Re: Nautilus 2.6 - We're going all spatial

[BTW before I reply I'd like to clarify my position: I am *not* totally
opposed to the spatial file manager idea.  I am just not convinced that
a strong enough case has been made for it being the new default.]

On Tue, 2003-09-16 at 02:46, Seth Nickell wrote: 
> Yes. I suspect that this is the core of our disagreement: you do not
> believe that people have trouble using existing software. I believe they
> get by, but could be doing much better.

This is not the core of our disagreement.

I know people have trouble using existing software very well.  I am just
not convinced that people have that much trouble with the browser way of
doing things.

> Most Windows users have not developed a useful conceptual model of their
> file managers. Many more Mac users have. 

The comparison isn't really fair.  The Windows model, with all those
weird folders that the user isn't even supposed to open and arcane
objects called weird names like "C:", is much, much more complicated
than the MacOS one.  It doesn't even make much sense; no wonder users
give up on it.

That alone is probably enough to confuse the user -- probably much more
than the non-spatialness aspect of it could ever do.  (And this,
incidentally, is the same problem we have in GNOME...)  For this reason,
you can't really infer that the browser model doesn't work from the fact
that Windows users can't figure out their messy file system.  The two
file system models are two different for the comparison to be

Also, I am not sure which MacOS users you mean here.  MacOS 9 used the
spatial model, MacOS X doesn't.  So which MacOS users (9 or X) have a
better grasp on the model than Windows users?

Do fewer MacOS X users understand the file system than MacOS 9 users
did?  That would be interesting to know; in the context of discussion,
the OS X vs. OS 9 comparisons seems much more meaningful than the
Windows vs. OS 9 comparison.

> > If that model is so complicated, how do people manage to use computers
> > at all?
> People are *capable* of handling some degree abstraction, and it is
> necessary in many places. I think perhaps you are imposing "can use",
> "can't use" as binary conditions that are too strong. 

I am just saying -- the browser model is inherently part of the
experience of using a computer.  You are describing it as evil; it

> > > 2) Many of the people who do understand Nautilus will use it less for
> > > simple tasks
> > 
> > Have you tested this?
> User testing is not a particularly good technique for determining this.
> It is simply one HCI technique out of many (when its useful its a good
> technique because its comparatively easy, cheap, and fast). A long-term
> use study would be much more appropriate. Have I conducted a long-term
> use study? No.

Then where is (2) coming from?  Is it just a guess?

> Windows never had an OO model. "Open in New Window" does not mean OO
> model dude. Windows had a totally confused mix between models that was
> worse than any single model.

I know what the difference between the spatial model and "Open in New
Window" is, thanks.  :-)

IIRC (and my memory might be failing me, I guess) Windows 95's initial
model was mostly spatial.  If you double clicked on an object, it would
open a window for it.  If you double clicked on the same object again,
it would give you the same window.

Of course it had flaws and there were other ways you could things and
have multiple windows for the same object, but that was still the basic
model and how people used it most of the time.  The non-spatialness-ness
aspects of it weren't even visible to the naive user.  (And we are
focusing on the naive user, right?)

> > All the Windows users I know (who don't even know what a terminal is)
> > happily and proficiently use the navigation model.  Same for the Mac
> > users.
> MacOS/X uses a still different mechanism. MacOS9 was OO based. 

How is OS X different from the browser model, and why does OS 9 matter
here?  I was talking about the "browser" model here.

> As I said, design is a series of tradeoffs. Even if a
> certain choice was *justified*, this doesn't mean that its not a flaw.

Of course a design is a series of tradeoffs -- in fact, when you pick
the spatial model you are living with the flaw that a common operation
(picking a file to open) has a side effect (many windows open) that we
*know* many, many users reported as annoying.

I don't think we have yet demonstrated that the learning curve for the
spatial model is actually lower enough to justify picking a model that
(a) no-one else currently uses and (b) is known to annoy (some) users.

-- Ettore

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