If I were at GUADEC…

I’d walk around and tell people to find more useful projects than wasting their time with adding tabs to each single GNOME application. Maybe the semmingly true rumors that one or another GNOME fellow might be somewhat lunatic (panties, anybody?) inspired theprogrammers who are implementing this.

One initial aspect: Calumn is totally right that tab implementations at application level are an effect of the lack of platform MDI support. We implement it at application level where we need solutions today and tomorrow, rather than the day after tomorrow. However, it is not yet clear whether tabs are useful at all for 90% of the applications.

Why tabs for Nautilus (and web browsers, spreadsheet, …) are a good idea

Let me briefly explain why I added tab support to Nautilus: It helps people with their workflow. Today, I used it to tidy up my document folders. I could use it to navigate between file operation source and destination folders extremely quickly, using the keyboard and ctrl-x, ctrl-v, and ctrl-page-up/down. I was two times as fast as with a console (where you need auto-completion), and five times as fast as with a mouse

Tab support for browser-like file managers is a good idea, because people know how to use the tab concept properly since it has been invented for web browser. It is also useful for spreadsheets, where you often compare multiple documents and calculations. It is also useful for having multiple conversations at once, because each of them is linear, and you can use the tabs to switch between losely-associated linear tasks or documents.

Why tabs for media players are a bad idea

On the other hand, tab support in Totem is ridiculous. Somebody must have put LSD into the GUADEC social event food, and everybody now feels like Syd Barrett and his Lucifer Cat!

Regarding Totem: It is already perfectly doing what it should do: Play a song or video, and let me queue more of them. One song or video at once. How can I watch two videos at once?

Why you should think first, and implement features afterwards (i.e. gcalctool tabs)!

Let me exemplify this regarding gcalctool:

Even my non-programmable pocket calculator (Casio FX-991ES) has more features than this non-noticeable desktop calculator. Amongst others, it can not deal with symbolic calculations, complex numbers, nature constants, variables. It does not even have a calculation history as I mentioned in a comment in Scott James’ blog. This is a shame! Before you implement such a craptastic feature, think about how it will be used! Again: gcalctool does not have any calculation history. This is as if I implemented tabs in Nautilus without implementing the back/forward button before, so you had to switch to a new tab each time you want to display a new folder.

Now I’ll do something useful and learn for my function theory exam.

You talented developers at GUADEC should also do something useful and fix the GTK+ tree view mouse interaction.

All-Clear :o)

It turns out that the tab implementations were just mockups. Have fun at GUADEC!

25 thoughts on “If I were at GUADEC…”

  1. Don’t panic! It seems all the tabbing (aside from Nautilus) is some sort of sick joke.

    From the comments on Calum’s post you linked to, Davyd says: “The Calculator is a Gimp job (I watched SJR doing it). Though I worry that now someone is going to want this as a serious feature.”

    In addition, the Pidgin, Totem, and Empathy tabs are faked.

    In even more addition, the ‘bug’ linked to from the Empathy blog post is http://bugzilla.gnome.org/show_bug.cgi?id=542675 , which very clearly shows it’s some sort of running joke.

  2. Workflows? Sheesh.

    A) People don’t tidy up their folders nowadays. The whole concept of folders is yesterday. Desktop search is today. You were solving problem that doesn’t exist anymore in the first place. That’s bad.
    B) People can’t know how to use tabs, as the file managers with tabs have new extra elements. Ie. what happens when you drag an object on the tab header? There are many new problems in the new use cases that you just introduced. Think of for instance ordinary user opening a tab mistakenly. Some ORDINARY users will even have hard time understanding that they opened new tab and will be baffled on how to get back to where they just were.
    C) Tabs make the GUI simply more complex. Now there’s stuff craving for user attention on the bottom, on left, at the middle, 3 layers of stuff at the top. It’s already way too much to be honest, half of present should go already. Complexity is problem because it means search width for average Joe’s when they scan for the thing that would do what they want. Furthermore, in many situations the user has to use his memory to recall what is in the inactive tabs. That’s vastly worse than having two windowses actually open, the present monitors are big enough.
    D) The center idea of usability is pervasiveness. That means software doing the correct thing to the use context. Instead of slapping new GUI artifacts all over just because it short sightedly seems to solve some usability problem, why not solve the actual problem instead of the symptoms? I am serious about this, if for instance working with several folders simultaneously is presently hard, why not put the energy into something that simply helps the user automatically?

    Now be a nice boy and make a patch that removes the tabs and commit it. Tabs everywhere, no matter almost where, outside EXPERT software (such as IDEs) are really bad idea.

  3. ctrl+tab+up vs. window-manager’s alt+tab?

    Tabs in Nautilus browser windows were a waste of effort IMO, sorry. How have you resolved the Ctrl+T = Trash/New Tab clash?

  4. Alexander Jones:

    > ctrl+tab+up vs. window-manager’s alt+tab?

    Sorry, that should have been ctrl-page-up/down.

    > How have you resolved the Ctrl+T = Trash/New Tab clash?

    I removed the CTRL-T “Move to Trash” shortcut, and converted it to a “New Tab” shortcut. There were some complaints about it anyway:

  5. makkara:

    > The whole concept of folders is yesterday. Desktop search is today.

    I somewhat agree. Most of us actually feel the need for a computer that works like an assistant or data secretary that presents documents just as “some sort of data” vs. your contacts or projects you follow [i.e. a strongly meshed DB].

    Anyway, you have to be careful – I’ve worked at some companies now, and both in business and in the academic world the whole world is still very document-centric.

    So I disagree that we are already have reached such a stage. Nevertheless, since your comment seems to be against file management anyway (which is inherently file / document-centric), this seems to be the wrong platform.

    > Now be a nice boy and make a patch that removes the tabs and commit it.

    You can unset a GConf key and they are away. Besides, they are unobstrusive. You just have one menu item more, and unexperienced users do not check out the menus anyway.

  6. i simply love the idea of tabs for working with documents, as long as you can undock them and stuff (like terminator)

    for totem if you are half way through a movie and want to quickly show someone else a video without loosing your place this is currently not possible (you would need to use another media player)

  7. This is the best one: http://davyd.livejournal.com/255065.html
    From a comment by Murray Cumming to the bug report linked to above: “You know, people really don’t get that it’s a joke. It’s our fault that they
    could think we’d be serious about this. Please be kinder and try not to play on
    their fear of our ineptness.”

  8. Perhaps you are right many will love the Tab thing, but I believe that number wont match those who would have appreciated undo/redo functionality. Is it that difficult a problem to fix?

  9. So flame me if i missed that nautilus tabs are fake. They have been discussed for a long time though.

    (Hmm this is probably a straw man (if i understand it correctly)…

    You claim:
    “I was two times as fast as with a console (where you need auto-completion), and five times as fast as with a mouse..”

    You are fixing your own interaction with nautilus (keyboard) and not those who are going to use the mouse, tabs or no tabs. Arguable most people are going to use the mouse. But i can’t claim that as a fact :).

    PS: when does the spring loaded folders…patent expire? πŸ™
    PPS: Thank you for excellent co? maintaince of nautilus πŸ™‚

  10. Totally agree with you. I’m glad to see that nautilus has tabs now, just like what we have in PCManFM.

    Correct, not every applications need tabs. Are they really adding tabs to gcalctool? Unbelievable… Sounds like someone is out of his mind…

  11. Phew, the tab mania was getting me scared. I’m glad it’s been clarified that this was just a big joke… mostly. The Pidgin one was the funniest.

  12. Oh and another thing, since it seems you’ve turned off comments on your archived posts. I’ve only just found you on Planet Gnome – well done on all your Nautilus work: compact view and tabs amongst others. Can’t wait to use these features, sorely missed.

  13. Well, I realized that the tab frenzy was probably a joke, when I read about tabs in dbus – that was really hilarious. Anyway, about the tab support in nautilus – I don’t mind it, but I don’t think one needs it. I see *and* use nautilus as file *browser*, nothing less, nothing more – and in that it does its job extremely well, though I’d expect it to use “browser” mode as default – I still don’t understand how zillions of opened windows just to get to a folder that’s not one of the bookmarks can be effective…

    And for file *managing* two columns are far more effective than tabs and for that mc inside (tabbed :-D) gnome-terminal does its job awesomely well. And so far no gui file manager got ever near to its usability and effectiveness – neither krusader nor gnome-commander ;-p

  14. Sadly I can’t even be bothered to finish reading what looked like an interesting article because you must be some sort of religious zealot or are just plain ol’ retarded with your comment about panties.

  15. Christian: Thank you for answering the call (http://brainstorm.ubuntu.com/idea/90).

    makkara: I understand your point. You want really really simple GUIS for really really unexperienced people. I agree with that. What I don’t agree with is that you want to fuck up my workflow by taking away functions and options from my applications. Perhaps you should rather fight for a “simple mode” within gnome. So each application can hide all the advanced stuff for beginners but show it for power users. The spatial view in nautilus might be well object oriented and may give an easier to understand abstraction of the filesystem. But I for one don’t want to close 10 nautilus windows after I clicked my way down a directory tree. I don’t want 10 nautilus windows in my taskbar mixed up with all the other applications.

  16. And I don’t like to click 2 times to get to a nautilus window which is needed when you group the applications in the panel/taskarea.

    Folders yesterday: Desktop search is yesterday as well. Give me a tag based filesystem already. Or give me a mighty search option and a way to save my searches and access them easily.

    christian: can you please merge my comments? I have no clue why the first was sent before I could write the rest. Thanks

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