New column-wise Nautilus view, User data backup & replay

Yesterday, I put together a new column-wise view for Nautilus. Here is a screenshot:


The patchset has been submitted to nautilus-list. I’d appreciate any testing and feedback.

Update: I was asked if it’s possible to reduce the column width. Yes it is: You just have to select the tight layout option, although it’s shared with the traditional icon view ATM. Here is another screenshot:

Screenshot 2

Maybe it is a good idea to let the user pick the desired maximum column width, maybe by introducing a drag handle at the left edge of the 2nd column. We could also make this a per-folder option.

Comments appreciated.

In other news, I wonder whether we have any nice backup & user data replay solutions. Of course there is rsync and plain ol’ cp, but assuming one wants to migrate between systems where a different user name is used, it is very desirable to have user data that does not contain absolute paths, and does not contain any $USERNAME, but just raw data and preferences.

39 thoughts on “New column-wise Nautilus view, User data backup & replay”

  1. Thanks, I’ve been hoping for this since forever…

    Would it be possible to have even less spacing between items?

  2. nona:

    > Would it be possible to have even less spacing between items?

    You can select “tight layout” to reduce the spacing further. At the moment, this preference is shared with the traditional icon view, though.

  3. Is it possible to reduce the vertical space between items? I think it would make it look better and more readable.

  4. This is something I wanted for a long, long time! Thank you very much.

    Btw. the user shouldn’t need to resize the columns, but the first two columns in the first screenshot are just clearly too wide. If there are only short filenames, it should scale automatically.

  5. > the first two columns in the first screenshot are just clearly too wide.

    But the third and fourth column both do take up the entire space. I think it would look a bit fishy if the column width wasn’t equal throughout the entire view.

  6. Wow, thx to have managed to made it.

    I think the compact view with ellipsized labels (just like in the tight layout) is perfect: you just have to find out a correct size (seems I used 135px), no need for settings.

    I really like this kind of compact view and I also developed one last year, but I could not find out why sometimes switching to the new view would reset to Icon View (there was an error but I simply can not debug with Anjuta or gdb …)

    I’ve developed for more than 5 years in Java and coming back to C/gobject is such difficult I think I will not contribute anything new to gnome. That might be a problem because advanced developers could boost Gnome I believe …

    Christian, thx for your work on Nautilus all these years…

  7. I like it, its one of the Nautilus features that should have been included years ago.

    Only thing I can suggest (its already been mentioned by Pacho), is I’d prefer to be able to scroll vertically instead of horizontally through the list items.

  8. I’m the author of this page:
    I’ very pleased someone have done that :))) It’s just what i wanted!

    About the work, I don’t believe it is possible to scroll this kind of view vertically… for usability files must be ordered vertically, so they go on the new column when they reach the bottom of the window. So the view cannot scroll vertically!
    To be able to set column width on the fly would be also great, especially if you have many files which begin with the same charachters.

    Thanks again, Chris.

  9. Great work!

    Wish list features:
    * Automatic width of columns based on longest file/folder name
    * Lessen the vertical space between rows
    * If filename is over 50 characters, start truncating it and set that as maximum width for column.
    * Please supply a Ubuntu-hardy .deb (preferably with debug symbols) that we can try

  10. perfect. that what nautilus was missing. Thanks a lot Chris.

    According to a backups i’m going to start the work on nautilus-revisions plugin to nautilus after i will move to ubuntu gusty. Using rcs and inotify it will be a perfect way to make backups with revisions. You getting changelogs, and diffs what is pretty cool.

  11. Hi, great idea, this was actually one of the reasons of me considering switching to thunnar (which is now less likely with this and gio), however, thunnar still does better than this respecting to this view, it would be great if the column width was the with of the longest item for every column, that is, I think what makes this view the more useful.

  12. Hi Christian, I am a blogger from Costa Rica and I saw this post from the Marcelo Ramos Blog, and we came out with and idea that could interest you, how about a view for the Music directories that shows the different aspects of the ID3 Tags and others (name of the artist , name of the song , compression speed etc etc)?? I think it could be useful for large music collections. We also think about another kind of view for the Image directories that shows information about the images (size , date etc etc). Let me know what you think ( I’m no programmer…but if there is anything I can help with…ill be glad )

  13. I would suggest this as the default:

    Autosize the columns to the widest filename, with a maximum of X characters wide. Make X default to something reasonable like 15.

    Add a hidden preference for changing X or setting it to ‘no limit’.

    You might also want to consider just fixing the size to a number of character widths (regardless of filename length), that way the column view could be stable quicker as you don’t need to have all the filenames before starting to show it. Could be that the sorting requires that anyway though.

    On another note, I got this commenting form with the website already filled in from the last commenter, Marcial Cambronero, and I can see his comment with ‘Your comment is awaiting moderation.’. Good thing I didn’t get his email address, but you might want to check into that.

  14. You are a genius!
    This is awesome!, this addresses a huge usability issue (at least for me).
    I’m sure it wasn’t easy to figure out, else it would have been done years ago.

    Thank You!

    Now can you make the regular icon view use a grid and ellipsis when in compact layout?
    Compact layout is useless because of the non – alignment.
    Compact layout should mean
    – use abbreviation to eliminate the effects of an single long filename from
    wasting space throughout the entire layout
    – cram everything into a jumbled messy pile

  15. About vertical scrolling: it is certainly possible.

    The algorithm that comes to mind is to first look at the width of the window and decide how many columns will fit (N). Then divide the number of items by the number of columns and round up such that you have N-1 full columns and let the last column fall short.

    Vertical scrolling works nicely with a mouse wheel because the actions are aligned (unless you hold your mouse sideways ;-] ) and the analog holds.

    However, if items are laid out by filling columns, and the window scrolls vertically, then the initial view no longer shows the first M (visible rows times visible columns) items in order. If, for example, you want to visually skim through looking for an item by name, and the items are sorted alphabetically, and not all items fit in the window, then after scrolling down one column you have to scroll back up to the top to start again.

    Therefore, a window with items laid out in columns should scroll horizontally, and a window with items laid out in rows should scroll vertically.

    FWIW, the icon view in Mac OS Finder scrolls vertically and lays out items in rows.

    — an interested GNOME user

  16. OS X Leopard has a sliding scale which allows you to set any grid-spacing between tight and very large. I think this would make more sense than a drop down box with “Tight” and “Regular” spacing. The option would take up the same amount of GUI space and be just as sensible to the user, while still providing more functionality.

  17. Oh dear god, no.

    I appreciate that this is an important ‘familiarity’ item for GNOME users coming from a Windows background, and that it fills a niche that neither of Nautilus’ existing views fill (a space-efficient view of lots of files), but it seems that in copying Windows Explorer’s behaviour you’ve also copied its two most infuriating attributes:

    1. When the list overflows, it scrolls horizontally. Horizontal scrolling is uncomfortable and awkward, it clashes with all the usual navigation shortcuts (the scroll wheel scrolls vertically, not horizontally! We have Page Up and Page Down, not Page Left and Page Right!), and it’s just generally One More Strange Thing to learn to deal with. If you followed the example of ls, and fit as many columns as possible horizontally then overflowed vertically, it’d be a lot easier to deal with.

    1. Every column is given the exact same spacing. This is particularly frustrating in Windows, where the file dialogs are rather small, but if you have a file with an unusually long filename then it’s not hard to wind up with a file-list with a single column of short-named files clustered against the left-hand edge, and vast emptiness to the right. You’d see the second and subsequent columns if you scrolled right, but the only clue that there are some hidden items is that the scroll-bar-thumb is shorter than it should be (and again, most people don’t look at the horizontal scrollbar because most widgets overflow vertically). If you sized each column to fit the file-names in that column, much grief could be avoided.

  18. It would be great if someone managed to implement a group view, so that files could be shown in groups according to their file types, names, etc.

  19. I have for ages wanted a fixed width setting for column in normal details view. I asked for that as an enhancement a couple of years ago but it never bore fruit.

    Anyway to integrate that feature into regular details?

  20. Screwtape, I think the you’re totally wrong.

    The point of column view is to see a great deal of files at once by taking a basic listview, removing the details columns (which in many situations are useless) then populating those columns with data that’s useful thereby maximizing the amount of relevant information within a given space.

    In a 10 item x 3 column setup the user can view a continuous list of 30 items. They key word here being ‘continuous’ list. Your method may still displays 30 items at one time but it only displays 10 relevant items at one time. Say for example I have a folder of 70 files and I’m looking for a particular XML file (out of 22 XML files). I would naturally sort by file extension then scroll to the point where the XML files start. With a horizontal arrangement I could see every XML file at the same time (or pretty close to it). With a vertical arrangement I would have exactly zero benefit over simply using a list view.

  21. @Slapo

    I would love a group view as well. I’d humbly pledge what little I have in my paypal account to see that feature come about. It’s inclusion in Dolphin is probably the sole reason that KDE4 looks tempting to me.

  22. What about a multi-pane column view like the OSX Finder?

    To me, it is one of the best way of examining at a glance a very structured file system. It also allows you to move files between several levels, without cut/paste or opening a second window in the destination folder.

    I’ve submitted an idea for this on ubuntu brainstorm:

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