Re: My second file chooser proposal

On Mon, 15 Sep 2003 12:36:59 -0700
Ken Deeter <ktdeeter alumni princeton edu> wrote:

> >   
> > 3 Works from top to bottom and from left to right.
> > 
> >   A human scans through information in this order, therefore the
> >   widgets should be placed in this order. (See my previous mail for
> >   more details.)
> Umm.. I did see your disclaimer in your other email and I feel like
> perhaps I should address it.
> I think that in general, the left to right or right to left kind of
> thing is a learned behaviour. Many Asian languages use RLTB for
> example so you read things vertically first instead of horizontally.
> If you did something in english like that i suppose it would look like
> w h
> o e
> r l
> l l
> d o
> for "hello world". Most books in Japan are still printed this way, the
> newspaper is printed this way, so for example, a Japanese person
> buying a newspaper would immediately look at the upper right and scan
> vertically for the "top" headline. Actually in the above example, it
> should start at the very right of the page, but ah well.
> Now for various reasons, in many cases Asian languages are also
> written in the western TBLR.. i think it has to do with available
> technology, mixing with english, but also the fact that at least cjk
> characters are all meant to fit into squares, so you can in theory
> arrange them in in which way you want w/o worrying too much about
> kerning and all that fun stuff that western type has (i.e. nothing
> about the chars themselves dictates an orientation).
> Now on the other hand, most all computer systems in popular use
> default to a TBLR kind of interface. Like I said, I think it is a
> learned thing, and so far most computer users of the world have had no
> choice but to learn the TBLR way. Once you realize that, you have to
> really think about whether what we are doing is targeted at people who
> have used computers for a while (and so are maybe used to having the
> "file" menu in the upper left) or people who have never seen a
> computer before, in which case they might look where their habits make
> them look.

If it's only the computers which contradicts the natural habits, I think
the computer GUI:s should be considered incorrect (and should ideally
be corrected). But if other factors also forces people to getting used
to TBLR thinking, the case is not all that clear.

By the way, I don't think that people who are used to do things the
wrong way should ever be the (main) target.

> In the former case, assuming TBLR is probably not so bad. Switching on
> them is probably much more confusing than any advantage it may
> provide. And besides we only care when we are 'learning' the
> interface. Once we know where a button is, we expect it to be there
> every time.

I don't agree with that. Most GUI:s I have used, and gotten used has
dialog buttons (as an example) ordered in the wrong. Sure, you get used
to it but somehow it doesn't feel quite right. Then GTK fixed these
issues in version 2. And now it feels right like it never has before.

> In the latter case, I suppose we could make an interesting feature of
> gtk that would re-arrange entire dialogs based on the locale. For
> example, one could imagine a japanese dialog that looked like this
> +-------------------------------------------+
> |                                          S|
> |                                      +   e|
> |                             +      + M   l|
> |                         p p M  f f M y   e|
> | o                       i i y  i i y     c|
> | k                       c c    l l   D   t|
> |                         2 1 P  e e M o    |
> | c                       . . i  2 1 u c   F|
> | a                       j j c  . . s s   i|
> | n                       p p t  m m i     l|
> | c                       g g u  p p c     e|
> | e                           r  3 3        |
> | l                           e             |
> +-------------------------------------------+
> (ok this takes entirely too long to do on a text editor that assumes
> TBLR.. but you get the idea)
> This would require VBox'es becoming HBox'es and so on and so forth,
> and would probably require a complete reworking of hte entier
> framework. Gtk 3 perhaps? <grin>
> However given that most Japanese people can deal with TBLR w/o much
> problem, it is probably not very worth it to make the entire interface
> work in this way. If we really want to worry about these kinds of
> layout issues, then we're talking A LOT more than just a FOSD here.
> Interestingly, mlterm provides an output mode like the one above, but
> just for textual output. One would really have to study if it really
> makes a huge difference before going on and implementing such a
> framework tho (and it makes custom widgets really difficult!)
> -Ken

Are you Japanese, by the way? In that case I have some UI questions I'd
like to discuss with you, if you like and have the time.

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