Re: RFP: File chooser user interface

On Thu, 18 Sep 2003 17:26:24 +0100
Thomas Leonard <tal00r ecs soton ac uk> wrote:

> On Wed, Sep 17, 2003 at 02:47:04PM -0400, Matthew Berg wrote:
> > On Tue, 2003-09-16 at 05:16, Thomas Leonard wrote:
> > 
> > > I won't talk about Open dialogs. I guess most people open files
> > > from their filemanager, drag-and-drop to the application, or use
> > > cut-and-paste. Having a separate dialog for this seems
> > > unnecessary, but could be useful in emergencies as an expert
> > > feature, I suppose.
> > 
> > Speaking only for my own work habits, I've never opened a file using
> > drag and drop or cut and paste, and only *very* rarely open from the
> > file manager.  In other words, I almost exclusively use Open
> > dialogs.  
> > 
> > Do I think this is common?  No.  Do I think this is uncommon?  No. 
> > Honestly, I have no idea either way.  :)  Are there any studies on
> > this, because it seems unsafe to make assumptions on the matter.
> I confess I didn't do a study on it. My reasoning was simply:
> - Users will want to open a file using the fastest, most convenient
>   method.

Yes, I believe so too. But more importantly users want to use a method
they can trust. If they don't feel certain that a method *always* works
they will fall back to a method they feel they can trust. Then you can
be sure that each and every application supports it users will probably
start using it then they find out about it.

> - GTK's file chooser is unlikely to make a better file finder than a
>   dedicated filer.

I agree that this is a *much* better solution than making the FOSA
dialog a light weight filer. But then a user opens a file I think the
most common case is to choose one of a few files in the current
directory. Only something really simple is needed for this.

Conclusion: Either you use a simple FOSA dialog. Or you use a *real*
filer. I don't like the confused designs that aims for something in
between (like we can see in some other popular desktop environments).

> Using an Open box seems slow, because you've got to indicate the
> program AND the file to load, whereas with clicking in a file manager,
> you only specify the file.

I agree with your point. But you've got to indicate two things either
way. It is not the case that users only want to do one thing with each
file type. I know people who says that this is the single biggest
problem with windows and I think that says a lot. So, you have to
indicate the file AND how (with which program) to open it. (Well, this
detail has nothing to do with GTK.)

> However, to pick a figure, Archive (file compressor/extracter and the
> most popular program I've written that loads files) has 4600 downloads
> for the latest stable release, and noone's complained/noticed that it
> doesn't have an Open dialog yet...
> Someone did ask about an Open box in our text editor, but that's still
> only one request in five years, and I'd expect more if 'most' people
> opened files that way (although the editor itself is not very widely
> used).

Perhaps "most people" did what I did; I looked at the program but
decided not to use it since it's too different from my personal taste.
And I found no reason to complain since there really was nothing to
complain about.

> Perhaps someone has figures from a larger sample?

I think it's basically a question about an *application centric* view
versus a *document centric* view. IBM made a big effort of trying to
introduce a document centric view with OS/2, maybe they have some
information they are willing to share? But again I think most people
stick with the method they feel safe to use, that they trust is

"Technology is the word we use for things that doesn't work yet."
  -- Douglas Adams

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