Re: Style: Universal vs. GNOME-specific

Let me start by introducing myself. I'm new to GNOME, fairly new to
Linux in general. I just installed LinuxPPC on my home computer and am
stuggling to get it working (I'd recommend RH i386 anyday, but LinuxPPC
still has a way to go and has unfortunately turned to the desktop
environment Dark Side with their new release). Although I've used Linux
a little for the past few years, I've only recently become hooked on the
open source movement.

I *do* however have a strong interest in UI, and am excited by the
prospect of helping to shape a growing one.

Bowie Poag wrote:
> On Tue, 28 Jul 1998, John R Sheets wrote:
> > Does anyone have an opinion on whether the style guide should
> > differentiate between universal UI issues that could
> > (potentially) apply to _any_ UI but that GNOME officially
> > endorses, and issues that can only apply to GNOME?
> If its one thing that i'll never be short on, it's opinions. :)

Well, here come some more.

> GNOME should be GNOME -- Its own flavor, its own personality, its own
> character. Sure, there are common threads between all UI's, just the same
> as every ice cream company in the world makes a Vanilla -- But given two
> gallons of the stuff, you can still tell the difference.

Agreed. GNOME may give UI designers a chance to fix all of the broken or
misguided UI idioms of other environments.

> >
> > For example, a lot of the menu styles are quite common among all
> > UI's, things such as the File and Help menu-placement, Quit/Exit
> > being the last item in the File menu, etc.  These would be the
> > low-profile (yet still every bit as important) issues that most
> > UI programmers should already be familiar with, but may need a
> > little clarification about where GNOME stands.
> Yup. The standard File/Edit/View/Options/Help arrangement wont be leaving
> us anytime soon. :)

Well, if I may, I'd like to argue against some features of the standard
menu arrangement for a moment:

To begin at the beginning, the File menu needs to go. The O in GNOME is
'object', right? Users shouldn't have to think in terms of files, they
should just think in terms of "things." So replacement for the "File"
menu in an application's menu bar should be a "thing" menu for whatever
sort of thing that window deals with (e.g., "Browser", "Message",
"Package" etc). I recommend Alan Cooper's _About Face_ for a more
complete anti-File menu rant. I would *stongly* encourage implementing
his menu ideas as GNOME standards. I can go into more detail if anyone
wants, but I really think that everyone on the list should make an
effort to read this book if you haven't. ISBN 1-56884-322-4

> We certainly dont need to re-invent the wheel when it comes to the Style
> Guide, thats for sure.  I like your idea. Infact, I like it alot. Rather
> than build purely from scratch, start with a generic set of universally
> expected/established guidelines, and then garnish the plate from there.

Universally expected and established doesn't mean good. Cooper goes into
that a lot in his book. As an other example, Apple has a list of guiding
"universal" principles in their human interface guidelines. Jakob
Nielsen, in "The Anti-Mac Interface" proposed an interface which
systematically ignored each of them. It was brilliant.

So, yes, we should be aware of univerally expected and establish
principles--it may even be a good idea to enumerate them in writing. But
only to make them subjects of consideration--not to blindly accept them
and repeat the same mistakes that have been made by previous

(stepping off the soapbox) Tim Moore

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