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The GNOME project at 15

The GNOME project at 15

Posted Aug 15, 2012 23:49 UTC (Wed) by bojan (subscriber, #14302)
In reply to: The GNOME project at 15 by rgmoore
Parent article: The GNOME project at 15

> auto workspaces

I am so glad you mentioned this, because it epitomises what is so wrong with Gnome 3 (and I am also glad you find it usable - at least some do).

Like many other desktop features, workspaces have been born out functional necessity: how to have a larger desktop with the screen you have been given. So, workspaces (or in the olden days viewports) were fashioned to represent a "zoomed in" view into a larger desktop. This necessitated the existence of a visual workspace switcher, to tell users where they were and where they could go next and about what was on other ports/spaces. It was easy to visually identify all this information, immediately. Some folks arranged their workspaces into a row. Some into a grid etc. This was a concept, born out of functional necessity. Dynamic workspaces are a visual hack, just for the sake of it. They are the equivalent of rearranging your windows when one of them is closed. No other GUI does that.

Similar with overview. On a smartphone, an overview is a functional necessity, because there isn't enough screen real estate to present both the applications menu and the currently running application(s) on the screen. Hence the home screens (which is what overview is). And, of course, once again, Gnome 3 follow down the wrong path on devices that have no such functional need (desktops, laptops).

Minimised (or in the olden days iconified) windows came out of another necessity. On a multitasking system, one often has more than one thing going on at one time. And, occasionally, there are so many that some of them have to be taken out of visual range, so that more important tasks can been seen. This then necessitated the invention of iconification. This in itself was not good enough, because iconified windows would get lost behind others. So, a taskbar was invented, which was then always visible, so that users could bring back tasks they were working on easily. Gnome 3 does away with this, but it leaves user an option to still minimise windows (in a surprising about face when compared to the rest of the system, through a configurable option). Of course, the windows then go into oblivion and cannot be brought back unless overview is entered, where they miraculously appear as normal windows. Another concept broken.

Only the most obnoxious of web sites will try to maximise your browser window. So, good browsers have an explicit option that stops such obnoxious web sites in their tracks. On the other hand, Gnome 3 window manager will now do that for you. It will maximise you windows when it sees fit. The rationale? "Displaying multiple windows at the same time means that screen space isn't used efficiently, and it means that you don’t get a focused view of what it is that you are interested in." In fact, the exact opposite is true. User should decide what is and isn't the most efficient layout of windows. Contrary to this new Gnome 3 philosophy, some people can and do more than one thing at once.

I could probably write more examples (and I have here on LWN, in many comments), but I think the above already sufficiently illustrates what I (and many others) have been trying to tell Gnome developers for months now.

So, when you say:

> It's almost as if the usability experts know what they're talking about.

I have to disagree in the case of Gnome usability experts. Strongly. Based on the above objective complaints.

Havoc can wax lyrical about Gnome 3 team and I understand he knows many of them. But, from what I see, things are not going in the right direction in many of the areas. Long standing functional concepts have been broken. And nobody seems to be listening.

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The GNOME project at 15

Posted Aug 16, 2012 7:37 UTC (Thu) by ovitters (subscriber, #27950) [Link]

I have to disagree in the case of Gnome usability experts. Strongly. Based on the above objective complaints.

You're not presenting facts, just your opinion. I really like and appreciate how you write in detail why it doesn't work for you. But being objective on your opinion still makes it an opinion.

e.g. I the workspaces work perfectly fine for me. I don't see the relation to maximization. I can move applications between workspaces (e.g. like tabs in browser windows).

Gnome 3 does away with this, but it leaves user an option to still minimise windows (in a surprising about face when compared to the rest of the system, through a configurable option).

Loads of things are configurable. This one was configurable in via gconf-editor since early 2.x days. The default changed and this button option was still available to be changed in gconf-editor (now lately in dconf-editor). Additionally, it is now also shown in gnome-tweak-tool.

That there are loads of options you can change in GNOME is not surprising at all. The complaint is usually about things appearing in System Settings or not.

The option you're talking about is only available in gnome-tweak-tool or {d,c}conf-editor. I fail to see why it is surprising that you do notice that option, while ignoring the hundreds of other options.

And nobody seems to be listening.

I've responded to you many many times.

The GNOME project at 15

Posted Aug 16, 2012 21:21 UTC (Thu) by nix (subscriber, #2304) [Link]

Yeah, bojan's told you his opinion, over and over again. And you've responded with contempt and claims that he is wrong, even though opinions of the form 'X does not work for me, here is why' surely *cannot* be 'wrong'.

IMNSHO you are one of the largest negatives GNOME 3 has in the marketing arena, and if you actually wanted to be good for the project you'd think harder before you typed.

The GNOME project at 15

Posted Aug 18, 2012 11:19 UTC (Sat) by Jandar (subscriber, #85683) [Link]

> opinions of the form 'X does not work for me, here is why'

You are sucked into the rhetoric of bkor. 'X does not work for me' isn't an opinion, it is a fact.

The GNOME project at 15

Posted Aug 23, 2012 11:43 UTC (Thu) by ovitters (subscriber, #27950) [Link]

That is not what I meant.

I mean that you cannot take your personal opinions and preferences to mean anything for the general case.

In any case, usually people don't refer to their opinions as facts, do I don't get why you're having difficulties to follow what I mean.

The GNOME project at 15

Posted Aug 19, 2012 0:31 UTC (Sun) by sramkrishna (guest, #72628) [Link]

I see nothing wrong with what he said. His opinion was in fact subjective.

The GNOME project at 15

Posted Aug 16, 2012 23:45 UTC (Thu) by bojan (subscriber, #14302) [Link]

I think you missed the point of what I was trying to say. If you reread my post, you will see that I'm trying to show a pattern of Gnome 3, where developers have either:

- broken long standing UI concepts
- applied wrong UI concepts to essentially a desktop OS

When I say "nobody is listening", I mean, nobody that is part of Gnome development group is providing a way out of these errors.

So, when you say in your reply that many things are configurable in relation to windows minimisation (and other things) - that is completely beside the point. There, I was really just pointing out, as a sidenote, that on a system where trivial customisations like rearranging of icons in impossible, somebody found it necessary to provide an option for a concept that has been all but butchered. The irony.

Window minimisation was a long standing concept, familiar to practically all desktop users. Gnome 3 introduced a soup of some of that stuff, but none of it is consistent or makes sense (as a metaphor of what is supposed to be happening when windows are minimised). Same with workspaces - from a clear concept, Gnome 3 went to ad-hoc visual hacks. Same with basic customisation. From clear and understandable drag-and-drop, Gnome 3 went to writing Javascript. And so on and so forth.

You may say that these things are my opinion. Maybe you see them that way. But it is a fact that many other desktop OSes (including previous versions of Gnome) use these concepts. And for a reason - users have been familiar with them for years and they work. Gnome 3 decided to break them, for reasons best described a "philosophical".

The GNOME project at 15

Posted Aug 17, 2012 1:02 UTC (Fri) by bojan (subscriber, #14302) [Link]

> Gnome 3 decided to break them, for reasons best described a "philosophical".

And what I am also implying here is that not only were the existing concepts broken, but they were not replaced by anything that serves the same purpose better (and contrary to what you say, these things can actually be measured, as I explained many times before). The best Gnome developers can offer is occasional suggestions that are completely orthogonal to the problem - which is to use a different input device (keyboard).

PS. Sure, some folks have tried to minimise the carnage by providing extensions that bring back various things that were broken. However, extension are no more part of official Gnome than Firefox addons are part of official Firefox. They are certainly not part of the "official way" of doing things.

The GNOME project at 15

Posted Aug 17, 2012 1:34 UTC (Fri) by bojan (subscriber, #14302) [Link]

> You're not presenting facts, just your opinion.

I know I wrote on this before, but just so that we are clear:

- fact: it takes significantly more mouse/GUI actions to change a workspace in Gnome 3

- fact: it is impossible to see on which workspace you are in Gnome 3, without many mouse/GUI actions (amazingly, even with extensions)

- fact: there is enough screen pixels to overlay applications menu on a desktop screen (search included)

- fact: Gnome 2 panel had autohide feature

- fact: when minimised, windows in Gnome 3 go into oblivion

- fact: in overview, minimised windows in Gnome 3 appear as normal windows

- fact: Gnome 3 window manager arbitrarily maximises windows

- fact: it is impossible to remove/move an icon in Gnome 3 panel without writing code

- fact: every time one wants to start an app, almost every single pixel on the screen is changed in Gnome 3; this is terrible for performance when working remotely

Etc, etc.

The GNOME project at 15

Posted Aug 23, 2012 11:32 UTC (Thu) by ovitters (subscriber, #27950) [Link]

If you look at what you state, it seems for instance that you like to minimize windows. You can only do that in a inperfect way and by default that is hidden.

Your personally like to hide windows. But then your personal ideas don't make things a fact.

Or otherwise stated:
A -> B -> C

A: You like minimizing windows
B: GNOME 3 doesn't really do that
C: GNOME 3 is no good (for you)

But you cannot state in general that GNOME 3 is no good based on this. I'm not arguing that minimizing windows can or cannot be done. Just that you lack a 'fact' to show that something like that is needed (in general). That bit is personal. This is what I meant before with not presenting facts.

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