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Look and Feel

From: Michael Thaler
Subject: Look and Feel
Date: Mon, 14 Feb 2005 15:44:37 +0100

On Monday 14 February 2005 14:47, you wrote:

> I understand your reasons, but to be quite honest if GNUstep direction is
> to be another "me too!" desktop that mimics good and bad decisions from the
> other desktops (and GNOME, KDE and Windows are basically the same flavour
> with a different colour) just to save the masses from having to deal with
> something a bit less usual, then the effort that has been put in creating
> something not only tecnically superior but with a string empashis on
> usability and distinctiveness (even if that distinctiveness is NeXT like)
> would have been in vain.

I don't think GNUstep should clone GNOME, KDE, Windows or MacOSX. Not at all. 
But I don't see a point in doing everything different just for the sake of 
distinctiveness. I think it should be easy for GNOME/KDE/Windows users to use 
GNUstep. There are a lot of people who have to use Windows at work. For thier 
computers at home they probably prefer an interface that is not too different 
from Windows. Do you think GNUstep, as it is, is a good choice for these 

And usability really is a two-edged sword. The GNOME people changed the 
button order from OK-Cancel to Cancel-OK because of usability. Now all the 
people that are used to Windows have problems using GNOME dialogs because for 
these people the button order is just unnatural. Personally I really don't 
care about the button order in dialogs, I don't think that OK-Cancel is 
better then Cancel-OK or vice versa. Given that Windows and KDE both use 
OK-Cancel, I wished they would just have sticked with this, because now 
everytime I use a GNOME program, I feel uncomfortable with the button order. 
And probably many other users that also use KDE or Windows do too.

The same goes for the file dialog. The KDE and Windows file dialogs are, at 
least from my point of view, quite o.k. When GNOME introduced a new file 
dialog, they could have designed a KDE/Windows-like file dialog, but they 
didn't. Maybe some people like the new GNOME file dialog, personnally I think 
it is totally unusable. I much preferred the old one. Maybe this is just 
because I am familiar with KDE/Windows like file dialogs, but maybe it just 
does not make sense to reinvent the wheel if there are already good 
solutions. Would a KDE/Windows like file dialog not have been better for 
GNOME users?

The reality is, that at least 95% of computer users are using 
Windows/MacOSX/GNOME/KDE and that not everything in these UIs is bad. That is 
why I think GNUstep should not be too distinctive with these environements.

And there is also another quite important reason why GNUstep should not be 
too different from these UIs: Many very good OSS applications today are 
either written using gtk/gnomelibs or qt/kdelibs, e.g. GIMP, Inkscape, 
Firefox, k3b, quanta, scribus and so on. Right now it would probably be quite 
unconfortable with running these apps on an (potential) GNUstep desktop 
because they follow completely different UI paradigms. You don't want to run 
one app that has scrollbars on the left, one that has scrollbars on the 
right, one that has a menu on top of the window, another one that has a 
floating menu and so. And it will be a long time until all these apps are 
ported to GNUstep, if ever.

> it it becomes the peak of usability? People are *not* used to an horizontal
> app menu, only the 5% of Mac users are.

Windows and KDE/GNOME also have horizontal menubars, they are just not at the 
top of the screen. But I think for those it will be easier to use a 
horizontal menubar, then a floating one. (Actually I think the horizontal 
menubar on top of the screen is also more useable because it follows Fitts 

> Macintosh previous to OSX was, well, Macintoy. To start copying the baggage
> that OSX had to carry just to please the users of a Photoshop appliance is
> problematic, and even more so because the technology underneath Cocoa and
> GNUstep is the same. Copying Apple in their current UI is not - even
> legally -  a great idea. If Apple doesn't like Aqua like themes, imagine a
> GNUstep look alike that allows direct porting of apps. It is my opinion
> that, even with a modern look in mind, we do best in taking all that we can
> from NeXT *feel* than from Apple's. Not only much more distinctive but
> actually based on sound principles and avoids being put in the same bag.

I don't think GNUstep should clone Aqua, not at all. But GNUstep could follow 
some of the ideas of the MacOS UI (not the style, ideas related to 
usability). Or GNUstep could follow some ideas from GNOME or KDE. Reinventing 
everything doesn't always make sense and the current Nextstep UI is also not 
perfect and can certainly be enhanced.

> I'm saying this because I'm begining to fear that the idea is to make
> GNUstep look like GNOME/KDE/WIndows/MacOSX. I've already seen what not
> having the guts to innovate gives to desktops, one ends up using
> Windows,but with another name, badly named apps and an anime background.

IHMO the GUI is not the big problem of Windows.

Take care,

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