Feature request: browsing filesystem in gnome "computer" menu

Peter Damoc pdamoc at gmx.net
Thu Nov 18 01:53:42 CST 2004

On Thu, 18 Nov 2004 11:37:10 +1100, Jeff Waugh <jeff.waugh at canonical.com> wrote:

> <quote who="poptones">
>> I've been using these things since the eighties, I'm presently working on
>> some features I hope to contribute to gnome. I really like the gnome
>> desktop, but on this whole "spatial" issue I feel for you. It's a stupid
>> idea to make it default, and the way the "gnome community" talks about it
>> proves this time and again. They talk up this usability guideline, but
>> every time someone criticizes the "spatial" nonsense the argument is
>> "people just need to be educated..."
>> If Steve Jobs had adopted such an attitude Macs sure wouldn't be the
>> revered creatures they are, and Jobs wouldn't be where he is today.
> Of course, the spatial file manager concept was almost entirely defined by
> Apple in Mac OS (Classic), so Steve Jobs and co. certainly had their eyes on
> the ball way back then. :-)
> I think you're generalising pretty strongly about the developer attitude to
> this change. Personally, I think there are problems with it, but I'm more
> than willing to see where it goes, and how we can deal with those problems,
> rather than having an allergic reaction to change and switching back to the
> older navigational ("Browse") mode.

The main problem is that people don't get it. A lot of people come from Windows and they are used with a certain behaviour, some of them are willing to give the new way a try but soon succumb to usability issues. Maybe they use it the wrong way... maybe they are soo used with the old way that they cannot become just as productive. I've tried using "spatial" I've tried using "browse" and I've failed at both. I simply cannot use Nautilus and feel comfortable. I guess I'm so used to the 2 panel interface of  Norton Commander clones that I come to hate all the other ways... In my case we're talking about 10+ years of entranced habits in that field. I remember a conversation with a friend a long time ago, he tried to "sell" me Windows Explorer, he said he could do everything I could do with Total(Windows) Commander using 2 Explorer windows, he never used the Commander however... after 2 days he completely ditched the Explorer and he has been (to my knowledge) a Commander user since.

You'll continue to get this "my way is better" emails forever and people will continue to ask for better defaults simply because the defaults didn't rubbed the right way.

I can see only one solution that could satisfy all. Get a woman with a sexy calm voice (think ST computer voice) and create some animated tutorials (Flash would be great) in which you show how users could get the most out of Nautilus, both way. One tutorial for "spatial" one tutorial for "browse" maybe one with a dual pane Commander ;). Emphasise on proficiency with both modes, don't say "this is better" but "this is how you can get the most out of spatial" or "this is how you can get the most out of browse". Teach them useful key combos, show how easy is to switch between modes.

If you're thinking about point me or any other Joe User to the available documentation let me tell you just this:
the best way someone could learn is by imitation and I'm willing to bet everything I own that only a small portion of users ever touch a written tutorial, most prefer to ask a question in an IRC channel or on a mailing list or simply Google for the answer. Also I'm willing to bet that if you do such an animated series of tutorials and place one big link on the desktop labeled "Animated Tutorials" maybe 90% of the new users will look at them and you'll see a real drop on these "spatial" vs. "browse" "conversations".

> That said, this is pretty off-topic for ubuntu-devel, so this conversation
> should probably shift to sounder if it continues.

Usability issues *are* software bugs.

> - Jeff

Peter Damoc
Hacker Wannabe

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