[Usability] Fixing the foobar wrt fitt's law
- From: Seth Nickell <snickell stanford edu>
- To: gnome-hackers gnome org, usability gnome org
- Subject: [Usability] Fixing the foobar wrt fitt's law
- Date: 03 Oct 2001 16:50:40 -0700
I switched to using the menu panel (aka foobar) about 3 months ago,
because its what Ximian ships and hence what a lot of users are now
getting. I thought I would dislike it, and did for the first few
days...but I've grown to like it at this point, as have many people.
Something very similar to the Ximian 1.4 arrangement is currently the
Usability Project's suggestion for the GNOME 2 default panel
*however* one aspect about it has been driving me up the walls. The
menus do not extend to the top of the screen, and in particular you
can't access the Programs menu by flinging your pointer into the upper
right corner. (its also annoying that you can't pulldown the tasklist by
flinging into the upper right corner, but for now I would settle for
quick access to Programs).
The real-estate at the four corners of the screen is incredibly
valuable, can we please not waste it on borders? (I realize this may
require hacking the menubar or menu widgets, but I really think it would
be worth it). I would love for some brave hacker to volunteer to fix
this problem so we can all mouse easier at night (and during the day).
Here are some bug reports related to this:
But the same is largely true for any applet on the panel (launchers,
menubar tasklist, heck even the keyboard layout switching applet).
And if you need more convincing that this worthwhile... The following is
an excerpt from http://static.userland.com/gems/joel/uibookcomplete.htm
(the as a whole article contradicts generally more sage references on
usability in places, and does suggests some things I disagree with, but
is fairly good reading nonetheless).
"Tog invented the concept of the mile high menu bar to explain why the
menu bar on the Macintosh, which is always glued to the top of the
physical screen, is so much easier to use than menu bars on Windows,
which appear inside each application window. When you want to point to
the File menu on Windows, you have a target about half an inch wide and
a quarter of an inch high to acquire. You must move and position the
mouse fairly precisely in both the vertical and the horizontal
But on a Macintosh, you can slam the mouse up to the top of the screen,
without regard to how high you slam it, and it will stop at the physical
edge of the screen - the correct vertical position for using the menu.
So, effectively, you have a target that is still half an inch wide, but
a mile high. Now you only need to worry about positioning the cursor
horizontally, not vertically, so the task of clicking on a menu item is
that much easier.
Based on this principle, Tog has a pop quiz: what are the five spots on
the screen that are easiest to acquire (point to) with the mouse? The
answer: all four corners of the screen (where you can literally slam the
mouse over there in one fell swoop without any pointing at all), plus,
the current position of the mouse, because it's already there.
The principle of the mile-high menu bar is fairly well known, but it
must not be entirely obvious, because the Windows 95 team missed the
point completely with the Start push button, sitting almost in the
bottom left corner of the screen, but not exactly. In fact, it's about 2
pixels away from the bottom and 2 pixels from the left of the screen.
So, for the sake of a couple of pixels, Microsoft literally "snatches
defeat from the jaws of victory", Tog writes, and makes it that much
harder to acquire the start button. It could have been a mile square,
absolutely trivial to hit with the mouse. For the sake of something, I
don't know what, it's not. God help us."
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