Re: Spatial Nautilus - notes on usability

On Thu, 2004-04-01 at 13:53 -0600, Tom Bruno wrote:
> I've been running gnome 2.6 for a few hours now.

It is *impossible* to fairly evaluate a new GUI in just a few hours
time. Its obvious you have trained yourself to use a certain style
effectively, and you need time and an open mind to discover if the new
GUI is right for you.

However, as others have noted, there is a GConf option to always use
browser mode.

> I am a heavy mobile laptop user who loves linux on his laptop. 

>   With spatial windows, i find first the problem of having 15 windows
> open just to go to a simple directory. To close all those windows docs

The easiest solution is to close windows as you go. However, I *rarely*
need to delve into 15 deep hierarchies. My desktop has about 6 or so
folders like ~/Picture, ~/Music, ~/Movies, etc.; so my files are only
ever two or three clicks away. For stuff hidden in the files system such
as /tmp/some/unixy/thing, I use Open Location which is just as fast as a
terminal thanks to type ahead completion (just like in the location bar
in browser mode).

> say to select remove parent windows, which would be fine however refer
> to problem A.  Another solution is to hold down the shift key while
> opening a new window.  However, this solution also has it's downs. Yes,
> holding down shift does close the parent window, but how far away is the
> new window going to come up? It then takes time to not only locate the
> new window mentally, but also refer to problem B.

With a laptop/touchpad you are *always* going to have problems with
point-n-click interfaces, so to a certain degree this is not spatialus
fault. All we can do is try and minimize clicking and dragging. I
suggest you get used to the keyboard shortcuts in the future.

As for locating where the child window spawns, spatialus doesn't do it
at random, it will always remember it's last known state! So place it
where you expect it to go, and it will consistently spawn there. No need
to guess, you can actually memorize it.

>   I find that spatial browsing on my normal desktop, to be not quite as
> hindering as on my mobile system.  Using a real mouse helps the
> situation, however I've found that still having to hunt down windows,
> and all the extra mouse distance rather annoying.  I have found uses for

The distances can be a problem, but as I said above, shallow hierarchies
help with that. I have yet to travel 15 levels deep, only ever 2 or 3

> the spatial feature though,  but more often, I could use spatial in
> addition to navigation browsing.  Also a spatial window is good for
> things like  Control panel windows, and printer configuration
> windows(printer browser), and those kinds of instances.
>   A useful example of how spatial effects my usability is as follows:
>  To move a file:
>    Navigation way:  Navigate to file, cut, back button a few times,
> navigate to location paste.
>    Spatial:  open location for file to be moved, re-orient myself every
> dir change according to new window position. (hopefully not holding
> shift, and accidental hit the wrong folder, this would cause me to start
> over) so now i have 8 windows open, click on close parent windows, back
> 1 one window.
>      open location for file to be moved to, re-orient myself every dir
> change according to new window position. (hopefully not holding shift,
> and accidental hit the wrong folder, this would cause me to start over)
> so now i have 12 windows open, click on close parent windows, back 1 one
> window.
>    Drag and drop the file into folder to be moved to.
>    Imagine for a second.. all that with a touch pad...

Heres how *I* move a file with spatialus:

If the file is commonly used, it has a shortcut on my desktop. If its
less frequently used I use the "Home" icon to get to the files I own. If
I want to browse for it outside of my Home, I use the "Computer" icon to
get to the "File system". If I know the location, I click on the
"Computer" and hit Ctrl-l to bring up the navigation bar, and jump there
instantaneously. In principle no different that with browser mode on a
multi-rooted tree.

If I have to navigate via mouse, I use the middle mouse button to close
the parent as I go. The only difference with browser mode is that the
spatialus windows appear in different places, and the mouse has to move
to keep up.

Once I find the file I "cut" it. No different that browser mode.

I then find the destination folder as above when I found the source

I "paste" the file. No different that browser mode.

In principle, there is *no* difference between what I do and your
example of using browser mode. I actually tried moving a bunch of files
around using both UIs, and they only difference in speed comes from
having to move the mouse from one window to the next in spatialus,
whereas one doesn't have to in browser mode. On a desktop with a mouse,
that difference is negligible. On a laptop with keyboard shortcuts,
there is *no* difference between the two modes.

Perhaps you need to retrain yourself in order to not use spatilus sub-

> Other gained features of Navigation:
>   Often I find that I memorize positions of folders in the Navigation
> mode,  I can really browse fast,  moving mouse very little. make a
> mistake, hit the BIG back button, not the little tiny x in the right
> hand corner.

Since spatialus remembers window/folder positions, you can memorize them

The size of the close button aside, when you close a child the parent is
automatically in focus, thus Ctrl-w is functionally equivalent to

> I really could go on and on.. Memory usage, window speeds, major

I don't know what you're talking about here. Spatialus is way faster
than browser mode.

> annoyances, and how all this extra movement effects handicapped users.

I agree that spatialus causes more mouse movement than browser mode.

> However, I don't think there is a need to.

Of course there is! Do you think that you are the first person to
complain, or that spatialus is so obviously broken that we can't see it?
Maybe you are so used to browser mode that you can't see it?

>   I really recommend the nautilus team revise this situation.  Make the
> default "Navigation" with the ability to open spatial windows,  or make
> a gconf option that lets you choose either (preferably with Navigation

It *is* a GConf option.

> as default).  I've been searching for any major Pro that would benefit
> us using spatial as the default, but I'm just not finding one. Please
> e-mail me some pro's so I'll have some good things to say in my official
> review! :)

You plan to review a major piece of software on the basis of usability
after only a couple hours of using it? What publication did you say you
were with?

There are many past emails asking about what spatial navigation brings
to the table, and are a good place to get your questions answered. There
is also a past story on Ars Technica detailing the rational behind such
a move. Your best be is searching those archives.

>   The select "browse" just isn't good enough, nor is the hold down
> shift. Spatial just takes to long to do a task. Honestly, You don't need
> to see every directory you've been to. 

It only takes too much time if you're using it wrong. Give it at least a
week or two. Look up the user manuals. *Try* to understand it. Then pass
judgement. Fortunately, if after all that you really hate it, just set
Browser mode to be the default.

>    Unfortunately, in usability,  there's even a reason Microsoft moved
> away from spatial.  It's because speed, productivity, better usage of
> memory, and a better understanding of filesystem layout.

We are not Microsoft, GNOME is not windows, and we are not bound by what
Microsoft does or doesn't do.


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