Re: compact view removed from Nautilus

Hey Adam,

Thanks for your responses. Comments inline...

Adam Dingle <adam yorba org> wrote:
>>* 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.

The problem is the way fingers and wrists work. :) The human hand is
not well suited to horizontal movement with a mouse/touchpad (unless
you're using a scroll wheel).

>>* 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.

Well sure, it's easier than icon view, but it's not as easy as list
view. Icon view is for when you're interested in icons/thumbnails,
list view is for when you're focused on filenames.

>>* 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.

That clearly introduces a design bug for the long filenames. It also
makes the list harder to scan if the column widths are uneven.

>>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'.

I think there are a lot of ways that list view can be improved to fit
these requirements. Jon has already gone some way towards making the
noise level lower by sanitising the date formats. Another thing we can
do is (which I think he's going to look at) is improve zooming so that
you can have the icons become less significant in comparison to the

In general, I much prefer this approach of concentrating on one or two
views and putting effort into making them work really well. And if
we're improving the defaults, then the maximum number of users benefit
from that work.

> ... 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 wouldn't describe that as clean or natural. The column widths are
uneven, the content is tightly packed, some file names extend off the
screen, and my eye has to find its way from the bottom of one column
to the top of another to read the list.

I understand that you like this feature and I can see the reasoning
behind what you're saying. I just don't think it is a well designed
feature, and I think it undermines the design of the application as a


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