[Usability] HIG proposals are bad for PDA and small screen devices


HIG conforming application must use 12 pixel spacing and ignore screen
dimensions. It sounds broken by design.

On PDA devices, screen size is one of most limited resources. GNOME HIG
proposes constant spacing [1] [2], which keeps empty 20% or more of
available PDA screen area in an average window. The cost: unneeded
scroll bars, less items displayed or even unreachable rightmost items.

As an example of the result, please look at GTK file selector on 240x320
screen. [3] Even if it is not designed for small screens, it could look
much better if it would not follow current HIG rules.

Very similar problems can be reached on high DPI devices, where
12 pixels means too narrow spacing.

I would be glad to introduce discussion of some HIG changes:

- Prohibit pixel based dimensions in HIG and similar standards.

- Predefine several spacing variables for these purposes and propose its
  use everywhere it is appropriate. These dimensions should be
  changeable by a standard gtkrc way.

- Modify GTK+ and GNOME to use these variables instead of constants 6,

- If window size is not sufficient, propose using of scroll bars.
  Recommend space saving layout if the standard one would need scroll
  bars (e. g. use more tabs, constant number of checkboxes for line).
  [4] [5]

- For small screen devices prefer larger windows without scroll bars
  over smaller (e. g. statically sized) windows with scroll bars.

There is much more things which can be proposed for comfortable use of
GTK+/GNOME on PDA devices with small screen, no/limited keyboard, stylus
instead of mouse and so on, but upper mentioned changes could be a good
starting point. Maybe even gtkrc configuration option (something like
"pda_mode" or so) for selected widgets would be useful for GPE and
similar toolkits. [6]

[1] http://developer.gnome.org/projects/gup/hig/1.0/layout.html#layout-dialogs

[2] http://developer.gnome.org/projects/gup/hig/1.0/windows.html#alert-spacing

[3] http://pfalcon-oe.blogspot.com/2008/01/smallscreen-mod-for-gtkfilechooser.html

[4] http://developer.gnome.org/projects/gup/hig/draft_hig_new/design-window.html#layout-window-size

[5] http://bugzilla.gnome.org/show_bug.cgi?id=111772

[6] http://gpe.linuxtogo.org/gallery/gallery/view_album.php?set_albumName=Applications

Best Regards / S pozdravem,

Stanislav Brabec
software developer
SUSE LINUX, s. r. o.                          e-mail: sbrabec suse cz
Lihovarská 1060/12                            tel: +420 284 028 966
190 00 Praha 9                                fax: +420 284 028 951
Czech Republic                                http://www.suse.cz/

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