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Clasen: GNOME 3.7 at the halfway mark

Clasen: GNOME 3.7 at the halfway mark

Posted Jan 25, 2013 16:49 UTC (Fri) by robert_s (subscriber, #42402)
Parent article: Clasen: GNOME 3.7 at the halfway mark

Tangentially relevant, but I can't *stand* those on|off toggle switches that seem to be proliferating everywhere nowadays. They are horrendously ambiguous. Why would I slide the switch _towards_ the word "on" to turn it off? Surely the word "on" being exposed implies that the slider is over, and therefore in, the "off" position?

I can't be the only person that sees a problem with these.


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Clasen: GNOME 3.7 at the halfway mark

Posted Jan 25, 2013 16:59 UTC (Fri) by proski (subscriber, #104) [Link]

They annoy me too. They take much more screen space than checkboxes and need to be translated.

Clasen: GNOME 3.7 at the halfway mark

Posted Jan 29, 2013 15:57 UTC (Tue) by mgedmin (subscriber, #34497) [Link]

> They take much more screen space than checkboxes

That's a good thing, actually.

The new switches bugged me too, but I got used to them after a week or so. The clearly different background color when the widget is in the "ON" position helped.

Clasen: GNOME 3.7 at the halfway mark

Posted Jan 25, 2013 17:08 UTC (Fri) by epa (subscriber, #39769) [Link]

It seems like a good thing to replace checkboxes with these sliders when displaying on a tablet or touchscreen interface. However, that means making a global change so that every checkbox in every application is replaced by the new control. It doesn't mean a mishmash of different checkbox-style controls depending on when the program was written and in which language or toolkit.

Clasen: GNOME 3.7 at the halfway mark

Posted Jan 25, 2013 17:18 UTC (Fri) by mpr22 (subscriber, #60784) [Link]

Skeuomorphic binary sliders suck on touch displays too.

binary sliders

Posted Jan 25, 2013 18:56 UTC (Fri) by mlinksva (subscriber, #38268) [Link]

I don't understand them on physical devices, let alone on-screen configuration. Or rather, I have to think a few seconds each time I encounter one. Much prefer switches/buttons/checkboxes. But I'm probably missing something important.

(Binary sliders minor complaint; overall good work GNOME people.)

Clasen: GNOME 3.7 at the halfway mark

Posted Jan 25, 2013 20:19 UTC (Fri) by nix (subscriber, #2304) [Link]

For extra fun, make the sense of the label the opposite of what normal humans would use to refer to it. A good example is what Amazon did to the Kindle around the time of the Kindle Touch: "Wireless on" suddenly turned into "Airplane mode off", which both needs to be translated even into British English and is also precisely the wrong sense, since nearly all the time when people are turning their wireless off they're doing it to double the battery lifetime of their Kindles and not because they're getting onto an aircraft.

But then it got controlled by a stupid skeuomorphic binary slider, so sliding the slider towards the word 'On' turns the wireless on again (though they call it 'turning airplane mode off'), and sliding it towards the word 'Off' turns the wireless off (though they call it 'turning airplane mode on').

Making simple things complicated...

Clasen: GNOME 3.7 at the halfway mark

Posted Jan 25, 2013 17:40 UTC (Fri) by tjc (guest, #137) [Link]

I think so too. The label actually makes things worse, since one doesn't know if it indicates current state, or potential state as a result of "flipping" the switch. Every time I use one of those things I have to stop and think about it. The problem is that the label in the wrong place: if it were directly above the switch, it would make sense, but then of course it would take up more room.

Light switches in buildings are label-less, and this doesn't seem to confuse too many people. Perhaps toggle widgets should be the same, and follow convention: left off, right on.

Clasen: GNOME 3.7 at the halfway mark

Posted Jan 26, 2013 8:43 UTC (Sat) by aleXXX (subscriber, #2742) [Link]

When switching a light switch, you see whether the light is currently on or not, so switching will always change that, so no label is needed.

Clasen: GNOME 3.7 at the halfway mark

Posted Jan 26, 2013 12:42 UTC (Sat) by nijhof (subscriber, #4034) [Link]

When switching a light switch, you see whether the light is currently on or not, so switching will always change that, so no label is needed.

For added fun maybe one could add a multi-way switch ("hotelschakelaar") to the GUI, where effectively the on or off status is an XOR of all the switches..

(certainly in my house I knever know which switch will turn which light on or off: most of the time there are three switches together in some random order compared to the topology of the rooms, half of which are multi-way)

Clasen: GNOME 3.7 at the halfway mark

Posted Jan 26, 2013 19:02 UTC (Sat) by bjencks (subscriber, #80303) [Link]

Most normal (with a toggle sticking out, not the flat rocker-style) light switches I've seen have "on" and "off" printed on them. "On" is below the toggle, so visible when the switch is on, and "off" is above and visible when the switch is off.

"Three-way" switches (the ones mentioned below that XOR multiple switches) are unmarked. That's actually usually my first cue that it's a three-way switch rather than on-off.

Clasen: GNOME 3.7 at the halfway mark

Posted Jan 27, 2013 16:46 UTC (Sun) by nix (subscriber, #2304) [Link]

Curious. Outside the theatre (where they have high-tension lighting) and bathrooms (where lights are pullcord-controlled by regulatory fiat), I've never seen any light switches other than the rocker-style ones. They never ever have labels, or any indication as to which light they control, unless someone has stuck a sticker on them indicating which is which (and sometimes, especially for inside switches controlling outside lights, the light they control is not even visible: once I even saw a switch controlling a light mounted on the side of a different house!)

I suspect the nature of light switches is one of those things heavily controlled by historical contingency and national regulation. You cannot say 'normal' about things like light switches: different regions have different normals.

Clasen: GNOME 3.7 at the halfway mark

Posted Jan 29, 2013 12:18 UTC (Tue) by sorpigal (subscriber, #36106) [Link]

In the USA a typical light switch has on and off printed on it (and done in raised beveling so that a blind person could figure out the distinction if necessary). Most everyday light switches follow this pattern and I think it's probably where the GNOME3 style checkbox switch concept gets its skeuomorphic inspiration.

Clasen: GNOME 3.7 at the halfway mark

Posted Jan 29, 2013 12:54 UTC (Tue) by cortana (subscriber, #24596) [Link]

I think it is more likely that the inspiration was the iPhone user interface.

Clasen: GNOME 3.7 at the halfway mark

Posted Jan 29, 2013 14:46 UTC (Tue) by micka (subscriber, #38720) [Link]

On the other side, I have not yet seen a light switch with anything printed on it (wall switch or switches on the power chord).

My parent would not know the meaning of "on" or "off", anyway.

Clasen: GNOME 3.7 at the halfway mark

Posted Jan 29, 2013 16:25 UTC (Tue) by nix (subscriber, #2304) [Link]

That's a scary-looking light switch, both too easy to catch something on and tear, and quite hard to flip when you have no hands free (I routinely turn lights on and off by just leaning on them with my chin).

Clasen: GNOME 3.7 at the halfway mark

Posted Jan 29, 2013 19:05 UTC (Tue) by foom (subscriber, #14868) [Link]

Not really. Complaining about the usability of something that's been in wide use for decades from a sketch of it is pretty funny.

Clasen: GNOME 3.7 at the halfway mark

Posted Jan 25, 2013 18:52 UTC (Fri) by nim-nim (subscriber, #34454) [Link]

They are an i18n trainwreck too

Most languages do not use two/three-letter words for on/off. But the widget assumes it is the case (on/off is the only bit that makes it non-ambiguous; every time I see it I'm reminded of All the UI disasters where designers had to include a huge "press here" arrow to get users to notice their hidden-in-chrome button)

Clasen: GNOME 3.7 at the halfway mark

Posted Jan 26, 2013 1:22 UTC (Sat) by misc (subscriber, #73730) [Link]

On my version of gnome ( 3.6 on F18 ), there is nothing to translate. Either the widget is greyed, with a O to mean "unchecked", or this is blue, with a I, to mean checked. I am not sure of that's colorblind friendly.

So i guess the "on/off" is just a locale variation of the gtkSwitch widget ?

Clasen: GNOME 3.7 at the halfway mark

Posted Jan 27, 2013 16:00 UTC (Sun) by mathstuf (subscriber, #69389) [Link]

I can never remember which of I and O is on and which is off. I remember that the O looks like a closed circuit, but I can't remember if there's a "but its backwards" part to it as well. To be fair, the I can be rationalized as a crossbar linking a switch, so "it closes the circuit" isn't foolproof. Anyone have a trick that works for them?

Clasen: GNOME 3.7 at the halfway mark

Posted Jan 27, 2013 16:22 UTC (Sun) by bronson (subscriber, #4806) [Link]

Binary: 1 is on, 0 is off?

Clasen: GNOME 3.7 at the halfway mark

Posted Jan 28, 2013 22:48 UTC (Mon) by mathstuf (subscriber, #69389) [Link]

That's probably how I *should* remember it, but I encountered the symbols before I knew binary, so it wasn't a trick I would have come up with. Maybe I'll remember it now that I've commented here about it, but historically my problem with mnemonics (and similar tricks) is that I can't remember the mnemonic itself, defeating the purpose. Usually, it takes some rather obscure connection for it to "click" and be second nature.

Clasen: GNOME 3.7 at the halfway mark

Posted Jan 29, 2013 16:09 UTC (Tue) by mgedmin (subscriber, #34497) [Link]

I believe these come from the IEC standard ("Graphical symbols for use on equipment"). And yes, they were inspired by binary 0 and 1, if you trust Wikipedia.

Clasen: GNOME 3.7 at the halfway mark

Posted Jan 28, 2013 16:32 UTC (Mon) by nim-nim (subscriber, #34454) [Link]

The "on/off" is the original English widget, that GNOME people found so cool-intuitive-and-self-explanatory they fostered it on everyone. It's based on some physical switches common on a few Anglo-Saxon locales, that were never used anywhere else because their English-only nature. (physical should have raised warning bells, software is not hardware, most physical analogies have a terrible history)

Of course during the implementation process they found the whole concept was untranslatable. Instead of revisiting the original decision, they just dumped the text labels on most locales

Clasen: GNOME 3.7 at the halfway mark

Posted Jan 25, 2013 19:03 UTC (Fri) by engla (guest, #47454) [Link]

It has already been fixed too (idea-wise): http://www.chrisnorstrom.com/2012/11/invention-multiple-c...

Clasen: GNOME 3.7 at the halfway mark

Posted Jan 25, 2013 19:26 UTC (Fri) by dashesy (guest, #74652) [Link]

That sounds very neat, nice design

Clasen: GNOME 3.7 at the halfway mark

Posted Jan 26, 2013 0:11 UTC (Sat) by proski (subscriber, #104) [Link]

I think it's still an overkill where a checkbox would suffice. But it could be a nice replacement for the radio buttons.

Clasen: GNOME 3.7 at the halfway mark

Posted Jan 26, 2013 8:54 UTC (Sat) by aleXXX (subscriber, #2742) [Link]


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