Re: [Usability] An extended default applications dialog

Matt Medland wrote:
> 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?

(Not currently subscribed to the list.)

Yep: it's probably not likely to work that well. You're going to end up
with an arbitrarily long list of different "types", most of which aren't
going to be interesting to people. Even assuming that you make it less
scary with categories, and replace "x-ico" with "ICO image", "x-bmp"
with "BMP image", etc., you're looking at a huge list in which it's
impossible to find what you're looking for. Last I looked, the
equivalent KDE dialogue 'solved' this with a search box at the top.
Maybe I'm alone in this, but I think that once you start adding search
boxes to dialogues, you know you've gone wrong somewhere.

Categorisation is also a dubious way of making the dialogue more usable;
you end up with an arbitrary set of categories that may or may not make
sense to an individual, and you inevitably show people types that they
know *nothing* about. As a Latex user, I'm going to expect Latex
documents to be in the same category as Openoffice files, but I'm not
sure that my parents would see the association between rubber products
and their word processor.


That's obviously all opinion, but since historical perspectives haven't
featured yet, here is a bit of material from the archives. I remember
there being *much* more, but I haven't bothered looking properly.

Design spec for the current Nautilus-based MIME system:
Unfortunately the mockups linked to aren't available any more, but this
entire thread discusses preferred applications:
particularly this post discusses design rationale for the above MIME
and this one on an alternative way of changing multiple MIME
associations easily (your use case 3 from the launchpad spec):

At least back then, the feeling seemed to be that the Preferred
Applications capplet should be killed altogether. Even today, it's only
useful because there is no other means of configuring protocol (i.e.,
http:, mailto:, etc.) handlers.

Kai Willadsen <kaiw itee uq edu au>

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