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GNOME GUI

How To Deal With The Spatial Paradigm 38

Posted by timothy
from the tradedja-for-a-paratwenties dept.
PostThis writes that there's been "a lot of talk about Gnome's spatial Nautilus lately and so Christian Paratschek puts everything into perspective weighing in the pros and cons of this particular user interface paradigm. In any case, there are always alternatives."
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How To Deal With The Spatial Paradigm

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  • Is how NOT to deal with SPatial paradigm..

    Apple's Quicktime is a great (horrible) example.

    http://homepage.mac.com/bradster/iarchitect/qtim e. htm

    Care of the "Interface Hall of Shame"
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Direct-access user interfaces, like Apple's Spotlight, Black Tree Software's QuickSilver [blacktree.com], ObjectiveDevelopment's LaunchBar [obdev.at] (all for Mac OS X) and Candy Labs' AppRocket [candylabs.com] (for Windows), are the future of file management interfaces.

    The spacial vs. browser-style debate isn't worth winning, because either way you're sticking to metadata-ignorant heirarchies that humans just aren't very good at dealing with beyond a certain point.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    As far as I am concerned file managers like Nautilus, Windows, and Mac OSX can put as much effert into their work as they please, but they can never get the functionability of a "two plane" file manager like Gentoo:

    http://www.obsession.se/gento o

    There are many of this sort, but Gentoo is by far the best. Sadly doesn't the author like GTK2, so he won't port it=(

  • ... and it's sweet desktop (notice the unix screenshots?) metaphor. Spatial is good, but it's counterpart is metadata driven virtual folders; extended attributes aren't only for acls... A userland daemon, fam monitoring and a berkleydb hanging around. It's not that the pieces aren't there...
  • ..is all the hooplah over this issue. It's not like this is a new paradigm. Even windows used to be spatial - win95 before they came up with the whole browser integration thing.

    In Linux, I still prefer to use the command line. I'm just a keyboard whore. :) To me, "mv * ../foo" requires less effort than the GUI equivalent.

    My first real computer (trs-80's don't count) was an Amiga and it used a spatial interface - tho I preferred to use Directory Opus, an ol' midnight commander style file manager, for my
  • The only mistake (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Cycon (11899) <steve [at] theProfessionalAmateur,com> on Saturday July 03, 2004 @09:46PM (#9603241) Homepage
    ...was requiring the user to use gconf to put it back.

    It's bad enough to change default behavior on a user (at least it was during a major release) but all they had to do was add a preference to "open new folders in the same window" .. the same way windows does, and a lot less people would be upset.

    Personally, I think the spatial idea is pretty useful when you have multiple monitors, and lots of space to spread out the "remembered" window locations. On a single screen the benefit just isn't as big.

    --Cycon

    • Re:The only mistake (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      You know, Mac OS9 (and earlier) was like this. But they had a real simple solution... if you held down 'option' when opening a folder, the new folder opened and the old folder closed itself. This was remarkably easy to do, since you tend to use a mac with one hand on the mouse and one on the keyboard anyway (control-click for context menus, if you have the single button mouse).

      With OSX they just changed the behavior, which you could change in a preference.

      With Windows I think it's what... hold down co

    • by embobo (1520)
      Gconf + NFS = less hair.

      Solution: use Redhat's hack to put the gconf lock in /tmp. Result: race condition. Whoever writes to the config preference file last wins. Yay. User logs into computer A. Logs into another--B--, makes config changes on B, logs out of B, logs out of A, and then the changes are gone. Thanks.

      Solution two: run the gconfds on the NFS server, set "ORBIIOPIPv4=1" in /etc/orbitrc for all clients. Seems to work OK. Hope that doesn't FUBAR security. Wait, the NFS server runs Redhat 7.3 (and
  • Newbs (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Laxitive (10360) on Saturday July 03, 2004 @10:05PM (#9603315) Journal
    So, I read the article. And the author makes a reasonable point about newbies being more accustomed to the spatial metaphor. I'm not going to dispute that. It might or might not be a valid claim.

    The question I want to ask is: what about those of us that are NOT newbies? The author states early on that he tries to avoid anything that would expose the filesystem tree abstraction to the end user. Maybe you could argue that it is good for newbie users, maybe not. But it DEFINITELY isn't good for non-newbie users.

    Look, the filesystem is a TREE. That's what it IS. Any metaphor that you try to make the filesystem fit some other pattern will only take you so far. A tree is a very nice, clean structure. A lot of its expressive power is lost when you try to impose some strange alternate metaphor on it. When you deal with the filesystem as a tree, any operation that maps well onto trees, you can map well onto filesystems. It's a powerful abstraction.

    And quite frankly, don't we WANT newbies to be learning the actual behavioural properties of the tools they use, rather than an artificially constructed interface which we deem them more able to use? Won't this lead to more intelligent users?

    Personally, I think it's insulting to people to say that they can't "deal" with basic abstract structures. It's not THAT complicated guys. And we're not that smart for knowing how filesystems work. MOST people in the world can grok the concept perfectly fine, you just have to teach them. Perhaps some people feel threatened by that?

    I was an avid gnome user. I stopped using it once I noticed the clear trend for gnome to assume that I'm dumb. That I can't deal with certain choices - which are better made by the developers than by me. Limiting excess in choice is fine.. but there is a fine line between reasonable limits, and top-down control. I think gnome crossed the line a ways back.

    Keep your spatial browser. I'll keep my trees.

    -Laxitive
    • Look, the filesystem is a TREE. That's what it IS. Any metaphor that you try to make the filesystem fit some other pattern will only take you so far. A tree is a very nice, clean structure.

      And quite frankly, don't we WANT newbies to be learning the actual behavioural properties of the tools they use, rather than an artificially constructed interface which we deem them more able to use?

      A computer is a tool, and should be approached as such. A user (newbie or otherwise) should not be forced to adapt the

      • A computer is a tool, and should be approached as such. A user (newbie or otherwise) should not be forced to adapt their mind to structures used for efficient electronic computation. The spatial metaphor is founded on the idea that the human mind is not a computer, and so the most suitable structure for electronic computers is not the most suitable structure for humans.

        Rubbish. Most of the time the file structure is irrelevant to the computer. The tree structure is so that people can find things easily.

        • If the tree structure is for human use, why is it such a common structure for computers? They're used in the file system because they're efficient for computers. The suggestion that a human could place all their files into one directory and the computer "couldn't care less" is wrong - there is a bound on the number of files which can be contained in a directory. Why is that?

          Imagine if the file system was unstructured (a flat list), but with the filenames given standardised names like :etc:X11:XF8Config. Yo
          • If the tree structure is for human use, why is it such a common structure for computers? They're used in the file system because they're efficient for computers.

            They're used in computers because computers (especially OS) are designed by humans, and humands find it easier to work with. There's really no objective reason to have /bin /sbin /opt etc. separate.

            The suggestion that a human could place all their files into one directory and the computer "couldn't care less" is wrong - there is a bound on the n

      • A computer is a tool, and should be approached as such. A user (newbie or otherwise) should not be forced to adapt their mind to structures used for efficient electronic computation.

        wow, nice contradiction here.

        How do you approach a tool you're not familiar with? You learn to use it. Nobody is 'born' with the spatial paradigm deeply rooted in one's brain. Heck, it's not even all that natural to boot with - you don't naturally remember objects by position, but by their relationships with each other. That'

        • I'm not sure where it was pointed out that the tree structure is not computer optimised. Can you point me to that?

          Anyway, spatial Nautilus is designed to utilise what spatial memory abilities you have to allow for flatter directory tree structures. This is what was demonstrated in the article. Other Gnome projects are doing the same (notice that the menus in Gnome projects are becoming smaller, with much less menu nesting?). Deep hierarchies are being avoided in all aspects of Gnome, and Nautilus demonstra
  • I dislike spatial for the same reason I hate websites that pop up new windows for every link.
  • ...if you don't mind changing the way you have been doing everything effectively for the past decade or two. David Gelernter, in Machine Beauty [powells.com], derides this situation, reminding us how bad it is to deal with "a complex or weak program that forces you to bend to its worldview instead of accomodating yours."

  • From the article: First, I wanna tell you what I usually do to make a computer easy and consistent to use for a newbie...

    The Grim Reaper replies: Shut up, you American! You Americans, all you do is talk and talk, and say "let me tell you something," and "I just wanna say..." Well, you're dead now, so shut up!

    Ahhh, I feel better now. :)

  • It was clear, even back in 1995, that this file navigation paradigm didn't work. I was astonished to see it implemented in Gnome 2.6. For me Gnome has been rendered unusable. The author of the article lengthly explains how he has to re-organize his world just to accommodate the new changes. This is disgraceful; even a child is able to navigate files a la explorer way. Nice and convenient way to break a very viable platform for Linux desktop applications. The issue for me is that I won't use Trolltech's bil
    • Re:Just break Gnome (Score:2, Informative)

      by Puggs (562473)
      Not many alternatives left?????

      How many do you need? - Fluxbox (or blackbox or *box), Windowmaker, IceWM, Enlightenment, XPde, None, ION, Ratpoison, or the several more that I cant be bothered to find for you...

      Alternativley, you could use google to find out how to turn the spatial interface off & use the old nautilius

      Or perhaps you'd be happer with the huge range of choices on Windows - explorer.exe, explorer.exe or possibly explorer.exe ;)
  • If there really is a need for all these articles that explain what spatial file browsing is, how it works, and how it should be used -- then there is something seriously wrong with spatial browsing.

    The ordinary tree structure has worked for millions of users, most were of them newbies when they got introduces to file browsing. I wager that there are no one (or very close to no one) who'll complain about the idea of a tree structure.

    If people can use an ordinary index in a book, they can understand a tr

    • I am more comfortable with a tree-oriented system as the default, but there are times I want a new window. Both metaphors are natural and easy to comprehend. They both have their uses. I find navigation to be much easier in a tree-structure, but drag-and-drop seems to work much better in a spatial structure. Why not make it easy for me to do both? Another thread here mentions old MacOS 9 behavior of allowing either way... why shouldn't we have something like that? If I single-click, keep me in the same wind
  • by p3d0 (42270) on Sunday July 04, 2004 @10:34PM (#9610165)
    Just my personal opinion, but the whole reason I use a computer instead of a hundred Post-It notes lying on and around my desk is because the computer supposedly organizes things better. Now they want to have the computer deliberately and faithfully mimic desk clutter? That's so damn stupid, I want to scream.
  • It's regarded as NEWS that somebody actually likes spacial browing and can find a few reasons to justify it! This article proves that spatial browing has not convinced the majority of people.
    What we really need is better file metadata and indexing tools...
    I have 16000 files in my documents tree... how exactly am I supposed to arrange those in a two-level directory hierarchy?

No hardware designer should be allowed to produce any piece of hardware until three software guys have signed off for it. -- Andy Tanenbaum

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