The third chapter of the book “The complete book of Lisa,”
Most personal computer system descriptions include in-depth examinations of their
hardware, featuring an abundance of computer jargon: motherboard, bus, RAM, I/O
board, card slot, backplane, and on and on. This is generally of little use, unless
you plan to write programs.
Exactly how much memory a system has, for example, is irrelevant. What is important
is whether there is a good business-graphics program, what size spreadsheets
can be manipulated, how large documents can be, what types of type styles can
be printed, and exactly what characters can be used in creating text. Also important
are the number of colors that can be displayed on a color screen and the number
of shading patterns available on a monochrome screen.
Today’s computer users are concerned about what a system can do for them and
at what speed, price, and accuracy. What really matters is whether Computer System
X can manipulate spreadsheets of 250 rows by 250 columns. Similarly, screen
resolution is not as important as whether a document appears on the screen exactly
as it will print. Screen size isn’t as important as how much of an
8-½”×11” page can be displayed at once.
Not that Lisa’s technical specifications aren’t impressive. Lisa’s
memory capacity, for example, is more than one million bytes – much more
than any other personal computer. The processor used inside Lisa is extremely
powerful. Although it is difficult to describe its power accurately without using
technical terms, one can use the processor’s “width” (the number
of bits it can process simultaneously) as a rough measure of power. The Apple II has
an 8-bit processor, the IBM PC a 16-bit processor; both Lisa and Macintosh have
32-bit processors. Another impressive specification is Lisa’s screen; it
contains more than 262,000 distinct dots, each of which can be changed from white to
black sixty times a second.
Back to what Lisa can do. Seven programs are now available from Apple, and
many other programs are available from independent software vendors; the
number of independently produced programs is growing regularly. In addition, there
is the Desktop Operating System, the environment on which all seven application
programs work. The Desktop Operating System is explained fully in Chapter Twelve.
The seven programs from Apple include:
|LisaWrite (word processing)
|LisaDraw (presentation graphics)
|LisaList (list management)
|LisaGraph (business graphics)
|LisaCalc (spreadsheet modeling)
|LisaProject (project scheduling and management)
|LisaTerminal (communications and terminal emulation)
In addition, there are programming languages and programming environments available
for Lisa. Combined, the applications programs listed above cover the vast
majority of tasks typically performed on personal computers by professionals.
These seven programs are excellent, useful tools in and of themselves, but Lisa
is based on more than just these seven programs. This is because there is a
difference between computer “utility” and “usability.”
The utility of a computer refers to its ability to accomplish a specific range
of tasks – what the machine can do, rather than what you must do to use
it. One computer might have the ability to print italic letters, for example,
but to do this you might have to enter six cryptic commands in a rigid order. In
contrast, usability refers to a computer’s ability to let you
accomplish tasks easily and effectively with acceptable levels of effort, comfort,
and satisfaction – how the machine assists you in completing the job at
hand. With most computers, utility and usability don’t necessarily go hand
in hand. With Lisa, they do, enabling your work to be accomplished with ease.
But Lisa’s real value comes from its program integration.
A set of programs is said to be integrated when data from one program can be
used without change, or with very little change, in other programs. This
transferability is, unfortunately, not yet the norm in most computer systems, large
“Full integration” doesn’t mean every program is compatible with
every other program. It doesn’t make sense, for example, to try to integrate
graphic data from LisaDraw with the spreadsheets of LisaCalc; LisaCalc
does not have (nor should it have) the ability to process drawings. It does make
sense, however, to integrate LisaDraw graphics with LisaWrite documents,
because text and pictures often go hand in hand; to integrate LisaList data
with LisaWrite documents to add tables to text; or to integrate LisaCalc
spreadsheets with LisaGraph bar charts to create an effective presentation
of graphics and text. Lisa allows these types of integration as well as many others.
Being fully integrated isn’t enough, however. To be truly usable by both
novices and experts, software must be easy to understand and use – a function
known in computer jargon as good “user interface.” The user interface
is the sum total of everything you must do or know about a software program to
accomplish the task at hand. This typically includes the commands you need
to know to get things done; the actual buttons you must press and in what order to
enter, manipulate, and retrieve data; and the error messages you get when something
isn’t quite right. The key to good user interface is consistency –
all concepts, functions, and procedures must apply to all programs. A high-quality
user interface lets you learn one set of commands that may be used with many
different programs. In general, a high-quality interface is one that:
|Does not force you to remember the name of every command.
|Does not allow disastrous actions (like destruction of valuable data)
to occur accidentally.
|Does not require you to understand the entire system in order to accomplish tasks.
|Allows you to switch back and forth between several different tasks and does not
force you to finish one before beginning the next.
|Provides a variety of ways to input and manipulate data.
|Has a version for experts and another for beginners.
|Is forgiving about mistakes.
|Allows you to change your mind and “undo” an action.
A computer system with as many diverse applications as Lisa has a large user
interface – large in that there is a great deal for the new Lisa user
to learn. In the pages that follow, I’ll simplify that learning process by
explaining how Lisa works and how to get the most out of each program.
One of the first things you’ll discover about Lisa is that the consistency
of software design shortens dramatically the time it takes to learn a
new program. This “sameness” maximizes the value of your intuition.
(“I’ll bet this will work here in LisaGraph the same as it did
in LisaCalc. Let’s try it.”) Once you learn, for example, how
to delete a row in a LisaList table, you’ll know how to delete
rows in LisaCalc spreadsheets and LisaGraph data tables. The
“delete-row” operation works exactly the same in each program.
New application programs become easier to learn, because each time a new program
is learned, the core concepts behind all applications can be practiced
further. Conversely, an inconsistent user interface would doom you to an
almost endless learning process, with each new program as difficult to learn as the last.
Three general principles
Three general principles apply to all Lisa programs: “selection, then
operation,” “cursor shape shows expected action,” and “stationery
pads provide access to programs.” By observing these principles, you
can easily transfer your experiences from one program to another.
Selection, then operation. This means that for almost anything you do,
you must first select, usually using the mouse, the object to be affected.
In Lisa, the selection process is easy because the material you select becomes highlighted
on the screen, usually by its white portions changing to black and its
black portions to white – what we’ll call “reverse video.”
This visual feedback enables you to verify what you’ve selected. All
objects become highlighted when selected: text in LisaWrite, designs
in LisaDraw, bars in LisaGraph, columns in LisaList, deadlines
in LisaProject, and formulas in LisaCalc, among many other things.
When you next specify a command to perform on the selected material, you’ll
know precisely what material will be affected.
One advantage of this “selection, then operation” principle is
that the system can protect you from requesting impossible or nonsensical
operations. Lisa can deactivate any commands that do not apply. Example:
The Erase Disk command isn’t active unless you have selected the icon
representing one of the three types of Lisa disks: the removable
micro diskette, the external Profile hard disk, or the internal Winchester hard disk.
This selective command deactivation prevents many potential disasters, especially
for novice users.
Cursor shape shows expected action. Many computer systems have only
one shape for the cursor – typically a blinking underscore or a blinking
square. Lisa has nearly a dozen different cursor shapes, although only one
shape is used at any given moment. The cursor shape changes automatically
as you move the cursor over various portions of the screen. Each different
shape indicates what you can, and cannot, do at that moment. The cursor shape used
when text is being manipulated, for example, is used extensively in LisaWrite,
Lisa’s word processing program. It also is used in LisaDraw, LisaCalc,
LisaGraph, LisaProject, LisaList, LisaTerminal, and on the Lisa desktop,
whenever text is being manipulated. Other shapes have other universal functions:
Text cursor: used whenever text can be manipulated. This cursor
is used in every Lisa program.
Pointing arrow cursor: used when manipulating menu or window controls.
This cursor is used in every Lisa program. It performs double duty in LisaDraw,
where it is used to select, move, ore stretch a selected graphic object.
Check mark cursor: used to make choices in Dialog Boxes in all Lisa program.
Hourglass cursor: used whenever Lisa is busy finishing your last request
and you must wait before doing anything else with Lisa. It is used in
all Lisa programs.
Hollow cross-hair cursor: used in all Lisa programs that deal with tabular
data: LisaList, LisaGraph, LisaProject, and LisaCalc.
Pointing hand cursor: use when you draw a selection box in LisaDraw.
Cross-hair cursor: used in LisaDraw when you enter a new graphic
object, and in LisaTerminal when you enter tab and column stops.
The cursor moves on top of everything on the screen and
changes its shape as it moves about, temporarily obscuring that small
portion of the screen directly beneath, but not obscuring objects on the
screen. Even this seemingly simple task of moving the cursor about unobstructed
and without destroying the screen contents requires a significant amount of
both memory and processing power – one of the many advantages of a
powerful computer like Lisa.
Stationery pads provide access to programs. Each of the integrated programs
available for Lisa is represented on the screen by an icon in the form of
a stationery pad. To use any program, you must first “tear” a blank
sheet of paper from the appropriate pad.
To use LisaProject, for example, you must first tear off a piece
of paper from the LisaProject stationery pad, an endless supply of
pieces of LisaProject paper. This tearing off operation is an easy,
single-step operation; you simply move the mouse until the cursor is over the
appropriate pad, then click the mouse button twice. That’s all there is
to it. There are no special commands to remember (and, more important, no
commands to forget). Each type of stationery is used for a specific application:
LisaWrite paper for word processing, LisaCalc paper for
spreadsheets, LisaGraph paper for business graphics, and so on. Each type
of paper has a distinct icon (Figure 3-2), which enables you to distinguish
it easily on Lisa’s desktop.
|Figure 3-2: The various document icons available on Lisa. Each document type has an icon with a distinctive appearance that allows you to differentiate among them, regardless of the names you give them.|
The stationery pad analogy may be taken only so far, however. A single LisaDraw
piece of paper may contain an 8’×4’ drawing; a single LisaList
piece of paper may contain a small data base with thousands of entries; a single
LisaWrite piece of paper may contain an entire chapter of a book. In other
words, each piece of paper represents an entire document. (We’ll use the
terms “document” and “piece of paper” interchangably.)
All of this frees you from having to remember which documents are contained in
which icons and from having to activate the specific software when you want
access to that document. With Lisa, it is impossible to activate, say,
the spreadsheet (LisaCalc) accidentally when working on a text
When a document is opened on the screen, you are presented with a window –
a titled, rectangular portal. You may view the contents of the document
through this window. Because documents are usually bigger than the screen, you
can move the window around the document, viewing different portions with each
new screenful (Figure 3-3).
|Figure 3-3: The relationship between a document and its window. On Lisa, the window moves about on top of a document, providing a portal to the document’s contents.|
Opening a window. There are three methods of opening a window
to a document, each of which can be used with any type of document.
The first method is to use the Open command on the File/Print menu.
(More about menus later in this chapter.) The second method also
involves a menu, in this case, the Desk menu. This menu lists the icons
on Lisa’s desktop. Selecting one of them from the Desk menu opens it
on the screen. The third method is to double-click the mouse button
while the cursor is on top of that document’s icon. (“Double-clicking”
means to press the mouse button twice in quick succession.)
We have just seen the first instance of an action – double-clicking – that
has different results in different contexts. When you double-click on a stationery
pad, you tear off a piece of paper from this pad. When you double-click on an
ordinary piece of paper, it opens to a window. Because most of us normally operate
in such a context-dependent manner, Lisa mimics this, making Lisa all the more
natural to use.
Window components. The components of a document window vary with the type of
paper being used, but all Lisa windows have some similarity. Figure 3-4 shows
a theoretical composite window that contains all the features of all types of
windows. No such window actually exists on Lisa; it appears here only for
|Figure 3-4: Windows used by the various Lisa application programs are slightly different in the features they provide. This composite window shows most of these features. No such universal window actually exists on Lisa, however.|
At the top of the window is its title bar, containing the document name as
well as a mini-icon representing the Lisa program that “owns” this
document. This icon can be used to remove a document from the screen by
double-clicking the mouse while the cursor is on top of the mini-icon. (Another
way is to use one of the commands of the File/Print menu, as will
be explained shortly.)
Moving the window through a document. On the right edge of the window
are two vertical scroll arrows, two vertical view buttons,
an elevator; and a horizontal split control bar. Let’s take
these one at a time.
The vertical scroll arrows – the top one pointing up and
the bottom one pointing down – enable you to shift the window one unit
up or down. (The actual size of a unit depends on the type of document being
viewed. In a LisaWrite document, one unit equals approximately one line of
text; in a LisaCalc document, one unit equals one spreadsheet row.) Because
the window moves in relation to the document, shifting the window up one
unit reveals the unit of information just above the top edge of the window
and shifts all the units inside the window down one position; the unit at
the bottom disappears from the window. To initiate this movement, click the
mouse button while the cursor is on top of the appropriate scroll arrow.
If you want to scroll more than one unit, simply continue to hold the button down.
The two vertical view buttons allow you to move the window up or down
the length of one entire window to provide an entirely new window of
information. The shape of the view buttons is intended to suggest flipping
pages – they show the left-hand corner of a page being turned up
or down. The view buttons are activated in the same manner as the scroll arrows;
by clicking the mouse button while the cursor is on top of the desired view
The elevator is a white square that is always positioned in the
narrow, gray column at the extreme right of the window (sometimes called
the “elevator shaft”). The elevator’s position in this column
reflects the position of the window in a document. If the window is near
the beginning of a document, the elevator is near the top of the shaft. If
the window is near the end of a document, the elevator is near the bottom.
Using either the scroll arrows or the view buttons causes the elevator to
Not only does the elevator indirectly reflect the position of the window in
the document, it also can be used directly to position the window. The elevator
allows you to move the window over great distances in a document with a
single action. To do this, press the mouse button while the cursor is on top
of the elevator. While the button is held, the elevator may be moved up
and down in the elevator shaft by moving the mouse in the appropriate
direction. When you release the button, the window jumps to the corresponding
position in the document. Although this type of window positioning is not
extremely accurate (it is difficult to move a window to exactly the same
position every time), it allows you to move large distances quickly – from
the beginning of the document to the end, for example – in one simple
step. Note that when you are at the end of a document, the elevator never quite
reaches the bottom of the shaft. Don’t be concerned; this
is one of Lisa’s little quirks.
Most Lisa programs use a “current insertion” position – marked
by a blinking vertical bar – where, for example, text entered from the
keyboard will appear. Often, after using the window-positioning controls, the
current insertion position will not appear in the window. Pushing the Enter
key will reposition the window so that this insertion position is inside the
window. The Enter key is used in this manner for all Lisa programs, although
it is not mentioned in any of the manuals.
The horizontal split control bar is located near the top of the right side of
the window. This enables the window to be divided horizontally into two
separate windows within the same document. This can be extremely useful when
you’re working simultaneously with two widely separated portions of
a single document – preparing an index or table of contents, for example.
To use this window-splitting feature, position the cursor on top of the horizontal split
control bar and press the mouse button. Holding the button, move the split
control bar down, adjusting the window size in the top and bottom sections.
While the button remains pressed, these proportions may be adjusted
continuously. You’ll see a gray horizontal line the entire width of the
window, moving up and down in response your cursor movements. Once the button
is released, the proportions are fixed. Figure 3-5 shows a LisaWrite
window split horizontally into two roughly equal sub-windows. Note that each
sub-window has its own set of view buttons, scroll arrows, and elevator.
Each sub-window can be independently positioned using these devices. Note, too,
that each sub-window has its own horizontal split control bar. The
horizontal-split-control bar of the top sub-window is used to split that
sub-window into even smaller parts.
|Figure 3-5: This LisaWrite window has been split into two horizontal halves, each of which is a window into the same document. Using the horizontal split control bar allows you to observe and even write into two widely separated portions of the same document without having to scroll between those areas. A similar feature allows the window to be split vertically. Both split control features may be used simultaneously, splitting a window into four sections. Each portion may be scrolled independently.|
Any lower split control bars are used to readjust the proportions between the two
sub-windows it divides. You can split a window into many sub-windows; the
limit of usefulness of sub-windows is reached long before any Lisa-imposed limit.
The bottom of Figure 3-4 contains two horizontal scroll arrows, two
horizontal view buttons, a vertical split control bar, and a horizontal
elevator. Each works exactly like its counterpart on the right edge of
the window, except that horizontal movement replaces vertical, or vice versa.
Here is a summary of Lisa’s window controls:
|Scroll Arrows: Small horizontal or vertical movements – one line
at a time, for example.
|View Buttons: Medium-sized horizontal or vertical movements, usually the
entire height or width of a window.
|Elevators: Very large and relatively imprecise horizontal or vertical
movements – from the beginning of the document to about the middle, for example.
As you now can see, you can have a variety of windows, each adjusted to a
different size. Moreover, each can be moved about the screen, and they may
even overlap each other. To open several windows, simply open the first using
any of the procedures outlined above (the Open command on the File/Print
menu, the Desk menu, or by double-clicking the mouse); then repeat
the procedure to open subsequent windows.
The use of multiple windows sometimes appears confusing or difficult, especially when
those screens are viewed statically (as in Figure 3-6). When you actively
construct your own multiple windows, however, multiple overlaps really are natural
to use and easy to understand.
|Figure 3-6: You can open numerous windows on Lisa’s screen simultaneously. Each may be a window into a different type of document.|
Changing window size. At the bottom right-hand corner of the composite
window in Figure 3-4 is a size control box. This is used to change the size
of a window. To do this, press the mouse button while the cursor is inside this
box. As you keep the button pressed, you can adjust the window size by
moving the mouse horizontally, vertically, or diagonally.
You can change the window size in one of three ways:
|Moving the mouse horizontally makes the window wider or narrower.
|Moving it vertically makes the window longer or shorter.
|Moving it diagonally changes both dimensions simultaneously.
As you adjust the window size, a gray-lined window border moves up and
down and back and forth in response to the cursor movements. When the mouse
button is released, the window size becomes fixed, at least until the next
time the size control box is used. This size adjustment does not alter
the relative position of the window or underlying document. You are reminded of
this fact by the shape of the size control box, which shows a small rectangle
being enlarged into a bigger rectangle, both of which share the upper
Changing window position. The position of the window on the
desktop (as opposed to its position within a document) can be changed with
ease. To move the window, press the mouse button while the cursor is on
top of the window’s title bar. Keeping the mouse button depressed,
use the mouse to move the window around the screen. During this operation, the
outline of the new window position appears on the screen in response to
the cursor’s movements. When the button is released, the actual window moves
to fill the outline. The window even can be moved partly off the
screen (Figure 3-7).
|Figure 3-7: Windows can be positioned anywhere on Lisa’s screen, even partially off the screen.|
The active window. Each Lisa program has menus and commands not used
in other programs. LisaDraw, for example, has a Lines menu for setting
line thickness. Such a menu would be inappropriate in LisaWrite,
or most other Lisa programs. Accordingly, Lisa’s desktop displays the
appropriate set of menus in the menu title bar based on the program
currently in use. So, if two windows are on the screen, each from a
different program using different menus, which set of menu titles would
appear? Lisa’s solution is to display menu titles appropriate for the
window in which you’re currently working – the “active”
window. The active window is distinguished from the other, inactive, windows
by several characteristics:
|It has the set of scroll arrows, view buttons, and other controls appropriate for
its type of document. (Inactive windows have space for these controls in their
borders, but the controls aren’t visible.)
|The document name on the title line of the active window is shown as
white letters on a black background. (On inactive windows, document names appear
as black letters on a white background.)
|The active window is never even partly obscured by any other window. (An
inactive window may be obscured partly or totally by the active window or by
other inactive windows.)
There is at most one active window on Lisa’s desktop at any particular
moment. It is possible, however, to have several windows on the screen, with
none of them active. This situation could arise if, for example, you decided
to copy a micro diskette, tear off a piece of LisaProject paper
from LisaProject stationery, or perform some other desktop operation.
To do such operations, you must select an icon on the screen. This icon
selection turns the active window inactive.
To activate any inactive window, click the mouse button while the cursor
is anywhere inside the window to be activated. This simple action has the
|The current active window, if any, is deactivated.
|The window to be activated is brought to the top of the screen if it
was previously obscured.
|The appropriate program is loaded into Lisa’s memory.
|The menu titles appropriate for the activated window are placed in the menu title bar.
|The window becomes activated and its window controls (scroll arrows, view buttons,
and elevator) appear.
On most personal computers, you must remember the names of commands and must
actually enter them on the keyboard. This presents system designers with a
difficult decision: to make the command names long and descriptive of what they
do, but time-consuming to enter, or to make the names short and easy to type,
but difficult to remember, or even recognize. Lisa’s designers neatly
sidestepped this problem by designing an entirely new method for entering
commands, a method that uses long and descriptive command names but which requires
less effort and time to enter.
The method involves Lisa’s menus. Much like a restaurant menu, a
computer menu is a list of choices. But a computer menu is a list of
command names, each serving a different function. Consider the task of
printing a document, for example. On a computer system, such a task could
require entering any of a variety of commands, including PRINT, TYPE, LIST,
OUTPUT, P, PR, or OPR. On Lisa, however, you are presented with the following menu:
It isn’t difficult to conclude that, to print a document, the correct choice
is Print.... Even if you have a variety of computers that must be
used regularly (and a variety of command names that must be remembered to print
a document), you’ll never forget the print command used on Lisa.
Although no one disputes the advantages of menus, they do have one serious
disadvantage: They take up space on the screen. Depending on the size of
the menu, it may require as much as ten to fifteen percent of screen space. Space
is always at a premium on Lisa’s desktop (just like on your own desk). No
matter how much space there is, it always seems that more is needed. Lisa
overcomes this disadvantage by using a special technique previously available only
on the most expensive computers – menus that appear when you need them
and then disappear.
Menus of this type come in two varieties, “pop-up” menus
and “pull-down” menus. Pop-up menus appear at different places
on the screen, depending on a variety of factors. Pull-down menus always appear
on the screen at the same location. They get their name from the fact that
when the menu is displayed, it appears similar to a pull-down window
shade, unfolding from the top of the screen.
Lisa uses pull-down menus when you must specify command names. The available
menu titles are always displayed across the top of the screen in the
menu title bar. To pull one down, you need only press the mouse button
while the cursor is on top of a menu title. The menu instantaneously appears beneath
its title, temporarily obscuring a portion of the screen. The menu remains
on the screen as long as the mouse button is pressed. This procedure is
independent of the number of windows on the screen, their positions on the
screen, and the types of programs in use – another example of Lisa’s
uniform user interface.
Menu display on Lisa is not used just to remind you of the correct names
of commands. The menu also is used to enter commands – or, in Lisa’s
jargon, for “command activation.” While the menu is displayed, you
must continue to press the mouse button. Moving the mouse (while holding
the button) so the cursor lies on top of a command causes that command
to appear in reverse video. When the button is released, that command
becomes activated, the menu disappears, and the screen reverts to its original
appearance. If the button is released with none of the command names
highlighted, as would happed if the cursor were positioned in some part
of the screen other than the menu, no command is activated, but the menu
still disappears and the screen reverts to its original appearance.
|Figure 3-8: A typical Lisa menu. Note the subdivision of the long list of commands into logically related subsets.|
On Lisa, menus are not merely unstructured lists of command names; commands
in each menu have been carefully arranged and grouped to help you avoid
errors. Figure 3-8, the Edit menu of LisaDraw, shows this
substructure. The commands are grouped to make the menu less visually
imposing. (A menu of fourteen single commands is harder to
use than a menu of fourteen commands divided into six logical groupings.) Moreover,
commands inappropriate for the current selection are deactivated, appearing as gray
text on a white background. Gray commands cannot be activated from
Commands followed by an ellipsis (“...”) require additional settings before
they may be executed. Activating such commands results in the display of
a Dialog Box – for example, the Comfort Dialog Box used
in LisaTerminal (Figure 3-9). To complete these commands, you
must check the appropriate options, then click the mouse button on the box’s
Commands followed by the Apple symbol and a letter can be activated without using a
menu at all. The Apple symbol plus the letter “X” following the Cut
command, for example, means that instead of executing this command via the
pull-down menu, you may simply type an “X” while simultaneously pressing the
Apple key to the left of the Space Bar on the keyboard. Such menu items followed
by Apple key commands are available for the most frequently used commands, to make
them convenient. (I almost never use this method, however. Command activation via
the menu is fast enough, and the Apple key commands are hard to remember. I would
need to pull down the menu just to recall the abbreviation. By the time I did
that, I could have simply activated the command directly from the menu.)
|Figure 3-9: A typical Dialog Box. These are displayed automatically when Lisa needs additional information to complete a command.|
After you have several months of experience on Lisa, the phenomenon of “muscle
memory” begins to take over – the unconscious ability to remember
the position of individual commands on the various menus, enabling you
to pull down a menu and activate a command in one step. The muscles of your
hand “remember” how far down to move the mouse to highlight the desired
command, even though you, if questioned, probably can’t consciously recall even
the order of the commands. This muscle memory is partly responsible for the
speed with which menu-selected commands can be activated by an experienced user.
The importance of muscle memory is strengthened by Apple’s commitment never
to rearrange command names on any menus. New commands may be appended
to the ends of the menus, but they are never added in the middle.
On most computers, if you somehow stray from the precise steps needed to interact
with the machine, this is treated as a “user error.” In other words,
you are treated as subordinate to the machine, which is dictating the
communication. Even more demeaning, user errors often prompt the computer to
react with the most terse and threatening of messages:
FATAL ERROR 802
DISASTROUS STRING OVERFLOW – JOB ABANDONED
CATASTROPHIC ERROR; LOGGED WITH OPERATOR
ILLEGAL ENTRY – USER SESSION TERMINATED
Someone once conjectured what it might be like if such messages appeared when you
dialed a wrong telephone number. Instead of the usual message (“We’re
sorry, we were unable to complete your call as dialed. Please hang up, check your
number, or consult the operator for assistance.”), you might get
something like this:
ILLEGAL PHONE NUMBER. CALL ABORTED.
CONSULT MANUAL FOR FURTHER INFORMATION.
Lisa’s designers took an entirely different approach. In their view, there
are no errors, merely breakdowns in the user-machine dialog – breakdowns
caused by an inadequacy of the machine to respond to the user’s intentions.
Accordingly, there are no user errors in Lisa. The term “errors,” in
fact, is reserved for internal Lisa failures – running out of memory, for
example, or a power failure. Lisa does notify you that some command or recent input
was not possible as you specified, but in a much more pleasant and useful way.
This notification takes place in an Alert Box, an area of the upper portion
of the screen that temporarily overlays everything but the cursor.
There are five different Alert Boxes, each represented by a different shape:
|Figure 3-10: Examples of Alert Boxes, the manner in which Lisa warns you that there may be a problem in executing a command. These overlay the current contents of the screen.|
Samples of several such Alert Boxes are shown in Figure 3-10.
Although most menus associated with Lisa programs are unique to those programs, three
menus are common to all: the Desk menu, the File/Print menu, and
the basic commands of the Edit menu. Because of this commonality, a brief
explanation will be given here. The minor differences in the specifics of
these menus for some individual programs, if any, will be discussed in the
chapters devoted to those programs.
The Desk menu. The Desk menu enables you to open any icon on
the desktop or to tear off any piece of stationery without having to touch
the icon directly with the cursor. Every icon currently on the desktop will
be listed in the Desk menu when it is pulled down, so the exact menu will
vary from Lisa to Lisa and even from time to time on the same Lisa. My Lisa’s
Desk menu is shown in Figure 3-11. The most important use of
the Desk menu is to provide you with a means of opening up another icon
while your screen is covered with some other work. Without this menu, you would have
to re-size or move many windows, perhaps even close some windows to locate icons.
|Figure 3-11: The Desk menu. It allows you to see what is on your desktop without moving windows that may be temporarily obscuring part of the screen. Selecting a line on the Desk menu opens that object and makes its window the active window. The exact contents of this menu vary from time to time, depending on what’s on your desktop.|
The File/Print menu. The typical File/Print menu (Figure 3-12)
lets you control the storage, retrieval, and printing of the current document.
These commands are grouped into three sets:
|Figure 3-12: The File/Print menu. These commands are available on every program’s File/Print menu, although some programs have one or two additional commands.|
|One concerned with closing windows and setting the document aside on the desktop.
|Another concerned with the stored version of the document being worked on.
|A third dealing with printing the document.
The first command of the first set, Set Aside Everything, closes all
open windows and places an icon bearing the documents’ names on the
The command Set Aside (document name) closes the open window to the
document named and places that document’s icon on the desktop.
Whenever any open window on the desktop is selected (that is, when its scroll
bars are visible and its name in the title bar is highlighted in reverse
video), the Set Aside (document name) command displays the name of that
document in the File/Print menu in place of (document name). Lisa “knows”
you are currently manipulating that document and thus customizes the menu.
This customization often surprises new Lisa users, even those experienced with other
systems. On most systems, you must manipulate files through use of a special
command language that is directly executed by the machine’s operating
system. (The operating system is the most basic program on the machine. All other
programs are invoked through the use of the operating system.) As surprising as
this may seem, that operating system typically does not appear to “know”
what you are doing when an application program such as word processing or
spreadsheets is being used. Because Lisa is highly integrated your job is
that much easier. One result of all this magic: Commands in the pull-down
menus become customized, and other commands that don’t apply to the
current selection are deactivated.
This set of commands in the File/Print menu – Set Aside
Everything and Set Aside (document name) – is appropriate when
a document being closed will probably be opened again shortly. This command does
not, however, affect the copy of the document stored on disk (either the
Winchester, Profile, or a micro diskette). So, a power failure would
result in a loss of some work, but you’d still have a copy stored on disk.
It is for precisely this situation – the unexpected loss of power or some
other calamity – that the next set of commands in the File/Print
menu is designed.
Two of the commands in the next set, Save and Put Away and Save
and Continue, modify the stored copy, preventing loss of work in the
event of a calamity. These commands differ only in what happens after the copy is stored.
Save and Put Away closes the window and returns the document to
its disk storage location. Save and Continue leaves the window open and allows
you to continue working after storing the modified copy. Because these commands
are similar, they will collectively be referred to as the Save commands when
both would have the same effect.
If you make a catastrophic mistake on your own, the third command of this set,
Revert to Previous Version, provides you with a recovery option. Suppose,
for example, after deleting several lengthy paragraphs and adding a new
sentence or two to a LisaWrite document, you determine this wasn’t
what you really had in mind. You can activate Revert to Previous Version,
and everything will be restored to the state that existed before these changes were
made. Whenever you execute this command, you are returned to the state
of the document after the last Save command.
The Save commands should be executed frequently, albeit with some caution,
so that in the event of a major mistake or malfunction, you won’t wipe out
hours of productive work. Because when you save you also wipe out the previous
version of the document, however, the Save commands should be executed
with some caution; there is no way to retrieve an earlier version once you
have saved a subsequent version. It would be unwise, then, to attempt some
far-reaching command – a global search and replace, for example –
and immediately Save the document, just in case the first command
was incorrectly applied.
The last set of commands in the File/Print menu enables you to specify
the printing characteristics of a document, to print the document, and to
monitor the status of the printer. To understand the first command in this
set, Print As Is, you need to know about all the other printing commands,
so the Print As Is discussion will be deferred for a moment.
The second command in this last File/Print set, Format for Printer...,
provides you with a method to specify the manner in which a document will
eventually be printed. It is important to specify this information using
Format for Printer... before a great deal of text is entered into the document.
It may seem strange to tell Lisa how and on which type of printer a
document will be printed before the document is even begun. But there are
two distinct reasons why this is necessary. First, it is important for Lisa to
know what size paper will be used – letter size (8½×11”), legal
size (8½”×14”), or computer
size (11”×14”) – and in what orientation the paper will
be so the screen can reflect the printed version exactly.
Second, Lisa uses several different types of printers: some dot-matrix printers and
a daisy wheel printer. Their capabilities are not equal. If you inform Lisa that
the document on which you are now working is to be printed on one type of printer
and later try to enter a type face or size not available on that device, you will
be so informed and advised to change either the type style or the printer. (More on
fonts, faces, and type sizes in Chapter Four.)
When Format for Printer... is activated, you are presented with a Dialog
Box and asked to select from a variety of options. The operation is quite
similar to checking options on a printed form with a pencil, although there
are some key differences. Using the mouse, you check small boxes (the cursor shape
even changes into a small check mark). Note, however, that a choice made in
one part of the Dialog Box may affect everthing else in the box, even the
number of other possible choices and the type of information requested.
|Figure 3-13: The Format for Printer... Dialog Box for the ImageWriter or Dot Matrix Printer.|
Lisa “knows” what type of printer you have connected to it. (Exactly
how it “knows” is discussed in Chapter Twelve.) If you have an ImageWriter
(or the older dot-matrix printer) connected, you will see the Dialog Box shown
in Figure 3-13 when you activate Format for Printer.... If you
have a daisy wheel printer, you will see another Dialog
Box (Figure 3-14), and so on for all the printers that work with Lisa.
If you have more than one type of printer connected to Lisa, you will be asked
to specify which printer you want to use.
This last choice is extremely important because the print wheel determines the
type style and size of the characters you may print and, therefore, the
characters Lisa will be able to print. Special characters, like the Japanese yen
sign or the German diacritical umlaut, simply don’t appear on every print
wheel. If you use such characters, you’ll have to find a print wheel
that contains them. The dot-matrix printers (ImageWriter, dot-matrix, ink-jet) have
no type-style restrictions at all and are, therefore, more versatile.
There’s a very frustrating bug in this process, however. If you have one
of these special characters in your document and are using a daisy wheel
printer, Lisa doesn’t tell you in advance that the characters are
unavailable. You find out because Lisa instructs the printer to print an
upside-down question mark in place of the desired character. You must
proofread your document to find these marks, then take proper action to
remedy them. Previous versions of Lisa software warned you in advance of such
problems; this bug wasn’t created until the updated programs were
released. (Proofreading cannot be overstressed, by the way. Even Apple
Corporation, Lisa’s creators, apparently fall victim to this. Several
documents they’ve distributed to the press and to third-party
programmers have contained upside-down question marks on several pages. Perhaps this
will motivate Apple to find a more suitable solution to this problem in
future software releases.)
|Figure 3-14: The Format for Printer... Dialog Box for the Daisy Wheel Printer.|
The next command, Print..., puts to use the information you stored in
Format for Printer.... With Print..., you initiate printing the
active document. Again, you have a variety of options (Figure 3-15). You can
select either high quality for final versions or lower quality for speedy
drafts. (However, the quick draft mode, though it specifies “text only,”
cannot print all the characters available on Lisa, even when using the
dot-matrix printer. What quick draft really uses is the character set
already stored in the printer – the characters on the daisy wheel for
the daisy wheel printer or those stored in the character memory for the dot-matrix
printers. Neither character set includes every available character. Thus, if you
frequently use the symbol for British pounds (£) or any other unusual
characters, you should stay away from the quick draft printing option.)
|Figure 3-15: The Print... Dialog Box.|
In addition to specifying print quality and priority, the Print... Dialog
Box lets you determine a page range for the printing and the number of copies
of the document you want to print.
The last command in the File/Print menu is Monitor the Printer... This
is used to check on a printing request. When a low-priority printing process
encounters an error, such as the printer being turned off or running out
of paper, Lisa generates a special attention tone. (Lisa’s developers call
it the “joyful noise.”) It is then up to you to execute
Monitor the Printer... to determine the problem. You can ignore the tone
and finish whatever you’re doing, but the printer will not start again until
Monitor the Printer... is executed and you take whatever action is
necessary. Often, the tone merely indicates that you need to position the
next piece of paper properly in the printer.
Monitor the Printer... also lets you see how many documents are
waiting to print. On Lisa, you can request the printing of additional documents
before the document currently printing is completed. Lisa places a
copy of the document in the system area of the hard disk and
allows you to continue to work. The only thing to be concerned about is that
this system area becomes too full. Knowing how many documents are waiting to print
gives you a crude measure of the space being taken up.
The Print As Is command we skipped over earlier allows you to print
one copy of the entire document with the currently set format without having to
fill out the Print... Dialog Box. It is a kind of quick print command.
With the single exception of the Print... command, there is little
involved in executing any of the commands of the File/Print menu that is
not immediately clear from a simple definition of what each command does. The
only additional guidance about the Print... command is that it takes a
long time to print documents on the various Lisa printers. It can take as
long as ninety minutes to print a twenty-page document with high resolution on
the older Dot Matrix Printer. (Apple is rumored to have a much faster
laser printer under development. Such a device would produce a twenty-page
document in less than three minutes and at a much higher quality. This device,
however, will probably be expensive and practical only in an environment where it
can be shared among a number of Lisas or Macintoshes.)
The Edit menu. The last menu all Lisa programs have in common is the
Edit menu (Figure 3-16). Like the File/Print menu, this
menu’s commands come in three sets, two of which contain a single command
each. The first command, Undo Last Change, is one talked about by almost anyone
interested in making computers less threatening and easier to use. Unfortunately,
it is available on very few computers. Simply put, Undo Last Change lets
you reverse the effects of almost any other command. Suppose, for example, you
make a mistake that significantly alters a document on which you are working. All
you need to do to recover is to execute Undo Last Change.
|Figure 3-16: The Edit menu.|
Such a command is not just for novices. Even experts make mistakes that can
be very time-consuming to recover from manually. This command is more important
even than the work it saves from time to time. The mere presence of an Undo
command probably lowers the number of mistakes you make. The tension present from
knowing that an entire day’s work could be instantly destroyed may cause
you to make blunders. Having an Undo command removes that tension and makes
your experience with Lisa more productive and enjoyable.
For any user, Undo Last Change makes experimenting possible. Although Lisa
is both easy to learn and use, it is a large system. To learn everything on the
system well may take several months of intensive study. Knowing you can undo
something may make you more willing to try new commands, or old commands in
unusual ways. The more commands you use and the more ways in which you are able
to use them, the more productive your use of Lisa will become. Unfortunately,
for a variety of technical reasons, it isn’t possible to have
Undo Last Change work for every action you take. Those few that don’t
allow an “undo” (Revert to Previous Version, for example) usually
warn you with an Alert Box before processing.
The next set of Edit commands provides you with the ability to move
portions of text, figures, spreadsheets, lists, and other items around within
a document, between different documents of the same type (two LisaDraw
documents, for example), or even between documents written by different Lisa
programs. The three commands in this set all make use of the clipboard
icon, the temporary storage place shared by all Lisa programs. Two of these
commands, Cut and Copy, put material on the clipboard. The third,
Paste, copies it from the clipboard and into the active document.
The difference between Cut and Copy is that Cut removes the
current selection from the document and places it on the clipboard, while
Copy places it on the clipboard without removing it from the document. Paste
inserts the current contents of the clipboard into the active document. Exactly
how and where these contents are added to the current document depends on the
type of document; this is discussed in greater detail in the individual chapters
on those programs. This slight complication isn’t a deficiency; rather, it
reflects the various possibilities in different types of Lisa documents. In
a LisaDraw document, for example, it makes sense to paste material right on
top of the current drawing. This doesn’t make sense for LisaWrite.
Regardless of what is done, Paste doesn’t remove material from the
clipboard. This means you can do multiple pastes to put several copies of the
clipboard’s contents into a document.
The final set of Edit commands contains the single command, Select
All of Document. This is used rather frequently and is extremely useful when
everything in a document must be changed or reformatted. Activating this command
selects everything in the document and makes it the object of the next
command. Surprisingly, this command does not take a long time to execute, even
when the document is large. To select all of a fifty-page LisaWrite
document, for example, takes only 1.5 seconds.