Re: Making the file labels easier to see

On 22 January 2013 04:34, Angel Ezquerra <angel ezquerra gmail com> wrote:
> Hi again,
> I am current integrating meld with the TortoiseHg mercurial client, of which
> I am one of the developers. We were already able to run meld on Linux but
> now that there is a nice Windows installer I'd like to be able to do so from
> windows as well. In doing so I've been using meld for a few days (I had not
> used it before because I normally use Windows), and I've noticed a few
> things that could make our integration a bit better.
> In particular, we use "label" command line options to modify the title that
> meld shows when performing a diff in order to tell the user which file
> versions are being diffed. This works fine, and puts this information both
> on the meld window title and on the diff "tab". However this information is
> not very easy to see for two reasons:
> 1. The window title is transparent on Windows 7. Depending on the background
> it can be a bit hard to read.
> 2. The tab handles have a fixed size, and they do not expand with the tab
> label contents. This means that in general the text that is shown on the tab
> cut off, only showing part of the whole label. In most cases you can only
> see part of the label of the first file that is being diffed.
> In addition, setting the label does not change the text of the file
> combobox. This is a pity because the combobox is big enough to show the
> label, and because it is where your eyes are naturally drawn when the meld
> window is open. It took me a little while to realize that I could see the
> labels on the meld window title.
> So I'd like to propose a couple of possible improvements:
> 1. Let the tab size increase to fit the label

Having a fixed tab size is a deliberate decision, as variable-width
tabs turn out to be a nightmare in practice. All it takes is a
comparison between two
CustomerSingletonInstanceCreatorSettingsFactoryFactory files, and your
window now contains a single tab.

You can try this yourself by commenting out lines 46 and 55 of (i.e., don't set ellipsization, and  don't set a size
request). My feeling from having tested it ages ago is that it works
okay for many cases, and then it breaks the UX.

> 2. Show a "label" text on top or below of the file combobox, showing the
> label corresponding to the file. Alternatively, replace the actual file name
> with the label (this is what Ataxia Merge does and it works pretty well).

Meld actually relies on those comboboxes containing the files being
compared in several places, so we flat-out can't do this. In my WIP
branch for a newer comparison UI, I've relaxed some of those
restrictions, so it might be doable in the future.

Showing label text above or below would be technically possible, but
I'm very sensitive to good use of space within our UI. The problem is
that in most cases, the label text is totally superfluous once you
have the file path in the combo, so it only makes sense to show the
extra label at all when the value in your combo doesn't matter. As
such, one option would be to hide the combo entirely if we have a
command-line-set label text, replacing it with a gtk.Label containing
the full label text in that case.

The recent change to pack the file selectors into an HBox will have
made this replacement easier. If anyone would like to look at this,
let me know and I'll provide some pointers.

> These labels are very important in the context of a version control tool
> such as TortoiseHg. They are essential to let the user know the versions
> they are working with. In this context the actual file names are often not
> very important because they are usually temporary files that are taken from
> history (e.g. to compare a certain file revision with the current working
> directory version).
> So I think making these labels more visible is important. I believe any (or
> both) of my suggested changes would make using meld with TortoiseHg (and
> similar tools) nicer.

I appreciate why you're asking for this, and I think it would be good
to fix somehow. Could you provide some examples of labels that don't
fit, so I can get an idea of how big a difference we're talking about


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