Re: [Epiphany] Tabs options

On Sat, 2003-08-30 at 20:22, Alan Horkan wrote:
> On 30 Aug 2003, Mike wrote:
> > > "A multiple document interface presents a paned, tabbed or similar
> > > presentation of two documents within a single window. MDI has several
> > > inherent usability problems, so its use is not encouraged in new GNOME
> > > applications."
> > >
> > >
> > > And anyway if you ask suggestions on behavior of tabs to our usability
> > > people you get replies like "I'm not able to design things that
> > > shouldnt exist" ;)
> Mwuhahaha.
> I'm not a fan of Tabbed interfaces.  Due to their current popularity in
> browsers they are being suggested all over the place, in places where they
> are not particularly suitable.
> Interfaces dont scale particularly, too many tabs at once (more than fit
> on a single row) are not very user friendly.  (For example when a
> tabbed Preferences dialogs gets to crowded, tabs usually get replaced
> with something else).

That is also an issue with SDI, if you have more than a few windows

> > OK - didn't see this before (or hear of it which is surprising)
> >
> > My main thoughts are
> >
> > 1. The HIG talks about "several inherent usability problems" - which
> > are?
> I should point out that HIG by necessity does not go into the details of
> why things should be done a certain way, it would be fill books if it did.
> The problem of Tabbed Interfaces as with any Multiple Document Interface
> (MDI) is that you end up reinventing the Window Manager inside your
> application.  Reinventing window managers usually turns out badly.
> In Mozilla the Tabbed inteface was particularly succesful because
> 1) it was way faster than opening a whole new window
> 2) it provides an easier and convenient way to group documents
> It is working around inadequate Window managers.
> It is a good workaround (I do grudginly find myself using it) but ideally
> a better window manager is what is really needed.

the question is - what would you want this "better window manager" to

> > 2. No mention of usability problems with SDI, which there are many,
> > keyboard navigation, screen space limits leading to too many mouse
> > clicks, more difficult to edit /view more than one file at the same
> > time.
> Tabbed interfaces suffer these problems too.
> You can only ever see one document at a time, the issue is the ease of
> switching between multiple documents.
> The tradeoff of a tabbed intefaces is that it takes up more screen space
> to allow easier switching.
> While it may be more efficient and powerful for you to have more
> information available on screen at the one time it is more user friendly
> to use SDI.  It is simpler to deal with one window at a time for ordinary
> users, even if more advanced users seem to prefer to use multiple windows
> all at once.  If nothing else it make sense to have SDI as the default,
> even if applications like epiphany choose to also have a tabbed inteface.

This is actually the point, If for instance, I have 8 browser windows, 6
files open in gedit etc, it is a lot easier in a tabbed view (two
entries on the taskbar)

> > 3. Tabbed browsing is THE main plus point quoted in favour of
> > galeon/mozilla/epiphany as opposed to ie
> I though pop-up blocking, standards compliance and maybe availability of
> source code and actually running on Unix like platforms were the plus
> points.
> > 4. Just generally I hate SDI in applications, (wish OO, abiword,gnumeric
> > didn't do it)
> This surprises me.  Also I wonder does this mean that you want tabbed
> intefaces everywhere?
> Gnumeric has tabs, only they are at the bottom of the document and
> indicate seperate sheets within the document rather than whole new
> documents.  Same goes for OpenOffice Draw/Present/Calc.
> The SDI used by Abiword, Gnumeric, OpenOffice and Microsoft Office 2000 is
> a distinct inmprovement over the Windows within windows that Microsoft
> Office 97 used.

Have you used the SDI in office2000 - it is HORRIBLE compared to
office97 (and this is windows, not tabs)

The general effect is you have so many little instances in the taskbar,
that they are meaningless.

It was such a bavkwards step in usability, that I believe MS made it
optional in SP1

The general issue, is that whnever you have a multi app/multi document
interface as in windows/Mac/X there  are trade offs.

I personally find the use of tabs in applications to be more usable in
more apps than the reverse.

To explain further, I see it as a visually equivalent to the idea of
sorting stuff in sub-directories rther than in one directory.

When your stuff is categorised clearly, it is easier to find documents,
while in a single list, you need more powerful file management features.

(yes I know there can be issues with multiple depths etc - tradeoff

My main gripe here, is that I cant see any overriding rational for the
HIG to dictate the use of SDI, where it is  less usable than MDI/tabbed.

> Hope that the information provide is somewhat informative.
> Sincerely
> Alan Horkan

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