Re: [Usability] New way of accessing software (WAS: Re: Big Panel menus (32x32))

On Fri, 2003-06-13 at 20:29, David Adam Bordoley wrote:
> >> I'm from the $HOME as desktop camp, and so I think that the desktop
> >> should we the starting place for file manangment. Why re-invent the
> >> wheel on the panel when we already have a file manager and the ability
> >> to manage files from the desktop ( see:
> >> )
> > 
> > Which is a good example why it is crack. ;) Unless you assume that we
> > will always use folders (live in stone age) for file management.
> > The desktop is NOT the best place to access files IMO, because you can
> > do nothing but look into folders. Insisting on doing it this way
> > certainly is the best way to make sure that we'll never catch up with
> > the competition (which is already thinking of better methods involving
> > metadata and less folder hierarchies). 
> > 
> > 
> Since I have an opinion and its the usability list :) 
> I don't quite agree. The desktop is an excellent "Start point" imo. The 

Hmm why exactly? I assume because it's immediately visible after you
start the computer. But once you launch some applications it is not that
visible anymore and often difficult to access. You will want to access
your files ALWAYS though.

> problem is that folders aren't rich enough yet. Yes micromanaging your files 
> in complex hierarchies is a pain and archaic, but something akin to search 
> folders on the desktop would be really useful. 
> An example, would be a folder that based on the query "All music files." 
> This folder would provide a rb like view of all your music files. Similarly 
> you could have another search folder based on the results of the query "All 
> songs by fugazi," or "all songs with a five star rating." 

Sure, and I'm not against using the desktop at all. What I'm against is
forcing the user to have _all_ his files available on the desktop.
Because then the user is forced to either do the "micromanaging" or
simply place large folders on the desktop where he stuffs in everything.
And in this case, I'm wondering what the point is? If we reach a state
where a user doesn't have to care anymore WHERE he put some data but
only how to find it, why should we force him to have them all visible
from the desktop. Won't this lead to problems?

> I guess my point is that the desktop metaphor is not completely obsolete, 
> but that it needs to be updated.  The biggest issue is providing quick (and 
> obvious) access to the desktop. The show desktop button is useful here, but 
> I'm still not quite happy with it :/ 

I would even take the desktop metaphor a bit further. However, in real
life we don't place everything on our desktop either. Well unless you
are like me that is. ;) We have things we currently work with, those are
usually placed on our desktop. We also usually have some important stuff
on our desktop that fits well there. But we never archive EVERYTHING on
it because it's not just too small, it would also get lost between all
your work documents. On computers, we face the same space and clutter
problem, it's even worse because a monitor is rather small usually and
there is no third dimension (no real one at least). 
We can try to make dealing with clutter and lack of space more pleasant
(through indexing, quick access, etc) but it will not go away. 
The real advantage of computers IMO is, that it can do work for you.
Imagine you had a butler which you could ask to bring you all your CDs
from Fugazi or all your favorite CDs. It would be the job of this butler
to care about your stuff as long as he can understand your wishes and
deliver. You in turn can keep your workspace completely clutter free
because you can ask the butler whenever you need something special (and
just throw it behind you after you are done with it). 
My opinion is that we should build on THIS metaphor and provide the user
a clean workspace with all important things (like the butler/Nautilus)
reachable from the panel. I even think that things like start-here/My
Computer or Trash belong on the panel, NOT on the desktop. Maybe put a
"welcome" document there instead, similar to how mail clients usually
contain a welcome mail at first. The user can read this, learn a bit
about the desktop and then delete and forget it.
Instead of forcing the user to work in an organized way, I suggest that
we focus on how the computer can serve the user. How the computer can
keep the files organized and let the user worry about the things he
wants to worry about. And think about how we can make the user
communicate his wishes easily to the computer. Rhythmbox already goes a
long way with regards to music files, why should the user have to put
the Music folder on his desktop? He doesn't have to keep them organized.
He can stuff them all together and Sir Rhythmbox will help him find
exactly what he wants in this chaos. It should work in a similar way for
all other things IMO, keeping the workspace of the user clean and
allowing him to use all the available space for things he currently
works on. If he wants to place something on the desktop, he could still
do it. If he wants to archive all his work in easy to understand
folders, he could still do it. But he could also put them away and let
the computer worry about and locate them when needs it. 
I realize that was quite a rant and very poorly constructed. But I'm
really tired and I just _had_ to say this. :) I think we really miss the
boat if we concentrate our work on making users use computers like they
would use their real desktop. While this would be intuitive, it somewhat
misses the point that computers were made to do the work for users, not
let them do the work themselves in a more convenient way.
Things like keeping files organized would be a perfect example where the
computer could do the work. I always wished I had a robot to clean up my
room and find my stuff! My desktop would always be clean.

> The alternative is something akin to the apple dock for folders. The biggest 
> issue with this is that it takes up lots of screen realestate (sic?). 

Is this different from just moving folders on the panel?


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