Menu-in-window & one-menu-windows

Eric Dunbar eric.dunbar at
Fri Jan 21 16:51:49 CST 2005

> Eric Dunbar wrote in gmane.linux.ubuntu.sounder
>  about: Menu-in-window & one-menu-windows
> > There is one other _major_ design flaw which goes beyond the beginner
> > vs. power user dichotomy of right-/left-click and that is the menu
> > bar.
> >
> > Regardless of experience, a single menu bar at the top of the screen
> > is the more efficient (a) way of selecting menu and
> I know, I know, I've read all the blurb..
> ..but part of me ironically still refuses to believe it.
> I do find it easier, believe it or not, to nudge my mouse just a
> centimetre or so to the menubar within the application I'm in than (less
> distance to target, less risk of directional error) to have to give it a
> *big shunt* right across the screen to a global menubar (with mouse and
> mousemat constantly fluffing themselves up, where does all that fluff
> come from? [1]).

I do believe it. It's a paradox that I struggle to reconcile. With
_huge_ monitors, there is a certain efficiency to be had with
menu-in-windows (especially if you like a slow mouse or don't use a
trackball), but, for us laptop users screen size is and will _always_
be a limiting factor. No matter how high res the LCDs become we're
still limited by what humans can read (unless you stick your face 1"
from the monitor).

> Unfortunately, Linux doesn't do too well in supporting the global
> menubar. KDE has it as an option, but it seems only KDE apps support
> it. It'd be good if it could find its way to becoming a (fairly)
> standard feature, but with all the environments and toolkits in use,
> that's a big task.

Hmm. KDE has that. Will have to login under KDE next time. It seems
bizarre that GNOME and/or KDE couldn't do that with other apps. I just
played with something called "window maker" (using fluxbox I think)
under YellowDogLinux 3.0.1 (a Fedora Core derivative) and managed to
turn off the "window bar" (or whatever it was called) but it left me
unable to move the window around, or even pin the menu to the top,
and, still there was the problem that the menu was affiliated with the
window and not the screen (window and menu bar need to be

PS entirely separate subject... instead of VNC I'm using XDMCP and
logging in to my YellowDogLinux server using X... neat!

I turned on xdmcp in the Login Screen (gdmsetup) of my server box. On
my laptop I run (I don't have X in the path on my OS X install... I
don't really use X for anything in OS X):

/usr/X11R6/bin/X -once -query MyServerIPAddress

(-once so I don't have to kill X when I'm done)

I was also able to get Ubuntu to login (it better be able to :) this
way to the server after I killed X using killall gdm (I haven't
figured out a clean way to kill a running yet).

PS The Ubuntu seems to provide a little more graphical special
effects support than does OS X's X11 (like selecting log-out... in
Ubuntu ( and YDL (XFree86) you get a funky effect whereas in OS
X you simply have the log-out dialogue without the funky effect).

> The other thing is that window managers don't cope with it well. I use
> "focus follows mouse", but that means inevitably a different window has
> grabbed the focus by the time I reach the menubar. What is needed is for
> "focus follows mouse" to have a, say, 0.5 s delay before grabbing the
> focus, in order to give you time to reach the menubar.

I believe you can adjust that delay :) (I discovered it when I was
fuzting around with focus follows mouse... turned it off b/c I found
it too annoying with a laptop-sized screen).

> > Unlike multi-button mice, which can be useful for a sizeable number of
> > users, menu-in-window is a poor design because it makes selecting menu
> > items a non-intuitive process for the bulk of users.
> I wouldn't say it's non-intuitive. Harder, maybe, but that's it.
> There's a degree of organisational logic that has it make sense to have
> the (app) menubar in the same place as its toolbar(s).

Harder is a better word. It comes down to it's easier for our brains
to handle the fixed menu-bar (fixed locations are easy...
left-right-top-bottom corners are easiest of all). Moving targets like
menu-in-window are a touch harder but, for some uses have a pay-off.

Time to cook dinner.


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