Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Evolution Canvas Love?

In the last few weeks major projects that were consuming time have been completed. The new desktop servers have gone live and it's time to move on other projects. OpenOffice 3.0 is out and it has been installed on our server for beta testing by some of our power users. There are tons of features that need to be QA'd before it is moved "live" and that's going to take several weeks.

I also have started doing a lot of work on testing modern Evolution with the GroupWise backend. Version 2.6 (+ backports) is currently in production on SLED 10 and now it's time to upgrade. Lots of the internals of the new version have changed, and I have started putting in bug reports.

Features are an important part of Evolution and the users will be happy with what is coming. However, I can't help but think we can improve the look of the calendar. A new look widget was added a while back, but I'd love to push live something with a bit more of a dramatic look. Yes, part of success of a project is bling in the right places. Unfortunately this type of hacking is beyond my skills.

Here is how Evolution currently looks when displaying the calendars of two users:

It's functional and works, but in my view is lacking the last little bling kick that provide user excitement. In reviewing other products, I found the screenshot below. If we could land something like this in Evolution, I know it would be received well.

Here is what I like about this look:
- Black/White colors for the calendar hash marks, very clean and paper like
- Glass like event UI makes it appear modern and it seems to have depth
- Overlapping colors (which probably should be an option) gives a visual cue of conflicts.

Here is a mockup:

Email is such a critical part of the desktop, and functional and UI improvements make my life so much easier. Chen, maybe this could be finished by the time I get up tomorrow? :)


Anonymous said...

Yes, it looks so much better and easier on the eyes!

Anonymous said...

+1 Superb!

Anonymous said...

+1 for mindless imitation of yet another Apple UI design!

Please try and be even slightly original. Try and actually put your own, unique ideas into it.

Look at what Apple does. A lot of their stuff is good, but not perfect. See how you could improve it. Do the same for all the other competing products out there you happen across. And after all that, see if you can come up with any brand new improvements after that.

Anonymous said...

Wow, that looks so shitty. Current evolution is better, please don't break it.

David said...

not sure that you can really call that a "mock-up". It's just copypasta.

Anonymous said...

Yes please! I use iCal a lot at work and that's why i looked more into using evolution as a usefull calendar at home, but it just doesn't work that good and simple. I like the way you're going with this!

Anonymous said...

Oh please, this looks not only horrible, but much less usable. Overlapping blocks with transparency make the thing unreadable.

The current design can definitely be improved, but it is at least better than that.

Bart said...

Very cool stuff. I started a feature proposal about Evolution, its more about usability glitches and feature requests etc:

Anonymous said...

It looks quite like iCal! I've seen iCal for the first time 2 days ago and thought: wow, cool colors, I like the way they overlap!

go for it....

Anonymous said...

I have a calendar widget that is a bit more similar to the Apple and Google calendar widgets, and making events translucent would probably be a case of changing 1 or 2 lines of code. It also uses the GTK painting functions, so can be fully themed. (on the left of this shot)

The code is in libjana, in Gnome SVN:

Please consider using/improving this code!

Jean-Fran├žois said...

Oh please, leave the eye candy aside for a moment, and fix the horrible usability bugs BEFORE doing that.

The evolution calendar is so damned hard to use that I'm somewhat thinking the developers never use it, or they never looked at the usability of iCal or Google Calendar (or even Sunbird, to some extent).

The sad thing is, these are EASY bugs to fix as far as I know (IANAD, etc.), but they have not even been looked at. If you want to make Evolution's calendar a better and prettier experience, please consider these first. Transparency can come later.

Dave Richards said...

Evolution seems to bring out the passion in many people. The point of my blog was to generate ideas in regards to the calendar widgets, not do a direct copy of the Mac iCal software. I think the current UI needs a bit more kick. It would be nice to make users look forward to using software each day.

In my mind any changes would offer some gconf settings to let people configure as they wish. One probably to enable/disable transparent tiles. And one to enable/disable overlapping.

I agree that bugs remain in Evolution. And it seems that as is the case with many open source projects when it receives new internals; it often breaks things that were working previously.

I'm working diligently behind the scenes to land all of the GroupWise patches into the community build.

Dylan McCall said...

One kick that UI needs is a de-Outlookizing. I don't think the "needs to be like Outlook" people would want a change like this, since Outlook users will miss the way the calendar gradually wears down their (sorry, their employees') eyes.

No, what we need is a detached GNOME Calendar that takes two seconds to load, has nothing to do with email and leaves events / tasks as loose files that can be opened independently.

You can make that existing Calendar page as pretty as you like, but it is still unnecessarily jammed into a slow and obtrusive shell that breaks every UI rule in the books.

There are my cynical two cents of the day. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

So you are just proud to present that you just ripped off Mac design again?

Jean-Fran├žois said...

I slightly agree/understand what the flamers meant here about copy-pasting, so let me just provide some possible explanation (for the fun of it): cutting and pasting the iCal canvas screenshot is okay if you say something along the lines of "wouldn't evo look cool like this?"

...but if you call that a "mockup", you are somewhat attributing yourself some kind of "achievement" out of it. Better not use the word Mockup if it was not significantly modified or made from original content.