On spatial file management [Was: planet gnome comment]

Jeff Waugh jeff.waugh at ubuntu.com
Mon Aug 29 20:42:49 CDT 2005

<quote who="George Farris">

> > From Planet GNOME
> >
> > I installed Ubuntu's unstable Breezy again, after taking a break due to
> > the painful breakage in the last few weeks. It looks like it will
> > default to the nasty Browse Mode in Nautilus instead of the regular
> > usable (hierarchical) spatial mode. I'm so deeply disappointed,
> > disheartened, and discouraged.
> I must concur. With all the great work that went into Nautilus, would it
> not make sense to keep the spacial mode by default?

Well, ignoring Murray's ridiculous tone (which we often have to do), here's
why we're not going with spatial in Ubuntu:

 1) Spatial scares a lot of people off through its core behaviour. Every
 time someone asks me, "Why are all these windows all over the screen?" I
 know that we've failed to provide a user experience that doesn't interrupt
 their train of thought. It's not immersive. In some cases, yes, it does not
 reflect their expectations (Windows, OS X, etc), but we tend to get this
 reaction from most users of any level of experience. The filesystem is a
 hard thing to understand in the first place, so building the experience
 around providing a spatial familiarity with an intellectually distant idea
 seems... well, it's very hard to do and be immersive at the same time. :-)

 2) We tried the close-behind thing, at the request of sabdfl. It was even
 worse, because then it wasn't just windows all over the screen in terms of
 location, it was suddenly windows dancing all over the screen for seemingly
 no reason or connection to each other. People asked, "Why are these windows
 all over the screen?" as well as "Why are all my windows moving around the
 screen?" It was a double-whammy. It also offended upstream, and most users
 (and connoisseurs!) of the spatial file manager.

 3) The browser mode has been vastly improved in GNOME 2.12. If there was
 ever a time to dive in with it as default, it's now. Personally, I thought
 it was appropriate to use browse mode by default back when we were putting
 Warty together, but wasn't strongly committed to it due to the quality of
 the browser mode at the time. Now it rocks much harder.

 4) The spatial feature (unmolested from upstream's definition) still exists
 in Nautilus. As advanced users who love the feature, we know how to turn it
 on, and we can do it any time. Go for it. :-)

- Jeff

EuroOSCON: October 17th-20th    http://conferences.oreillynet.com/eurooscon/
   "I came for the quality, but I stayed for the freedom." - Sean Neakums

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