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Re: Look and Feel

From: Alex Perez
Subject: Re: Look and Feel
Date: Mon, 14 Feb 2005 10:59:22 -0800
User-agent: Mozilla Thunderbird 1.0 (Windows/20041206)

Michael Thaler wrote:

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.

Blahblahblah, this distills into "MacOS does it that way and we should too!" I do /not/ want GNUstep to be branded a MacOS clone. We can't win that resource war. IT IS IMPOSSIBLE. We need to go our own way. Hopefully you realize that if we were to implement horizontal menus *by default* in GNUstep (which will *NEVER* happen, for heaps of reasons why, search in the mailing list archives), but for the sake of this discussion, if we /were/ to, theoretically, we would immediately be branded a Mac Clone and from that point on, we've dug ourselves into a hole we'll never be getting out of. I don't think you realize the severity of the implications of this. Or maybe you do, and a mac clone /is/ what you want.

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.

The UI design considerations don't allow for it. Do you understand this? I don't think you do. And honestly, there's not so much to "re-learn" as you claim. This is just hype.

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.
Except for the fact that it's written in C++, I agree :) I also agree that looks are important if GNUstep wants to attract users, but where we differ is the point at which you think we should sacrifice many of the things that makes GNUstep fundamentally what it is in order to get more people on board. I simply don't think that's necessary, and I think it shows a lack of understanding on your part as well.

rest. If GNUstep wants to attract users, it has to offer a visualy pleasing UI which is familiar to the users.

And I'm not arguing with you on this point. What I /am/ arguing is that your proposed method of going about it is asinine, because you're not just proposing a new look, you're proposing we blow away most of our UIG as well. Bad idea.

MacOSX is probably one of the best UIs around today.
Plenty of people would disagree with you on this point. I like OS X, and I use it, but I don't think it's the be-all, end-all in UI design.

I don't think GNUstep should clone the MacOSX UI

Your opinions up 'til here strongly imply otherwise.

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.

You can do all this with third party bundles, if it's so terrible that you can't be bothered to learn how to use something that's so obviously simple that a child could learn. I just think you're lazy, frankly.

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.

It was a commercial motivation, pure and simple. I'd have done the same thing. We don't have commercial interests, and we shouldn't be expected to do the same types of things just because we want more people.

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.

Hyperbole alert! THEY DO NOT HAVE TO! This is so perposterous, that it actually made me laugh. You act as if we're some UI from mars, when Win95 itself was strongly influenced by the NeXT appearance, and the difference between in-window menus and horizontal ones is negligible at best. I suspect you've never actually used a GNUstep app lcation for any extended period of time, because your arguments reek of n00bness.

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.

We can all agree on this. but "it's still too hard to install GNUstep" isn't actually true, if you're using Debian, for instance, or Arch Linux, or FreeBSD, or Windows, or any other platform for which there are GNUstep packages. GNUstep is not a desktop environment. It's a collection of things that allow you to make applications, and allow you to make desktop environments. This is the most common misconception of GNUstep. Why else would there be desktop environments which are *BASED ON* GNUstep?

I thank you for your opinions, but I think you need to ask yourself why you think these things, because you're not thinking very critically at all, IMHO.

Alex Perez

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