John Gruber on ‘click-through’

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
May 9th, 2003 • 1:33 am

John Gruber has posted yet another excellent item on the anarchy currently known as “click-through” in Mac OS X.

Click-through is being used very inconsistently and very unpredictably across a whole bunch of Mac OS X applications, including Apple’s own.

I find that it is simply impossible not to agree with John that click-through should be off by default and only activated when it makes sense to do so — and there are situations where it does, but you have to weigh the pros and cons very carefully.

Right now, Apple doesn’t seem to care about this at all, and it’s highly unfortunate. The same goes for many other applications. It’s a case of leading by example. Apple needs to do the right thing, which it already does in an application such as the Finder. But in other applications… it’s a complete mess. Some support click-through when they really shouldn’t. Some look like they support click-through but actually don’t. Etc.

A simple example. The following control:

A picture named ABook-ClickThru.gif

is in the Address Book application, which is currently in the background (as indicated by the colorless Close/Minimize/Maximize buttons). Yet the control looks active, which would indicate that it supports click-through and that clicking on it right now, from where I am (in BBEdit) should do two things at once:

  1. switch me to the Address Book application
  2. change the view mode

Yet when I click on this seemingly active control, it just switches me to Address Book. Once in Address Book, I have to click on it again to change the view mode.

In other words, it doesn’t support click-through (and that’s a good thing) even though it looks like it does (and that’s a bad thing).

There are such inconsistencies all over the place. Time to do some house-cleaning, Apple!

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