Re: [Usability] Re: [Desktop_architects] Printing dialog and GNOME

On Tue, Dec 13, 2005 at 03:43:21PM +0100, Andreas Tille wrote:
> Hi,
> my name is Andreas Tille. I'm a Linux user for more than 10 years and Debian
> Developer since 1998.  My only reason for using a more complex GUI than 
> fvwm,
> ion or something like that is that I can't attract my family to these nice
> tools. If I want to attract them I need some attractive user interface and
> if I want to help them - I just need to use the same interface to get
> experience.
> I decided for Gnome instead of KDE for two not very strong reasons:
>  1. I have done a little bit of GTK programming myself.
>  2. I was free to choose my own WindowManager (SawFish).
> So I'm the wrong person to become involved in a KDE-Gnome flamewar - I
> consider both as quite similar.  Perhaps Gnome has an extra advantage
> that I can get easily rid of all the Icons disturbing my desktop.  I
> just want to help out now the Gnome project with some personal impressions
> and hope that they are placed here for good and that people would be
> interested.
> I started with Gnome 1.2.  Applications that made heavy usage of Gnome
> widgets (or perhaps GTK-Widgets that were also used in Gnome) were basically
> Galeon and Gimp.  Now I want to mention the problems I became over the
> time of several years with Gnome.
>   1. Midnight and Nightmares
>      I'm a big fan of the Midnight Commander and I can't imagine that any
>      human beeing in the world is able to manage files without it - OK,
>      a shell with good command line extension might do as well.  I have a
>      big problem with what I would call "Explorer-like" file managers: I
>      simply do not understand these beasts.  So gmc was a disaster that
>      I killed faster than it was fired up and Nautilus is an apropriate
>      successor of it.  So it is a nightmare for me, but I was willing
>      to try it for educational purposes for my family members.
>      But it became worse than I expected.  First I hate if a program just
>      overrides my desktop background.  (Don't tell me, I could nautilus
>      teach to stop this missbehaviour: If I can not find this feature after
>      5 minutes of searching its configuration dialog im going to kill
>      this process!)

That is not a usability feature. Nautilus is responsible for drawing
the desktop in GNOME. That is it. You seem to be using some other
desktop environment and not GNOME. Everywhere you can set the
background (image / color) it will tell nautilus to do that. I think
having a desktop background is not a strange usability feature.

Try setting the background color in GNOME... I think it is good that
GNOME has a preference for that.

>      But it became even worse.  Not only that it draws my desktop where I
>      do not want it to draw - a "nice usability feature" was added at some
>      point:  Nautilus now bloats my desktop with lots of new windows if
>      I want to switch (hey, switch!!! not add) folders.  Even when I
>      had to use the evil explorer I was able to get rid of this missfeature
>      after less than 5 minutes.  Same applies as above: If I can not ...
>      I will kill the process.

There is a setting for that.

>      You seem to guess the end: If a Nautilus process is killed a new
>      instance is started.  Well - this is one of the next boring 
>      missfeatures:
>      If I want to kill a process I really want this.  Don't call me
>      stupid.  And I do not want to search for a configuration option
>      were I can tell that I *really* want to kill this beast.  So I
>      just renamed /usr/bin/nautilus before killing the process and
>      I'm waiting for the feature that you people start patching the
>      Kernel that /usr/bin/nautilus can not be renamed ... :-(

That is just session management. When an important app crashes it will
restart it. Remove nautilus from the session and you are done. IIRC
gnome-panel, metacity and nautilus are set in the session like that.

I think this is more of a 'don't-do-it-then'. 

>      In short: One of your basic tools is a nightmare - for at least
>      one very frustrated user.  It might be I'm the only one, but it
>      might also by that other frustraded user just save their time to
>      speak up (as I did for years).
>   2. Dude, where is my tab extension
>      Formerly Gnome had a really cute file selection dialog that was
>      used for instance in Galeon:  The dialog had a line below the list
>      of files.  WHen I typed a string into this line and pressed <tab>
>      the list of files in the dialog was reduced to these files that
>      matched the string.  A REALLY GREAT feature I was using so often
>      and I was really addicted to.  But one day this nice feature vanished.
>      Well, the URL line of Galeon is intelligent and has also some
>      kind of tab extension so I do not really depend that much on the
>      much less usable file load dialog.  At least Gimp featured the nice
>      dialog ... hmmmm, fow a while.  In Gimp this was an even more
>      convinient feature.  Just imagine a folder with 100 images and you
>      want to load an image starting with letter 't'.  Two key sequence
>      reduced the list of files to what you want.

Type in 't'. Yes there are remaining issues to be fixed in the new file

>      And yes, I think I can handle the new dialog and I just noticed that
>      I can navigate with key-pressings.  But the reduction of the list
>      of files was much more intuitive than it is now.  Moreover there
>      is no conflict between the old and the new dialog.  Just bring up
>      the nice tab extension line in addition to the current features and
>      everybody will be happy.

IIRC (very large IIRC) this was not re-implemented as it broke
accessibility (tab is used for focus switching) and no-one had a good
idea to work around it. See the whole discussion around
for why accessibility is important. Perhaps the tab can work after you
pressed a key or something. not sure. There are more things that still
need to be fixed in the dialog. It doesn't mean that the these things
aren't fixed because of some usability reason... just that no-one coded

If someone codes that feature and it still works with accessibility I
see no reason why it will not be applied.

>   3. Am I a slave of usability? I'm not!
>      If people believe that panels should stick on top of the screen -
>      it's fine for me to have this as default.  I just want a single
>      panel and I want it on the bottom and I was easily able to have
>      this setting until I started using Gnome 2.10.  I just filed
>      a bug report to the Debian BTS (
>      that my panel is on top of the screen everytime I start a new
>      session.  Please read the details there.

That is just a bug, not some usability design issue. I am pretty amazed
that you think this is a usability issue.

>      The problem I have that I become the feeling that I have to
>      accept whatever people decide who claim to be usability experts.
>      OK, I'm happy if this is the default for new users.  But I do
>      not want my settings I'm using for years disturbed by people
>      who ignore my personal preferences.
> I'm not subscribed to this list and do not really want an answer via mail.

I'm cc'ing you anyway.

> It would be enough to answer via code that was just written and is brought
> back to your users.  I would be happy if this mail would not be regarded
> as some noise issued by a moron.  Please accept that many people just
> loose time if they are missing features they are used to and they do not
> want to loose even more time in finding out the best way how to contact
> the people who are the source of the problem.  While there are bug tracking
> systems that gather single problems it is hard to report these general
> problems and so I was silent for years until I read about this thread
> in two news tickers.  So you will not hear again from me: Either I'm
> happy about the features that will come back in some future version or
> because I found an alternative to Gnome.

It is pretty hard for persons who do not speak up. Do not assume when
something goes away in GNOME that it was some usability choice. GNOME
is in continuous development. Every 6 months a stable version of the
development up till that point is released. Sometimes features are just
dropped due to problems caused by other changes and nobody fixed the
You will see that with the next GNOME version the new feature will work
better and better. Although the newer GNOME might break another
feature. Not perfect, but pretty much how I look at it.


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