Re: compact view removed from Nautilus

On 07/02/2012 01:18 PM, Allan Day wrote:
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
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).

That's not obvious to me. We already move our mice left and right all day long without much apparent effort. And even if one direction were easier than the other, it's not clear to me that the difference would be significant enough to affect a design design like this.

* 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
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
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.

But list view just isn't that useful when you have dozens of files in a single directory, a very common case. My screen is 2-dimensional. If I'm looking at a large set of files, I certainly want them to be laid out in two dimensions rather than having to scroll to see them. In this situation, compact view would be my first choice, followed by icon view; list view would come last.

I think it's worth looking at what other file managers offer here.

- Konqueror, Thunar and Windows Explorer all offer a view similar to Nautilus's compact view: filenames appear vertically stacked, are sorted from top to bottom and the view scrolls horizontally. Columns have variable width.

- In the Mac OS Finder, when you choose to display filenames beside icons, the sorting order changes to be like Nautilus's compact view, i.e. sorted from top to bottom in each column. Once again, scrolling is horizontal. Columns have fixed (user-adjustable) width. Filenames wrap to a second line if necessary to fit in the column width, and are ellipsized if they won't fit in two lines.


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.

If your goal is truly to have only two views, then I think you should add back the option to have filenames beside icons in the icon view, and display the existing compact view (with vertical sorting and horizontal scrolling) whenever the user chooses to see filenames beside icons. I think that would work fine.

If the compact view does not return in some form, then we will be the only one among the major file managers listed above which does not offer a view like this. I think that will make it harder to browse directories with dozens of files on Nautilus than in any of these other programs.


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