[gnome-love] GNOME user environment brainstorming


At Red Hat we were trying to come up with a list of stuff to hack on
for future GNOME versions, and came up with a lot of possible TODO
items for the GNOME user environment. Some of these are clearly in the
GNOME 2 oe beyond timeframe, some might be hackable into current
stable versions. The list is far longer than we can do ourselves, so,
maybe it will give people project ideas. We'll probably do some of
them though. No doubt user testing is in order to decide which of
these ideas are lame.

Anyway, here's what we came up with.

Global User Level

 Change /apps/nautilus/user_level to be /desktop/standard/user_level. 
 Then use this setting throughout the desktop. GConf should install
 the user level schema.

 This enables us to agressively trim the available preferences in
 Beginner/Intermediate without annoying people.

Somewhere to Start

A problem with the current desktop is that there's no clear "center" to
it where you can find important information such as the control
center, help browser, etc. We work around this a bit by adding
shortcuts to the panel, but other than that you have to dive in to the
forbidding and totally unusable Programs menu. If you change your
panel icons, suddenly you can't find important stuff.

Windows has My Computer in addition to the start menu which contains
things like Control Panel, Dial-up Networking, etc.

Our thought is something like:

This is a magic folder along the lines of current ~/Nautilus. Calling
it "Start Here" for now. Our screenshot is of a Red Hat incarnation
with a couple RH-specific features. It would contain things such as:

 - Hardware Overview
     (as with current Nautilus hardware overview)

 - Joe Smith's Preferences
     (user preferences, such as fonts/colors; this would replace
      control center with a folder full of icons a la Windows/Mac, and
      we'd want to rename dialogs from things like "Theme Selector" to
      things like "Fonts & Colors")

 - System Settings
     (using Darin's prefs vs. settings distinction; systemwide
      settings that can be gotten wrong, vs. user prefs that
      can't. e.g. dialup networking setup, time and date, etc.
      Probably would contain Red Hat specific tools in our
      distribution, but Ximian Setup Tools could also go here)

 - Programs 
     (start browsing programs here - would have a folder hierarchy as
      with Programs panel menu)

 - Network Server Configuration
     (Red Hat specific probably; Apache, Bind, etc. config tools. 
      jrb argues that it should not be split from System Settings,
      the argument for the split is that System Settings is oriented
      toward all users, this folder contains tools for admins
      doing server config)

 - Favorites
     (Shared with Panel, a folder full of things that would appear in
      panel Favorites menu - unclear how it interacts with Favorites

The screenshot has a couple Red Hat specific icons in there too, such
as Software Updates. Just to show how a distribution might end up
looking; different GNOME distributors would do things differently

No doubt the name "Start Here" is controversial, other suggestions so
far are "Lobby," "Foyer," "Launchpad," "Begin," "Begin Here," "Hat
rack," "Master Control Program," etc. it was mostly downhill from
there. User testing is the obvious way to resolve this issue, so let's
avoid a long thread. ;-)

The Start Here folder could be made easy to find in several ways:
 - put it on the desktop
 - put it in the panel menu
 - put it in the Nautilus Go menu

One question is whether you can edit Start Here like a normal folder;
allowing that would make it more difficult to do upgrades between OS
versions where you add/remove Start Here items, and might cause people
to lose things and wonder where they went. Don't know.

The general picture of the desktop we have in mind is:

 - non-dotfile Home directory is where documents and user data are
   stored. You don't really need a My Documents, since Home is for
   that purpose.

 - desktop is for:
    - user shortcuts to programs, etc.
    - showing removable devices
    - Trash, Home, Start Here icons
 - panel is for navigation of tasks/desktop, and for info applets such
   as clock, etc. It also has the foot menu, which probably needs some 
   rethinking on what it contains.

There's some possible confusion about shortcut buttons on panel vs. on
desktop, especially since panel icons require single-click, desktop

Random appearance tweaks we were playing with

- Remove the beveled frame from Clock applet
- Remove the arrow next to the Desk Guide (already configurable)
- Remove hide/show arrows on panel
- Nautilus mini-icon in task list looks like a cheese puff; fix it
- GNOME theme in Nautilus by default
- GNOME theme in Mozilla by default
- Remove bevels from desk guide, use a more "flat" appearance

Possible panel/applet enhancements

- fix configuration/preferences; extremely confusing right now.  All
  settings should probably be do-able via dialogs, rather than menus.
  Lots of usability enhancements come to mind for simplifying panel
  config, just needs some good thought.

- foot menu rationalization:
    - probably remove Applets, KDE menus, and Panel submenus here at least
    - s/Run.../Run Program.../
    - make either Programs or Favorites be in the main menu instead 
      of a submenu, probably Favorites is right for that
    - add Start Here menu item to open Start Here

- with Panel submenu removed from main menu, the right-click menu on
  the panel should contain Properties... for customizing the panel,
  right now the right-click matches the foot menu, I don't think
  that's right - right-click is supposed to be a context menu.

- make Run Program dialog have a browser CList that shows all known
  programs, with icons if any, and ability to sort by executable name, 
  human-readable name, by clicking headers. Probably not a tree, just
  an alphabetic list.

- have check button in Run Program dialog for "Add to Favorites"?
  So when you run the program you can then add it to the panel menu.
  (In general, making Run Program... into a useful thing for all
   users, rather than a mysterious hacker feature as it is on Windows)

- Kill task menu on desk guide, the menu is confusing and the arrow is 

- fix the default clock; remove the bevel so it isn't ugly, remove
  all "Copy to selection..." menu items and replace with just "Copy" 
  which copies to clipboard, show UNIX time features only in Advanced
  user level

- delete all the non-default clock applets

- Remove or configurably remove folder heading things from Programs
  menu, based on Calum's usability test

- Programs menu hierarchy and program names need a lot of help, George 
  is working on making this easier to tweak

- Desk guide: allow dragging windows between desktops, show tooltips
  identifying the window you're hovering over.

My Identity

- have control panel in user prefs folder to do "chfn" sort of stuff:
   - give your full name
   - give your phone number, office, address, etc.
   - lets you set your GDM face (right now we have a separate tool for
     this, should maybe be in a general "Identity" control panel)

- On desktop, perhaps show "Havoc Pennington's Home" instead of 
  "hp's Home"
- For user prefs folder, use full name also, "Havoc Pennington's

Default prefs

- disable tearoff menus by default
- disable tearoff menubars by default
- disable in-place menu accelerator changing by default


- Start Here folder replacing ~/Nautilus; maybe implemented as
  ~/Nautilus, or maybe it should be implemented as special start:
  URI, don't know
- Turn off text for toolbar icons by default?
- Throbber in GNOME theme is making the toolbar a lot bigger 
  if text is off, consider shrinking throbber (or removing it 
  for efficiency/clutter reasons even)
- Downplay web browser aspect; Mozilla/Galeon encouraged for real
  browsing. (Alternative: follow Galeon and try to be a full web
  browser, but seems like it would cause a lot of clutter.)
- Revive RPM view
- Add support for the System Settings, User Preferences, Programs,
  etc. folders in Start Here; these are maybe gnome-vfs modules, dunno
- Possible side panel with Favorites, displaying the same Favorites
  as the panel and in the Start Here "Favorites" folder?


These would all be converted to standalone dialogs, rather than
sitting in a control center. They'd be launched from the various
folders in Start Here.

General theme of needed changes: capplets should not reflect the
implementation technology. Should not have Sawfish capplet, Themes
capplet, etc. Should first decide what prefs dialogs to have, then
have dialog interact with necessary technology to implement the
dialog. This is made far, far easier through the use of GConf.
Also, probably the Try/Revert/Apply complication can be removed 
in the process. And the tree hierarchy can also go away, since we just
have a flat folder containing User Preferences.

Other theme of course is that we can use user level to change what's
in the dialogs, or even which dialogs appear.

- Theme Selector is revealed by Calum's testing to be a bad name;
  change to "Colors & Fonts" or "Appearance." Have it 
  transparently handle Sawfish theme as well. Do lots of user testing
  to get this dialog right.
- Panel capplet should have far fewer options in Beginner level
- Panel capplet should let you do things such as add applets, etc.
  and do the non-global prefs (may require a little "pick the panel 
  to edit" widget, or a drag-and-drop approach)
- Window Manager capplet is for advanced user level, other users
  should be locked into Sawfish
- Default Editor capplet should just die; redundant with text/plain
  MIME type handler
- URL handlers - should die, replaced by File Types
- Look and Feel - needs lots of enhancement to e.g. show previews of
  what the settings mean. Probably should be comprehensively reworked
  in light of GTK 2 xsettings and the Colors & Fonts dialog.
- Sound - "sound server startup" option is advanced
- Sawfish - needs rationalizing/integrating, so users don't need to 
  know what "Sawfish window manager" is, and so e.g. there aren't
  two places to configure things like Sound, Fonts, etc.
- all capplets: user testing and enhancement to make them really easy

We need a list of what capplets make sense for User Preferences and
for System Settings.


- destroy gnome-help-browser, use Mozilla/Nautilus/something always
- unlock screen dialog from xscreensaver is ugly and doesn't look 
  integrated, and the entry won't be accessible, use the standard
  key shortcuts, etc. So we need a GTK-ized xscreensaver unlock dialog.
  This will get jwz flaming left and right, and requires some
  nontrivial engineering due to suid issues, but such is life.
- make the Print Screen key take a screenshot
- help system 
- get session management to work really really well and have a nice UI
  for it
- GConf editor tool, with pervasive GConf use (with schemas!) 
  so the editor is useful

... enough for today ;-)


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