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

On Sat, 2003-06-14 at 05:52, David Adam Bordoley wrote:
> > 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?
> The point is to make any all files easily accessible from a user visible 
> start point. The most obvious point is the desktop. By allowing access to 
> all files from the desktop we are not forcing the user to micromanage their 
> files. Users could always throw every file into a single folder on the 
> desktop and use the hypothetical search folders feature to better categorize 
> their files. (We could even include some default ones, like Music). 

Well okay, I don't really mind that as long as the desktop is not the
primary/best way to access your files. However, it really makes it
difficult for a user to keep his desktop (_work_space) clean, especially
because new saved/downloaded files are placed automatically, not where
the users wants them to be. 
You also force the user to think in folders. For example why should the
user have to save each document in a Documents folder, when the system
could just as well dynamically create a list of all the document?
You solve this problem if you make a generic "Files" folder, which leads
us back to one giant $HOME folder and in the end, we are arguing about
nothing. ;)
I understand that $HOME -> Files would be a bit less damaged than $HOME
-> Desktop -> $HOME though. 

> > 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). 
> What you are doing is essentially moving the mess from a visual mess to a 
> mental mess. If a user can visually find anything from a common start point 
> (the desktop) it is much easier to manage and clean up. Its a lot harder 
> when the user needs to do the mental work to access other folders. Compare 
> the original macintosh with windows. The original mac provided access to all 
> system and user files from a single start point (the desktop) and most mac 
> users tend to have a better understanding of how to deal with the underlying 
> system than the equivalent windows users where everything is hidden. 

You missed my point I think. My point was that the user should not HAVE
to "manage and clean up".

> > 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.
> So you want to move lots of useful stuff from a large empty space onto a 
> crowded small panel? 

We are talking about two, maximal three icons here. I'm probably biased
by my rather large screen resolution, but I believe that the trash for
example is useless unless I can always access him. I never use my trash
because it's usually covered, so right clicking and selecting remove is
MUCH faster and always workd. I would use the trash if it would be
somewhere on my panel. 
As for "My Computer", "Start-Here" or whatever, that could just as well
be an item in the desktop menu (like in Eugenia's mockup) from which it
would be always accessible. 
The problems with trash and other large icons on the panel obviously is,
that we only have two very small panels. So at the moment it would
probably not be practical as default. It would still be great if I
_could_ move the trash to my panel already if I decide to use a larger

> > 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.
> But not far enough a user should be able to open any folder that has music 
> files and view those files in sane way (ie a rb like ui). There is no need 
> for an application here. The music folder on the desktop that I described 
> could be a "search folder" that automagically contains all music files. 
> Taking this further into the star trek future, users could do a search for 
> "all music by whoever" that presents the results in a rb like way. 

Sure, this star trek future is exactly what I'm talking about. ;) I
don't think we need a visible "Music" folder on the desktop if the user
can simply tell the computer what he wants. 

> > 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
> Once again moving the clutter from a visual to mental state is not a good 
> idea and actually makes managing stuff harder. This is also why I favor 
> something like a nautilus tree folder view over using urls to denote 
> hierarchy. The tree shows you visually whats going on, the url makes you 
> think more and requires you to know what "/" means (ok that was a little off 
> topic but I think its ok in the context of this discussion). 

I don't see no mental mess anywhere. If you have 3GB of music for
example, the folder will be a mess, whatever you do (unless you use a
huge hierarchy of genre and artists which would be horrible). But you
don't have to care about this if you can just tell the computer what
kind of Music it should show you (what you recently listened to, your
favorites, music from a certain artist or genre, and so on). In fact it
would not even be necessary to have a Music folder, if the system could
simply take all the music files on your computer (and other computers?)
for the database.

> >> 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? 
> > 
> Not really but there are problems. For one I think our windows like window 
> list is much better than the Mac Dock. So we are limited for space, and the 
> top panel isn't really an appropriate place either. Another issue is that 
> panel objects don't have labels (adding labels would require panels to take 
> up more screen space which is unacceptable as well imo.). 

True. I'm always skeptical about the window list though. Isn't it much
faster to access windows directly by clicking at them? I see the window
list mostly as a workaround for small screens or when the desktop
becomes too cluttered to find the window you are looking for. I believe
(might be wrong) that this is also the idea behind Mac OS. 
For the rare cases I loose a menu, the window menu is just as efficient
or more efficient if I don't need to click it often.
I guess I would enjoy a desktop that would center around managing
windows not accessing them through an index (the window list). 

Just some babbling... :)


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