Designed in 2 Minutes?

Saturday, October 23, 2004

File handling - the Proper Way

Following on from the previous post about confusing file handling under Microsoft Windows, I feel it's a good time to make my next RISC OS comparison.

RISC OS has an object-based file system. Everything is done from the Filer; there are no file explorers, no File -> Open dialogue boxes to navigate, and no Insert menus. The analogy of drag-and-drop is the key.

To view an image file you drag the file from the Filer onto the iconbar (or just double-click) and RISC OS loads the file into the preferred image viewer.

To insert a picture into a word processor you drag the file from the Filer into the document at the position you want it displayed. RISC OS loads the image into memory and passes it directly to the document processor, which displays it as requested.

In addition to loading files, RISC OS also saves files using drag-and-drop. Open your Filer window to the required directory if it wasn't already open from when you loaded your document (which it most likely would be), click on the save icon in your document, and up pops up a Save Box. Enter the filename and drag the save icon from the Save Box directly to the Filer window. The file then appears in the Filer.

One of the more impressive features is saving of files *between* applications. So if your image was an editable file which you'd modified since loading, it would not have to be saved to temporary storage and then inserted from inside the document processor using a tedious Insert menu (as an aside, these menus are particularly useless under Windows etc. if your Filer window is already open right next to the document, as the user is then expected to navigate inside the tiny file 'browser' to find a file which they can already see on the disc in the Filer!).

Instead, the user simply 'saves' the image as earlier by dragging its save icon, but this time directly to the document processor rather than the Filer. As expected intuitively, the image then appears in the document in the same way as if it had been dragged in from the Filer window.

Oh, it's not very revolutionary by the way - RISC OS first appeared with this feature in 1989.


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