Re: [Usability] spatial nautilus concerns

David Feldman wrote:

What I did not like in the first spatial versions were the many windows on the screen. But in recent nautilus versions (2.8) you can use middle click to open the new folder in a new window while closing the current window. Even when moving up in the tree again you can keep with only one window. The advantage compared to open in same window is
that the spatial principles still work.

I like the ability to have it both ways, given that it doesn't get in the way of users who don't want to deal with it. However, (a) it would be nice to be able to use a modifier key instead of the middle button for those using trackpads or two-button mice. And for those who always open in a new window, I return to my earlier suggestion that one be able to swap the behavior, so a left-double-click opens in the same window and a middle- or modifier-double-click opens in a new window. Again, won't get in the way of the default and will benefit some users.

But again, this is auxiliary to the question of default behavior. Clearly configurability is often good but for the large number of users who won't configure, the nature of the default behavior is important.

The problem with changing the left button behavior is that you confuse someone who uses the system the first time. E.g. someone helping his neighbour. The left click should normally not be changed.

The only thing I would change in the default is to change open folders to single click. While double click is default in windows especially novice users have big problems with doing a double click. Either they don´t manage it at all or they move the cursor causing a drag. Especially the double middle click is very difficult. Even more so when the mouse has a wheel for the middle button. While changing the setting is only one little step novice users will take some time to find this option. Advanced users who don´t like single click will find the setting easier.

Single click seems like sticky issue to me. I have encountered novice users who don't like double-click. I don't know what percentage they are. Single-click is more efficient, and takes better advantage of the power of pointing. I also think users who are used to double-click may have some trouble adjusting, and particularly if they switch among several OSes it could be an ongoing source of irritation. Either way, feedback is important: If there isn't a clear indication that a process has begun (i.e. an app has been launched), the user could end up opening multiple instances before realizing what was going on, slowing the machine to a crawl. (The single- vs. double-click thing isn't the core of this issue, just something that can exacerbate it.)

I wonder if some sort of "smart" single-click might be possible. It would work like single-click, but would "capture" double-clicks so that anything that looked like a double-click would be interpreted like a single-click instead of two actions.

Avoiding unwanted double clicks should be no problem. As it is not very usefull for the user to open the same file twice in a second the second click could be easily suppressed. Anyway there should be a visual indication that the file isbeing opened.

Another nice thing would be an up button in the lower left of spatial windows so you can easier do the most comon thing when moving up in the tree - moving up one level.

To me this actually illustrates a potential problem with the spatial metaphor: It tries to de-emphasize the hierarchy but is still bound by it and thus can be awkward in representing it. Clicking an Up button like that seems like it could be jarring, requiring a dramatic and potentially confusing shift in focus from one window to another. A user might miss it altogether if the theme didn't differentiate active and inactive windows sufficiently and/or the two windows were fairly far apart.

There could be an animation. If you open a folder it should be kind of zoomed from the icon. If you close it the folder could be zoomed out back into the icon. Of course this should happen
so fast it does not slow down the user.

Some say that an up button is not spatial. I don´t really understand this. We already have a widget showing the path up to the top of the hierarchie in the lower left corner. An up button there would only be a convenience not a completely new and evil feature.


Christian Schneider

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