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Look and Feel

From: Michael Thaler
Subject: Look and Feel
Date: Mon, 14 Feb 2005 10:49:54 +0100


I really like the theme Jesse proposed on 
http://jesseross.com/clients/gnustep/ui/concepts/01/ui.png. I think it is 
very well done, it is elegant but still simple and easy to use. I would 
definitely like to see something like this as the default GNUstep UI.

The floating menu in this theme looks really nice, but I can also imagine a 
MacOS like menu at the top of the screen. I don't know which one is better 
from a usability point of view, but a menu on the top definitely has the 
advantage of being more familiar to most users because most UI's today a the 
menu on the top (like MacOS) or a vertical menu at the top border of the 
window. Also, while a scroll bar on the left of the window might be better 
then a scroll bar on the right from a usability point of view, users are more 
familiar with the scroll bar on the right because every UI I know has the 
scroll bar on the right.

I think it is very important that GNUstep has a UI which offers users from 
MacOS/Windows/KDE/GNOME some familiarity. Designing a radically different UI 
will just stop people from using GNUstep because most people do not bother to 
relearn how to use an UI.

Also good looks are very important if GNUstep wants to attract users. I am a 
KDE user since before KDE1.0 and I also have done some coding with Qt/KDE. 
Personally I think the Qt/KDE API is quite nice and the underlying 
technologies are well designed. KDE also has very nice and powerfull 
applications. Still many people prefer GNOME. The GNOME/gtk API's are 
probably not as nice as the Qt/KDE APIs (at least if you don't use gtkmm), 
but the end user doesn't care. They just care how something looks. And here 
GNOME is probably better then KDE. I am absolutely sure that most people will 
not start using GNUstep because it is based on better technologies then the 
rest. If GNUstep wants to attract users, it has to offer a visualy pleasing 
UI which is familiar to the users.

MacOSX is probably one of the best UIs around today. I don't think GNUstep 
should clone the MacOSX UI, but I think something like the theme Jesse 
proposed, but a little bit more MacOSX like (menubar on top, scrollbars on 
the right) would be perfect. Apple had some good reasons why they changed the 
Next UI to a more MacOS Classic like UI. Most of their users were familiar 
with the MacOS Classic UI and it is not a good idea to force people to 
abandon everything they learned and start learning things from scratch. The 
same goes for GNUstep: Most new GNUstep users will probably be former 
KDE/GNOME/Windows users and they don't want to throw all their UI knowledge 
away and do everything differently.

That said, there are of course other important issues with GNUstep. I think 
it is still too hard to install GNUstep and there are essential programs like 
a webbrowser missing.


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