In the Mood

well, I failed at blagging each day of the User Experience hackfest, but mostly because of the sheer amount of discussions, designs and work done.

during the first common session on monday we all decided to split off into four groups:

  • file management
  • window and application management
  • widgets/gadgets/applets
  • effects and animations

I decided to work on effects and animations, along with Eve, Neil, Matthew and Andreas1. the wiki page of our group lists most of the stuff that came up in the group discussions and brain storming2. when not in the effects and animations group I was hanging around with the window and application management guys. since Tomas, Robert and Matthew have been working on a Clutter-based compositor for Metacity, I decided to give it a spin and work on some of the “animation tenets” that came up during the hackfest — like showing the direction of the workspace switching and provide a visual cue to the user that the windows are not going away forever, and are just being moved in another area of the screen. I know that Compiz is probably going to have these kind of effects some ten levels deep in the configuration manager, but the configuration UI always makes me want to carve my eyes out with a melon spoon while being bludgeoned to death, and the defaults are usually so bad that I develop seasickness after 15 minutes of continuous use — hence, the usage of the Clutter-powered Metacity.

the other groups did an awesome job as well: a lot of the ideas floating around will require hard work and time in order to be implemented, but they all contain a refreshing view of the desktop and challenge some of the fundamental tenets of the user interaction, based on the feedback from users and designers — and especially without resorting to something completely new or alien that will require years to get right for developers and to adjust the workflow for users, or just announcing new frameworks with the usual jingoistic tones common to open and closed software projects alike.

  1. who’s totally getting married — just as vuntz is expecting a baby []
  2. or idea showering []

9 Replies to “In the Mood”

  1. Wow, the mockups are impressive :)

    If only 50% of this would be in GNOME 3.0, great.

    Maybe that should be delayed a year to include even more awesomeness.

  2. “[..] but the configuration UI always makes me want to carve my eyes out with a melon spoon while being bludgeoned to death [..]”

    Why? :-)

  3. @tretle: there isn’t much to screencast, but I’ll see what I can do

    @mike: there’s still time to spare, so I don’t think we need to delay a release yet.

    @Marex: options that affect oher options in other tabs; clear cases of “unfuck my application” options; no option for “manage my windows as good as metacity does”; combinatorial preferences explosion. in general, is a very poor excuse of a UI made worse by a wankfest of plugins of dubious utility. it has no place in GNOME whatsoever — maybe in KDE 3.5.

  4. “and the defaults are usually so bad that I develop seasickness after 15 minutes of continuous use” – can’t say anything about the defaults set by Compiz itself; but the settings you get on Ubuntu (Hardy) with “normal desktop effects” enabled are pretty nice and subtle, and I’ve been using those settings for quite a while now. Agreed that the window manager functionality is not really great, though.

  5. @ebassi
    ah right, that “manage my windows as good as metacity does” option will definitely be in the next version. ;-)
    Seriously, if you only want to have a couple of options use simple-ccsm. I’m sure it’s not enough GNOME-like as well, but hey, better than carving out your eyes with a melon spoon.

  6. Hi EB;
    I have just had a quick look at mockups and stuff, I’m wondering if the following features will evere make it into Gnome:

    – “long click” (a double mouse click with a pause between the first and last click) to rename files;

    – (moderately) detailed file/dir information on mouseover in Nautilus.

    Yes, they’re both typical of the Windows desktop (the second one of KDE as well) and yes, I (humbly) think they’d improve file management greatly.

    I’d also love to see a good, old two pane file manager like good, old Directory Opus for the Amiga in Gnome, using the latest GTK+ libs, but I guess that’d be asking for too much ;)


  7. Well, I guess you’ve answered my question. Will have a look, I can’t but wonder how these two can be bad for usability.


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