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Re: [Pan-devel] Feedback: New prefs dialog layout

From: Duncan
Subject: Re: [Pan-devel] Feedback: New prefs dialog layout
Date: Tue, 24 Jan 2012 00:58:13 +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)

Petr Kovar posted on Mon, 23 Jan 2012 21:01:27 +0100 as excerpted:

>> 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.
> Even the tab ribbon with text labels and icons next to them doesn't fit
> in with the GNOME HIG guidelines that Pan has been trying to follow.
> FWIW, for the GNOME 3 / GTK+ 3 apps, the menu item icons were removed
> and are no longer used by default. So in order for Pan to fit nicely in
> a GNOME / GTK+ environment, I'd suggest not to use the icons even though
> I can understand the concern with picking up the right Pref dialog tab.
> :-)

Frankly, I regard the no menu icons policy as about as insane as the 
whole gnome3 the way we designed it and we don't want extensions because 
they'll ruin the purity thing.  Fortunately (IMO) that got toned down a 
bit and extensions are now looking to become almost as much a vital part 
of gnome3 as they are of firefox.

(FWIW, that's what finally got me off of konqueror by default, extensions 
such as noscript eventually became too vital to do without, and while 
konqueror has extensions, the community simply isn't big enough to form 
the critical mass necessary to support a viable extensions community, and 
even if the devs tried to keep up with noscript in konqueror itself, they 
couldn't, because they simply can't give it the dedicated attention that 
the guy doing the firefox extension can.  Plus that's only one extension 
out of many I might use, albeit one of the most vital ones.  Chromium's 
up and coming, but isn't going to have the extension community maturity 
and depth of field of firefox since it's so new, and besides, the open 
chromium project isn't going to be the extension community's main focus 
anyway, the closed chrome project is.)

People's eyes are simply more adapted to picking out image distinctions 
than text distinctions (even when the images are small enough the details 
get lost), and while the descriptive text is nice for newbies, with a bit 
of familiarity, picking out and using at least the commonly used 
functions should be faster with the images, without even reading the text 
beside them any more.

But... that's beside the real point I'd make, which is that regardless of 
what the default is (text-only wouldn't be my default choice but then, 
I've never yet seen a desktop environment that I was comfortable with out 
of the box and I don't expect I ever will), as long as there's an option 
to change it, I'm fine.

Which of course goes against the whole gnome hig and purity guidelines, 
since they generally discourage too many options and try to force users 
into the "one true way" to a large extent, the primary reason I'm in the 
"anything but gnome as long as it's free as in freedom" camp (IOW, I'd 
take gnome if it were the only freedomware alternative, over non-free, 
but it's not), but there you have it.  (And FWIW, unlike some I'm GLAD 
there's a freedomware desktop alternative with that sort of philosophy, 
since that tends to attract the devs with a similar philosophy and keep 
them from overrunning the "if there's a case to be made for a choice, 
choose a good default but expose that choice to the user so they can 
change it if desired" camp.  Similarly, I'd imagine they're glad there's 
a place for the rampant customizers to go, keeping them out of gnome's 

So presumably if there's a choice for only-icons, there'd be a choice for 
only-text as well, along with the middle choice of both.  I actually 
thought about mentioning that explicitly in the OP, but decided against 
it as by the time I thought about it, it would have required reworking a 
paragraph or two, to fit, and I thought it was likely obvious.

The point being I don't really care what the default is, text-only to 
align with the gnome hig is fine, but would find it useful to at least 
have an option for icons, as well, and once that's there, then there 
might as well be all three choices.

The other alternative would be doing something else to try to make the 
tabs distinct or at least to have fewer of them, as you suggested 
combining them.  If there were fewer of them, the need for icons or 
whatever to make them distinct would go down accordingly.  There's just 
too many with too little distinction to easily handle at this point, and 
combining some of them would combat that as effectively as adding icons 

> Of course, this is not to say that Pan shouldn't care about non-GNOME
> environments.

What's been interesting for me to watch over the years is the struggle 
between customization options that people kept asking for and 
(originally) Charles' desire to keep things streamlined in accordance 
with the gnome hig and his own feelings.  I saw at least two cycles of 
"throw almost everything out, only bring back what people ask for" under 
Charles, including the rewrite to C++.

Since the renewed development after the stagnation period when he left, 
pan lost the rigid discipline he had in that area, and has sprouted all 
sorts of new options.  Not that I'm at all unhappy with that, but it has 
been a contrast to the way he ran things and to (what I understand of) 
the gnome HIG.  Tho pan always did seem to press the boundaries a bit in 
that regard, probably part of the reason I found it so useful and likely 
one of the reasons knode really never developed into a big competitor, 
either -- pan was flexible enough to work for kde and other users as well 
as gnome users.

But now it seems we've reached the other extreme, too many options or 
perhaps more correctly, too unorganized, as they've developed faster than 
the organization of them has.  Combining options tabs and reorganizing 
preferences would seem to have developed into a rather urgent priority, 

Longer term, I expect it'll all come back into balance, pressing the 
gnome hig envelope somewhat, likely more than before, but rather more 
organized than it is now, and more usable once again.  It's a process, 
tho, not a destination, and it's certainly my pleasure to be part of that 
process, contributing where I can in the pan community I'm a part of. =:^)

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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