Re: RFP: File chooser user interface

On Fri, Sep 19, 2003 at 03:36:23PM +0200, Magnus Bergman wrote:
> On Thu, 18 Sep 2003 17:26:24 +0100
> Thomas Leonard <tal00r ecs soton ac uk> wrote:
> > - 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.

Yes. Actually, the only time I use GTK's open dialog at present is
for applications that don't support DnD, since I know I can always drag to
it. However, such applications are becoming very rare now. There are just
too many users that expect DnD to work.

> > - 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.

Sounds reasonable, although we don't really have a concept of the 'current
directory' in our desktop. One possible use might be to switch between
editing several files in the same directory (which is related to my 'Open
in filemanager' suggestion earlier).

Of course, GTK shouldn't depend on any particular file manager, but there
should be a way to open the user's preferred one (and web browser for that
matter). This probably needs to be sorted out at, however.

> 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.

Yes, but this is a rare case. If we encourage Open dialogs, then the model
is this:

- To open a file in the default editor, use your file manager to locate
- To open it in anything else, use an Open dialog to locate it.

With DnD, the rare case is still very similar to the normal case, just DnD
(or select from a menu) from the same window you normally use to open the
file. Locating the file is the same whatever you do.

An Open dialog gives the user a completely different interface to normal
when they want to specify the program (unless they want to *change* the
default, in which case it's back to the filer again, so you've already got
a choose-application interface there...).

> > 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.

Perhaps. As I say, Edit isn't that well used (well, even I use Vim[1]).
Though, we do get requests for syntax highlighting, intelligent indent,
plugins, etc, so I still think more people would complain about having an
Open box if they cared.

[1] Modified to do DnD saving[2] of course ;-)

[2] Vim already does DnD loading by default.

Thomas Leonard
tal00r at	tal197 at
GPG: 9242 9807 C985 3C07 44A6  8B9A AE07 8280 59A5 3CC1

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