Thoughts on renderers and visualization


After posting the renderer patches to the list recently, I decided I
should have provided a quick overview of the changes I actually made and
changes that I'd like to see made.

First off, a list of the modifications I made:
 - All of the renderers were rewritten to use XmlWriter.
   As a consequence of this, they're a lot larger than
   they used to be.  I'm not sure XmlWriter is useful 
   enough for us in this situation.

 - All of the renderers also got new 'title bars'. 
   The title bars are just an idea.  We should probably
   find someone more artistically/graphically/visually
   inclined to handle this sort of thing.

 - Bugzilla Bug match renderer:
   - Bug fixed: Was trimming an extra char off the end of
     the owner's name.
   - Bug fixed: Inserted missing space between owner and

 - Default match renderer:
   - Now displays match type in parentheses (in the hopes 
     that shoving it in people's faces [okay, mine] will 
     get them to write more renderers).

 - File match renderer:
   - Tried to shrink the icon to 24x24 so it doesn't suck
     up so much unnecessary screen space.  This needs to be
     done better. [1]
   - The last-modified date is displayed as a relative date
     (i.e., yesterday, today, tomorrow, last Thursday, etc.)
     This algorithm still needs some tweaking and improvements.
   - In a previous patch, I modified the renderer to sort by
     relevance score (provided by DeweyIndexer backend).

Ideas for further modifications:
 - As an aside, the GaimLog backend needs some love.
   The log file format (and location) has changed.  And I'd
   love it to return more useful information (somehow).

 - The File renderer should get metadata from the DeweyIndexer
   backend and display this information accordingly.  For example,
   OOo files should display the title of the document, the author,
   and the date it was written (along with a summary if we have room
   or find a way to implement tooltip-like devices).

 - The following backends are being compiled by default, and have no
    - Contact renderer (used by the EvolutionAddressbook backend)
    - Location renderer (used by the GeoSites backend)

[1] I think all the icons should be relatively small so that they don't
absorb so much screen space.  As much as everyone is talking about how
great visual cues are, the icons themselves provide very little real
data (only mimetype).  Their size seems disproportionate with the amount
of data they provide.

--Kevin Godby  <godbyk yahoo com>

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