Re: [Usability]Re: Nautilus preferences proposal

On 01May2002 06:21PM (+0100), Calum Benson wrote:
> When the horizontal browser-type interface first appeared on NeXT
> desktops, I seem to remember it was because it had won out quite
> convincingly over tree controls in usability tests... people just seemed
> to 'get it' much more than they did with tree controls, with their
> fiddly hotspots and hidden branches.

Hmmm.... I doubt they compared it to something like the current Mac OS
outline view, because NeXTstep shipped in 1989, two years before
Macintosh System 7.0. 

Disclosure triangles were invented (by John Sullivan, wave) during the
System 7 development cycle. I think this was also the first time a
tree-like view was combined directly with the normal list view, rather
than being a separate option or a thing on the side.

So if these user tests took place, they were probably comparing to an
icon or list view plus old-style tree view on the side (with +/-
instead of disclosure triangles, and all the messy connector lines),
which is not really a relevant comparison in today's world.

On the gripping hand, it's not too onerous to provide both an outline
view and a multi-column view for a file manager, in addition to an
icon view, since they seem to make different sets of users happy.
> Tree controls are far more prevalent these days so I guess fewer people
> are quite so flustered when they see them now, but over the years
> they're probably still the control I've seen people have most problems
> with (along with all but the simplest tabbed notebook controls).

Calling it a "tree" is part of the problem. :-) "Tree" used this way
is a geeky computer science term. But most people understand the
concept of an "outline" - a list that uses indentation for sub-items.

 - Maciej

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