The GtkSwitch problem

it’s amazing that people find the on/off switch *that* confusing. I wonder how do they turn on and off the lights in their houses @ebassi

Dear GNOME designers,

When you came up with the original idea of GtkSwitch (or looked at iOS and thought “ooh, shiny”, I don’t blame you), you overlooked the problem of localization. Just as today’s kids have no idea what a floppy is, most of us, Europeans, have no idea what device this widget represents and how it is supposed to work.

What you see:

GtkSwitch widget

What you think:

Light switch in the bathroom
Light switch in the bathroom by anotherpioneer, on Flickr (cc) BY-NC

What you really think: a freakin’ light switch!

For reference, here’s a light switch we use in Europe:

240720081083
240720081083 by jakub.szestowicki, on Flickr (cc) BY-SA

Pressing the top turns the lights on, pressing the bottom turns them off. The ends are unlabelled.

The only device that I could find that matches GNOME’s current behavior for the GtkSwitch is the voltage switch on a PSU. See the red part. You slide it with a flat screwdriver to tell the PSU if the input voltage is 115V or 230V (which, again, is a standard here in Europe):

Power-Supply-noswitch
Power-Supply-noswitch by Kevin Byrom, on Flickr (cc) BY-SA

Update: apparently none of this is true¹ and the widget is perfect. Therefore I stand corrected. Hats off then and bonus points for the humor in the implementation. “How do I turn it OFF?” “It’s easy, just click and drag it all the way to where it says ON.”

¹ As proved by @ebassi: one, two, three.

5 thoughts on “The GtkSwitch problem”

  1. With friendly and constructive people like @ebassi around, I believe the UI problem is a minor one.

    By the way, totally agree with you. I’m Russian and I can’t tell by the shape of this thing, if it’s on or off, either.

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