Thursday, 25 February 2010

We're (re)moving settings again

Currently at the GNOME UX hackfest in London, where plenty of good discussions are happening.

One thing we discussed recently is removing preferences. Everybody loves when we remove preferences because it gives them a reason to vent steam, and we love receiving abuse (“- Are you being sarcastic? - No, I never am.”).

There's been talks of "TweakUI" type functionalities in the past, with no one ever showing up, and putting their money where their mouth is, and implementing it.

Taking a well-known MacOS application as a way to represent super-tweaky (or crack-rock, depending on which way you look at it) settings and preferences, Jakub (with help from the ever tweaking Hylke) mocked up “GNOME Plumbing”.

PLUMB!!1!

The honorable Vincent Untz has volunteered with implementing the settings pane for the gnome-control-center to go along with the changes in other capplets.

The reasoning behind removing settings is never made to antagonise people. There are various reasons, taking into account the increased complexity of preferences and settings, the ratio of people using such features, and possibly the maintenance costs of having more tweakable bits. Contact your local designer if in doubt :)

A lot of us had hoped that gconf-editor could serve as a crutch, hoping the community (in that case, the community of the more vocal people that complain about the changes) would handle creating the settings tweaker that was alluded to so many times.

We're hoping this will be the end of complaints when features get “moved” for design decisions.

PS: We copied a Mac app, not because it's a Mac app, but because it had the simplest UI for displaying seemingly unrelated settings, and making potentially complicated settings easy to understand. Thanks guys for making hard things easier.

22 comments:

andrewsomething said...

"There's been talks of "TweakUI" type functionalities in the past, with no one ever showing up, and putting their money where their mouth is, and implementing it."

While I've got no horse in this race, that's not exactly true... See: http://ubuntu-tweak.com/

According to Ubuntu popcon data, there are at least 97747 installs of the ubuntu-tweak package.

heffer said...

Will GNOME finally be beautiful? :D

Mike said...

Now on this screenshot, the window decoration we can see, is this called "client side window decoration?"

It looks very clean ;-)

Ethan Anderson said...

Not having a menu bar can make any app look cleaner, but that is indeed a very nice theme.

Link?

Leonardo Fontenelle said...

I could't help commenting that this preferences app reminds me of KDE 3's control panel. Of course, the lack of excessive options still makes a lot of difference!

Anonymous said...

Looks like a great idea, keep in mind secrets killer feature, anyone can submit a new secret for review (http://secrets.blacktree.com/edit
) and secrets keeps its db up to date with the online version, that's a great thing.

The mockup theme looks also great, any chance to get it for real?

Anonymous said...

If the app is extensible via plugins, easy to write so it doesn't remain unmantained then should be a nice win.

J5 said...

That looks awesome.

@andrewsomething - that is what happens when an app is developed in a silo instead of being done upstream. No one outside of the silo ever see it.

hadess said...

Mike, Ethan: you guys need to read the post a bit better...

Andrew: Ubuntu tweak is nice, except that it's not "GNOME tweak"... I'm sure that bits could be reused. I'll make sure that contacting the Ubuntu Tweak people gets on Vincent's TODO list.

Anonymous #1: No technical details have been discussed, but when the app was mentioned, I mentioned the online database as well.

Máirín said...

woo rock on jimmac and hbons!

Anonymous said...

I see three things here that seem to reference theme/look and feel type information.

How does this relate to / integrate into a setting the overall system them (something allowing me to download a meta-theme that will update the login screen, mouse pointers, colour scheme/window theming, icons, firefox/wine/etc., theme, etc.)

HtH said...

While I like GConf, I understand the need for something like this, but this design, while pretty, doesn't seem like it will scale well. In the mock-up there are only a few applications shown in the left frame. On a real system, you could have a very very very long scroll through all the apps that are installed. It makes more sense to use some sort of categorization similar to how the main menu is structured. While boring, it is very easy for the user to navigate and it would scale very well with a careful use of collapsing fields like an accordion. It would also be nice looking and be in keeping with the look of Gnome Shell (I'm assuming this is more of a 3+ thing anyway).

Best/Liam

هدایت said...

Interesting! :)

Mike said...

But actually, I am curious to see if this kind of window decoration is something that is possible to achieve with the client-side window decoration.

Anonymous said...

@Mike: Why shouldn't this be possible with a normal Metacity theme?

Mike said...

Really, I was just wondering if this kind of cool window decoration is possible to achieve client-side wise. I searched the web for some notes about it, and I found this one live.gnome.org/GTK+/ClientSideDecorations. But I guess it is, and to answer you, I don't wish to see such a decoration on all of my windows, but it can definitely look cool for some special applications (something you run once in a while).

Anonymous said...

n't think moving the options away from the application they apply to is never a good idea. they don't seem related and coders tend to not expose options when away from their application. why is it so hard to make an "advanced switch" so you have your default options ui but get to extensive-options-mode via a simple click? kind of like what vlc does. This is a divers mode and people actually use the programs on their pc differently. Taking options away makes each application less universal and creates the need for more applications.

hadess said...

Anonymous: No offense, but VLC isn't an application I would use as an example of what a carefully designed application would look like.

The application itself is featureful, and a great player/encoder, but not something I would take as an example for how to present advanced settings.

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