[linux-elitists] GNOME report.

Shlomi Fish shlomif@iglu.org.il
Thu Jan 8 03:36:20 PST 2004


On Thursday 08 January 2004 11:44, you wrote:
> <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. 

In KDE configured Windows-like they also follow the same *cognitive* layout. 
And you should give your users a choice between Windows/KDE/GNOME 1.0 
button-order and Mac OS button order.

> Plus, they use verbs instead of 
> meaningless words like "OK", "Yes", "No", etc. 

I got used to "OK", "Yes", "No" pretty quickly. And brevity in GUI design is 
usually a good thing.

> So, all in all, it sets you 
> up for a more pleasant experience, for longer. 

No it doesn't. I'm not using GNOME simply because I don't want to confuse 
myself when I work in Windows or KDE. (and I don't use Mac OS regularly). Why 
should I otherwise use one desktop/toolkit that is different than the rest?

> 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.
>

The first time the dialog appears, I read it, and then choose the appropriate 
button. Afterwards, I can simply press the right button by instinct. That's 
how people work. People don't need verbs on buttons. They just need dialogs 
that are consistent with what they are used to.

> > > > 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 code).
>

Then, I'll have to do some more serious hacking. But it is possible because 
ANSI C is a Turing-complete language.

> > > 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.
>

I believe my post shows that it isn't.

> > > 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 reasons.
>

Siemens study? How can you put all your cards in _one_ study? It is common 
user-interface knowledge that people get used to their working environment, 
and afterwards will feel frustrated if things in their new environment don't 
work as they should. That's why KDE has gone to great distances to be able to 
emulate the Windows desktop very well.

Let's take Emacs for instance. Whenever I tried to use it, I found one irksome 
behaviour or another that made me highly frustrated. So I kept on using my 
default editor. First joe, then FTE, and then gvim, which all worked pretty 
much like I expected them to. People told me you can get used to Emacs. Well, 
I'm not going to spend so much time getting used to it. (gvim works very 
nicely for me). Likewise for GNOME.

But if more Windows people switch to KDE than GNOME it's your loss not mine.

> > 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'.
>

I read it. I just want my buttons the way I like them.

> > 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*.
>

You mean the KDE layout has no design? Of course it does. I did not read the 
Apple Macintosh Human Interface Guidelines, but from their sound it looks 
like they are full of pseudo-cognitive crap.

> > 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.
>

Very well. I still believe they are incomplete in comparison to GNOME 1.4. 
(but I may be wrong)

> > 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).
>

This does not seem to work too well when I invoke nautilus from the KDE's 
terminal command line. The icons keep jumping here and there and I get a lot 
of warnings on the invoking command line. Plus, it doesn't seem to be half as 
usable as gfontsel. Time for forward-porting?

> > 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).
>

Well, I personally think the GNOME philosophy is unsuitable for me, and I know 
it is unsuitable for many other people. I like the fact GNOME is faster to 
load, and faster in general than KDE is, but its usability is lacking.

Regards,

	Shlomi Fish

---------------------------------------------------------------------
Shlomi Fish      shlomif@iglu.org.il
Homepage: http://t2.technion.ac.il/~shlomif/

I don't believe in fairies. Oops! A fairy died.
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