[linux-elitists] GNOME report.

Jeff Waugh jdub@perkypants.org
Thu Jan 8 03:25:53 PST 2004

... fine, fine... Shlomi originally sent this off-list, so I replied off
list. I didn't think he was interested in getting involved in the GNOME
discussion... Given that he's now replied on list...

<quote who="Shlomi Fish">

> > (Plus, dialogues should be rare - coherent and verbal too, but rare.)
> I am still annoyed by handling all these dialog or input boxes when I have
> to handle them. In KDE, I just follow my instincts and press the correct
> button.  In GNOME or Gtk+ apps, I have to think - "wait a second, this is
> not right", before I have to read the labels and press the correct button.
> That's not good.

Ah, but once you're over that small hump, it's smooth sailing *forever*,
because there's a coherent design which means that the buttons will always
follow the same *cognitive* layout. Plus, they use verbs instead of
meaningless words like "OK", "Yes", "No", etc. So, all in all, it sets you
up for a more pleasant experience, for longer. The Windows button layout has
*no* cognitive design factors taken into account at all. Plus, you have to
make very sure of what you're answering, because the buttons are not verbal.

> > > This is a more Mac OS behaviour than the Windows one I'm used to and
> > > it is practically hard-coded into Gtk+. I've been meaning to send a
> > > patch to make this configurable, but haven't done so, yet.
> >
> > It's not something that will go away. You can't actually make it an
> > "option" because it's a very specific application layout design, not a
> > "reversal". 
> I beg to differ. In Gtk+ there's a special enum value intended for this,
> which maps to either LEFT or RIGHT. One can hack Gtk+ so that upon
> initialization it will see if the configuration file or an env var sets it
> to the opposite and then map it to the opposite direction. This way people
> can configure Gtk+ GNOME to their liking. (just like you can configure Qt
> and KDE like that)

This is not correct, though I can understand why you'd come to that
conclusion. The LEFT/RIGHT enums are for switching between Right-To-Left and
Left-To-Right text support -> the GUI also switches. However, you will
*never* get the "Windows" button layout with a simplistic control switch
like this, because the design is fundamentally different. In fact, switching
to RTL mode will shit you even more. It is *not* as simple as an option. It
is designed to work this way in each application (or each common dialogue

> > We had many a flamewar, lots of user testing, and many discussions with
> > distributors and so on about it. 
> You deserve all this mess.

No need to be rude. The mess is very well cleaned up now.

> > The design is there for consistency and usability, and as the Siemens
> > study showed, making things "work like Windows" [1] and familiar to
> > Windows is not the best strategy we can take. Making the best usability
> > decision can be a far better call.
> I beg to differ: making things similar to what the user _is used to_
> (whether Windows or otherwise) is the best usability decision.

The Siemens study did not confirm this at all, and it's wrong for many other

> Suddenly reversing the order of the buttons will cause people to become
> very frustrated with GNOME. 

Again, read the design document: It is not a 'simple reversal'.

> And I heard from someone that he knows several guys who switched from
> GNOME to KDE for various reasons, after GNOME 2.0 came out. Other than
> that I don't see the GNOME's excuse for setting the buttons this way (that
> the user's eye jumps to the bottom-right corner of the dialog) as good
> enough to force this scheme over the traditional Windows/KDE/GNOME
> 1.x/whatever one.

Read the design document. Read the Apple Macintosh Human Interface
Guidelines. There is a lot of background to it, including human metrics.
Remember that the 'traditional' layout actually has *no design*.

> That put aside, I must say that I completely disagree with the GNOME's
> "less is more" ideology. I found Metacity to be the lamest WM I ever
> encountered, and could not get it to behave even remotely like I liked it
> to be. (I quickly switched to Sawfish, but then missed the nice
> configuration dialog in GNOME).

Sawfish has config dialogues listed in the Desktop Preferences menu.

> Also, why isn't it possible in GNOME 2.0 (don't know about later versions)
> to configure the fonts? My fonts were initially very unusable.  Finally,
> why did gfontsel and the excellent font choice dialog disappear? I very
> much miss them.

You can configure fonts in the 'Fonts' preference dialogue (see the Desktop
Preferences menu again). For gfontsel style stuff, try fontilus (fonts:///
in Nautilus).

> KDE knows that people like choices, and so is very configurable (albeit
> sometimes not from the UI, but from initialization files). Furthermore, it
> can emulate other popular desktop systems, so people who are used to one
> of them will quickly feel at home. I think its usability is second to
> none.

That's cool, we disagree, and I love the fact that I can point people to KDE
if they don't find GNOME appealing on these counts. Both philosophies have a
lot going for them, but they are indeed vastly different. I don't trash KDE
for their philosophy, though I do believe GNOME's has more merit (obviously,
otherwise I wouldn't be working on GNOME).

> > [1] Who don't actually have a coherent design for dialogue buttons. They
> > are just... how they are.
> Most of the dialog buttons in Windows are arranged in one order. The OK to
> the far left, the Cancel to its right. The help to the far right.

We don't put implicit words like OK and Cancel on our dialogues. What you've
described above is not a detailed design study or interaction guide at all.
I strongly suggest you read the HIG (linked in my previous email) to find
out what the design specifications are.

- Jeff

GVADEC 2004: Kristiansand, Norway                    http://2004.guadec.org/
   On a clear day, I bet you can really see the class struggle from that
                            penthouse of yours.

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