Re: Musings on the contacts user experience

On Fri, 2011-04-29 at 13:19 +0100, Allan Day wrote:

> In general, then, my current position is that, despite it not being the
> primary way in which people will access messaging, we do still need a
> dedicated contacts app. I am open to being convinced that an integrated
> IM/contacts app would work, but I would want to see the 3 issues I've
> identified above resolved.

Yeah, this, and the fact that Gnome 3.0, with gnome-shell and the
non-spatial nautilus is very much going in the app-centric direction
convinces me that you are right. That means we should probably not have
the people tab, which is a good thing too as i kinda agree with matthias
fear of piling all sorts of cruft into overview tabs. Also, we should
probably not allow contacts on the dash.

> Until I'm convinced otherwise, this is my vision for how the different
> GUI parts of our contacts framework, then:
>  * An add contacts dialog that can be used by different applications.
> This would, for instance, provide a graphical means to easily add recent
> or favourite contacts to an email. This GUI would probably be similar to
> the contacts app, and would probably share the same code base.
>  * A dedicated contacts app for when you need it.
>  * Contacts search (but no contacts tab) in the shell overview, which
> will provide a quick way to initiate conversations.
>  * In the future - a conversation focused IM app, and possibly even a
> conversation focused email app 

Yes, I like this. The conversation focused IM app is especially nice, as
it makes the difference between the contacts app and the chat app much
more obvious.

It also means that some of the concept design on the contacts app needs
a bit of rethinking, as they focus quite a bit on initiating IM
communication (via shortcuts on the main window, etc).

Additionally I'd like to have an easy-to-integrate widget that lets apps
pop up contact information on hover/click on any "address" shown in the
ui (like all visible email addresses in evo). That would show contact
info, current im status, last tweet, etc.

My main fears in a setup like this is:

* Conceptually a "chat" app needs to be running all the time when you're
online (as you might get a message), but generally you don't want to see
it all the time. With us not having a "good" solution to minimize, and
not liking minimize-to-systray-icon we don't have a good way to
represent this "running in background" state. The one way to fit this
into the shell design is to just put the IM window on some other
desktop, but I think that might still be a bit too visible.

* I fear as we add more kinds of hits into the overview search it will
eventually become useless (giving too many hits). We need to be consious
about this and limit the number for items we search. For instance, if we
search in all files on your system its likely that almost all words you
type matches a bunch of files, making the typeahead to launch an app
feature less useful.

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