What does Aqua mean to you?


Two questions now that we've all had a while to play with OS X:

1) How many of you are using Aqua/Desktop.app/the dock "as Jobs intended" -- that is, no drives on the desktop (and perhaps nothing else, either), no apple menu hack, using dock space sparingly and docked subfolders for all of the other stuff, etc. (ie: basically a minimalist approach).

The other camp appears to me to be the "make it more like 9" camp with the apple and process menus, drives and stuff on the desktop, lots of stuff crammed onto the flat (not heirarchical) dock.

I'm in the former group, but then again, I'm a college student, and I don't try to use OS X to make money or do serious web design or anything too very taxing for most of the day. (And I certainly understand the merits of the other view.) So the question is in what camp are you in? Or do you even think that there are these camps?
(Please don't reply to bash on or uncritically praise aqua -- I'm interested in what people have done to be able to use their systems effectively, now that the first impression has worn off.)

2) What in god's name does the term "aqua" really mean? It seems to mean all things to all people... is it the UI? A part of the UI? The human interface guidelines? The sexy widgets (to borrow from Bill Gates)? The gestalt of the desktop and the dock? The color scheme?
What does it mean to you? I can't totally figure what it means to Apple...

That is all,
Lol ok Aqua mean water in Italian and possibly spanish, so I gues it's a metaphor for
the Fluidic use of the OS....

I use Aqua unmodified, BUT I do have 2 drive images on the desktop, along with a PP connect shortcut.

The question here is who uses a MacOS unmodified period. All users of ANY OS modify it to suit their needs, whether those needs are professional, productive, or aesthetic (pleasing to the eye). In my OS 9 I am using Kaleidoscope. At this moment I am using a QNX OS scheme...before I was using windows 2000, and before that a NeXTSTEP scheme.... and even before that a Star Trek scheme... I have LOTS of icons on the left and right of my desktop neatly alligned I have two eyes folling my cursor in the menu bar..and sooo many other little modifications....

So to modify MacOS X is Normal! We do the same for all out other OSs that we use on a daily basis . ;)

My first look at what the new interface on the Mac would be was a year ago. I was surfing on the web on a PC. Went to Apple site and saw news about OS X and what they called "Aqua". I was amazed ! This whole thing was so nice that any computer not using it looked ridiculous on my mind. But your question is good : what is Aqua? Well, let's start with Apple's definition.

"Named after a word that means water in many languages, Aqua brings your Mac to life with color, depth, translucence and fluid motion. "

To explain the word, I think nothing more needs to be added : any latin language has kept or transformed the word Aqua for everything that's related to water. May be for english speaking people it's less abvious. But it refers to the fluidity of the elements on the screen. Like a spring of water, a window that is minimized will look like melting at the bottom of the screen and put in a small recipient on what the called The Dock. (But why in the world they called this effect "Genie" if it has to do with water. The idea is nice too: in a bottle laying on the Dock, there's a Genie waiting for you to scrub it's lamp and will then serve you - like your apps WILL serve you, your computer WILL, and not the opposite...)

But water is also the element required for life to exist. Noticed the "biological" metaphor taken by Apple since it's firsts days, and even more recently: Darwin, Carbon, Cocoa, Spontaneous Generation (which, on a Creationist point of view, means "we've created a new been, a new species"), etc. So Aqua brings live back on the OS as the iMac did in Hardware. It bring motion, color and "life". Now I have problems looking at any grey window: so ugly!

Apple also suggest: "Because while the Aqua interface is alive with motion and great to look at, it also provides important visual cues — focusing your attention, suggesting next actions, and making your responses much more intuitive."

So Aqua is designed to be something anyone fell comfortable with, get used too fast enough: something simple, usefull, and great. Like water.

Of course, we could discuss of every aspect of OS X's interface that is missing from the "Classic" OS to get all the advantages of 15 years of work, and bring back all we were used to. But we can also ask ourselves if all those things are really necessary. And ansking to new users (i.e. someone who never touched any computer, or not many) what seems to miss you give us a good idea.

So here's how I use Aqua: the first day, of course, I downloaded every utilities needed for the Apple menu to show again, I put an alias of my HD on the Desktop, and everything. But it took not a lot of time to realize I didn't really need all those. I always click on the Finder's icon in the Dock to open a file (hey, it remembers where I was last time!), and even if my DH icon takes let's say 1/10 of my 15 inch screen, I double click it rarely. But I like the design on the icon!

But one think I'd like to see: Apple claims: "Minimize a playing QuickTime movie and it continues playing in the Dock." Is it not yet implemented or what?

Of course, one thing I really miss is any way to display a hierarchical menu to go faster... I'm not saying the Apple menu. You know a utility called FinderPop? It allows you to set aliases in a contextual menu that will pop up with a maintained click anywhere on the screen. So I really think Apple could design a really modern hierarchical menu... The Apple one was there since the bigginning for one reason: to run utilities before the multilple Finder (right?) So it might not have any reason to be there now. But any other hierarchical menu is required!!!

So we could call Aqua a part of the UI. It's probably not a new part of what we call UI Guidelines, because I thing that it wasn't elaborated with the same scientific thinking. Elaborating UI is really a science and has a lot to do with psychology, and is not too related with "appearance" like Aqua is. They'll probably review some point of this new UI with time... We can also consider it as all the new features brought by Cocoa apps: the ability to close a window in the back, drawers, etc. And these are really interesting and revolutioning concepts to me.

But lately, I discovered what really was Aqua and a Mac in every of it's aspects. They use to call it a computer "for the rest of us". That is true today too. We're no Unix geeks, we don't what to type commands and all the stuff. (imagine, when I first heard about Unix, I though it was simply a "status" given to any operating system reaching a level of robustness and stability and power. Never thought of it as CLI) So Apple designed this pretty interface to run along with the Unix (let's not say "above" the Unix, as windows does for DOS to my point of view) for one reason: assure that Mac users would have the easyness of the Mac with the power of a Unix. From what I read (on a really long post here about Unix and X), it seems like the Mac is in peril. We will see here some kind of a battle between two possible fate for computers: CLI and GUI (command line interface and graphical user interface...). Developpers now have to possible ways of porting or developping apps for OS X. And the battle will take place on the Mac itself. And the GUI has one weapon: Aqua.

So Aqua can be seen as life once again. Colours, pulsing buttons etc all have to do with the continuity of life: the more colored fruits will have more chances to be eaten be living organisms, and then will be able to reproduce at another place and survive.

Mac OS X and Aqua therefore can be seen like the biggest effort for what we call MAC to survive. OS 9 as a system came to an end with all it's missing features. We needed OS X. It will give a chance for MAC to survive. And I'm not talking about Apple. They could come with a new machine called Mendel, that would run a UNIX with almost any GUI, and everyone forget about what was a Mac... But the Mac is really the user experience I want to have. I want to see a smiling Icon at startup. I want to see no commands. And want something simple.

So that's what OS X made me realize. And that's what I think of Aqua. If you have comments, leave them. I think it's a really interesting question. And I can't wait to see what's going to be the result of this great experience called OS X!

Frédéric Latour <latourfl>

[edit: spelling mistakes, sorry for that!]

[Edited by latourfl on 12-22-2000 at 11:00 PM]
In answer to the first question, no mods at all except for Jet Clock in the menu bar, 10 items in the dock, column view, and the toolbar hidden on the finder screens. I like the Aqua interface, although I'm more impressed by the stability of OS X than any interface details. I haven't used the terminal app since the first days after I got the beta, before many third party interface programs were out there.
2) Good question indeed. I think of it as the sexy widgets. Basically, if you do that trick to make Cocoa apps use the NextStep style rather than the Mac style (I forget what it is), then subtract the NextStep interface from the Mac one, the difference is Aqua.


I downloaded one of those themes that Apple legal put the crunch on right away. I consider it absolutely essential to get rid of all that glaring white all over the place. I am really longing for a complete colour scheme control panel, like in (Arrr! Blasphemy!) Windows. If I look at black text on white background, I get eyestrain and a headache in no time. (Until the Mac OS lets you set one comprehensive colour scheme easily, I am using apps that let you change colours individually)

I have the Trash on my desktop, simply because you can't get a contextual menu for the one in the Dock. If you could right/control-click the Dock icon and get a menu that included "empty the trash", then I would take the Trash off the desktop. In fact I would probably prefer that.

My desktop otherwise just includes clipping files and URLs and such. Because, try as they might, there is just no way Apple is going to come up with something as convenient as dragging a URL to the destop, and then having a double-clickable shortcut for a web/ftp/etc site.

As far as the "make it more like OS 9" thing goes - hell no! On the other hand, I think they have perhaps cut OS 9-like things a little too ruthlessly. For example, who the heck thinks of the desktop clock as an application? It's just a feature of the desktop environment. I want that clock icon out of my Dock, and the time sitting at the right of my menu bar without visual gimmickry like the graphical tear-off calendar thing that's completely unreadable if it's less than the full 128 x 128 pixels. &lt;/rant&gt; &lt;mark breathes slowly&gt;

I agree with the need for more contextual menu options. I have not investigated the architecture for doing this, but it would be great if I could, for example right click on a tar.gz file, and choose the "tar zxf", or, better yet, "decompress"

Heh. Silly me, I forgot to answer my own question!
I started with the "make it like 9" camp. Then I realized I loved the clean lines (mmm... bauhaus) of OS X and I even stopped hating the apple in the center of the menu bar. Sure, I've customized my system -- wClock in the menu bar, and a translucent terminal (the coolest thing I've seen yet), as well as the dock hacks. Customizations are great -- and for my money the best ones are those that make Aqua more like what it should be (clock, coolness factors). The "make it like 9 hacks" just weren't that useful to me... but others love them. I'm glad they exist, though.

I like the answers to the aqua question. Scruffy gives a good example with the NeXT thing, and mentions something that I think would really make OS X great --
Easily customized contextual menus!

Here's what I envision as being the best thing since sliced bread:
1) Services intelligently integrated into the contextual menus. Services must somehow register with the OS as to what they operate on (a file, or text, or whatnot), right? Well then, when you right click on an object (a file, or text, or whatnot), relevant services pop up.
2) An easy way to make applescripts into services.
Since Applescript can interface with both the CLI and with the rest of the OS, applescript services (in contextual menus!) would allow you an amazing amount of power. Like all the crap that pops up in win2k when you right-click, except that you get to decide on (and possibly build your own) tools.

Sounds good? Ask Apple for it! I have, and I plan to continue to do so...

(Sorry for the long post)

1) I use the Dock and column view for quicker navigation. The desktop only has my junk. I leave the buttons visible in the Finder window. The quick link buttons work well with the columns.

2) I never used hierarchical menus so I do not miss the unorganized Apple Menu. The Dock is a smart process menu. My Dock only has Finder, Battery, Drop Drawers and Trash.

3) I removed the clock from the dock and replaced it with the battery monitor. I think the battery monitor is just too cool.

4) phClock (sp?) and Drop Drawers are two 9isms I installled and use. The clock should always be visible but my Dock auto-hides. I love the dock but it cannot replace the neatly catagorized > 20 aliases in my button view tabbed folders of Sys 9. My drop drawers are on the right edge of the screen.

5) I want my location manager!!!!


I use the dock and desktop as Jobs intended.

I am a programmer who has had to rely on other platforms to program and deploy. Finally I can program some real backend stuff on my own mac.

I find the Classic environment disgusting to look at, but at the same time Aqua should be less bright.

I like the idea of a Dock and clean desktop. I guess the only mods are to make the dock hierarchical or tabbed.

Aqua is the UI and UI API Apple have developed. Other windowing environments have a UI with a possibly seperate UI API - for instance X-Windows has multiple skins, but one API to call buttons, widgets etc.
hi :) ya all

first to zpincus:
hi zpinci
I have replaced the boot- and loginpanel with one of my own making.

I use \\\'Plus for X\\\' to have the trash and my drives on the desktop, and have the
icons at 128x128 (fun!)
I make icons for 9 and X and like to see them on the desktop.
Sometimes one or two folders wich I put away later where I want them.

I have one of those menubar clock thingies wich also allows you to change the resolution, volume (how else to do it? go to systemprefs all the time?stupid!)
and to automatically hide backround apps.
you can get it at http://www.MacPowerUser.com/

I use the \\\'classic menu\\\' (apple menu). I have my disk partitions in there.
I find it quicker to open a file residing on an OS 9 partition this way than trough the
desktop app of OS X. (by the way.. I think when you click that icon in the dock
it should my default open the \\\'computer\\\' window, not the last one visitid... most
of the time I could care less about where I have been and navigate again from the start anyway)

I have one dropdrawer with my graphic/webdesign apps

I have loads an loads of stuff in the dock, mostly applications and a few folders on
the right (napster music folder, internet download folder, icons folder)

I use the 3 different views of the finder criss cross (depends on my mood) but find
the \\\'browser view\\\' the best one.

I would prefer an option to choose between OS 9 and X\\\'s way of mimimizing windows.

I really like Aqua(the look of the OS), but sometimes I am fed up with it as well.
I hope (themes and schemes or whatever we will call it) will make it to X soon!

well thzat it!
On to Admiral AK:

hey, admiral
I love Kaleidoscope and have lots of themes/schemes.
I have never heard of a startrek one though, where can I get it?

to finish, I will put down a few links (you might know em you might not)
my website: http://members.ams.chello.nl/rmollema
Some other links to goodies for X:

For the rest I need help finding a certain picture file in the system of OS X
I will start a new thread called : \\\"help me dig into the system to find a certain picture
file\\\" (good title aint it? LOL)
Please read it, you might be able to help me locate it.


Hello Rene.
Well... there are a lot of schemes based on star trek (and other series) on the Kaleidoscope scheme archive (one day, when I had nothing to do I went and I looked at every single scheme lol :p)
In any case, I have 3 star trek schemes (although there are more)
1) 39.1 degrees ( a borg scheme)
2) Desktop padd (makes your windows look like padds from star trek)
3) Star Trek 1.2b

I can\'t really tell you the authors because at this time I switched kaleidoscope off and I am using the a \"High Tech\" theme clone (the one that was going to be in apple\'s copland).

I go back and forth with schemes lol... 2 weeks ago I had MacQNX for Kaleidoscope :p ....

It\'s nice to be able to change your mac\'s faces!
For OS X I downloaded several visual \"enhancements\" but right off the bat I remember downloading some icons from macnn (picachu is a nice visual addition to my desktop :p) .... also some desktop backgrounds ... in OS X I have Mr. Sparkle lol :p (\"Mr. Sparkle is disrespectful of dirt\" lol .. man I ought to upload a screnshot :p) .... and finally the last util I remember was one to switch between Aqua stile windows and OpenStep style windows...

ok ok enough talking :p
Going to bed... work tomorrow!

hmmm - personally I don\'t have anything permanently on the desktop (occasional dnd use, but that\'s about it), but I only use the Dock for task management. Apps are launched from NeXbar (regularly used stuff) or the finder \'apps\' window.

I guess there\'s a third camp - \'make it as much like Openstep as possible\' :-D Personally I can\'t wait for the appearance manager to make .... errm .... an \'appearance\' (sorry <g>)
I\'ve stopped using the desktop long ago. It was an idea which should never have been. It\'s far easier to use a downloads folder.

There are no menu hacks, only disassociated floating apps which sometimes are located in the menu area. I don\'t use them, I prefer Drop Drawers.
hi forum :)
I played around with my extras.rscr a bit :)
Let me see..what did I do...
-Changed the shade of the title/toolbar buttons
-Changed the menu bar highlight color
-Changed the color of progressbars and indeterminate progressbars
-Changed the colors of the titlebar when window inactive
-replaced the blue Apple with a smiley face
The rest (widgets and stuff) are still Aqua blue
I call the theme : \\\'ThinkPink\\\'
It\\\'s not a big woop but fun nevertheless.(its complete, all UI elements show up)
If anybodys interested i\\\'ll send it to you
You can see it at:
my email : totalpanic@hotmail.com ...can not use my mac.com
Very NICE :)

Now all that you need is a picture of the artist called \"pink\" he he he

(she\'s got some nice songs out, you must have heard of her )

CUstomization should be easy since we know now where to (partially) look, stuff should be a piece of (chocolate) cake ;-)

Like at lot of guys here, I started by using OSX as intended, gaping at the dock or the huge icons as Steve intended.
Then I quickly started to miss plenty of OS9 features, like an apple menu, and got straight into the OS9 camp. What a mistake!
Now that I have taken the pain to get used to OSX, I love it. I only have a very few apps in the dock. I get the other one from the App folder (click on the desktop face, then press apple-4, it takes like one sec) or from Drop Drawer, the only OS9 thingy I use.
I have a few 128*128 icons on my desktop, including the HD, but I dont use them. They are only there because they look pretty ;) Especialy the icon of my OS9 partition, a great ruby iMac photo (from http://www.xicons.com).
As for the clock, I think it looks great in the Dock. Ok, takes more place and a bit harder to read than the OS9 one, but damn cooler.
Oh, and I can no longer stand platinium. I use an Aqua theme in both OS9 and Classic. Its a question of life and death now ;)
Now, I dont say OSX beta is perfect, VERY far from it, but judging from its current status, its gonna rock!
Oh, I want to be thursday.... Are we going to get that OSX upgrade or not at Macworld? I want one! (rather badly)


PS: if Epson would only release drivers for my printer, I would be perfectly happy. As it is, I must keep OS9 because I need my printer more than I need Aqua :(
PPS: I can no longer feel secure in OS9 now, alway afraid it will crash. LOL!
zpincus said awhile ago:
Then I realized I loved the clean lines (mmm... bauhaus)

hmm... looks more to me like Yves Tanguy or Miro than any of the styles associated with the bauhaus, but anything's better than the umm... err.... whatever 9 was.

ps Naum Gabo & Antoine Pevsner are the REAL fathers of the iMac & G4 Cube..

sorry, just putting all those art classes to use, for once. :)