RoundRects: We Learn Nothing From History

Jan 26, 2004 AM/Work

I've been bombarded from all over the web with pointers to Folklore, a site detailing the birth of the original Macintosh by the people who were there. Bill Atkinson looms large.

It was more than a little surreal to read this article about the origin of RoundRects. That is, a routine to draw rectangles with rounded corners, a feature prominently used in the original Mac OS. Keep in mind the article is about technology dated May 1981. Great article by the way. To hammer home the importance of rounded rectangles Steve Jobs walked Bill Atkinson around OUTSIDE for a few blocks pointing out all the places where rounded rectangles were used. Bill (I really shouldn't be calling him Bill) recounts a traffic sign finally tipped him over the edge and made him go back and look at implementing it.

The surreal part, I happened to also be reading this article by Søren Madsen on A List Apart. It details how to do the same thing in CSS (Cascading Style Sheets, circa what, 1998?). The only problem I have with the article - its much to complicated. Not that this is a fault of the article's author , but why isn't this built into the CSS spec in the first place? Check out the example site that shows off the CSS rounded corners technique.

And CSS doesn't have the excuse of no floating point calculations! I guess that's just another thing that makes the Macintosh's history all the more impressive. Its all in the little details isn't it.

And we really do learn nothing from history.