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Mena-Quintero: A Friday rant on Gnome 3, journalists, and power users

Mena-Quintero: A Friday rant on Gnome 3, journalists, and power users

Posted Nov 12, 2012 6:00 UTC (Mon) by jirka (guest, #83100)
In reply to: Mena-Quintero: A Friday rant on Gnome 3, journalists, and power users by cortana
Parent article: Mena-Quintero: A Friday rant on Gnome 3, journalists, and power users

I know I want to open all files of type "blah"" with application "foo". OK, I have to find all possible types of files for application foo and make sure. And some types of files have multiple file types, for example images. Have you tried using this technique to change image viewer? Especially when you want to do it for someone else quickly (like a very impatient wife who will get mad that some images still get open in the wrong viewer)?

This is I am sorry, but one of the most moronic design decisions ever made. And I was one of the original GNOME developers (I'm not anymore due to time and lack of interest not due to to some hatered of GNOME), so I don't feel bad about complaining about GNOME.

The problem with current UI design (and this includes GNOME and many other UIs) is that it is inflexible and unimaginative.

The very fact of the above question being out there, and even being asked by very knowledgable people, is evidence that something is wrong. The solution is not to point the person to the "correct" way to do things, but ask yourself, why is it that this person is having trouble?

Setting file associations is one of the very very frustrating things about gnome. It is in fact one of the reasons I don't use GNOME nowdays, among other things. But I remember being very frustrated for about 30 minutes or so trying to figure this out. And even then, using the given interface is very very frustrating even if you know how to do it. UI should not be frustrating.


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Mena-Quintero: A Friday rant on Gnome 3, journalists, and power users

Posted Nov 12, 2012 13:36 UTC (Mon) by cortana (subscriber, #24596) [Link]

> I know I want to open all files of type "blah"" with application "foo". OK, I have to find all possible types of files for application foo and make sure. And some types of files have multiple file types, for example images. Have you tried using this technique to change image viewer? Especially when you want to do it for someone else quickly (like a very impatient wife who will get mad that some images still get open in the wrong viewer)?

I agree the current design is crap for this use case. However this is not what ccchips was complaining about.

Mena-Quintero: A Friday rant on Gnome 3, journalists, and power users

Posted Nov 12, 2012 14:22 UTC (Mon) by vonbrand (guest, #4458) [Link]

Yes, but not all image types can be opened in, say, eog (no SVG, no PDF, no PS). And so on. Not to mention that some *.pdf are documents, others images. This looks conceptually simple, in practice it is anything but. And depends on lots of other packages.

Could it be better? Absolutely. But ranting on LWN about it won't get it fixed (and breaks LWN).

Mena-Quintero: A Friday rant on Gnome 3, journalists, and power users

Posted Nov 13, 2012 15:27 UTC (Tue) by ccchips (subscriber, #3222) [Link]

Doesn't break LWN! LWN is about Linux; Gnome 3 is a big part of Linux; I won't use Gnome 3 until I can do what I want; I have asked and asked around more about how to do this particular thing, and now, after I took off all my Gnome 3 testing environments out of frustration, almost 5 months after I started putting out feelers about this problem, I find a possible solution in an obscure corner of an LWN thread.

Maybe someone can answer me this: If there is a "feature" in Gnome 3 that is making my life miserable, and I would like to report that to someone who will listen and act, what's the easiest way to do it?

Mena-Quintero: A Friday rant on Gnome 3, journalists, and power users

Posted Nov 13, 2012 19:32 UTC (Tue) by luya (subscriber, #50741) [Link]

The answer is right in front of own very eyes yet choose to look elsewhere.

Mena-Quintero: A Friday rant on Gnome 3, journalists, and power users

Posted Nov 14, 2012 0:08 UTC (Wed) by jirka (guest, #83100) [Link]

Lazy answer: Don't use GNOME 3. Actually that worked wonders for me. I am far less (though still somewhat) frustrated with XFCE.

Mena-Quintero: A Friday rant on Gnome 3, journalists, and power users

Posted Nov 13, 2012 19:15 UTC (Tue) by jirka (guest, #83100) [Link]

But this was done correctly previously if I remember right (but was removed long time ago). Anyway, firefox handles it well (and netscape has handled it correctly as far back as I remember), and even xfce which is very thin on features does this correctly though only in the newest version. How to do it correctly? Make it possible to see a list of known types where you can pick what opens what. This is not a matter of coding, it is a matter of design. It's not that nobody did this feature, it is not there on purpose.

Of course I know ranting on LWN makes no difference. But I don't feel bad. I have spent several years working on GNOME. In that study in 2010 I was still in the top 20 contributors to GNOME by commits or something like that, even though I stopped contributing around 2004 or so. Some of early UI design decisions in GNOME were mine. Some of these decisions were bad, some good. Anyway, I don't feel like I haven't put in my time to fix issues. So I've earned the right to be grumpy and tell people what they've done is crap, and rant wherever I please. People can rant (and they have) about my software before.

Mena-Quintero: A Friday rant on Gnome 3, journalists, and power users

Posted Nov 12, 2012 13:40 UTC (Mon) by cortana (subscriber, #24596) [Link]

Thinking about this further... what if you could look at the properties of an application in the Overview, which would present a list of all the file types that the application could open. Each list entry would have a checkbox indicating that the application is the currently chosen default for that file type; and there would be a button saying 'use this application for all the above file types' which would click all the check boxes.

Obviously this needs more work (the Overview has no way to indicate that an application might have such a properties window, nor does it give the user any opportunity to interact with an application except to launch it) but I think it might go some way towards satisfying your use case.

Out of interest, what DE do you use? How do you set a program to be the default handler for one or more file types under it?

Mena-Quintero: A Friday rant on Gnome 3, journalists, and power users

Posted Nov 14, 2012 0:06 UTC (Wed) by jirka (guest, #83100) [Link]

Right now I use XFCE as it is the least painful to use. Terminal starts quickly (yeah I need my terminal when I hit the key combo I set up, not several seconds later, I am an impatient person, and computers are fast enough nowdays aren't they?), it has a simple app menu for launching apps where I can always easily find what I am looking for, and I can set certain apps onto a panel for a quick launch.

In XFCE there is "MIME Type Editor" which lets you set default apps. It's a bit too simple, and could use some improvements, but it's far easier to use than the GNOME way. That's the correct way to do it. That's the correct metaphor. It's not right to do it in the application. That's backwards. Though it wouldn't hurt if you could set it from the application as well.

Don't overthink it. Overthinking is exactly what got current GNOME UI designers into trouble. Don't make too many abstractions. Abstractions are bad unless they work perfectly. Then you precisely get into trouble when users are not working in the way that you envisioned they should. They get frustrated and complain loudly.

There is a lovely book "The Design of Everyday Things" that is an excellent critique of interface of ... well "everyday things". I got the book from some usability people when working on GNOME. UI designers are still not taking the advice there to heart, and they should.

Now ... get off my lawn!

Mena-Quintero: A Friday rant on Gnome 3, journalists, and power users

Posted Nov 14, 2012 10:21 UTC (Wed) by dgm (subscriber, #49227) [Link]

> it has a simple app menu for launching apps where I can always easily find what I am looking for, and I can set certain apps onto a panel for a quick launch.

AND a tool to look up applications by name or description, not unlikely the search bar in GNOME's overview. It's summoned by pressing Alt+F2. If XFCE allowed one to bind this application (that by the way is named xfce4-appfinder) to the windows (AKA "super") key _release_ so that it didn't interfere with other shortcuts, I would be just happy.


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