Re: [Usability] Icons for document systems

On Mon, 2006-04-03 at 22:50 -0400, Rodney Dawes wrote:
> On Mon, 2006-04-03 at 16:43 -0700, Bill Wohler wrote:
> > Rodney Dawes <dobey novell com> wrote:
> > 
> > > On Mon, 2006-04-03 at 15:40 -0700, Bill Wohler wrote:
> > > > Given a hypertext document reader such as Info, what icons would
> you
> > > > suggest for going back and forth in the history, going to the
> next and
> > > > previous chapter, going up a section, or going up all the way to
> the
> > > > table of contents?
> > > 
> > > Info is beyond a hypertext reader.
> > Yup, that's why I affixed "document".
> Like an HTML Document? :) Perhaps documentation reader would be a
> better
> term, and one should throw out hypertext entirely from the sentence.

What makes the hypertext part relevant is that it adds
that element of navigation.  The question pertains to
document viewers that inherently have:

Structural navigation: Each chunk or page has a parent
and siblings, and maybe children.  This gives you Up,
Previous, and Next.  Previous and Next aren't entirely
well-defined.  Info defines them only for siblings,
whereas Yelp defines them as the next chunked section
in document order.  That is, if you read each page and
always go to the "Next" page in Yelp, you will have
read the entire document cover-to-cover.

Temporal navigation: You can read chunks in any order
you want, and navigate through the list of what you've
just read.

> > >              I would suggest using the same bits that Yelp does,
> which
> > > is what should be displaying info under GNOME anyway.
> > 
> > Yelp 2.12.2 on my system (Debian (etch)) doesn't have icons for Next
> > Section, Previous Section, and Contents, and it doesn't even have an
> > "Up" function, so there aren't really any bits to take. What icons
> would
> > Yelp use if it had them? ;-)
> It wouldn't, and shouldn't, have icons for multiple levels of
> navigation, in the same area. That would be quite confusing to me, as
> a
> user. Next, Next, and Next?! Yelp doesn't have sections. "Contents"
> would presumably be the "Home" icon you see, which takes you to the
> TOC.

At one time (2.10 I think) Yelp used icons for Previous
and Next, but not in the menus.  It used the icons in
the navigation footer in the page, much like you see on
the online GTK+ docs.  It used those arrow-on-page icons
in Bill's email.

They got removed because they didn't add anything, and
they cluttered up the page and made it look ugly.

The "Up" functionality in Yelp is provided by the list
of parent sections at the top of each page, which is far
more useful, I think.

My guess is that people very rarely use the menu items
for previous and next section, and use the footer links
or the TOC sidebar exclusively.  A number of times, I've
had somebody ask me for keyboard shortcuts to go to the
previous or next shortcut.  If they used the menu items,
they'd see those shortcuts, so I can only infer that
they only use the footer links.

> Info is a bit too complicated in general I think. I actively avoid
> reading info pages, actually. I've found it basically impossible to
> actually find the information I want, and to navigate to it. Any
> chance
> you could just rewrite the Emacs docs in docbook, and use appropriate
> documentation output for the system you're installing to?

I don't think info is inherently more complicated than
DocBook, at least in terms of navigation.  They're both
basically book formats.  But that damned info viewer
doesn't make life any easier.  Yelp makes info easier,
but we could probably do more.  (Unfortunately, it's
hard to do much with the compiled info files.  We could
have much better info rendering from the texi sources.)

We've wandered way off of the topic of icons, but I like
talking about information retrieval paradigms. :)


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