Re: Reducing the number of special uris in gnome

On Fri, 2002-06-28 at 08:42, Alexander Larsson wrote:
> On 27 Jun 2002, Dave Bordoley wrote:
> > Right now we have 6 special uris that i know of.
> > 
> > start-here:
> > preferences:
> > applications:
> > system-settings:
> > server-settings:
> > trash:
> > 
> > In general this is bad from a ui perspective, since they are not
> > connected in a meaningful way (no hierarchy like a file system just
> > random locations). I have a solution. 
> I think you are doing a major error in this thinking. Normal people (i.e. 
> not unix hackers) in general don't think hierarchies are that easy to 
> understand. Ever tried to explain the unix filesystem tree concept to 
> someone who just wanted to change his desktop background and then go on 
> getting his work done?
> Most peoples mind work spatially. You remember specific places, such as 
> "the place where the settings are", and not the location of it in some 
> abstract hierarchy. 

Just to support Alex here... I did a study of various administrative
assistants at Stanford and found that many of them did not appear to use
or even comprehend the idea of filesystem heirarchy at all. And remember
these are people who deal with TONS of data on the computer. They looked
for files in the default location offered by the file dialogue, and
always saved into the default location. Not only did they not use the
heirarchy, a variety of simple tests demonstrated that many of them were
not even aware of it. 

They comprehended the idea of different programs having different
locations for files (it made sense to them that a music program would
have a seperate list of files from a word processor for example, and
they didn't expect the word processor files to be in the same place as
music files), but they did not understand that these were connected by a
filesystem. If you changed the default location where the dialogue
looked for files, many of them would probably think their files had

Still, that said, Dave is right that as confusing as heirarchies are,
they are much better than URIs in the sense that advanced and
intermediate users have already learned about heirarchies and can
explore them. The existing system is not explorable, which is deplorable
(sorry, not really, the words just rhymed and I couldn't help myself).

I'm sort of thinking of URIs as similar to devices. We need a way for
"mounting" devices (sorry, very Unixy mentality I know) into the
filesystem, probably automatic but for things like network devices needs
to be manually controllable too. I imagine this also allowing "mounting"
other URIs into the user's filesystem heirarchy too. Vague thoughts, I


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