Re: Proposal for default panel layout w/ some modifications to the panel

(Originally sent to Guillermo S. Romero personally by
mistake instead of to the list. Sorry about that.)

--- "Guillermo S. Romero / Familia Romero"
<famrom infernal-iceberg com> wrote:
> > IIRC when you try to remove panels you get a
> asking if you want
> to remove it. Maybe it just need better wording (say
> how to get it
> back?) and make the message appear even if the panel
> is empty (ask for
> applets too?). :]

That is not true for the menu panel. Also, it does not
take into account users who may remove a panel
intentionally but don't know how to restore the
removed panel, and realize later that they really
needed the panel after all. I know that restoring the
panel is a *trivial* operation, but it is not
necessarily a *guessable* one. Here's a example of the
kind of thing I mean:

One of the first apps I used on Linux was Applixware.
My dad bought it for me so that I could do
equation-laden lab reports. As I was writing the first
lab report, I had to go back and edit an equation, but
I didn't know how, and the solution wasn't in the
manual. What was the solution? Dumbly simple:
double-click on the equation. However, I didn't find
that out until I had bought WordPerfect for Win 3.1,
found out that one edits a preexisting equation in
WordPerfect by double-clicking it, and applying that
tidbit of knowledge to Applixware.

The moral of the story is that blinding simple and
trivial operations can be overlooked by a user, and
not knowing or guessing these operations can be a
major stumbling block for the user.

How does this relate to my proposal? Well, restoring a
panel is a blindingly simple operation, right? Easy to
understand, right? Of course. That does not mean that
it is not easy to overlook.

Here's a thought experiment for you. (I repeat this
from another post of mine.)

1) User is doing some "stuff" (word processing, GIMP,
2) User removes menu panel for whatever reason--maybe
it looks funny to them, maybe he or she is just 
3) User spends next few hours doing the same "stuff".
4) User needs an app that isn't launchable from the 
panel with all the buttons.
5) User thinks "Well, I'll go the the main menu and, 
um, oops, I got rid of the main menu, didn't I?"

What happens next?

An old-hand GNOME user might say, "The user 
right-clicks on a panel ..."

How does the user know to right-click on a *panel*? 
Said user may simply think of it as a menu *bar* not
a menu *panel* and not associate it with the panel
that holds buttons and applets, since the two panels
hardly look alike. Same goes for the pager.

"But the menu item they chose said "Remove *this 

But it has been a few hours since the menu panel was
removed, and the operative term in that menu entry is
"Remove". The user by this time has probably forgotten
that the entry had the words "this panel" on it. What
he or she remembers is that something was removed that
was needed.

"Can't the user use the online help?"

Only if the user knows how to access the online help. 
If the panel with the buttons and applets doesn't have
a launcher for the help browser, then the user is 
probably sunk unless he or she launches Nautilus and
launches the help browser from there. However, the
user is probably not going to launch Nautilus because
he or she is looking for info on the menu bar, not the
file manager.

What is dead obvious to a current GNOME user might
easily be overlooked by someone who isn't familiar
with GNOME at all.

This is why I suggest that there be a baseline 
configuration sufficient to access the functionality
of GNOME that is *always* present, and can't be
removed (except by advanced users?). The baseline that
I chose was a modified menu panel and a pager. Above
this baseline, users can tweak and customize to their
hearts' content, and if they screw up their
customizations or get confused, they still have a
baseline config to fall back on. Having a nonremovable
baseline config also means that users who have
problems can RTFM or search FAQs at their leisure.
They don't have to have the answers RIGHT NOW when
they have a project due or a deadline to meet, because
they can use the baseline config to get work done in
the meantime.


----I am a fool for Christ. Mostly I am a fool.----

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