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Re: [DotGNU]Interesting interface idea.

From: Barry Fitzgerald
Subject: Re: [DotGNU]Interesting interface idea.
Date: Tue, 16 Apr 2002 07:13:59 -0400

> John Rebbeck wrote:
> I have been thinking about how to make an interface for a PC OS that
> is simple enough for a newbie to use from the word go and powerful
> enough that professionals can use it, I came up with what I believe
> may be a solution and I would like it if it was considered for DotGNU.
> First of all you remove (or make un-necessary) the start menu, it's
> old. Second you change the nothingness of the desktop into the
> interface. Third you almost eliminate the windows (making them
> possible but un-necessary for a lot of tasks).
> Down the left side of your screen (150px or so) you have a column of
> image buttons with the optional text (Overview, Communication,
> Information, Work, Programs, Multimedia, Computer, Personal, Settings,
> etc.) and when you click one of these the main area of the screen
> changes to reflect it.

This sounds VERY similar to the original X Window Manager style that was
used (No "start bar", interface used via panels or clicking on the
desktop).  There were many things I liked about it.  You may want to
look into enlightenment ( I think that it's
right up your alley.   Also, there's GNUStep (URI anyone?) and AfterStep
- both fine Free Software X window managers that act similarly to what
you describe here.

> The communications panel is just that, com's. You have an ICQ style
> list of all your contacts down the right, then in the middle you have
> things like discussions, chat rooms, assistance, tips, etc. that can
> be navigated similar to windows System Tray (the buttons for each
> program open). The contact list should be able to work like ICQ and
> MSN Messenger put together allowing file transfers, conference calls
> (voice and/or video), remote desktop, config transfers, contact
> transfers, etc. You should also be able to invite someone in your
> contact list to use items in your work panel such as project
> management, client management, etc. or even give them the right to
> check your emails for a week while you are away.

A desktop that uses webservices for remote object access is an
interesting thought.

> Basically that's it, I think the style of it all should be reasonably
> similar to the new Windows XP login screen, very space age, nice to
> look at, but most importantly clean and easy to use. The colors should
> be silver, blue and orange (I think).
> On each panel if something relates to another panel it may be
> necessary for a command to change the 'currently displayed' panel.

"Current Panel" would have to be a stateful object regardless.

> The push should be towards not using programs for common tasks only
> specialised stuff. Emails are common so have it built into the desktop
> not a standalone application. That is the same with the contact list
> and a lot of other things.

I disagree - this would create a lot of bloat and limit people's choice
of program.  Also, one of the things that makes MS Windows so horribly
insecure and unstable is that there are a suite of that are tied into
the system at the lower level.  It's just not a good idea.  And I don't
think that it would sell with Free Software people.

> I also think that rather than making the user organise their PC it
> should be organised for them. Somewhere on the HD there should be the
> folders Music, Downloads, Programs, Reference, Files, Projects, etc.
> which are all rather self explanitory.
> If you download or burn music it automatically gets saved in the Music
> folder, if you want to play music it automatically loads the list from
> your music folder (cached though).

Not a bad idea.  Although it would be relatively easy to modify
nautilus, gmc or KDE to do this.

> Everyone please tell me what you think. I will keep coming up with
> ideas but I'm sick of typing them at the moment.

Well, they're interesting ideas.  I really think you should check out
enlightenment before doing anything else.  I think you'll find much of
what you're looking for there.  Also, I think that these are out of
scope for DotGNU.  DotGNU could be used to create this, but I think it
would be better to donate resources to existing desktop environments,
since they support most of the functionality you want already - with
some modification.  It would be a LOT of work to build a new desktop
environment from scratch.  

They're interesting ideas - you should pursue them.  I just feel that
they fall out of DotGNU's scope.


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