:es only sell to the enterprise, which has different requirements, and Microsoft has that market cornered anyway.

No-one who is making software purely for money would be able to do this. Well, we, the FLOSS community, aren't, and so we can.

3. In order to do this, we need to experiment. A lot. And most of these experiments will probably fail.

For that to happen, the cost of development in terms of time and cognitive load must go down. Much like Rust seems to have enabled a wave of new command-line tools that are faster and much less boring than the traditional Unix tools. Making a GUI app must be roughly as complicated as making a CLI app.

4. This requires languages AND frameworks. The languages need to remove the incidental complexity in dealing with the concurrent situation that is a modern UX app. The frameworks need to encapsulate common patterns and remove boilerplate.

The languages are mostly there, I would argue, and the patterns are somewhat implemented (functional reactive programming, Excel, etc), but the frameworks are not just a little behind.

5. We also need to train FLOSS people in design AND recruit design-oriented people who may or may not code. This might also entail developing our tools for communication and infrastructure to also capture common workflows in design. I don't know, I'm not a designer.

@albin Agreed. We do experiment a bit, i.e. GNOME 3, but then that generates a lot of heated discussions etc.

I think we have fairly decent desktop UIs now. They should keep evolving for sure, but what we should focus most of our energy on is a Mac like developer experience for desktop aps, i.e. developing an unified set of APIs with lots of complex functionality prepared as part of a SDK for developers to tap into. On Mac, there's AppKit, which is why all the independent desktop apps are Mac.

@MatejLach I have tried app development on the Mac and found it unbearable, but I agree, sort of. It’s a trade-off between exploring new things and improving the ones we have, but I don’t think they are in fundamental conflict.

@albin @MatejLach I'm very interested in why it is you've found it unbearable (not that I really disagree... but then I wouldn't agree either)

Are the languages (objc, Swift) hard to learn/use? Is the tooling bad? Not enough docs? ...

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@bugaevc @MatejLach I have only ever tried swift, but I dislike Xcode (and all IDEs), and I couldn’t find documentation for anything, including things like basic project structure and what even the basic code temples do, and there was a horrendous amount of boilerplate code and incidental complexity

@albin @bugaevc

Swift was created because ObjC is showing its age, rather crufty and it's not that pleasant on the eyes either.

From my own experience, having tried it myself, Swift is actually rather nice to work with. The problem is that Swift, the language, is a small part of the picture.

Most of the time, you'll spend time with Mac's frameworks, which were not made for Swift's functional paradigm, they're still the same old ObjC, wrapped in extremely thin, unidiomatic Swift wrappers.

@albin @bugaevc

So you have this nice, modern language - Swift - but you rarely get to write it idiomatically or allow for its expressiveness to shine, because you're constrained by Cocoa/AppKit, which are very much 80s OO.

Then there's the whole thing about Apple having very deliberate patterns, which also don't mix well with Swift, that you need to follow, Xcode constantly loosing syntax highlighting & requiring you to fiddle with settings that are hard to find, Storyboards being a mess...

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