Re: [Usability] Printing dialog and GNOME

[Removed desktop_architects, as I doubt design details of individual dialogs are really relevant to them.]

On 13 Dec, 2005, at 6:16 PM, Michael Sweet wrote:

Alex Graveley wrote:
To this effect, here are the mockups I made at the Boston GNOME Summit to point out some of the directions I/we were hoping to go with a GTK print dialog.

Very nice. I have long wanted a platform-wide print dialog that has a built-in preview! A subtle enhancement would be to show the edges of the other pages peeking out from underneath the page currently on top of the preview, so that it looked like a stack of paper viewed from the top. (I would even go as far as showing the last page by default, not the first. Maybe I'm biased by my time in Internet cafés, but a common workflow seems to be printing a document, then discovering that the last page contains only two lines, then wishing you'd realized earlier so you could have done something to shrink the job by one page.)

One big advantage of a built-in preview would be that you could see the effects of your changes in the Print dialog itself (albeit with a delay of a few seconds after each change), without repeatedly reopening a separate preview window. For that reason, I suggest making "Print Settings" not a separate dialog, but tabs of the overall Print dialog, with the preview outside the tabs so it can be seen no matter which tab is selected.

This looks like a good start; some (hopefully constructive) comments:
    2. "Pages per sheet" option:

       a. The "Pages per sheet" terminology is usually called "N-up"
          among printing professionals, but I personally have no
          preference and understand both terms equally well...

Windows and Mac OS X both call it "Pages per sheet".

       b. Most programs show an graphical representation (icon,
          whatever) when they support N-up printing.

Showing a preview in the dialog would make this largely unnecessary; but for 4-up and greater options, arrows would need to be used to show whether the pages were being laid out horizontally-first or vertically-first, as this would be difficult to tell otherwise.

(Would it be too much to be able to ask for a 2-up duplex book, or a 4-up leaflet, with the correct page ordering and orientation required, from within the Print dialog?)

    3. "Orientation" is usually shown graphically...

Same applies here: the presence of a live preview probably would make a separate graphical indication of orientation unnecessary.

You can also get ideas from the Apple print dialog, but I'm not
100% in love with their design...

Mac OS X's dialog appears very simple by default, but to me it has three major problems.

1.  Because the number of panes in the dialog is large, too many for
    tabs, the panes are navigated using an option menu. This is hard to
    discover, especially since it's immediately under two other option
    menus (one for choosing the printer, and one for managing option
    presets). As poor as an "Advanced" tab with a scrolling listbox of
    options might be, I think it would be better than this, because it
    would let the common options be more prominent in other tabs.

2.  When applications have app-specific options (in a Web browser for
    example, printing the selection and/or backgrounds, and specifying
    the header and/or footer), these are buried in a panel near the
    bottom of the list -- when they're often the options you're *most*
    likely to want to change.

3.  Over the last few years saving as a PDF, and then sending as a fax,
    have been shoehorned as buttons into the Print dialog. But if I
    can use the Print dialog to export a poster design I'm working on
    as a large PDF for proofing, why not as a small JPEG to e-mail to
    my client? And if I can send a document by fax from this dialog,
    why not by e-mail or by SFTP? Done right, I think an extensible
    "Print/Publish" dialog could save people a *lot* of time.

Matthew Paul Thomas

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