Re: [Usability] An extended default applications dialog

Hi Matt,

This is an interesting idea, but I have two immediate concerns:

1 - We would be exposing some inner workings (mime types) to the users directly.  This level of understanding isn't really required for most users.  In Windows when I look at the file type dialogue and things to open them with, I get a little overwhelmed (and I don't consider myself a novice or casual user).  Another example that pops up is the Quicktime installation - it includes a part where you "associate" Quicktime with specific file types.  That dialogue is almost always accepted as the default by me because frankly there are too many to know what each one is, what application I would like to use to open, etc.  The user likely thinks in terms of working with individual files or actions (all music I download from the Internet, or all music on my music device that I copy over).  If they care about using a specific application that option should be available to them (and it  is through the current dialogues).  But to take it one level further and say that all mime types of a certain breed are associated with a particular application implies a certain degree of expertise.  I know Gnome is often (incorrectly) criticized for removing expert functionality, and I'm not going to rule this kind of thing out just because I think Gnome needs to target specific user classes.  But if this is going to be explored, I would suggest that any use cases created reflect the expert nature of the user.  I think only experts would use this because they're the only ones who know what a mime type is.

2 - We're slipping into categorizing files by their extensions.  I think this is short sighted - a mime type is not determined by the file extension (to the best of my knowledge).  User's may not know that a .ogg is a media file to start with, but ask them if it is different from a .mp3 and most users don't really know.  They just know they're listened to (and even then most likely based on the filename itself, not the extension).  Another example of this is .jpg vs .png - they're different how?  One comes from my camera, the other is images saved off a webpage I liked.  The fact that they are mime types doesn't even enter into the thought process.  I think it is more about source, use, and destination than how things are represented on the computer.

I think the current means of opening with a primary application, having access to a secondary list, and being able to add any application you want to that secondary list works really well.  I'd really like to see some expert use cases that make this process onerous, with the solution being the centralized location for changing mime type associations.



On Fri, 2007-01-12 at 08:03 +0000, Matt Medland wrote:
Hash: SHA1

Peter Gordon wrote:
> On Thu, 2007-01-11 at 20:50 +0000, Matt Medland wrote:
>> I'm proposing that mime-type association be centralised in the
>> Preferences>Preferred Applications area, since that seems the natural
>> place that anyone would go to. This would, potentially, be useful for
>> everyone.
> Er..didn't we do this in GNOME 1.x with its old control-center? And
> didn't it fail quite miserably? :)

I can't remember that one I'm afraid.

Was there anything that could be learnt from that that could be used in
this one?


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