Re: [Usability] An extended default applications dialog

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Kai Willadsen wrote:
> 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. 

This could be solved (almost) by only having the long list's in the
Exceptions bit in Christian's mock-up. Then the user would rarely have
to see a huge list.

>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.

unless it's done well. The filter in the Gnome Control Centre in Ubuntu
feisty is an excellent use of search in my opinion, it uses it
tastefully and it is near real-time.

> 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.

Again, if the categorisation is done well, and thought out there is no
reason that it can't work (in my opinion). Christian's mock-up is a good
solution, someone may be able to do better. As I said above, in his
mock-up the individual file-types would be tucked away in the exceptions
bit, so most users wouldn't need to see them.

If you haven't seen Christian's mock-up there is a link somewhere in

> ---
> 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
> system:
> and this one on an alternative way of changing multiple MIME
> associations easily (your use case 3 from the launchpad spec):

Lot's of reading that's for sure, I'll make sure I read it all by the
time the week is out. Thanks for finding it for us all. :)

> 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.

I feel something like this would be very useful, the easier it is for a
user to control what happens when (s)he opens a file the better in my
opinion. The more control a user has, while keeping it simple, the better.


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