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Re: Of applications and documents

From: David Adam Bordoley
Subject: Re: Of applications and documents
Date: Sun, 08 Jun 2003 23:13:37 -0400

Tima Vaisburd writes:
Hi Dave,
I'm glad to see your thoughts about Unix desktop UI, I've been thinking
about it for quite a while. On Tuesday 03 June 2003 05:36, David Adam Bordoley wrote:
2. The shell is the base application that provides the basic menus, keeps
track of user metadata (size and location of the window) and monitors the
viewed file for changes (renaming, if it has been moved etc.)
3. The view is a plugin that shows the content of the current location in
its window. [...]

Do you mean "the view draws itself in a window provided by the shell,
i.e. by different process"? That is one application is embedded into another,
and this, I think, could be very powerful. This is what I want myself.
I would expect you saying something about Konqueror of KDE then.
You might not like it, but at least it deserves an analysis, they went a long way in the direction of embedding.

Yes konq does something similar to this in the technical sense, but the implementation from a UI standpoint is poor (mostly due to the "lets integrate the file manager and web browser into one ui" design, bah...). Another example (and perhaps better one) is nautilus. I like nautilus in someways. The shell saves the position and size of the document and includes some basic menus. This is when using the "always open in new window" preference.

These three things can/probably should be 3 different processes.

Yes, that's what I want too. The view (editor!) is an executable, not a dll. I can imagine a system based on these principles, but this is more difficult to do compared to what's common right now. It would make sense to do only if the environment provides a better user experence, something new.
IMHO the concept "everything in one window" can be such an experience.

In gnome at least the above can be implemented using the gnome ipc mechanism bonobo. I'm not sure what the gnustep equivalent is here. (i'm getting out of my league here a little, I'm more of a ui designer/thinker than a programmer.)

> I'd rather agree with Steve Jobs ;) - reduce the clutter.
> I have no problems with transformations inside windows.
ACtually this is really bad.

Let me first tell why I think it would not be bad, really :)
Most UI environments model a document as a sheet of paper.
One sheet - one window. If the number of these sheets exceeds
three, this isn't convenient any more. I myself get distracted, for example.
Instead, I propose a window to be a model of a _pile_ of sheets on the desk.
There's just one upper sheet that's visible, all others are "below".
Second window - second pile. That's how I used to work with papers - two
piles, never more :) Similar to internet browser, only you can edit.
Of couse, _anything_ can be at the top of a pile, and here the embedding
of editors comes right to the point.

I think the problem with osX finder, window explorer etc. is that they present folders based on URLs or file paths, which is much more mental work for the user than multiple windows. An alternative would be a tabbed window manager, where folders and files in a hierarchy could be automagically tabed together if a lot of folders were opened. This would be much more similar to your pile of papers metaphor and would allow for individual folders or files to be torn out from the pile.

Now most of  us are fairly familiar with file paths and this is why we
prefer the later.
However if the goal is to make the lives of everyday users easier well than
not using a "spacial finder" is really failing our users (speaking of
linux/free software in general)...

Here I have to say - I disagree.
I'm interested in new desktop environment because I _myself_ is dissatisfied
with the current one. I'm thinking of myself. I'm writing for myself. I presume if something annoys me, it will annoy other users as well. If I work with something extensively (something basic enough, like switching windows/apps) and like it, it will be good for everyone too.
...by forcing them to work harder and learn
abstract concepts as oppose to just manipulating things on the screen.

My experience shows that abstract concepts are really behind everything,
"just manipulating things on the screen" included. BTW I remember my deep disgust when I first switched to MS Windows 3.1 after Unix workstation. Keep clicking, moving something on the screen, my wrist got tired pretty soon, after half an hour no work done yet..


I think the big issues you have are window manager related. In fact its pretty sad that there has basically been no innovation in this area really. I can't believe that we don't have a good tabbed wm yet and only one project is even attempting this. All that said, when people talked about the ease of use of the original macintosh, they were talking about the ease of use of the spatial finder. I think there is lots of room to improve but the basic concept of direct manipulation of screen objects is quite sound imo. dave

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