compact view removed from Nautilus

As I recently mentioned on a post to desktop-devel-list, Nautilus's compact view was recently removed:

People there suggested that we move the discussion to nautilus-list, so here we are.

As I mentioned in my previous message, I believe that removing the compact view was a mistake.  I've used this view in all my Nautilus windows for several years and strongly prefer it.

Allan Day responded with an explanation of why he thought should it should go.  I'll respon d to his points here.

>I do think that compact view is problematic, and I don't see any why we shouldn't remove UI if it isn't of sufficiently high quality. Some issues with compact view:
>* Horizontal scrolling is unergonomic with mouse and touchpad input

It's true that the mouse scroll wheel moves vertically and compact view scrolls horizontally, but that takes only a moment to get used to.  I see no reason why scrolling on a touchpad would be any more natural vertically than horizontally.

>* It is hard to scan multiple columns when they scroll, and it is difficult to find a particular item in an alphabetical list if it wraps over multiple columns

Actually I think it's much easier to scan for a particular filename in compact view, where all filenames in a column are physically and alphabetically contiguous, than in icon view, where there are gaps between the filenames and where filenames in a vertical column are not contiguous alphabetically.

>* Filenames have a tendency to become truncated, and filenames also disappear off the side of the screen.

I always clear the checkbox "All columns have the same width" in compact view (and think it should be cleared by default, by the way).  With that checkbox clear, columns have variable width and filenames are never truncated.  Long filenames may disappear off the right edge of the screen, but I think that's preferable to wrapping in this cae.

>The other reason why I think it is good to remove compact view is that it is inelegant as a solution to users' needs. List and icon view have clear roles and are easy to communicate to users. Grid view prioritises visual representation of files. List view focuses on finding my name. With these two options we offer a clear and straigh tforward choice.
>Compact view doesn't fit neatly into our existing functionality. It overlaps with the list view (since it focuses on finding by name), yet it misses some of its advantages (such as the ability to easily reorder the list). It also overlaps with zoom, which is the standard way to display more items at once.

To me, the compact view is essential because it's our only view which displays files in a layout where filenames have significantly greater density than icons.  This is important in the (extremely common) case where you're looking at a large number of files in a directory and care more about the names than about the icons.  List view is inappropriate for this use case because it shows too much detail about each file.  To put it simply, compact view is like 'ls' and list view is like 'ls -l'.

To illustrate, here's a Nautilus icon view of my 'src' directory at the default zoom level.  (I'm u sing text below icons since the text beside icons feature has vanished in git master.)

At this zoom level only a small fraction of screen real estate is used for filenames, so I can't see many files in a window.  That's a showstopper for me when viewing directories with dozens of files (as I do all day long), so if I had to use this view I'd zoom out one level:

Now the number of files in the window is reasonable, but filenames are often wrapped and/or ellipsized.  The display looks noisy and scanning for a particular filename is quite difficult.  Contrast the compact view of the same w indow:

This is far easier to read.  It's true that some filenames are cut off on the right (and it would be nice if those were ellipsized), but that's a small price to pay for the clean and natural look of this view.

>I'd much rather offer two, clearly differentiated views that work well, rather than have three poorly distinguished options, particularly when one of them has serious usability issues.

I have to disagree.  As I've tried to explain, I think the compact view serves a fundamentally useful purpose, and I strongly suggest that it be kept in Nautilus.


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