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[Pan-devel] Feedback: New prefs dialog layout

From: Duncan
Subject: [Pan-devel] Feedback: New prefs dialog layout
Date: Mon, 23 Jan 2012 04:18:33 +0000 (UTC)
User-agent: Pan/0.135 (Tomorrow I'll Wake Up and Scald Myself with Tea; GIT 5b1a1d1 /st/portage/src/egit-src/pan2)

After deciding to try a bit different workaround to the gnome-doc-
utils.make issue, I built and installed an updated pan for the first time 
in some days, and got to see the new prefs dialog for the first time.  
Here's some feedback.

I like the tabstrip ribbon at the top, with the arrows at each end.  That 
should definitely help with the small resolution over-sized width problem.

But of course I've some ideas for improvements.  See the last paragraph 
below for IMO the most critical one.

The best improvement I could suggest for the tabribbon would be adding 
icons, as it looks a bit plain and the many tabs undistinctive and hard 
to pick out at a glance, as it is.  An option for icons-only, no text, 
would be nice, but I'm not sure how it fits in with the gnome/gtk 
guidelines.  But icons and text would at least break up the long string 
of instinctive tab labels a bit.

Of course, seeing the icon improvements already made elsewhere in pan, I 
suspect you're already on it, and this is just the initial skeleton 
implementation. =:^)

Also, currently the tabs seem quite wide, apparently all set to the width 
necessary to display the longest text one, status and notifications.  
Either/both variable width or shortening the name of that one (maybe just 
notifications?) will help dramatically, as it'll mean less clicking of 
the arrows to see the other tabs.  That's another argument for icons-only 
as well, since they'll be MUCH shorter and will thus allow the whole tab 
list to show at once for many people.  (That's the primary reason I'd use 

Alphabetizing the tabs would also help, tho I'd suggest keeping a 
"general" or the current behavior tab first as an initial open-
preferences landing tab.  There's enough tabs now to make the 
alphabetizing useful, particularly with the scrolling ribbon tabbar when 
only a tab or two are show at a time.

Meanwhile, as PKovar suggested a couple weeks (?) ago, combining some of 
the only-a-couple-options tabs might help.  Charset, fonts, 
notifications, applications, upload and autosave, are all small enough 
that the could potentially be combined into fewer tabs.  I'd say fonts 
could absorb charset, apps could absorb autosave and the cache size 
settings from the behavior tab could move here too, behavior could then 
take notifications since cache size would be gone, and upload encoder 
size could move into either posting profile or group options, since for 
instance ISO-image groups are likely to want rather larger chunk sizes 
than image groups so making that a per-posting-profile or per-group 
setting makes a lot of sense.

Alternatively, if the tabs labels are all set to icons-only, the tabs 
will be small enough that splitting out each section in behavior into its 
own tab would be reasonable.

Another alternative would be nested tabbars.  This works especially well 
with (larger) icons for the primary tab groups, in a setup much like 
firefox's preferences dialog. or take a look at the setup of firefox's 
configuration mania addon dialog, if you have it installed, for nested 
tabbars with a text label rather than icons implementation.  The only 
problem with this one is that then someone has to decide how the primary 
categories are setup and which one gets each current tab.

Meanwhile, three suggestions about the new hotkeys tab. =:^)

It definitely needs the sorted/grouped.  I'd suggest grouping by window 
first and then by menu, with the main window menus listed first, and 
subsequent windows only listing additional options that don't appear on 
the main menu.  That's the organization I've been using here with 
accels.txt for years.

Alternatively, make it a listview, with click to sort column headers, 
possibly with window, menu, submenu and hotkey columns.  If you click an 
entry it then pops up a mini-dialog (or alternately expands the entry 
into a second row with settings options, only one expanded at a time so 
clicking one collapses the previous one) allowing to change or delete it, 
instead of the text-box table in the current implementation.

If that's going to take a bit to implement, shorter term, at least insert 
a bit of explanatory text at the top, directly under the tab bar, saying 
what it's all about.  The tab's rather overwhelming at the moment, and 
deserves a line or two of explanation for now at least, with the sorting/
grouping coming later if it's going to be more than trivial to implement.

Finally, when I opened preferences, the new and unsorted hotkeys tab was 
the first one shown, with only one other tab visible on the tabbar.  That 
was VERY overwhelming, even expecting the new hotkeys dialog/tab (which I 
opened prefs in search of).  My immediate reaction was that this must be 
the new shortcuts/hotkeys dialog, but what happened to the other tabs, 
since only one was displayed?  I thought the build must have gone 
terribly wrong some how and omitted the code for all the other tabs 
entirely!  Then I clicked the next tab and in so doing saw the arrows, 
which I then clicked to reveal other tabss, but PLEASE, don't open the 
hotkeys tab first, at least in its presently overwhelming form, or you 
WILL have pan newbies running screaming for the exits!  I've been a pan 
user for years and LIKE config options, and that was /still/ close to my 
reaction -- WHAT HAVE I DONE -- HOW DID I BREAK IT NOW?  Given that, I 
can only imagine what a typical afraid-to-touch-the-config-for-fear-
they'll-break-something user might do.  Running screaming for the exit 
must surely be close, however!

If the usual behavior/general tab is shown first, as pan used to do, then 
the effect of the hotkeys tab even as it is, when people click on it, 
won't be so bad, since they'll have seen a rather more normal config tab 
first and thus be a bit more confident in their ability to work with 
pan's config, before getting hit with the definitely formidable and 
imposing hotkeys tab.

Duncan - List replies preferred.   No HTML msgs.
"Every nonfree program has a lord, a master --
and if you use the program, he is your master."  Richard Stallman

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