FileChooser's path bar and re-rooting

executive summary: i think the pathbar rerooting change should be reverted. explanation and rationale first, proposal at the bottom.

I updated cvs via jhbuild tonight and was surprised by how the behavior of the pathbar in the file chooser had changed. I've been following gtk-devel-list, but i must've missed this being discussed.

I opened a file chooser in one of my programs and started to navigate to a subdir of my home by double-clicking Home in the shortcuts list, and then double-clicking its name in the file list. However, I'm using a laptop with a touchpad, so my mouse aim is a little poor; i missed the folder i wanted by a pixel or two, and double-clicked on the adjacent row instead. That row happened to be Desktop.

I've messed up. This happens a lot. I just need to up one directory and try again. Since there's no "Back" button, and we have the spiffy pathbar instead, i reach for the parent directory in the path bar.

But the path bar has only one entry -- "Desktop".

And i asked myself, "Well, how did i get here?"

I think that re-rooting the pathbar is A Very Bad Idea. The idea of the path bar is to give you breadcrumbs, context for where you are in the filesystem. The shortcuts on the left are a way to get to a certain spot quickly, without needing to know how to get there; with the path bar, once you're there, you know exactly where you are because you see the full path of where that shortcut actually took you. By re-rooting the pathbar. you've taken away my context information.

This doesn't apply only to the Desktop, it applies to Home as well. Suppose you need to open a file in a coworker's homedir, which you know is a sibling of yours. However, your crackpot sysad has put the user homes in some odd place, and you can't quite remember where that is. The easy way would be to click on the parent dir in the pathbar and then find your coworker's name... but no -- the pathbar has been rerooted so there is no parent directory, and you now have to search for the homes.

Most of the new modes in the FileChooser's UI appear to be based on Mac OS X, so let's see what they do. The closest analogy on the Jaguar system i have here is the multi-column finder view in the File Open dialog. The Desktop is just a folder under your home, and your home is just a folder under Users; you can scroll all the way back to the filesystem root and get a complete sense for exactly where you are. No magic there.

If the concern is that the path gets too long -- that's why the pathbar scrolls! By the way, a viewport on the buttonlist would be handy; currently, the right-arrow moves depending on the lengths of the visible buttons, which means you can't reliably click the arrow repeatedly. But i digress.

So how do i propose the thing *should* act? Simple, just take out the magic. The path bar should always show you the full path to wherever you are, while keeping the list of where you came from if you go back up the tree. Making it act different for one or two magical spots is just annoying. To indicate that you're currently in a directory on the shortcut list, simply select or otherwise highlight that row in the shortcut list.

/me dons asbestos underwear

muppet <scott at asofyet dot org>

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