the humane interface.

About the Author

Jef Raskin was an expert in human-computer interaction who’s known for starting the Macintosh project at Apple in the 70s (source: Wikipedia).

The Humane Interface was launched around the 90s-early 2000s, but remains relevant to this day (2022), which strengthens the idea of being principles-first.

Literature Notes

I don’t know what percentage of our time on any computer-based project is spent getting the equipment to work right, but if I had a gardener who spent as much of the time fixing her shovel as we spend fooling with our computers, I’d buy her a good shovel.

At least you can buy a good shovel.

Early in his book, he talks a lot about how computers should support humans, and not the other way around.

Yet, we spend much of our time tinkering with our computers to make them as optimal as possible so we will, one day, when everything is running perfect, actually do the work we’ve got the computer for, in the first place.

Another idea is that computers should adapt to our context, not the other way around.

When you want to set down an idea, you should be able to go to your computer or information appliance and just start typing: no booting, no opening the word processor, no file names, no operating system.

(My definition of an operating system: What you have to hassle with before you get to hassle with the application.) You should not have to learn an entire new application to perform what you know to be only a few simple tasks that you’d like to add to the repertory of your system.


Creating an interface is much like building a house: If you don’t get the foundations right, no amount of decorating can fix the resulting structure.