RE: Reprise of the panel layout proposal

> -----Original Message-----
> From: gnome-gui-list-admin gnome org
> [mailto:gnome-gui-list-admin gnome org]On Behalf Of James Ramsey
> What is the "System"? Is it the hardware? software?
> Both? If one is in a business setting, one might think
> of it as a menu a system administrator might touch,
> which would hint perhaps that it had to do with the
> network or all the nearby computers put together as a
> "system". "System" can refer to a lot of disparate
> things. That's what is vague about it.

Well, IMHO, anyone who thinks a "system" is a computer network needs some
serious instruction in computer terms. But I can understand how System could
be thought of as a "low-level" access point average users would want to stay
away from. So perhaps move generic computer/UI functions back to a "Main
Menu", but keep a separate "Programs" menu?

> > I hate extra levels of navigation in menus -- I
> don't
> > care how sub-menus are implemented. To me,
> > having one big catch-all menu with everything
> smashed
> > into it is bad, bad, bad. I've never liked
> > the Windows Start Menu and anything that works just
> > like it doesn't sit well with me.
> The advantage of a "catch-all" menu, though, is that
> it, well, catches it all, even things that don't fit
> well into other categories, such as "Lock Screen" or
> "Log Out". The tradeoff, as you clearly recognized, is
> that there are extra levels of submenus. It seems to
> me that the problem is the user using it too much,
> rather than the user making shortcuts or panel buttons
> for frequently used apps.

Any UI element that is difficult to use is poorly designed, period. It
doesn't matter if it's used much or not. I don't even like big menus, of any
kind. I think any menu system that goes more than two or three levels deep
has some serious shortcomings.

> Maybe a better solution is to have a "Favorites" menu
> for frequently used apps, at the left-hand corner of
> the menu panel, and the main menu next to it. That
> way, the menu with the frequently used apps is quick
> to access, and the main menu can be used when
> necessary.

Um, yeah, that's all we need -- users amassing huge gigantic menus with tons
of un-related apps all stuck together. Somehow this doesn't seem like the
best alternative.

Now here's a question for you all: why are we even using menus for all these
functions? Is there really no alternative -- is there really no better way
of accessing lists of programs organized by category at the touch of a
button? And is there really no better way of shutting down a computer or
bringing up a control panel than using some kind of "Main Menu" or "System"
menu? I don't know if the goals of the Gnome project mention anything like
innovation, but I sure wish people would start thinking outside of the box
and try to come up with some new ideas that would truly make it easier to
use a computer. One main menu, two smaller menus, a panel here, or a panel
there -- this is really just silly nit-picking when it comes right down to
it. Will moving a panel from one part of the screen to the other really make
the computer easier to use? Will calling a menu "Main Menu" or "System" or
"New Tasks" or whatever all of a sudden make working on a computer twice as

This is the 21st Century, and we're still using GUI paradigms Apple invented
in the early-mid 80's. You could argue that the reason we're still using
them is because they "work", so, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." Fair
enough, but just because current GUIs work and people are used to them
doesn't mean they are the best way of doing things. There are a lot of
people out there that are secretly unhappy with how computers work. I'm a
professional Web site and graphics designer, and have been using computers
for 16 years -- and I still think most computer interfaces are woefully
inadequate. My personal favorite OS GUI at the moment by far is Mac OS X's
Aqua interface, but even I have to admit it has some definite quirks and
doesn't always make things any easier.

I haven't mentioned this up until now, but for the past several months I
have actually been (in my spare time) trying to develop specifications for a
next-generation computer user interface. Nothing related to any existing
OS -- it could be used for anything. I don't really want to try to "impose"
any of those concepts on Gnome, but I do have some ideas rolling around in
the back of my mind that I'd like to share with you all in the near future.
Give me a bit of time, and I think I can come up with something that would
take the current Gnome UI style and jump-start it to the next level.

I bet some of you are probably thinking I'm just talking out of my hat, but
I ask you not to pass judgement until you've seen what I end up with. Then,
you can tear it down if you like -- though I hope there it will contain at
least some concepts  of which people will approve.

Sorry I got a bit off track from your message, James, but I just couldn't
help myself. UI design is a field I get very excited about, which is why I'm
here on this list after all!

Take care,


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