Wednesday, September 15, 2010

MIME Ideas Continue, Fulltime GNOME 2.30

Many things are happening at once, but I have made some changes to the new MIME bars to test ideas with our users. I'm now logging on GNOME 2.30 (OpenSuse 11.3) fulltime from a thin client. I have gotten all basic applications (Evolution + Firefox + OpenOffice) running. I can start the other applications manually easily. After I installed another group of icons for our beta testers, I'll start getting feedback.

I have always wished that Nautilus gave you a hover mouse page preview larger than the thumbnails that currently appear. If you have hundreds of thousands or millions of documents many of them are very similar, especially those on letterhead. So experimentally I have created a tabbed dialog that appears when you double-click on a file. The "Options" tab allows you to select your next step. (shot below):

The Details tab shows you a big preview of the first page of the document, along with the owner of the document and the file size. Very few people discovered the "properties" found in the right-mouse of nautilus. They call all the time to find out the owner of files; so hopefully this will help. And believe it or not, but a lot of people don't understand K, MB and GB acronyms; so I'm testing the idea of displaying the file size fully expanded with lots of zeros. :)

I'm looking forward to getting feedback, and think these minor tweaks of the UI will make the system easier than ever for our employees.


Anonymous said...

You should use kiB, MiB ang GiB.

If they don't understand K, MB and GB then displaying the file size fully expanded is useless: they can count up to 100!

You could consider a 5 stars representation system: a movie is 5 stars, a song 2 stars, a text file 1 star. Or they could learn what a MiB is. To learn something new is always a good thing!!

Dave Richards said...

@anonymous: I hear you and will think of more ideas. There is a HUGE conceptual failure on file sizes and I want to think of a better way to express the size. We have users that have built 1GB PDFs and put them on the web and then wondered why it takes people a long time to download them. :| Some kind of visual graph might work, still pondering.

Anonymous said...

>Some kind of visual graph might work, still pondering.

A visual graph representation is hard to understand if you don't compare the file with a known file.

You could use a label system (very small,small,normal(??), big, very big, huge) accompanied with the time the file would need to be downloaded (at a given speed)


200 kiB (small file, 10 sec. to be downloaded)

300 MiB (big file, 15 min. to be downloaded)

4 TiB (huge file, 5 hours to be downloaded)

Anonymous said...

Those buttons are hideous. The text is too long for the small buttons.

You need to make the buttons longer, and the icons inside align with icons in the other button.

tvst said...

What about something like this instead?

click for my mockup

tvst said...

Haha, the anonymous poster two posts above came up with the same solution to the file size problem as my mockup, *while* I was drawing it!

Anonymous said...

To learn something new is NOT always a good thing.

If an interface is perfect, a user can use it without learning anything whatsoever.

Freddie Witherden said...

I like the idea. However, the UI is extremely suspect.

Firstly, the group boxes have borders. This is not recommended practise and goes against the GNOME HIG. (For good reason, hence why most applications have changed to the "no border, bold title" style.)

Second, the button spacing is far too cramped. In addition, line breaks really don't work that well in buttons.

Onto the preview tab. It seems kind of static. For a better example of live document previews look up QuickLook -- an Apple technology which serves a similar purpose. It provides an interactive, resizeable pop-up window for previewing documents. Imitating the layout/functionality would be much nicer than just showing a preview of the first page (what if I want to zoom/pan/view the second page?).

Dave Richards said...

@all: Guys thanks for the feedback, I hadn't yet focused on the spacing, art and exact layout yet. The mockup is awesome, thanks for the ideas. I built this "prototype" with Glade and python. The underlying code when the buttons or pulldowns are selected will be identical. I also am considering the fact that some of the thumbnailers "hang" on certain files and don't have timeouts. Sure would love to get some of these ideas into GNOME so I can let the real developers work their magic. :)

Dave Richards said...

Also for those that didn't see my very old postings, we already have similar (and more ugly :) ) MIME bars in place and they have been wildly successful. Lots of things in GNOME are new and I've learned a lot about users in the last few years.

Anonymous said...

+1 for the mockup proposed by tvst