Re: Split/dual pane view again (but this time with code)

On Wed, 2009-02-18 at 22:52 +0100, Holger Berndt wrote:
> After reading through the former split-view threads, bugreports,
> dozens of duplicate Ubuntu brainstorm ideas, blogs, forums etc on that
> topic, I decided to go ahead and get my hands dirty on implementing
> split-view browsing in nautilus.
> I sincerely hope for an open discussion.

Interesting. I've historically been against both split view and tabs, so
I think an open discussion starting from the basics is in place here.

First of all, lets consider the primary usecase of Nautilus. In my view
it is quite different than for example Norton Commander. If you even
start Norton Commander chances are that you're gonna do some heavy file
management, like restructuring a set of folders or something. However,
most of the time when you're using Nautilus what you do is not "file
management" per se, but rather just interacting with the files you're
working with. So, you'd look for files, view files, edit files, etc.

As such, I think we need the main focus of the UI to be on this form of
light use. Things like tabs and split view increase the total complexity
of the mental model of the app (things like which pane/tab/whatever is
affected by each option/operation/visual-feedback/, etc). 

However, as some of these things are quite heavily requested by a subset
of users, and since Manny (new maintainer) was interested in tabs, and
I'm happy to have any new developers at all doing work tabs was merged.

Split views are a further addition to the complexity of the app. I don't
think the split view feature per-se is all that bad, it can be made a
pretty small part of the user interface that doesn't need to affect
non-users much. However, what I fear is that introduction of a split
view will lead to more and more creaping of the application model
towards the norton commander style of application. In other words a
focus on heavy file management as opposed to an uncluttered UI for just
exploring your files.

We get things like keyboard shortcuts conflicts between expected NC
operations and regular app behaviour (like for instance the use of
"tab"), menus full of split-view specific operations, etc. 

So, I think the general idea of split view is OKish (although all forms
of MDI UIs make me a bit wary). But we have to take extreme care not to
allow it to subvert the goal of the project.

Some specific details on the UI:

"View->Split View" is a kind of weird naming with view used twice. If
you compare with the other things in that menu, like "side pane" its
more of a toggle the visibility of that object. So, perhaps something
like "View->Extra pane" or something would make more sense.

Also, I don't like the "Side Pane" toplevel menu. Menu operations should
be arranged by what they do, not what application feature enable them.
So, file copy operations should be in edit just like other such
operations (even thought this exact use of the standard menu names is a
bit weird in nautilus). 

Generally we don't hide menu items that are not availible atm, we just
make them insensitive as otherwise the menus change in weird ways
depending on app state, which causes for instance other operations to
move in the menus. See the Gnome HIG for details. 

I haven't looked at the code yet, as I want to focus on the highlevel
details first. What are other peoples feelings about split views? What
kind of operations would you want from the typical NC-style
functionallity? Is there a possibility to do a sane limited split view
addition in Nautilus, or should we recommend people who desire NC-style
functionallity to just use a NC-style application?

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