Re: [Usability] An extended default applications dialog

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Kirk Bridger wrote:
> 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.

These are all things that could be ironed out, on the wiki page
( Warbo came
up with an idea that could work very well. He is suggesting (If I
interpreted it correctly) to group types of files together, i.e. text
documents, music files and the such and assigning a program to open that
group of files.

> 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.

Very good points, to tell the truth I hadn't considered that, but
Warbo's suggestion may be able to get rid of that problem.

> 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.

I'd agree, it does work well, but it could work better. I was confused
when I started using ubuntu that I couldn't change my preferred
applications using the preferred applications dialogue, this seemed
crazy to me. I'm going to try and conjure up some more use-cases, but if
anyone want to add any feel welcome.

> Sincerely,
> Kirk

You make some very good points which I feel we can address. Thanks for
your comments, they are very thought provoking.


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