Keynav for applying patterns, colors and emblems

I gather the folks who are working on keynav for Nautilus have stumbled
across a bit of a problem-- right now the only way to apply patterns,
colours or emblems is by drag and drop  :)

I've had a quick think about this, so here are a couple of ideas,
shortest first  :)  Comments/better ideas more than welcome...

#1 : Use the Clipboard, Luke

If you could select pattern/colour swatches in the Backgrounds & Emblems
dialog, rather than only being able to drag them, a user could
potentially copy them to the clipboard using Ctrl+C.  When Nautilus
keynav is fully-working, you can give focus to any pane in a Nautilus
window quickly and easily, and press Ctrl+V to paste that swatch into
that pane, thereby changing the background colour.

Implementation issues aside, this solution probably requires the fewest
user visible/documentation changes, but consequently no user would ever
work out that it was possible  :)

#2 : The Boring-But-Closer-To-Correct Way

2.1 Changing patterns and colours in a Nautilus window

Add a "Change Background..." menu item, right above "Reset Background",
to the right-click menu for the sidebar and main view panes.  The dialog
that pops up would be a variation of the existing Backgrounds & Emblems
dialog... specifically:

 - It would have the Patterns and Colors buttons, but not the Emblems

 - You could select one swatch at a time from the list, but not drag
   them anywhere.  Selecting a swatch would instantly apply that 
   colour/pattern to the pane (sidebar or main view) that had focus 
   when the dialog was opened.

   Alternatively, the dialog might also include two (or three) radio 
   buttons to let you apply the change to that window's sidebar or main 
   view (or both).

 - The dialog should probably be modal, so you couldn't leave it open
   get it confused with the window-and-focus-agnostic Edit->Backgrounds
& Emblems
   dialog, which you might also have open.  (The similarity and
   of these two dialogs in this proposal is its biggest flaw
   I think... it smacks of 'bad conceptual model'...)

Issue: Even when Nautilus keynav is fully-implemented, it will be kind
of inconvenient to call up the shortcut menu for the main view with
Shift+F10, because you need to have no files selected before it will
appear.  If you have any files selected you should get the shortcut menu
for the selected files, not the main view.  

I suppose you could add "Change Background" to both shortcut menus, but
that could be misleading-- a user might expect it to change the
appearance of the selected icons (whatever that might mean).  So, a
View->Change Background item would probably also be required on the main
Nautilus menu, which did the same thing as selecting Change Background
in the main view or sidebar's right-click menu.

2.2 Changing patterns and colours on the Nautilus desktop

Last time I tried, right-clicking the desktop and selecting "Change
Background" just popped up the background capplet.  This is probably
sufficient for now, provided we don't need a super-convenient way of
applying the Nautilus-supplied patterns to the desktop via the
keyboard.  (I assume a keen user could work out where these pixmaps were
stored and apply them manually via the Background capplet anyway).

We do have a problem in that there is currently no way to give focus to
the desktop using the keyboard alone, though, so the keyboard user can't
get to this shortcut menu in the first place to open the dialog.  But at
least there are other ways to get to the Backdrop capplet, most of which
aren't fully accessible yet either, but hopefully will be soon...

2.3 Changing Emblems on selected files

When Nautilus keynav is fully implemented, this should be available for
free, as you can select the files in the main view, hit Shift+F10 to pop
up the context menu, and select Show Properties.

However, the Emblems tab does need to be fixed to work properly for
multiple file selections (shouldn't be too hard now gtk supports 'mixed'
state for checkboxes), and there should also be a "Show Properties" menu
item on the Nautilus main menu bar rather than having it only available
on right-click.  This should probably go on either the Edit or View
menu-- unfortunately the HIG doesn't currently have a suggestion for
where "Properties" menu items should go :/


CALUM BENSON, Usability Engineer       Sun Microsystems Ireland
mailto:calum benson ireland sun com    Desktop Engineering Group                      +353 1 819 9771

Any opinions are personal and not necessarily those of Sun Microsystems

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