Re: [Usability]Re: PATCH: Bug 82107, Turn off nautilus sidebar and location bar by default

On Sun, 2002-09-01 at 12:52, David Watson wrote:
> Hi Seth,
> On 1 Sep 2002, Seth Nickell wrote:
> > On Sun, 2002-09-01 at 00:37, Damien Covey wrote:
> > > I personally would hate to see the location bar go.  The dumbing down of
> > > the interface is one reason that I have left WinXP behind me in
> > > preference for Linux.  And even for "non advanced" users it is usefull
> > > to have to location bar there.  How else can I obtain from a user over
> > > the phone what directory they are in.  The answer "temp" doesnt really
> > > help me much, it could be /home/user/temp/ or /temp.  I'm sure there are
> > > other circumstances where this is the case.
> >
> > The answer is "Hold down the key with the words "ctrl" and press l". Or
> > just have them go to view->location bar.
> Yes, but that's also the answer to a problem that didn't exist before
> people started trying to make nautilus look like the OS X Finder.

I don't give a rip what the OS/X Finder looks like, actually. I haven't
used OS/X much, and I don't have access to a Macintosh.

The navigation metaphor as it exists today is horribly busted. People
see it on the web, but that doesn't necessarily mean they don't know how
to use it, and even if they do, doesn't mean its comfortable/convenient
for them to work with. 

It is a travesty that URLs ended up being a necessary evil on the web,
but it is understandable given the technical/social/political
constraints the web became popular under (as well as, of course, its
development-by-scientists-and-engineers roots). The web is an
unconstrained system with an effectively infinite number of nodes
arranged in an ad-hoc cyclic graph. There is no formal mechanism for
determining the structure of this graph, and it changes every day. This
is desirable for a variety of social/political reasons, but does not
present a particularly desirable interface. People can and DO pay for
somebody to provide a coherent non-adhoc system ala AOL (which,
interestingly enough while you're inside the AOL structure, is free
from, oh, say, a location bar).

Try looking at a simple *path* without familiarity blinders on. Paths
are pretty archane! WTH does "/" or "\" mean? Now look at a URI. Worse,
much worse. Now we have a bizarre little "protocol handler" at the
front. Plus making people learn paths/URIs is totally unnecessary. MacOS
just provides a nice proof-of-concept that this is true....I bet most
MacOS users (or even most of you) don't know what the path seperator
character is in MacOS. WRT to the inevitable argument that paths/URIs
are powerful and convenient once you learn are terminals. Are
you in favour of trying to coax our user base into learning the Unix
command shell?

I would speculate that the most people use the location bar for on the
web is to either transcribe whole URIs they find in e-mail, in a
magazine, etc into the location bar, or type in "" (or just "foo"
for some people/browsers). None of these represent nor require an
understanding of how URI paths, etc function. How many people do you
think actually know to erase a level of path levels to try and find the
"parent page"? URIs are, for most people,
long-unique-string-identifiers, not expressions of structure (other than
the ".com" part which people do understand indicates which web site they
are on).

The filesystem, thank goodness, is NOT such a system as the web. It is
constrained in structure, size and other important attributes that do
not necessitate as miserable a structure as URIs for navigation. On the
filessytem, its actually reasonable to browse without ever typing
anything into a bar. There's actually a root to the filesystem, for
example. The "web metaphor" isn't a good thing, its a *bad* thing
necessitated by a lack of useful constraints in the design of the web.
We shouldn't replicate it for the filessytem when we can do so much

The presence of the location bar fragments the ability to provide a
coherent working-metaphor of the filesystem as a group of objects. It
foists the fairly confusing navigation metaphor onto users in just about
the worst possible representation possible (an archane string). Since
its fairly trivial to press CTRL-L for those that actually need/want
that ability (and to be honest, I only type very occasionally into the
Nautilus location bar compared to the number of clicks I use), I'm
strongly in favour of not displaying the location bar by default.


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