Re: slab menu

Hi Calum,

On 2/5/07, Calum Benson <Calum Benson sun com> wrote:
On Mon, 2007-02-05 at 13:02 -0500, JP Rosevear wrote:

> How is it slow to get to things vs a traditional hierarchal menu? My
> important apps are two clicks away -> open menu -> click.  Hierarachal
> menus more clicks than that.  Don't like the default list?  Drag from
> the app browser and drop them on the menu.

Much as we'd all like it to be untrue, that's still more customisation
than many (most?) "average" users are either willing to do, or have the
knowledge to do, or (in some cases) are allowed to do by their sysadmin.

You should see the state of the Start menu on my wife's Windows laptop,
it takes up almost the whole screen, and it's not even in alphabetical
order :)  But she says she has no interest in streamlining it, and
wouldn't know how to anyway.

One thing that I think bears mentioning is that really no one uses the
menus as the sole interface to their applications.  They use the menus
supplemented by launchers on the panel.  Menus themselves are a pretty
poor interface for a least a few cases (in my experience):

* accessing common tools quickly (who goes to the menu for a web browser?)
* when you don't know the appropriate category for an application
(Evolution is in Internet, right?)
 * when you don't already know what's in a submenu
 * when you don't have a high precision pointing device (eg. a
trackpad, nipple pointer, your fingers) - even though the panel menus
are way better than firefox's in this regard
* when the menu list is longer than the screen is high
* when you don't know what you are looking for (something that does
something with photos)

I'm sure there are others but these are the ones that bother me.

Also, having a menu based UI essentially dictates that we must use
launchers for common tools.  Which requires the kind of configuration
that you argue against above.  It also implies that we use two or more
panels in order to support all of our recommended UI (menu, launchers,
clock, volume applet, window list, notification area, etc).  Unless of
course you go the Windows route of putting launchers on the desktop
itself which I think most agree isn't that good.

Regarding configuration, I think the slab is in a better position to
provide an interface that doesn't require configuration of quick
access to the most used tools.  It apparently has something called
"Recently Used Applications" (which is empty for me but I can imagine
what it is supposed to do).  Even though I think "Recently" isn't
really as interesting as "Most Frequently".

In other mails I think you make a good case for why the 2D tile layout
isn't always best.  But maybe there are other ways to fix this than
resorting to a menu like interface.  Not sure.

I don't think that menus are immune from hunt and peck hell either.
Part of the problem that you describe about the Windows start menu is
that it is still a menu (be it an analphabetical and deeply nested
one).  And yeah, it sucks.

So, I've been pretty happy with my switch to using the slab (and going
from two panels to one) for the last month or so.  Still, I'm sure it
can be improved [1].  I'm not sure I've ever intentionally clicked on
the hard drive status for example.


[1] When the maintainers start reviewing patches in bugzilla ;)

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