On Responsiveness

Posted on by Chris Warburton

Modern computer systems are multitasking, multiprocessor, multiprocessing, multithreaded powerhouses. Why does an application’s user interface become unresponsive when it is doing a task? This seems like a bad design decision on the part of the toolit makers. Programming in a toolkit like QT or GTK+ is already asynchronous, why doesn’t the UI keep itself up to date?

For the record, AmigaOS gave its user interface a higher priority than the applications, so that if the user moved the mouse then no matter what the Amiga was doing it would stop and update the cursor position then carry on, the same for buttons being hovered over and depressed, etc. This makes a 20 year old machine feel more responsive than current state-of-the-art. My 2 year old laptop with a 2 month old desktop system makes me ANGRY at the scrollbars for not moving. That’s just not on.