Re: Nautilus vs gnome-shell and the future

On Wed, Dec 2, 2009 at 4:08 PM, Alexander Larsson <alexl redhat com> wrote:
> With gnome-shell being the direction that Gnome is going with for 3.0
> I've been thinking some about how this affects nautilus, and how file
> management should work with gnome-shell.
> The current ideas behind the design of nautilus is that its the main
> way to access files. By this I mean everyday stuff like finding and
> opening your files, rather than "file management" (reorganizing files,
> copying files, etc). This together with the desktop having links to
> important places (as well as being a repository for currently worked
> on files) makes this a sort of "desktop shell" in the sense that its
> how apps are launched to a large degree. This is also why spatial mode
> is the default for the desktop icons (and why browser mode is
> availibile in the menus as "File Browser" for those times you want to
> do intense file management).
> However, in the gnome-shell design a lot of the things nautilus is
> currently used for (locating and opening files) is integrated into the
> shell and mixed together with the ui for locating and starting
> applications. This makes a lot of sense to me as launching
> applications and opening files with an application are closely related
> actions, and a merged UI could do a lot better than the current sort
> of double UI with the panel launching apps and the desktop launching
> files. The shell also wants to de-emphatize the desktop as a place for
> storing files in use and launching links, for good reasons (read the
> design paper[1] for details).
> This leads to two initial conclusions from my side. First of all we
> should disable the drawing of the desktop by default. Second we should
> default to browser mode. This might seem a bit suprising since I've
> generally been on the spatial side. But, this has mainly been because
> I've seen nautilus as much more used as a kind of file activation
> shell rather than a hardcore file manager, and when that changes the
> rationale for spatial mode change too.
Now this is interesting. I guess it was roughly 2 years ago that i
proposed the exact same thing about browser mode. Back then it ended
up in a huge flame war. Now you out of all people are proposing the
same thing and suddenly you get positive responses and even gnome
people that agree with it. Even a gnome person that proposes it! i
must have been ahead of my time when i proposed it. More on this some
lines down.
> This is a slight change in focus for nautilus, as its now to a larger
> degree used when the user wants to do more complex file
> operations. I think with this we can feel more confident that
> for instance the split-view branch would fit better into
> nautilus. Another thing is that we have more screen space now by
> default, which I'd like to use to do a more expressive UI. For
> instance, I've long wanted to do a metadata/tags/live-preview pane
> somewhat like:
> There are still a bunch of questions as to how nautilus and
> gnome-shell should work together:
> For instance, gnome-shell focuses a lot on using search to find files
> and other things of interest. Nautilus also does search, but only
> for files. The g-s search is more integrated in the desktop and gives
> multiple types of results, but the nautilus search allows a more
> detailed view of the results (multiple view types, previews, etc) and
> also allows more interesting operations on the results (file ops,
> nautilus extensions like sendto, etc). Maybe we could integrate these
> better, or at least make them more similar?
> With the desktop gone we don't have a place for shorttime "storage" of
> actively used files. There is "recent files" which is accessible from
> the activities overview, but the activities view is very much a
> "launch some new activity" thing rather than something you actively
> work with during an activity. For instance, your current app is zoomed
> out and you lose all possibility to interact with it and the recent
> files with e.g. drag and drop.
> I'd like to add some way to put files (file references really)
> somewhere in the shell UI. Maybe just drag them to the side to make a
> pile or a drawer. That way you could temporary put the files you're
> working there and work on them easily from multiple apps. This does
> require quite a bit of cooperation between the shell and nautilus
> though in order for the files in the shell to have a look and
> behaviour like that of nautilus (same icons, same operations, etc).
> In fact, this is a general problem for the shell. The files as
> represented in the shell UI just isn't as expressive as they are in
> nautilus. You can't get their sizes, emblems, there is no open with
> menus, extensions, scripts, property dialogs, etc. I'm not saying we
> want all this in the shell, just that what the shell does for files is
> not always enough, sometimes you want more, and we need to make sure
> nautilus can take over in a nice fashion when you need it.
> Another question is how we reformulate the UI for selecting spatial
> mode. Right now its a checkbox for enabling "Always open in browser
> windows", and rather than just having this True by default i'd like to
> somehow have a checkbox to enable spatial mode. I just can't think of
> a good way to describe spatial mode in the UI. Does anyone have an idea?
> With nautilus not handling the desktop there really is no reason to
> run all of nautilus all the time. Its currently needed for the
> automount handling, and its possible to turn on daemon mode so it can
> do this even if the desktop is not visible. However, this seems a bit
> unnecessary, so we should try to factor out the automount stuff to a
> separate binary.
> Gnome-shell will not be the default in the next gnome release (2.30),
> but since this kind of large changes take a long time to design and
> stabilize I'm thinking we should probably start to work towards this
> already in this release.

Now i didn't read every reply in this thread but i did saw the part to
split nautilus from the file management part and the mount part. Also
something i proposed a few years ago which was smashed down hard by a
lot of people, you included, so i hope the following proposal isn't
going to be smashed down since it's along the same lines just..

KDE did a smart thing with KDE 4. They had konqueror as there file
management program but simply left it the way it was and made up
Dolphin just to restart the file management from scratch and be clean

I would propose to not touch nautilus! Make a new file manager just
like KDE did for KDE 4. Make that file manager to __only__ manage the
files! So you basically get a Dolphin only for Gnome. That way you can
leave the people that want to use nautilus happy and people that want
to use gnome-shall can use the new file manager (lets say: Sulituan
which is nautilus in reverse).

If you don't like this idea then at the very least make nautilus less
tied with gnome. Split the desktop part, the mount part and probably
some other part that i don't even know right now off of nautilus. Let
nautilus do one thing: manage files. Not the desktop, not the mounts;
only files!

I hope this was some useful feedback.

Good luck,

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