Linked by Christian Paratschek on Wed 30th Jun 2004 18:56 UTC
Graphics, User Interfaces Gnome 2.6's recent switch from navigational to spatial mode within Nautilus was highly controversial. As probably most of you know, "navigational" means browsing through folders in the same window, just like it works in Windows 2000/XP or in Konqueror. "Spatial", on the other hand, is a very different concept of managing your files. Not only does each folder open in its own window, but the windows also memorize their exact position and size on the desktop.
Order by: Score:
Real Life
by Chris on Wed 30th Jun 2004 19:14 UTC

Welcome to real life. Nobody wants to file things in real life either. Ever seen someone who loves their file cabinet? Only if they can't live without organization. Fortunately, computers can easily organize our stuff for us making our habits of throwing it in the to-do pile even easier to get away with.
Now what if to search that to-do pile we have to put each piece of it in it's own spot on our crowded desk? I think not.
Of course, this is the example of a worker concerned with efficiency. But if you use your computer for work, you should come to be efficient with it.
Now I've been using spatial nautilus too. And I must say I like it. No no, it has nothing to do with the window issue (I opened up gconf-editor immediately and fixed that), I like that it remembers things about my folders individually. That's a hefty feature to implement and retain speed.
Nautilus still has one problem. It's fast opening folders, quicker than Rox. But, it's a dog to open the first time. Whatever you guys stuck in it, pull it out and gimme a file browser that pops open like aterm does.

Great article.
by Devon on Wed 30th Jun 2004 19:15 UTC

--- "You have to make the option you intend for the novice user the default. That's why they are called novice users: because they don't know how to change a setting they don't like."

A quote for the ages.

Loved the article! Im in a similar situation as the author (self-employed sysadmin & computer tech, Gnome user), and he gave me some great ideas. ;)

Mount point for personal data
by Marcelo R. Minholi on Wed 30th Jun 2004 19:18 UTC

Why not simply mount the user data partition on '/home' if Unix-like systems are maded to use this scheme of storage. In this way all users of a computer will transparently write your files on a secure root-independent place, including settings and preferences.

Quick fix
by THK on Wed 30th Jun 2004 19:24 UTC

In FC2, drag and drop the file cabinent ("browse filesystem") icon onto the desktop. Click on that instead of the "Computer" icon. What's the fuss?

Re: Mount point for personal data
by Devon on Wed 30th Jun 2004 19:28 UTC

--- "Why not simply mount the user data partition on '/home'..."

I don't think thats his intended use of the data folder. After all, your home folder also gets polluted with a ton of dot files and other crap as well. He probably just wants to keep his important data folder clean.

Nice article
by Clinton on Wed 30th Jun 2004 19:29 UTC

That was a nice article. Thanks.

As far as the spatial Nautilus goes, I think I like it better in its spatial incarnation.

Ultimate solution
by Triumphatum on Wed 30th Jun 2004 19:31 UTC

Why doesn't Nautilus make navigational browsing happen when the user navigates with a keyboard (i.e. pressing enter dives deeper in the same window), and spatial when mouse is used (i.e. the user clicks on a folder -> new folder opens)?

That way power-users (that use keyboard anyway) can navigate deep hierarchies fast, while novice users get to clickety-click-open the folders in new findows? Often mouse is most useful in shallow hierarchies where drag-and-drop is useful anyway, and where spatial navigation supposedly shines...

Nautilus peeves.
by Cheezwog on Wed 30th Jun 2004 19:33 UTC

One buggy thing about nautilus is that there seems to be no way for it to know when the filesystem has changed, and so to update the display.

If you open a nautilus window, and browse your home directory, then open a terminal or any other app and create a new file or folder in that directory, the nautilus display will not show it.

Even if you make a file with another gnome app, it will not be displayed. You have to hit refresh to see it.

This is very annoying as you can never tell if nautilus is showing the correct contents of a directory unless you keep hitting refresh.

I think this is a deeper problem in Linux as a whole, rather than just nautilus as there is no way for the OS to tell user apps that the filesystem contents have changed.

I would be happy to be proved wrong about this.

Very reasonable article
by Dave on Wed 30th Jun 2004 19:35 UTC

Thanks for a clear article that made me think through filing practices (something I try to avoid thinking about!)

Just wanted to comment about your experience with Windows 95 and doing desktop setups for newbies:

When I first installed Windows 95 I was SO HAPPY to see that I could easily have new windows for each new folder. I immediately made Windows 95 as "spatial" as I could -- even though I had no idea what spatial vs navigational meant. I even "fooled" myself by putting shortcuts to every logical disc drive on the desktop. By the time Windows 98 arrived, I turned off it's quirky navigation features to remain spatial. Honestly, I thought having a "navigation bar" on every window was just an internet-inspired trend that would die quickly.

Why did I do this? Most of my computing life had been spent on Amigas, which had a very literal spatial desktop (Workbench.) The spatial GUI was immediately approachable, and for most of my needs, faster. After all, what is a drag-and-drop GUI if you have nowhere to drop what you are dragging? On the odd occasion I wanted a more "structured" view I could launch Directory Opus. But DOpus and its navigational view was strictly an "advanced" option, mostly unneeded and definitely confusing to a newbie.

Contrary to some folks, I think that having a truly spatial interface encourages newbies to know their file structure well -- they walk through it every day. They see where the programs are sitting and where the data is sitting. By the time they see their folders represented navigationally ("treeview" as we used to say) it all makes perfect sense.

I continue to work spatially, now that I run Windows 2000 and OS X.

I was thinking something similar.
How would you implement this when considering a multi-user environment, where data can be accessed through multipleways?
Consider mutiple data on multiple servers? Part of it being accessed from Windows boxes through SMB.
What when you just have multiple file servers? Multiple data 'shares'?

As you see, I'm looking into it from a more "corporate" viewpoint.

In my experience, users generally have no problem whatsoever to create deeply nested folder trees.

It seems the author's got a point from a single user consumer's view point only? Am I right?

I don't understand Gnome 2.6
by Peter Mogensen on Wed 30th Jun 2004 19:38 UTC


... I mean... When Be made the BeOS file browser ("Tracker") Open Source, some developers spend lots of time to enable what almost everyone wanted: SINGLE WINDOW BROWSING.

Now the Gnome developers obviously spend much time doing the exact opposite?!?!

I don't use Nautilus... On UNIX/Linux I prefer a shell. On BeOS I prefer the GUI (though BeOS has a nice Bash shell - don't ask me why I'm like that).

Nautilus in Gnome 2.6 is very nice, but because of the spatial-thing I'll probably not start using it anyway.

For what it's worth... My Ideal file browser would be one which could change between the different ways of browsing dynamicly ... including single-window browser, tree-view and NeXTStep filemanager-like browsing.


RE: Nautilus peeves.
by seltrus on Wed 30th Jun 2004 19:42 UTC

This is a distribution choice. nautilus leverages famd, the file alteration monitor daemon. Slackware does not include fam, but gentoo does, and one just needs to start the daemon and then nautilus will be aware of file changes instantly without refreshing. I am pretty sure FC2 has famd enabled by default.

RE: Nautilus peeves.
by Chris on Wed 30th Jun 2004 19:43 UTC

Install fam.

RE: RE: Nautilus peeves
by Cheezwog on Wed 30th Jun 2004 19:51 UTC

Thanks very much, installing fam sorted it out.

v thats weird
by Anonymous on Wed 30th Jun 2004 19:57 UTC
RE:how we learn to file
by vnet on Wed 30th Jun 2004 20:04 UTC

I think this was a well thought out piece.. I would have a couple of coments.. it is hard to have a file icon.. file name... and then say no this is not a file but rather an object. I have found for myself and showing anyone else.. that each of us use a differant file structure.. where or how we put things, and if I have to conform to yours... I get irrated, confused. If I make the fold anywhere, it becomes mystically lost in a black hole, for the newbee. But if I show them, but make them locate where the fold is, what it's name is, they not only know where to find it, but they also know how to change it all when what they are storing changes, their folder sturcture gets to messy etc.
Filing is an every changing structure for all of us. If the person learning has a link to save or open files, the h/d stays a mystical black hole. Only my personal opinion.. but I think it is much better the moment the h/d becomes more then a mystical black hole that just holds everything.
my two cents. thanxs

Everything under /home/username/Desktop
by Anonymous on Wed 30th Jun 2004 20:10 UTC

I think there's genius in the suggestion to place everything under /home/username/Desktop.

I know that I simply use my home directory to store everything and make links on my desktop.

Placing everything in the Desktop folder instead would strengthen the spatial paradigm immensely (ie. no spatial-breaking links required).

Someone please find out why the Gnome Team doesn't do this by default (ie. create a Desktop/Documents Desktop/Downloads default and default Gnome apps to go there instead of "home")

Good Insight
by Kreg Steppe on Wed 30th Jun 2004 20:12 UTC

Even if you only have two years of experience. J/K. Actually I think that you have given this a lot of thought, and I liked your article. I personally like the Nautilus "Spatial" navigation. It took a couple of days to start getting used to it, but I do find it very useful. I do agree that newbies and others do need help browsing thier files, and I think that your Windows Explore examples are good. I will keep those in mind.

BTW: Funny tech support question. I was on the phone with a guy, and to help him with this problem, I told him that we would have to go to the control panel. I said, "Double Click on My Computer". His response: "How can I do that? You are way on the other side of the phone" It was all I could do not to laugh out loud.

Enough already
by Mike on Wed 30th Jun 2004 20:22 UTC

M$ implemented spatial browsing and it was dropped in favor of their current Explorer interface. Take a page from their book and "embrace and extend" Explorer. This is the defacto standard and deviating from it only serves to confuse would be adopters of Linux on the Desktop.

Real programmers do not use explorer :)
by Michael on Wed 30th Jun 2004 20:23 UTC

If you need file manager, then mc rules. Traditional NC-style two panel source-destination utility. Copying, moving, comparing is a breeze, browsing is easy, keyboard support is great.

The problem of spatial is..
by coolkamio on Wed 30th Jun 2004 20:23 UTC

I think that spatial navigation en Mac Os X/Finder is good because it includes spring loaded folders, without it spatial is not as good as in paint..

The developers of Nautilus should include spring loaded folders.. I can't live without this feature! ;)

v get a clue again
by Anonymous on Wed 30th Jun 2004 20:24 UTC
cant
by Anonymous on Wed 30th Jun 2004 20:26 UTC

:The developers of Nautilus should include spring loaded folder"

its patented

Intuitive?
by stunji on Wed 30th Jun 2004 20:28 UTC

For something that's supposed to be an "intuitive" new desktop metaphor, it sure requires a lot of explanation.

Genius
by Michael on Wed 30th Jun 2004 20:30 UTC

[quote]I think there's genius in the suggestion to place everything under /home/username/Desktop.[/quote]
I look at mine "C:Documents and SettingsusernameDesktop" and think about how genius MS guys are ;)

v explanation
by Anonymous on Wed 30th Jun 2004 20:34 UTC
:(
by coolkamio on Wed 30th Jun 2004 20:39 UTC

":The developers of Nautilus should include spring loaded folder"
its patented"

Homer Simpson says: Duh!

Well at least, Microsoft can't copy this feature.. Sorry for Linux Community ;)

Re: thats weird
by Peter Mogensen on Wed 30th Jun 2004 20:40 UTC

Ok... ;)

That's nice... maybe I'll use it anyway. But tell me... why is those options not visible in the standard 2.6 views?

v it is
by Anonymous on Wed 30th Jun 2004 20:49 UTC
very well done
by Rho on Wed 30th Jun 2004 20:50 UTC

I have yet to try out the new spatial Nautilus. I, like most people, use the 'one window' method. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. This article shows the benefits of using spatial mode. I think I shall try out spatial this weekend when I have some free time. Maybe I'll like it... maybe I won't. Thankfully, I get to make that choice for myself!

After tinkering with FC2 for a bit
by cendrizzi on Wed 30th Jun 2004 20:57 UTC

I can say I really like the spatial way. Now if FC2 wasn't so buggy....

Nice article but...
by ralph on Wed 30th Jun 2004 20:58 UTC

I still have my problems with spatial nautilus.

First, my files are organized the way I want them and I don't really like to rearange my files so that they conform to a new metaphor. I want my environment to adapt to me, not the other way around. (Ok, I know, the easy solution is not to use spatial nautilus, I know)

Second, something that amazingly hasn't come up very often but that imho is quite important, spatial nautilus adds a further inconsistency in gnome. After all, only if interacting with files through spatial nautilus user are confronted with the spatial metaphor. The minute they use the new gtk-fileselector they are droped right back into a hierachal filestructure.

RE: Intuitive?
by hc on Wed 30th Jun 2004 20:59 UTC

The spacial metaphor is intuitive. The problem is that an entire generation has learned how to do similar tasks in a less intuitive way.

The first way that you learned how to do something sticks with you. Over time, you tend to forget how hard it was to learn. You forget how long it took to learn the tricks to make a program most useful. You forget the frustration of running into quirks and bugs, and how you learned to work around them.

New ways to do things require new efforts to learn. Any effort, no matter how little, compares poorly to efforts forgotten in the dim past. Something you already know is easier than something that you must learn. That does not mean that it's better.

A better way to compare two ways to do something is to test with people who don't know either way. That's what it takes to show which is more intuitive.

At first, spacial will seem harder to people used to navigation oriented systems. And navigation seems harder to people used to spacial systems. That only proves that people are stubborn.

There's plenty of evidence to show that people have a hard time grasping hierarchical file systems. Hierarchy is a powerful tool, and developers, administrators, and power users should understand it. But casual users shouldn't be forced to learn it before they can use their computers. Use the right tool for the task. The system files should be hierarchical, and experts should use navigational tools for system tasks. The user's desktop should be spacial, and ordinary use should not require navigating any deep hierarchy. This isn't an either/or choice. You can have both. Use each where appropriate.

Regarding Organisation
by Luke McCarthy on Wed 30th Jun 2004 20:59 UTC

Recently (just yesterday) I wrote a small Python script to move all my MP3s out of the folders I had them in and dump them flat in to one directory. It generated the filename from the original filename (song) and directory (artist). I did this since with Juk I didn't have any need for these directories (and I do not see the file names either). Now I'd do this with everything else but I would need a filtering (query) file browser (which Juk I a specialised kind) that doesn't exist yet (I guess I could try to write one). It still seems inadequate to do this on top of a file system though.

So I am not too enthusiastic about spatial browsing. Now I have this new-fangled compu-thingie, I don't want to bother with 'locations'. It is perfectly reasonable for computers to generate appropriate viewpoints. When is someone gonna write a live queries driver for Windows or Linux???

Then I change the location of the "My Documents"-folder from c:documents and settingsblablabla to another partition. This is of course just a way to seperate user data from systemdata, nothing that improves the users computing experience.

Smart move. I do this for my own PC. But I think it *does* improve user experience. It's much easier to think "put it on the D: drive" or whatever, and if you have full paths enabled in Explorer you're paths will be much shorter (and less 'noisy' with things like "Documents and Settings"--yuck!). My college mounts your home directory on H:, everyone seems to be cool with that.

Deep file structures are really not necessary.

Seconded, as with my recent experiments. I managed to free 7 GB of space on my literally full 60 GB drives thanks to a bit of flattening on some other directories that led me to discover some long lost garbage. I think when hierarchies get deeper thier shortcomings become more apparent.

v nope
by Anonymous on Wed 30th Jun 2004 21:00 UTC
@anonymous
by Flatline on Wed 30th Jun 2004 21:04 UTC

"it is. its glaring in your face. application menu -> browse filesystem"

As far as I know, that's a Fedora Core2-specific workaround. The default Gnome 2.6 does not have that option.

RE: nope
by ralph on Wed 30th Jun 2004 21:04 UTC

Ehem, so spatial means that the location bar isn't visible?
Ok, thanks for pointing this out...

oooo, coool
by hmmm on Wed 30th Jun 2004 21:07 UTC

I'm impressed!

Spatial, if that's what we call it, has always been my fav. ;)

v NO
by Anonymous on Wed 30th Jun 2004 21:07 UTC
v wrong and about spatial mode
by Anonymous on Wed 30th Jun 2004 21:10 UTC
RE: NO
by ralph on Wed 30th Jun 2004 21:10 UTC

You don't have to scream my dear anonymous friend, but even if the hierachy is hidden as far as possible and I would doubt that, it is still hierachical.

If I'm wrong, please explain in what why the new fileselector follows a spatial metaphor. Should be an interesting read.

...
by Rod on Wed 30th Jun 2004 21:15 UTC

the fact the Gnomers have to write an article every couple of weeks defending spatial navigation should be proof enough that it's not good. Good ideas don't need so much defense.

Spatial navigation is becoming Gnome's Bob.

v explanation
by Anonymous on Wed 30th Jun 2004 21:15 UTC
v defense
by Anonymous on Wed 30th Jun 2004 21:16 UTC
Spring loaded folders
by Anonymous on Wed 30th Jun 2004 21:22 UTC

>>The developers of Nautilus should include spring loaded folder"

>cant its patented


???
Spring loaded folders will be in KDE 3.3...

20 seconds
by Anonymous on Wed 30th Jun 2004 21:24 UTC

> expert users who want file hierarchies can change that within 20 seconds.

Good joke. Only if they know how without research. And only if they have the shell command already somewhere to select and paste. In 20 seconds you cannot start gconf-editor and find and change an entry.

RE: Anonymous (IP: 61.95.184.---)
by ralph on Wed 30th Jun 2004 21:25 UTC

I see your point, but still the fact remains that the user is confronted with two different metaphors and I think this problem should be addressed.

And if you take a look around OSNews allone you will see pretty clearly how many articles were written in defence of spatial nautilus. Though I don't think that has to mean it is bad so many people reacting negative to it (hence the many articles defending it) should at least be taken as a sign that something could be wrong, could have been done better and should be done differently in the future.

And pleas get a username or use more descriptive titles. It should make it easier for anyone to answer your posts.

not required
by Anonymous on Wed 30th Jun 2004 21:31 UTC

"> expert users who want file hierarchies can change that within 20 seconds.

Good joke. Only if they know how without research. And only if they have the shell command already somewhere to select and paste. In 20 seconds you cannot start gconf-editor and find and change an entry."



application menu -> browse system takes only 2 seconds for me

v metaphors
by Anonymous on Wed 30th Jun 2004 21:33 UTC
v Re: Spring loaded folders
by Anonymous on Wed 30th Jun 2004 21:39 UTC
"Spatial" file browsing is nothing new!
by mark on Wed 30th Jun 2004 21:47 UTC

Why do people talk about Nautilus' "Spatial" file browsing paradigm as if it is something new?

This was the norm before Microsoft decided we should use a web browser to browse file systems.

Does anything remember Amiga workbench?

v hmm
by Anonymous on Wed 30th Jun 2004 21:52 UTC
Nice article
by Yamin on Wed 30th Jun 2004 21:53 UTC

Well you know, I like my hierachies, but the more I use computers, they more I'm liking simplicity.

I no longer do much gaming on my PC. I got an xbox and its just put in disk...play. Its ingenius really ;)

Folders...what folders? Everything installs to program files. All dls go in one dir and stay there. Media types get tossed into their own folder. I don't bother sorting them, or renaming them anymore. I just let winamp do its database thing...whatever it does. I don't even bother partioning the data segment anymore. WIndows xp never crashes, and if it does, ntfs is never screwed. I just e-mail my google account any important documents. that's free 1gig of online storage people ;) use it!

Well okay, I didn't get rid of all folders ;) But as the author says how many do you actually use? I have them all linked to my desktop and its all very nice. However, even when inside a folder, I still like the full hierachael view...just so I know where I am. I don't need it, but its a force of habit.

@anonymous
by Flatline on Wed 30th Jun 2004 22:08 UTC

""As far as I know, that's a Fedora Core2-specific workaround. The default Gnome 2.6 does not have that option. "

wrong. its a gnome option.

http://gnome.org/start/2.6/notes/rnwhatsnew.html

https://bugzilla.redhat.com/bugzilla/show_bug.cgi?id=117272 "

Actually, it's not a "gnome" option. The right-click option is a gnome option, not the application menu option. As a matter of fact, most people's main gripe with the switch to spatial as the default is the fact that you have to use gconf to change back to browse mode.

tabs
by Nicholas Borrego on Wed 30th Jun 2004 22:09 UTC

bottom line, it's much easier to have a file manager w/ 2
folders open, taking up the same space when dealing w/ files.
Copying and moving files takes less clicks and keyboards strokes... Copy, click (w/ very little mouse movement) and
paste... That or you can copy/paste w/ the keyboard and click
to the other tab or cycle through tabs w/ a command.
w/ the spatial mode you have to click through numerous folders
which take up lots of desktop space, your eyes have to wander
as you look for each folder. It's very annoying and tedious.
Browser mode isn't as bad when you have a tree on the left
because the folders are more organized but you still can only
be at one place at a time.
Spatial mode is a terrible idea, but I guess when all you do
is develop you lose track of what people want and
what's a good or bad idea.

@Flatline
by Anonymous on Wed 30th Jun 2004 22:10 UTC

"Actually, it's not a "gnome" option."

wrong

http://www.gnome.org/learn/users-guide/latest/gosnautilus-210.html

fedora specific stuff wont be in a gnome user guide written by Sun engineers. get a grip

thats not a problem
by Anonymous on Wed 30th Jun 2004 22:12 UTC

"w/ the spatial mode you have to click through numerous folders
which take up lots of desktop space, your eyes have to wander
as you look for each folder. It's very annoying and tedious. "

just middle click through them. not a problem. next?

@anonymous
by Flatline on Wed 30th Jun 2004 22:17 UTC

I misunderstood. I thought you were talking about an option within Nautilus, not in the Application menu...serves me right for working 40 hours already this week, I guess I'm getting fuzzy (neeeeeeed sleeeeeeep).
Still, I think that there should have been an option to make navigational browsing the default instead of the gconf solution.

i would have thought that...
by dr_gonzo on Wed 30th Jun 2004 22:17 UTC

...spatial would be rather annoying as you'd be constantly closing old nautilus windows.

anyway, i have to say that the column view in Finder is brilliant! way better than knoqueror's!

split views
by Flatline on Wed 30th Jun 2004 22:21 UTC

The only thing that makes me like Konqueror more than Nautilus is the split view option. I've gotten used to using it constantly and it just bugs me to go without it. Both major DE's are improving rapidly, and that makes me very happy (insert stupid shit-eating grin here).

wish granted
by Anonymous on Wed 30th Jun 2004 22:25 UTC

"Still, I think that there should have been an option to make navigational browsing the default instead of the gconf solution."

there is a option now in gnome cvs. your wish is granted. next?

already told you
by Anonymous on Wed 30th Jun 2004 22:32 UTC

"...spatial would be rather annoying as you'd be constantly closing old nautilus windows. "

use middle click. dont presume it would be annoying without using it.

Browse mode
by Anonymous on Wed 30th Jun 2004 22:38 UTC

Somehow the old default, browse mode, doesn't work as well as before. Window size and position is not remembered at all anymore. So now we have two annoying modes instead of one good.

v @anonymous
by Flatline on Wed 30th Jun 2004 22:48 UTC
short reply
by christian paratschek on Wed 30th Jun 2004 22:49 UTC

thx for all the feedback (especially for the positive comments, hehe):

one thing about the "middle click":

i never use this feature! when you have to use the middle click to work yourself through 5 or 6 windows, you have already lost! you _need_ to have flat folderstructures for spatial nautlilus to shine.

it should normally be:

click to open folder 1
click to open folder 2
drag-drop files
close windows
rinse - lather - repeat

dragging and dropping actually saves you one level, because you don't have to open the exact subfolder where your files go in but instead drag them over this subfolder.

spatial nautilus even changed the way i use xmms. i usually open it somewhere in the left and just drag the folder with the music i want to hear over it. i rarely use the "add folder"-function today...

regards,
christian

@christian paratschek
by Flatline on Wed 30th Jun 2004 22:53 UTC

Spatial is great...once you get used to it. If you set up your folders in such a manner that it works efficiently, it's quite intuitive; most people's machines need a bit of restructuring to use it effectively, though, and people tend to shy away from new things. Not really a criticism, just an explanation as to the "backlash" a lot of people gave the Gnome team.

Good Article
by EllisD on Wed 30th Jun 2004 23:20 UTC

FYI for those above, XP and 2K also have springloaded folders in Explorer view - but not spatial view. You grab a file and if the folder has sub-directories, it will spring open/ expand.

Until very recently I worked around a lot of older guys who also didn't "get" many of the desktop metaphors. None of these guys were stupid - most are Ham geeks who can do component level repair in their sleep (as opposed to the lazy card swappers of today). They just didn't feel the need to invest time learning something they considered for the "paper pusher" part of the job.

I do the exact same thing the author does and it works very well. I create a new set of defaults folders with shortcuts on their desktop for these guys. I made their defaults always spatial. I didn't use the quicklaunch bar for them so much, mostly because I had to relabel their icons - Outlook = Email, Word = word processor, calculator, etc. All (5 or 6) common applications have desktop shortcuts. It does work wonders.

I've always worked OS9- in spatial and Windows 95+ in browser mode. In OS X, I use the browser mode. I never really thought of doing otherwise until the Nautilus "controversy" popped up. After reading his last article, I actually flattened out my file systems and made file browsing in Windows and OS X much more convenient if not totally spatial. Just because you've "always done XXXX this way" doesn't mean there isn't room for improvement. These tasks most of us learned on our own and there are many inefficiencies in workflow.

Can anyone save my taskbar?
by wangxiaohu on Wed 30th Jun 2004 23:56 UTC

There are too many windows opened!!! I hate windows!

RE: Spring loaded folders
by ebassi on Thu 1st Jul 2004 00:23 UTC

> ???
> Spring loaded folders will be in KDE 3.3...

Then, KDE developers are violating a patent, if they did not ask Apple. Here's a link:

http://bugzilla.gnome.org/show_bug.cgi?id=44001

And here's the patent:

http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d...

There's also a proposal for circumventing the patent, even if I consider it a kludge, more than an alternative solution:

http://bugzilla.gnome.org/show_bug.cgi?id=143241

He hits the right marks
by deathshadow on Thu 1st Jul 2004 00:31 UTC

It's good for nubes, a royal pain in the ass for experienced users who know the other way.

Even more so for old-timers. Having used *nix from back in the Xenix days, and having a hefty M$ background dating back to the early 80's, I was taught not to think of a filesystem as a cabinet, but as a tree. A file TREE. Little word that seems to have fallen completely into disuse when I wasn't looking.

A friend back in the 80's compared it to a cheap plastic christmas tree. You can unplug the branches (directories) and plug them in elsewhere, unplug the needles (files) and plug them into different branches. I still remember marvelling at the genius that was Xtree back in the Dos 3 days... Which is really the earliest 'heirarchy' based file system viewers/shells I can think of.

I was one of those who bitched at the default window behavior in win9x, and still to this day right click and choose explore instead of opening a directory flat.

But that's the thing, it is really easy in Windows to choose the other option. Dicking around editing .conf files in (to a nube) obscure directories is NOT an easy change. The problem with designing it 'dumb only unless you know what you are doing' is it locks a lot of new users out of gaining the added functionality/efficiency other modes may (or may not) provide. I know what I would consider fairly advanced users that balk at linux over the various unixisms that IMHO prevent it from actually breaking the desktop barrier. Tossing stupid little things like this doesn't exactly help trying to sell a advanced windows user on the OS. Die hard geeks like us who like to dick with this $#!&, fine (gah, I've got QNX, BeOS, Solaris AND two linux distro's on this thing... Which is why I'm in XP right now! Hmm, thinking on a quick way to regain 20gigs of disk space) but for the average user the first time someone says 'open up a terminal session' we hear the typical "@!#$ you! Gimme my XP back!"

I'm a firm believer in putting options in easy to reach places where users can play with it to suit their tastes. The users taste does not always agree with the designers, and a good UI designer should ALWAYS keep that in mind. The lack of a simple gui option to change the behavior shows either a total lack of foresight and planning, or simple arrogance.

Say what you want about Windows, but I rarely hear anyone bitching about a lack of options.

Tree
by Anonymous on Thu 1st Jul 2004 00:58 UTC

I think that spatial nautilus really needs a Tree. Just a way to quickly pop up the nautilus tree view of a given directory, so you can quickly open up spatial nautilus windows without having to open up a lot of windows.

I'm in fact working on something along those lines, but its really something that needs to be in nautilus itself instead of a seperate app. you could use that, and replace the 'browse filesystem' thats currently there with 'view tree'.

Bring back BeOS-style file management!
by Johnny Delirious on Thu 1st Jul 2004 00:59 UTC

I love spatial.
I started using computers with a Mac SE, switched over to a PC back in the days of Windows 3.0, and still spend about 1/2 hour after every Windows install getting it to behave "properly". Folders and the trash along the left side of the desktop, programs along the right. All windows keeping their settings and folders opening new windows. And a fairly deep folder hierarchy.
I've tried to use the browser style, but it just doesn't work for me. If I'm going into my folder hierarchy, it's often to move files around, for which browser-style is simply horrible. With spatial you've got your windows open where you want them and can just drag and drop between them. With a browser you need to go to the directory with the files, cut or copy them to the clipboard, go back down and then back up the folder hierarchy to get where you want to be and then finally paste them. And what happens to your files if you cut them, but then cut something else along the way? Will they all appear when you paste, are the first ones back in their original directory or have they ceased to exist? You'll need to muck about a good bit to find out.
Also, some of my folders have lots of files, some very few. It's nice to have the icon view and window shape/size appropriate to the number and type of files in the folder. With browser-style any attempts to do this are extremely jarring. Overall, I just find browser-style incredibly inconvenient.

What we really need is for someone, anyone, to bring back the right-click navigation of BeOS and couple it with a good spatial implementation. That lets you quickly get to the folder you want to be at without leaving a trail of windows, and also takes advantage of the ability to have windows in different sizes and shapes and locations.

Hmm....the spatial controversy....
by gnytekrwaler on Thu 1st Jul 2004 01:50 UTC

1. Spatial approach is really good for FILE MANAGEMENT...not for browsing thru bunch of directories.

2. Browser approach is good for navigating thru the jungle of directories.

so, if nautilus combine these two, say double-mid-click opens in same window or like that...then most of the problem will be gone....or make tree-view mode like OS/2's filemanager....

hmm
by Anonymous on Thu 1st Jul 2004 02:04 UTC

" say double-mid-click opens in same window or like tha"

middle click already opens folders in the same window. people just havent looked at that

Gnome just Crapped Itself: Again
by Anonymous on Thu 1st Jul 2004 02:39 UTC

http://sherlock.berkeley.edu/geo_ir/PART1.html#RTFToC7

I remember picking up this link and bookmarking it in konqueror when spatial nautilis when spatial nautilis was not controversial.

This was used as justification for the spatial design as applied to nautilis, notice this link has nothing to do with file system browsers.

If you wish to sheild users from their systems. Why does default gnome come with a link to a gterminal in the menu?

Intuitive v.s. Non-Intuitive
by Jason Lotito on Thu 1st Jul 2004 03:03 UTC

For all those who can't grasp why something intuitive might be so difficult for people to accept and understand, just reflect for a moment on why the US still uses Miles and the rest of the world uses meters.

Just because something is easier/better/intuitive doesn't mean it will be easily accepted. =)

Just something to think about and ponder.

Double Clicking
by Jason Lotito on Thu 1st Jul 2004 03:06 UTC

What really troubles me is the number of people that still double click. The first thing I do is enable single click. It's amazing how much easier things become, and how much quicker things occur. Double click is such a waste.

RE: Nautilus peeves.
by Marius on Thu 1st Jul 2004 03:54 UTC

@Cheezwog
One buggy thing about nautilus is that there seems to be no way for it to know when the filesystem has changed, and so to update the display.

Tried running the fam (File Alteration Monitor) deamon?

just like old mac
by Jeff on Thu 1st Jul 2004 05:04 UTC

I don't know why more people don't point it out, this is just like the old MacOS' (7, 8, and 9) behavior.

I liked it then, and I still like it.

RE: Rod (IP: ---.80-202-87.nextgentel.com)
by BR on Thu 1st Jul 2004 05:14 UTC

"the fact the Gnomers have to write an article every couple of weeks defending spatial navigation should be proof enough that it's not good. Good ideas don't need so much defense.

Spatial navigation is becoming Gnome's Bob."

I never ceased to be amazed by the logic people use to justify their decisions. Remember when the car first came out? Bet there were a lot of people who complained about them, and a lot of ink devoted to defending them. By your logic, cars are a bad idea and we should go back to horse and buggy.

RE: Anonymous (IP: ---.clv.wideopenwest.com)
by BR on Thu 1st Jul 2004 05:18 UTC

"If you wish to sheild users from their systems. Why does default gnome come with a link to a gterminal in the menu? "

As opposed to Kterminal in KDE?

Newbies
by iges on Thu 1st Jul 2004 06:16 UTC

I've some experience with newbie users and teaching them how stuff works and although easy to use interfaces are great, it's still much better to find the "click" what makes him or her say "aaah... I got it!" or more often "aah I finally got it!" ;)

And reading the article I couldn't stop thinking that Norton Commander must be the "father of inspiration" for spatial views ;)

AmigaOS does this since ever
by somon on Thu 1st Jul 2004 06:23 UTC

Hmm, AmigaOS (or more precisely the Workbench) does this own-window-for-each-folder from day 1 :-) And you can also Snapshot windows, s.t. they remember their size, position, also the position of Icons.

But the spatial thing can really get confusing, when using deep directory structures. A nice thing is, that you can close the parent window, without affecting the child. It all has it pros and cons I think...

Re: Nautilus peeves.
by mvp on Thu 1st Jul 2004 06:27 UTC

One buggy thing about nautilus is that there seems to be no way for it to know when the filesystem has changed, and so to update the display.
I think this is a deeper problem in Linux as a whole, rather than just nautilus as there is no way for the OS to tell user apps that the filesystem contents have changed.
I would be happy to be proved wrong about this.


FreeBSD has kqueue/kevent mechanism so user-space app (file browser like Nautilus or konqueror) can setup hooks with the kernel to get notified about any changes made to file or directory. Windows explorer does similar things using WaitForMultipleObjects, that's why we see any changes to directory updated almost instantly in open explorer windows. As far as I know, Linux guys favor fam (File Alteration Monitor), but I think it can only use polling, which is much worse than direct kernel hook.
So, file browsers can be taught to use kqueue/kevent if it is available, but it looks like nobody bothered to actually do it yet.

spatial = not consistant
by Anonymous on Thu 1st Jul 2004 06:41 UTC

spatial browsing sounds like a good idea - actually, there are many usability-theories out there that sound like a good idea but fail when it comes to their real implementation. spatial is one of those ideas.

first "wrong" thing: the author had to CHANGE his folder-structure to make spatial usable. if spatial was such a cool thing, you would not have to do that!

second "wrong" thing: spatial navigation is not consistent. spatial is made for "newbies" who don't want to deal with the structure of a complex filesystem. agreed - but as soon as they use an open/save - dialogue, they are thrown back into the old scheme.

idea: make spatial browsing default for the first one or two subfolders, then ask the user whether he/she likes to continue using the browsing- or spatial-paradigm while going "deeper" into the filesystem (at this point he/she could be asked if he/she likes to use spatial anyway).

RE:Anonymous (IP: ---.dip.t-dialin.net)
by BR on Thu 1st Jul 2004 07:23 UTC

"first "wrong" thing: the author had to CHANGE his folder-structure to make spatial usable. if spatial was such a cool thing, you would not have to do that! "

Not necessarily. By analogy, if one's filing system originally consisted of throwing everything into a big pile on the floor. Then came back latter when sense struck, and started organizing everything into filing cabinits, folders, tabs, etc. That CHANGE wouldn't mean that organizing is a bad idea.

"second "wrong" thing: spatial navigation is not consistent. spatial is made for "newbies" who don't want to deal with the structure of a complex filesystem. agreed - but as soon as they use an open/save - dialogue, they are thrown back into the old scheme. "

Agreed, although there are going to be some slight differences, since people ususally save into a few chosen directories (i.e. My Music).

Briliant!
by pierrex on Thu 1st Jul 2004 07:34 UTC

Again I commend the gnome developers for taking this deep dive and I think making a roaring success of it, the simplicity of the spatial interface is exelent for beginners and power users shouldnt complain about changing ONE setting to uset THEIR favourite mode! If only I can request one thing: make the titlebar display the current directory structure starting from where you browsed spatially (like /home/pierre/docs/work). Also I request that some of the file hierarchy (eg lower than /mnt/cdrom, /mnt/floppy, /home/pierre etc) cannot be accessed spatially (maybe even automatically switch to normal navigation when accessing deep folders)... Thanks again guys

re - assorted
by EllisD on Thu 1st Jul 2004 09:17 UTC

Spatial navigation is becoming Gnome's Bob."
Bob never had defenders.

first "wrong" thing: the author had to CHANGE his folder-structure to make spatial usable. if spatial was such a cool thing, you would not have to do that!
You can't use really deep heirarchies in spatial. He was using browser mode, then switched to spatial. They require organizing your folder/ file structure differently. I know when I first started working in Windows and using Explorer, I automatically started making subdirectories ad nauseum. After this debate began a bit ago, it made me think about what I was doing.
In OS 9, I always name my files clearly and use a fairly shallow tree. Under Windows, I just dump files into folders. I take care in organizing my directories but slack on file naming. The folders have a clear heirarchy, but some files can be associated in multiple places. So you end up clicking all over.

With years of accumulated work, Search becomes your file browser and a deep tree structure is very inefficient at this point. I'm talking gigs of relatively small files - text notes, docs, excel lists, jpgs, saved web pages, etc. That's tens of thousands of files. I am actively seeking and trying methods of organizing my workflow.

I think a mix of search and spatial is what we'll evolve to. OS X started abstracting the file system in a major way and that will be the path for most other UIs. Longhorn's dynamic/ static sets, stacks, and revamped folder concept is essentially a spatial system. If OS X continues along the iTunes concept they are starting in Tiger, we'll move to a spatial system again. I'd call these more "relational" than spatial though.

Gnome underestimates the users?
by js on Thu 1st Jul 2004 09:28 UTC

"You have to make the option you intend for the novice user the default. That's why they are called novice users: because they don't know how to change a setting they don't like."

So why not make changing the default setting really easy so that even those that are not expert in gconf and other undocumented tools, can also change the settings?

I hear it's actually *really hard*, even for experienced users. AT LEAST everybody that has used Win98/2000/XP, accustomed to explorer, and switched to linux but has never used gconf.

Gnome might be making the life easier for 20% of the newbies, but by doing so it underestimates and insults 90% of the everybody else.

Stupid user interfaces never attracted anyone but stupid users. The last time someone tried to underestimate the user we ended up with Microsoft Bob. Welcome to the tar pit.

Making all dumbed-down and simplistic to accommodate the needs of a newbie is EASY. Too easy, it seems.

The hard part is to provide a transition path from being newbie and being expert. This is something I don't think Gnome project has even considered.

One important step in this path is tweaking the system and trying out all options, also those "Advanced" ones, but in a dumbed-down system, you can't.

It's like the US school system. "Don't try to be smart - that's no use anyway."

re: spatial = not consistant
by EllisD on Thu 1st Jul 2004 09:42 UTC

second "wrong" thing: spatial navigation is not consistent. spatial is made for "newbies" who don't want to deal with the structure of a complex filesystem. agreed - but as soon as they use an open/save - dialogue, they are thrown back into the old scheme.
I agree partially - people need to get their metaphors together - on ALL OSes. At least with a shallow tree though, you don't have to do as much clicking.

I have to disagree with the newb comment. In most instances "a complex filesystem" isn't anything more than an "arbitrary file system." When you move beyond /home, My Documents, Documents, etc I believe a file browser is better for the simple reason no OS vendor enforces their tree structure. You have to actually "browse" your system because in many instances you aren't exactly aware of what you're looking for but you'll know it when you see it. They are also deeply nested which precludes spatial browsing.

At least in OS 9, you start with Applications, System, and Documents. In XP, it SHOULD be similar (Windows, Program Files, Documents & Settings), but it isn't anywhere close. You have apps cluttering C:. Is the relevant app's config file under the C:, or Program FilesApp directory, Program FilesCommon FilesApp Directory, D&SUserApplication Data, D&SUserLocal Settings, D&SUserLocal SettingsApplication Data, D&SLocalServiceApplication Data, D&SAll UsersApplication Data...? Why does SimCity 4 install new maps under My Documents and not under Local Settings or Application Data but Starcraft installed new maps under Program FilesStarcraftmaps? Under *nix is the binary under bin, sbin, /usr/bin... Are you really viewing /bin, or /usr/bin? Do you really need a /var AND a /tmp directory? Does /usr HAVE to recreate all new trees? In Win2K/XP, why can't users have their own Start menu arrangements? You can, but you'll screw up other users' Start menus. Why are some Start shortcuts common to all and editing it in 1 user changes other users? I like to categorize mine. Other users don't.

It's not that they present complex structures, it's that they are cluster#u##s. Add 3rd party developers and the whole system falls apart. OS X is about the best at this, but that's not saying much.

RE: Spring Loaded Folders
by drynwhyl on Thu 1st Jul 2004 10:29 UTC

>> ???
>> Spring loaded folders will be in KDE 3.3...

> Then, KDE developers are violating a patent, if they did not ask Apple.

KDE development is based in Europe, where the Apple patent doesnt exist as such.

> There's also a proposal for circumventing the patent, even
> if I consider it a kludge, more than an alternative solution:

European devs then should implement this feature for Europe and the parts of the world where Apples patent doesnt cover it.

re: js
by christian paratschek on Thu 1st Jul 2004 11:21 UTC

The hard part is to provide a transition path from being newbie and being expert. This is something I don't think Gnome project has even considered.

the thing is: i AM an expert user. i have used computers for over a decade and i am used to copy/pasting files explorer-style litereally forever.
but now that i have adopted to gnome's spatial mode, i don't - at all - want to go back to navigational mode. there is no reason why an expert user with more files should need a navigational file browser besides being used to this system. i drag and drop happily the whole day, it's really like moving objects on your desk around. it takes less clicks and is therefore faster and more efficient.

the whole point of the article was that it worked for me, an expert user.

regards,
christian

@Anonymous
by Rod on Thu 1st Jul 2004 11:56 UTC

I never ceased to be amazed by the logic people use to justify their decisions. Remember when the car first came out?

Nope, I am not 100-yo so I can't remember that ;)

And your car-analogy is poor anyway, we're talking about software. I still think that if spatial navigation were really good, there wouldn't be need for so many articles trying to convince people about that, people would conclude that themselves.

huh
by Anonymous on Thu 1st Jul 2004 12:01 UTC

"And your car-analogy is poor anyway, we're talking about software. I still think that if spatial navigation were really good, there wouldn't be need for so many articles trying to convince people about that, people would conclude that themselves."

is it so?. well why are there revolts then?. why doesnt everybody automatically do the good thing instead of arguing over stuff. by your logic every controversial item is bad which is extremely silly idea.

Spatial View
by Les B. Labbauf on Thu 1st Jul 2004 12:02 UTC

I can't wait to try out Gnome 2.6. One of the things that really grabbed me with OS/2 3.x desktop was the spatial view of it's file manager. I really liked being able to open my folders and have them in the exact position I had them the last time. It was just a really cool effect, and made for a nice and tidy desktop.

RE: Double Clicking
by deathshadow on Thu 1st Jul 2004 12:32 UTC

What really troubles me is the number of people that still double click. The first thing I do is enable single click. It's amazing how much easier things become, and how much quicker things occur. Double click is such a waste

Say What? Now, maybe I'm alone here, but every time I click on something does NOT mean I want to open it. I might want to rename it, or select a whole bunch of other things with CTRL, or use the click to break a selection, or move it, or a half dozen other things that with single click enabled end up being screwed up because the OS seems to think I'm trying to open the file instead of manipulate it. I tend to think single click is a really bad idea!

All a matter of what you do with the machine I guess.

RE: Double Clicking
by deathshadow on Thu 1st Jul 2004 12:35 UTC

Oop, which is not a bad thing, and supports what I said before. At least we are given the option to go to single click or double click in Windows and some *nix desktops.

It's all about options. The more, the better.

Its a matter of preference!
by XiaoKJ on Thu 1st Jul 2004 12:40 UTC

Actually, I can quite get what the author wants to convey, just that some of his points are a bit pressing.

For one, he said that his file structure improved for the spatial nautilus. However, I believe that a diligent person doesn't need external factors to push him to organise. Moreover, many people have sophisticated file hierachy that cannot be further simplified. Others just cannot bring themselves to tidy up and complain at every little bit.

Secondly, his idea that linking his data partition to the desktop is not really a spatial function because it could be done in navigational browsing too. I believe he probably found out about it after he changed to spatial and thus gave spatial the credit.

Thirdly, I believe using navigational browsing would be even more "real life" because the brain would focus to only the object that receives attention. The brain would automatically shun those opened folders...

And, whatever he wanted to give spatial credit is also viable in navigational. For example, dragging and dropping files between two navigational folders is done the same way as between two spatial folders. Navigational did it better that you could navigate deep into the file hierachy and drag between them without needing to close all those unwanted folders. In real life, once a person is done with a particular folder, he would use a sliding motion to pack all those opened folders into one and treat them as one, just like navigational.

Also, since his client has to only dig 2 to 3 levels deep into the desktop, using navigational, he could just close the deeper folder and open it from the desktop again. For such little folders it should not be a problem. Moreover, the scheme he used for his clients are not really efficient too -- if the client has many files he may need another kind of file hierachy that is best viewed with navigational browsers. I personally know of many people that fall into this range.

Finally, novice users should also learn things the navigational way for they may one day need to use navigational for their millions of files. My father has a lot of photos to deal with and if he has to use spatial browsing according to the author, he would rather knock his head on the wall. The thousands of files would blow up his mind and make archiving and organisation difficult -- those files would be like putting the gentoo portage all in one folder, and it would take forever to open the folder. He would gladly learn the "up" button and by the graphical means.

Last but not least, using spatial browsing is known to be terrible and it had lost its reason over the years. The reason why pop-ups and pop-unders are very similar to why spatial is avoided like blight. If one needed to open a folder separately, navigational users could simply right-click the folder and select "Open in New Window". Many people who can install Gnome are expert users and would like navigational to be dorminant because they feel comfortable using it. If their client wants spatial browsing he would ask for it and they could switch for them before giving them the system.

re: spatial = not consistant
by PainKilleR on Thu 1st Jul 2004 12:52 UTC

At least in OS 9, you start with Applications, System, and Documents. In XP, it SHOULD be similar (Windows, Program Files, Documents & Settings), but it isn't anywhere close.

If developers follow the guidelines for developing Windows applications, users should never need to access the Program Files folder. Of course, this isn't the case, especially since the guidelines have changed over the years. Similarly, the "Windows" directory is a place most users should never go, and it's usually a hidden directory.

You have apps cluttering C:. Is the relevant app's config file under the C:, or Program FilesApp directory, Program FilesCommon FilesApp Directory, D&SUserApplication Data, D&SUserLocal Settings, D&SUserLocal SettingsApplication Data, D&SLocalServiceApplication Data, D&SAll UsersApplication Data...?

Does the app even have a config file? If there is one, it should be in the same directory as the application, or in a config subdirectory of some sort. Between Windows 95 and the release of .Net, though, Windows applications weren't supposed to use config files, instead using the registry for configuration options (previously you would use ini files, with .Net they want you to use XML configuration files stored in the application's directory).

Why does SimCity 4 install new maps under My Documents and not under Local Settings or Application Data but Starcraft installed new maps under Program FilesStarcraftmaps?

The guidelines for Windows application development changed around the time of the release of Windows XP. Applications are supposed to store their data files in My Documents, in a directory with the same name as the application (or "$ApplicationName Files", or some permutation thereof). StarCraft is a much older game than SimCity 4, but then games have never conformed well to any application guidelines, as shown by the fact that very few games use this particular guideline.

Under *nix is the binary under bin, sbin, /usr/bin... Are you really viewing /bin, or /usr/bin? Do you really need a /var AND a /tmp directory? Does /usr HAVE to recreate all new trees?

and let's not even talk about those names. Is usr really more efficient than user? (well, in one sense it is)

In Win2K/XP, why can't users have their own Start menu arrangements? You can, but you'll screw up other users' Start menus. Why are some Start shortcuts common to all and editing it in 1 user changes other users? I like to categorize mine. Other users don't.


In 2k/XP there are two different places from which your start menu is generated:
1) Documents and Settings$usernameStart Menu
2) Documents and SettingsAll UsersStart Menu

If you change things in the latter folder, it affects all users, if you change things in the former, it affects only you. Therefore, if you want every user to have their own start menu arrangements, you simply copy everything from the "All Users" path to each individual user's path, and then remove the entries in the "All Users" path. On the other hand, most Microsoft applications and many others use the "All Users" path, so you're going to find that things end up there over time, and that you're constantly managing these things.

So, in short, users can have their own start menu arrangements, without screwing up other users, and if you know where the Start Menu comes from, you can figure out which shortcuts can be moved without doing so (or force more of them to be this way). Personally, I arrange my Start Menu with "Games", "Microsoft Crap", and the catch-all "Programs" directory (with the "Games" directory omitted at work), and occasionally modify some of the lower-level folders to make things easier to find (yeah right, I really am looking for XYZ Inc when I want to use ABCSoft; yet my mind has no problems figuring out whether or not the program I want is in the "MS Crap" directory). My wife doesn't mind this structure, so I don't remove everything from the "All Users" start menu, but we don't need to clutter each other's "Programs" menu, either, so we each have things that the other does not (though, of course, it's not hard to find them if you know where to look).

As for the more direct topic of this article: My problem with "spatial folders" really is simply that it doesn't mesh at all with the way I use a computer, and it didn't when I used any other operating system that used the same concept at one time or another (after all, I'm sure anyone that's been using computers for more than 6 years has seen something similar at least once). I don't do a lot of drag & drop from one folder to another, and in the times that I do, opening another window is simple (though I must admit that in Windows there have been times that I've wished there was an option for "open directory in new window" much like "open link in new window" when browsing a website. Consequently, I've found using the "Explore" option has almost the effect I'm looking for). If I'm going through my file system, I am browsing it, not moving stuff around, and when I am moving stuff around, I usually do so in a manner of categorization, beneath the primary window I'm looking at. For this purpose, it's usually enough to grab a bunch of files and drag them to the directory in the current window, since I'm generally creating sub-directories of the current directory, not moving things to completely new areas of the hard drive (after all, it made sense for the files to be where they are now, why would I move them to somewhere completely different?).

I can see the purpose for new users, who often have problems with navigating their directories. However, I think that many of the suggestions made near the beginning of the article negate the need for the spatial file browser rather than reinforcing it's usefulness. In fact, a consistant download folder that could be set as the default for the internet browser and email client, along with a shortcut either on the desktop or in the task bar would be enough to get most users to stop losing files. (Similarly, defaulting most other applications to "My Documents" would do the same for generated, rather than downloaded, files).

How about this?
by Tim Locke on Thu 1st Jul 2004 13:22 UTC

Why doesn't Nautilus make navigational browsing happen when the user navigates with a keyboard (i.e. pressing enter dives deeper in the same window), and spatial when mouse is used (i.e. the user clicks on a folder -> new folder opens)?

How about if single-click "browses" and double-click "opens a new window"?

Spatial is a nice feature
by Melaskia on Thu 1st Jul 2004 13:25 UTC

I have been reading over and over that spatial mode is bad. In fact, it was something i really enjoyed when i switch from Windows 3.1 to Win95. I think that OS2 WARP was already using it too, but i can't remember.
Every time i load a new OS, i put the spatial mode on, and i was also delighted when I saw Gnome 2.6.
I think the concept is really nice: when i need a directory used often, i simply create the link on my desktop. You also learn how to organize everything in a mindful fashion leaving you well organized. Big file hierarchies should be abolished, they are so incovenient.
Anyway, i love spatial mode

Re: Spatial feature in FC2
by troy banther on Thu 1st Jul 2004 13:50 UTC

I understand it. I like it. I use it exclusively. I am productive with it in my daily personal and work activities.

Conversely.

I dislike any OS that attempts to be like the "other platform" and make the browsing more entertaining by intergrating normal system-related functions with a web browser or like a web browser.

So.

Way to go Fedora Core coders! You gave us another choice to work with.

@
by Rod on Thu 1st Jul 2004 14:02 UTC


is it so?. well why are there revolts then?. why doesnt everybody automatically do the good thing instead of arguing over stuff. by your logic every controversial item is bad which is extremely silly idea.


You should not mix oranges and apples.

Of course in the "real world" not everything that is good is loved by most, as going to the dentist or, to stay in the software world, asking for a password before some delicate file operation. Some people hate it, but it's for their own good.

But when it comes to user interface I think the voice of the majority should be heard. It's not that the Gnome guys created spatial nav for "the own good of the users", it was just pushed in their throats.

@XiaoKJ
by christian paratschek on Thu 1st Jul 2004 14:49 UTC

you are exactly the kind of guy this article was written for. you are falling for an urban legend.

an urban legend that says: advanced users have tons os files and they can only manage them with a navigantional filemanager.

that is just plain wrong.

i have seen my brother copy/pasting stuff with one explorer-window literally for years. he has tons of files, thousands of photos, dozens of documents for varius stuff. he is super-used to this and very fast cut/copy/pasting stuff from one folder to another folder.

but when i showed him spatial filemanaging, just by positioning two windows on left and on the right of the screen, and drag-and dropped some files, while saying: "look, isn't this much fast?", he was like: "wow, that's cool - show me more".

i am sure that most of the spatial-sceptics will not rearrange their files, and probably go on using navigational mode. that's cool with me.

but for me, spatial nautilus is a huge step into the future. it made me faster and more efficient. and i am sure, if i had 10 times more files than now, i would still not need a navigational filemanager.

regards,
christian

re:
by Anonymous on Thu 1st Jul 2004 15:39 UTC

ok - agreed. but gnome should really offer a choice (like kde does). within the first gnome-session you should be asked if you like to use spatial- or browsing-mode and you should be able to change this in some kind of control-center (and not through gconf or an additional tool).

until then, spatial seems to be the result of arrogance - the gnome folks just can't swallow their pride. they can't understand that a lot of users refuses to use their new fancy technology. so what - force them to use it! users are stupid. they have to learn what we've made for them. yeah, that's REALLY the right way... (note: i don't hate spatial nor do i hate gnome itself. but i love "choice".)

RE:Rod (IP: ---.netcom.no)
by BR on Thu 1st Jul 2004 15:44 UTC

"But when it comes to user interface I think the voice of the majority should be heard. "

Well I'm not convinced that this is the majority dissenting, but a vocal minority. Also my car analogy isn't one of age, but that complaining and counterclaiming doesn't automatically mean that an idea is bad or good, and is simply a superficial way of looking at things.

"It's not that the Gnome guys created spatial nav for "the own good of the users", it was just pushed in their throats.""

Well I guess you better stop using computers then, for software is the very embodement of decisions. Countless decisions, every one of them could be seen as "forced" if they don't happen to go your way. 'Oh No! The menu items don't go a particular way. Those developers must be "forcing" their decision on me.'

I want my Midnight Commander.
by ccchips on Thu 1st Jul 2004 15:57 UTC

I have never seen so much slavering over mice as I've seen lately. I am disabled, and find mice and pointers extremely offensive, and people who subvert my ability to work with a keyboard extremely arrogant.

This is even beginning to become an issue with my job. More and more, the powers-that-be are switching to applications that use a Web browser for their primary interface, and often the applications either deliberately or inadvertently mangle or damage things for keyboard users.

I have never seen anything as disappointing, for example, as the file selection dialog boxes that show up in Gnome and GTK applications. And there is little, if any, help readily available for keyboard users to find out if there are even keyboard operations for my chosen activities.

Tab keys don't always work.
Default ("Enter") behavior is often inconsistent and sometimes destructive
Selection behavior is inconsistent
...I could go on for hours.

Then, there is the issue of pointers. If a low-vision person has to use a pointer, how come there are no easy ways to enlarge that pointer? Why isn't there a way to "home" a pointer so one can find it easily?

I'm sorry, but I can't reasonably recommend Linux for low-vision users. I love Linux, but oftentimes I feel I have to suffer for it.

Interesting...
by Jace on Thu 1st Jul 2004 17:23 UTC

I'm not too fond of this article, even though it supports a system I like (spacial). This article did one thing, though (something I don't know if the author intended): it illustrated just how very personal, unique and individual each person's storage habits/methods are and can be. His setup would not really work for me, but he came up with a system that works for him and that's the beauty of the design of the systems in use. Customizability. Spacial systems are only a plus when you want to customize.

Don't Bother
by David on Thu 1st Jul 2004 18:23 UTC

Just let Spatial Nautilus be and see what happens. There is actually nothing wrong with tree views and the 'Explorer' way of doing things for many circumstances, but the reason why we see ninety five comments here is down to a difference in philosophy. It isn't going to get us anywhere.

RE: Anonymous @ Cincinatti
by Anonymous on Thu 1st Jul 2004 18:25 UTC

This does not apply to KDE, because KDE does not have a spatial konqueror.

Besides its seems to me gnomes goal as of late to sacrifice completeness, for incomplete userbility.

XP?
by z1xq on Fri 2nd Jul 2004 04:15 UTC

Using XP to help us understand Gnome. Try using a giraffe to help us understand a koala bear...

Spatial is a pain in Chinese
by Monte Lin on Fri 2nd Jul 2004 08:05 UTC

Those saying about the efficency of spatial mode did not tell all the truth. In every spatial window, there is an sorted tree, the alphabetically sorted tree of file name.

Even in a file list of 1000, you can still easily jump to a file named 'tree' with a few fast eyeball scan and clicks.

This is not true if the name of the files are in Chinese, or Japanese or Korean.

To eaisly browse and manage files named in Chinese, you better off organize files thoroughly using file system directory. It's pain to pick up a file from 50 or 100 Chinese named (or Japanese or Korean) files from a list.

Surely, the files are also sorted, where ever it be a open/save dialogue or Konqueror view; only that, it's not in the alphabetic order you are accustomed to.

For Taiwan's Chinese, most seems to agree on sorting the name first in 'dictionary order' then in the number of strokes. The so called 'dictionary order' is just the order you'll find in every Chinese dictionary. There is a rule for the ordering, and you can think of it as a kind of catagoring system labeled with several hundreds of ideographics symbols, like 'gold', 'wood', 'water' ....

The first problem is that you can hardly remember the order of these labels like you can with English character. It's not impossible, but I don't know anybody bothering to try it.

So if I want to jump to a file named with 'Money' as its first character, I'm really searching for the first file whose name start with character containing the 'gold' symbol. Since you don't have any ordered context, your best bet is to browse from the begining. If you failed to identify one until the end of list, you better start over again but this time more slowly and carefully. The trouble is that, you don't have much idea of the better position to start with or the definite position to stop at.

Imaging of doing this in a list of more than 100 or 10000. I can tell you how painful it is since I have a collection of photos of more than 200 Japanese porn stars.

The second problem is worse. Even you did managed to remember all of the labels and its ordering, you can not always be sure what catogory a specific Chinese character should be attrbuted to. (As far as I can say, the whole Chinese writing system is a mess.)

I know, in MC, Konqueror or Windows Explorer, you can quick-jump by typing in the first or first few characters of the file name.

The problem is, for most people (including me), a single Chinese character need more than 3 keystorkes because the 'vocal' oriented input method. This forces you to avoid utilizing quick-jump as much as possible.

In writing this post, I have some thought on the merits of roman character languages and the problem of ideographics languages.

In general, you can think of ideographics characters as purely spatial, since each character is distinctly shaped. I doubt you will think these 'intuitive' spatial writing systems easy to learn.

In constrast, the roman character system is a mixture of spatial and tree. The alphabet itself is purely spatial, but at the word level it' about 26 recursive trees.It's largely non-spatial, and not intuitive at all; but is it more difficult to learn?

v Gee, this is Gnome zealot conventio
by Anonymous on Fri 2nd Jul 2004 08:31 UTC
Some facts
by MeesterMoogle on Fri 2nd Jul 2004 13:30 UTC

Some facts:

1. It takes less time to switch Nautilus' behaviour to navigational mode than it does to complain about it on OSNews or wherever.

2. The Nautilus team always intended for there to be an option to change the behaviour easily, they just didn't finish it in time (Gnome has time based releases with strict feature freezes dontcha know?).

3. Even then, an industrious Gnome user has written a utility called gTweakUI which lets you change the behaviour. It probably took less time than it takes reading these OSNews arguments.

4. Even after that, it really isn't hard to change it in GConf using the graphical editor. AND, irony of ironies, you'll be using a tree interface to do it.

Where is it you ask? /apps/nautilus/preferences - pretty damn easy if you ask me.

5. The Gnome team spend a hell of a lot time developing their desktop. Essentially, it's their desktop. If they want to make spatial the default, who am I to argue with them. I'll either re-configure my desktop or use something else. It really isn't hard.

And it's not arrogance either. It's their right because it's their software. And, as the argument always goes, you can always fork Nautilus and write an alternative Gnome file manager called Navigationus or something. The code is there and you're free to do it.

--

I like spatial because I was willing to give it chance. I tried it, I liked it. I didn't even have to re-organise my files, I found that I was already working in a spatial friendly manner. My desktop is set as $HOME with six or seven top level directories like 'documents' and 'images' all with nice emblems on so I only have to glance at them before I'm away and grabbing the file I want.

Many of you will prefer navigational and it's only seconds away. So, get to it and maybe we'll less of this endless bickering.

PS. Re: Gee, this is Gnome zealot convention
Where are the figures on 'marketshare'? I ask because I've seen quite a few reports of big deployments of Sun's gnome based JDS, the latest one being AIB, but none of KDE? I'm not disputing your claim outright but I don't think you've based it on any figures.

Extremely bad article!
by Patrik Grip-Jansson on Sun 4th Jul 2004 15:56 UTC

If I ever had doubts about the spatial paradigm, then this article dispelled all doubts. It doesn't work and it's really, really stupid...

In the article is an example of a folder name; "Vienna, June 2004". What have you got there, if not tree structure information! Would it be less intuitive to have a directory structure of "Photos/2004/Vienna"? Why is better to move part of the tree structure into the name of a directory or filename? You're not gaining anything by doing this!

The human brain works by categorizing things. Mostly we categorize things in a natural tree structure. All our thought processes are based on this. This is why we file things the way we do. This is why when you want borrow a book, you go to the library, you look in fiction, the letter corresponding to the author, and so on. Just one example of a _natural_ tree structure. Few, if any, have a problem with this. And you know what; libraries provide directory "links" as well, in the form of indexes and lists, that can be used to provide different views of the same collection of books.

I'm sure the author of the article (and many other Gnomen) are quite happy with the spatial paradigm, but the scores of complaints should be noted! No to mention the fact that this paradigm have been tried and abandoned many times, is a good indicator that it is a bad idea. Questions like this should be left to usability researchers, not know-it-all hacks who don't even bother to listen to the opinion of others!

My tooscents
by synan on Mon 5th Jul 2004 12:17 UTC

This is the way i see it. When i first started using linux, it had kde as the default. The file manager used was konqueror, which had one thing i hated. It was multipurpose. Now, i dont hold on to dogmas very tight in any world, real or "computer" one, but that *nix rule about one app and one job and doing it great? Works for me. Konqueror wasnt that. But it still had some stuff that i was forced to learn and learned to love. Split view was something i adored and still remember as a good thing. Tried gnome (and nautilus) just for a couple of times, but hated the DE and especially the nautilus part as it was most obviously a multipurpose thingy and it showed. I dont want to have "Open URL" or things like that in a file manager man! It's a space wasted! Time lost! Eyes bombed! That goes for all fm's like these. That Win Explorer too. Still cant get over the fact they acctually removed *the* File Manager. The one from win3.1x. Spatial is GOOD. But, to some extent. Now, if you think about it, nobody really needs to have more then 2 windows opened. You are not going to drag and drop between 5 windows, what would you do that for? I really cant imagine. Two windows, each with browsing. Like konq splited. Or, what i fell in love with, gentoo (the file manager). Gentoo has one window splitted with browable parts. Can do a lot more stuff than nautilus and konq put togetherm, and with just one click.

The two put together work charms, spatial and navigational gently combined make the real user experiance and ease of use. For both "camps" of users.

Again, thats the way i see it.

Paradigm shift
by Fred Warren on Mon 5th Jul 2004 19:36 UTC

THe reality is, that the filesystem on all moderm OS's, is a tree. The visual method that best matches it, alas is a hierarchy. With each file name being shown, not an icon.

Spatial browsing may work ok for some folders on the desktop. But try to perform system administration with it.

Using spatial browsing take a paradigm shift. For it to work well, you need to have the mental mindset to organize everything that way.

This means you apply the discipline, and you can reap the benefits of spatial browsing.

However, if you do not have the discipline, OR you inherit a file system that is not set up that way (i.e. every linux or windows distribution). A hierarchal file browser will work even in this situation, because it matches the reality of the filesystem (hierarchal), instead of failing because the artifial consctuct of spatial browsing has not been met.




Re: Extremely bad article! by Patrik
by MeesterMoogle on Tue 6th Jul 2004 09:12 UTC

And what happens when you want to find all photos of Vienna (i.e ~/Photos/2004/Vienna, ~/Photos/2003/Vienna, etc) rather than just photos from 2004 (~/Photos/2004)? The tree structure you created makes this difficult. This is why Gnome - and Microsoft and Apple - are implementing search based desktops. Once the search based desktop arrives, you won't have to manually create filing structures for your documents because you will find them all by searching and creating virtual folders.

Incidentally, your point about things like this being best left to usability researchers is right - Gnome is the only OSS desktop to have conducted a full usability study, funded by Sun Microsystems.

Re: Extremely bad article! by Patrik
by Anonymous on Tue 6th Jul 2004 12:37 UTC

And right here right now - how has spatial helped you find all you r photos of Vienna? How does spatial make a search based desktop better?

Going forward I would rather have a tree and virtual folders represented in the tree.

Springs and Spatial vs. the Database
by Anonymous on Wed 7th Jul 2004 02:34 UTC

Spring loaded folder are part of how macs did things and it worked in concert with spatial orientation, macs have spacial down pat literally. But like someone else said this setup is limited to personal data, try doing it for multi user network shares and it gets just as complicated as a hierarchy. In linux I use the command line as linux can't do anything well graphicaly it just slows you down. But as for organizing data the large scale enterprize solution has been around for a long time and its called a database. having all your data in a database is effichent and easy to use. it work better than any other organizational method to date. If you look closly you will notice that Mac has abandon the spatial organization in favor of the database driven sherloc search engine.