Kickoff Apps Regoranization

Celeste Lyn Paul celeste at
Tue Jul 21 23:57:08 BST 2009

Hello all, 

I had some questions about the new apps organization in Kickoff. Previously, 
applications were organized in a single top-level category. Now, applications 
are organized under 2 levels of categories. I was wondering what prompted the 
change? The only documentation I've found is here which includes criticisms.

I could understand subcategorization if the top level category lists were 
*really* long, but theyre not. The lists are quite manageable. This additional 
level of categories makes browsing for an application really tedious. 

While with a single level, many categories might be long enough that you would 
have to scroll a little, with the new sub organization, users must now scan 
and select and click just to get to a list which might be what they want. Then 
you still have to make your selection. The additional organization level also 
makes it very difficult for new users (new to Linux, new to KDE) to browse 
available software and get introduced to the system.

An argument against scrolling might be that users don't notice the scrollbar, 
but this is less of an issue in the light KDE 4.3 theme. Another trick we 
could look at is providing a visual hint at the bottom of lists which scroll, 
such as a wavy border, or a piece of the next list item.

Another concern I have with introducing an additional level of organization is 
the navigation. With a new level, you will require users to use the back bar 
more often, especially new users who are browsing available software. The back 
bar is OK (I would like to see it improved, but that is a different discussion) 
for navigating back a single level, but is awkward for an additional level. 
But the breadcrumbs provided for navigation aid are not placed in a typical 
location (usually they are on the left, not right), are not interactive (you 
can't click to navigate), and not all users notice or use them.

I don't think the trade off of micro organizing applications is greater than 
the ease of use for scanning and scrolling a list with the risk of issues with 
navigation. Unless there is some justification I've missed, I strongly 
recommend changing the default to a single level organization. 

A while back, Kubuntu had first proposed and provided a patch for a single 
level of categorization and it was accepted by upstream (I wish one day you 
would accept our other Kickoff patches too). We still believe this is the best 
organizational method for Kickoff and would like everyone to benefit from this 
default. Plus it would be nice to not maintain a patch.


~ Celeste

Celeste Lyn Paul
KDE e.V. Board Member
KDE Usability Project

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