So the first time I ever saw a crazy rule builder was in a desktop application at Sabre in 2001. They had been around longer than that obviously, but this was the first time I was ever befuddled by a screen that looked a lot like this:
All I could think was there must be a better way for letting normal people set up conditional rules. So we designed something easier, and when I moved to the world of Apple, I found that they stole my design. Just kidding, but I did feel reaffirmed by my early design attempts since they were really close to the ’smart’ mailbox/album/playlist design and the advanced search feature:
Now, to my delight, Apple has tackled the last remaining frontier of predicate editors- the nested clause. My design partner, Jessica, found this when trying to pull together a playlist for her birthday last week.
She needed something more complex than a simple AND or OR (which Apple eloquently rephrased as “matching all of these conditions” or “matching any of these conditions”). Like only play songs:
- from the ‘World’ genre
- if the album contains the term ‘Salsa’
— that are rated 4 or more stars
— or were added after Jan 1, 2008
— or are longer than 5 minutes
It turns out that Cocoa has a visual editor for editing predicates, and if you hold the ‘+’ it will turn into an ellipses, which will add a clause- but that is way to sneaky for me. A permanent ellipses button is much easier to find and play with.
**As a side note- here is another post about the smarter playlist in iTunes with people responding to how they are actually using it. Good user research up for grabs.