[Top][All Lists]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: removing spatial viewer from GWorkspace

From: Riccardo Mottola
Subject: Re: removing spatial viewer from GWorkspace
Date: Mon, 21 Jun 2010 22:15:46 +0200
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; FreeBSD i386; en-US; rv: Gecko/20100418 SeaMonkey/2.0.4

Hi Robert,

thanks for your lengthy letter. Ite demonstrates certainly that you have a right brain part!

I think it essentially corroborates my opinion and my personal experience. I did not write much in my initial question since I didn't want to bias you all.

I have been a Mac classic user for many years and I was into graphis, DTP and imaging before I delved more in programming, so I can understand your wife's working very well. Using templates (the original Mac classic made it very easy). It is a more document-centric way of working. It used to be more popular when things were easier and there were less files and options. Do you remember "stationery" ?. THe roots of these go far back on the mac: the Lisa lived of this system. I also used IndigoMagic of IRIX Silicon Graphics fame, it too was a nice spatial application, but with some oddities.

Spatial browsing is a niche paradigm which has its pro's, but it is difficult to implement and needs certain premises to work. If it is not consistent it becomes extremely confusing. The Mac Finder, when mixing, has problems. You have devices like keys.. what happens if you remove a device? What happens to the containing view? Generally it should close, sometimes however it is replaced by another content...

Given these premises it is no surprise that Nautilus of Gnome doesn't have spatial as default anymore. I remember that all this discussion and the addition to GWorkspace started right from Gnome. Also Microsoft revised its spatial navigation after Win95.

I am not against a Spatial Finder, but I am against a mixed system in one application. It doesn't work well for us and it doesn't for others either. It is interesting that how "unclean" it is for the user that the code that manages it isn't either since it needs exceptions here and there.

GWorkspace isn't the only workspace possible, it is just an example, the default one. Programming another is possible and it could act as 1:1 replacement, not a second-class gnustep citizen. It just needs to interact with NSWorkspace correctly. If there is really interest in Spatial browsing, we could create one, also by reusing many parts of GWorkspace itself.

A spatial browser however should rethink many aspects of the desktop: think about the "Shelf", the "Fiend", the "Dock" and even the System Preferences. All those should be rethought, since they are currently aids for a navigational system. IndigoMagic had the "Toolchest". A compact, tab-managed applications where the applications and shorcuts inside were represented by icons remembering their position. "Spatial" in a certain sense.

At the same time the SystemPreferences application should be rewritten in the interface to be really Spatial. When the Mac was a Mac and not a hybrid, the preference control panels were accessible in a Folder, just like everything else. The user did not notice a difference. Using the existing Modules of SystemPreferences to be compatible with the existing system, but with a different interface.

So if spatial, then really spatial.


Robert Slover wrote:
I'm not using GWorkspace at present, since I've not had time to set up any 
machine that isn't 100% necessary for my everyday use since I moved last fall.  
Anything with GNUstep installed is still sitting down in my garage.  However, I 
can say that the spatial finder view is useful in a few specific contexts.

I think Apple made a train wreck out of merging the Workspace Manager and Finder in Mac OS X.  The amalgam of the two 
is less than the original sum of either part.  But that is more due to a fundamental lack of understanding of *either* 
interface (in my opinion) on the part of the implementors than any particular incompatibility in concept.  The 
browser-style interface of NeXT works incredibly well for deep directory hierarchies (something most of us encounter in 
everyday use) for the most part, but is crippled in OS X by (in my opinion) lack of the browser shelf and the nastiness 
of right-hand scrollbars; necessitating having to hop back-and-forth with the mouse while scrolling around and 
clicking, instead of working smoothly from left-to-right.  I know there are people who claim this is just a matter of 
getting used to it, but in 10 years I still haven't "gotten used to it".  I also *hate* not having the shelf 
to drop something onto temporarily, it requires me, quite often, to have to have multiple windows open to move or copy 
things when only one would have been necessary on the NeXT.  From the Finder viewpoint, up until very recently it was 
just insanely buggy, the "spatial" part of things was barely evident, the Finder would forget the position I 
had placed things in at random times, and it is often *much* slower than Classic Mac OS ever was when opening a new 
window, since Classic Mac OS didn't go the Windows route of determining file types from extensions and such, choosing 
instead to store that information in resources along with the particular icon to use.  I experience this kind of thing 
every time I drag something to the folder I store scans of my daughter's artwork in -- those scans average around 220 
MB compressed, and when you drag across a spring-loaded folder and it opens and then tries to generate thumbnails for 
those things on-the-fly, the "spring loaded" feel, the "smooth" feel, goes completely 
out-of-the-window (so to speak).  These are all aspects of poor design choices and implementation, though.

The spatial style view is certainly useful for those of us who have very "spatial" memories.  I certainly do. 
 I probably keep a couple hundred WindowMaker terminal windows open at any given time, spread across one or at most two 
virtual desktops (I'll open a second one for short-term tasks, making it easier to throw away all of the windows 
related to that task when done).  I keep the WindowMaker "Windows" menu parked in the lower-right of my 
screen, and I just drop the mouse down there to get it to scroll onto the screen.  All of the windows are named the 
same (I log into too many different machines as too many different users to bother with naming terminals).  I remember 
which window is which by position in that list, and I often don't even need to look at it, I can judge when to click 
intuitively by the length of time it takes for things to scroll up.  That's spatial memory.  It freaks a lot of people 
out when they see my desktop, because I don't minimize anything, and i don't have a taskbar or any of that other 
nonsense.  It is just clutter to me; I want as much unmolested screen real-estate as possible.  However, on my Mac, 
where I tend to keep a lot of folders and a *ton* of files, I tend to use the browser-style view in the Finder, 
*except* for the leaf folders.  There, depending on the folder type, I will use either the detail listing (usually 
sorted by file type or date) or the spatial view, depending on context.  If it is a code directory, it will be one of 
the former, if it is something like a folder full of artwork or design layouts, it will be the spatial view.  Each of 
those views will have an intuitive (to me) layout that isn't going to come out of sorting by some file attribute.  I 
also tend to organize PDF's this way. (By the way, for those of you who have ever seen "Delicious Library", 
I've always thought it would be truly useful to have a "Library" view style, since that's what I'm really 
trying to accomplish when organizing my PDF's).

While I say I have a spatial memory, in reality I am probably somewhere in the very middle, and most other 
techies are probably in the other corner all together.  When I was in college, one of my professors gave us 
one of those left brain/right brain tests.  This being an engineering school, almost everyone in the class 
came down solidly in the left brain category.  I scored exactly the same for left and right.  She claimed she 
had never seen that happen in all the time she had been teaching.  It didn't surprise me at all; I was a 
self-taught artist, and had been doing commercial art on a small scale since I was age twelve.  I had been 
writing software since age ten.  I was undecided whether I was going into an engineering school or an art 
school until late in my senior year of high school, so applied and was accepted to both.  Campus visits 
settled the question; this straight-laced Indiana country boy was not comfortable at all with the 
"artsy" crowd, though I certainly could have held my own there creativity and skill-wise.  So I 
opted for engineering.  But, I married a graphic designer, and both of our daughters are artistic.  The older 
one intends to study art, and is quite accomplished already.  We just returned Friday from the Congressional 
High School Art Competition, where she was the winner for our congressional district.  I believe she was the 
youngest participant (she is a year ahead in school, and was a freshman (first year) in high school).  At any 
rate, both daughters and my wife use Macs, and not one of them *ever* uses anything other than the spatial 
view of the Finder, except on the very rare occasion that they are looking for something by date.  This is 
despite the fact that I have repeatedly shown them the advantages of the browser view.  When I use one of 
their machines, I will often put large directories in browser view (like the Applications folder, so that I 
can find/navigate to the Utilities folder) and I inevitably find it set back to spatial view the next time I 
am on the machine.  Obviously, they find using it that way to be more comfortable than I do.  Dorothy, the 
older daughter, has been using a Mac since she was two years old (she is fourteen now), and my wife has been 
using one since I met her and started training her on a Mac II in 1989.  I've been using one longer than 
either of them.  My daughter gets along OK with a PC, since she has to use them at school, but my wife has 
never been able to tolerate using one, not since trying to train her to use XyWrite and Ventura Publisher 
(under DOS/GEM) in the early 1990's.  Even where the software was substantially the same (Aldus PageMaker was 
a great port and almost identical across platforms, as was FrameMaker until Adobe butchered it), the file 
manager completely frustrates her; she simply *cannot* deal with using it.  On the rare occasions she's had 
to do stuff on the PC, I've found poor imitations of the Finder to install to help her out, but that's been a 
long time.  I find the way she uses things to be very interesting.  She has created something similar to 
"templates" for just about everything she uses, whether Illustrator or whatnot, that has all of the 
drudgery for a particular layout pre-done.  She sets up page sizes, margins, page and printer preferences, 
guide positions, default text block positions and typography settings, etc., in an otherwise blank document 
and then saves them in a "Builders" folder.  That folder is organized spatially, though I couldn't 
tell you what that arrangement is really.  She knows right where to scroll to in order to find a particular 
Builder though.  And that is really what the spatial view is about…letting you organize things in a way that 
suits your mental paradigm, whatever it is, and keeping it that way when you return to it, just like the top 
of your desk.  Despite the fact that I know more about most of the software that she uses than she does, I 
can't come close to matching her in speed when she is working.  She's amazing.  Anything that slows her down 
or gets in her way is met with frustration and loathing.  If GNUstep ever wants to be useful to users like 
her, it needs to be capable of providing the same kinds of workflow that people like her find useful.  I am 
not equipped to evaluate how or why certain things work better for her than they do for me, but the empirical 
evidence is enough for me to know there is a real difference.

reply via email to

[Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread]