The Fit and Finish of the All-New System Settings on MacOS 13 Ventura

Niki Tonsky last week posted this thread on Twitter on the state of the new System Settings app in developer beta 5 of MacOS Ventura, illustrated with screen captures. If you haven’t seen it, follow the link.

Spoiler: it is not looking good. Yes, MacOS 13 Ventura is still in beta. Yes, it’s probably not scheduled to ship until October or maybe even early November. But the basic fit and finish of Ventura’s new System Settings is just bad. It feels like there’s something deeply wrong with SwiftUI that, even while in-progress, so many little layout details are apparently hard to get right. There are buttons that are halfway cut off by their parent view. When has Apple ever shipped beta software with problems like that? Putting aside the philosophical issue of whether the Mac’s system prefs/settings app should follow the basic model of Settings on iOS/iPadOS, no matter what style MacOS’s System Settings is supposed to look like, there should be no question that it should look pixel-perfect.

With AppKit, famously, it actually took extra work to make a basic UI look wrong. Whatever process and tools Apple is using to create the new System Settings — again, I think it’s all SwiftUI, but it doesn’t really matter — it’s seemingly very difficult for them to get basic UI elements to align and lay out in a way that’s even close to elegant.

If Apple can’t make professional-looking settings panels with SwiftUI, how can anyone be expected to?

Monday, 15 August 2022