Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 17th May 2007 18:54 UTC
Gnome In the GNOME bugzilla, there is an ongoing discussion about whether or not to include a patch into the default GNOME installation which would enable GNOME to (optionally) have a global application menubar, similar to that of the Mac OS and KDE (in the latter it is optional and off by default). Installation instructions and .deb packages, as well as a 60-page (and counting) discussion of the patch, are available on the UbuntuForums. Read on for a poll on this issue.
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Why?
by miscz on Thu 17th May 2007 19:07 UTC
miscz
Member since:
2005-07-17

What's the reason behind removing menubars from the windows and moving them to the top of display? The only one I can think of is "shiny, OSX has it".

Reply Score: 5

RE: Why?
by Eugenia on Thu 17th May 2007 19:09 in reply to "Why?"
Eugenia Member since:
2005-06-28

The question you should be asking is this: "why not?"

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[2]: Why?
by sbergman27 on Thu 17th May 2007 19:15 in reply to "RE: Why?"
sbergman27 Member since:
2005-07-24

"""
The question you should be asking is this: "why not?"
"""

No. The question is "why?". Options should not be added to the UI needlessly. It must have a solid reason to be there.

I'm surprised that you, Eugenia, would look at it that way. I would have expected that including UI options without solid reason would go against your philosophy, as I understand it.

Reply Parent Score: 5

RE[2]: Why?
by qortra on Thu 17th May 2007 19:17 in reply to "RE: Why?"
qortra Member since:
2005-10-05

I'm sorry, I think "why" is very much the better question. For the last few years, Gnome has put a lot of effort to stripping its applications of excessive options and advanced settings. Some people might not like this, but it seems to be working for them. There has been a lot of positive response to a FOSS desktop environment with a minimalist interface, sane defaults, and large focus on HIG. Thus, they have to be very careful about adding options that allow users to change the core interface of the Desktop Environment.

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE[2]: Why?
by Endica on Thu 17th May 2007 19:50 in reply to "RE: Why?"
Endica Member since:
2006-07-07

The question you should be asking is this: "why not?"

Please explain how that is a better question to ask??

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: Why?
by graigsmith on Fri 18th May 2007 22:36 in reply to "RE: Why?"
graigsmith Member since:
2006-04-05

why not. because when windows aren't maximized they are confusing. controls that work for a program are off of the window. AND on the window. which is weird. either have the controls ON or off the window. why both? it just makes it confusing.

it's not my way of working, and i wouldn't want it as default.. but why not just have it as an option? it's always nice to have options. Especially with something as often used as the main gnome bar. It's just one of those things that MUST be configurable so that it can please any user.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[2]: Why?
by abraxas on Sat 19th May 2007 14:14 in reply to "RE: Why?"
abraxas Member since:
2005-07-07

Because global menu bars suck on large screens or dual screens. They work very well on traditional screens but they have severe limitations on larger screen areas. It starts to take longer and longer to access the menu via mouse the larger the screen area gets. The global menu bar paradigm is failing now that technology is surpassing its usefulness.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE: Why?
by maxauthority on Thu 17th May 2007 19:13 in reply to "Why?"
maxauthority Member since:
2006-01-17

To make the display even more non-cluttered and mainly to save space.

Reply Parent Score: 5

RE: Why?
by rayiner on Thu 17th May 2007 19:21 in reply to "Why?"
rayiner Member since:
2005-07-06

Menubars at the top of the screen are the pedagogical example of the utilization of Fitt's Law.

Fitt's Law is given by:

T = a + b log2(D/W + 1)

Where a and b are empirically-determined constants, D is the distance to the target, W is the size of the target in the direction of travel, and T is the time required to perform the motion.

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fitts_law)

Moving the menubar to the top of the screen has the effect of increasing D*, but also has the effect of drastically increasing W (since overshooting the target is not possible), leading to an overall decrease in T. Fitt's law is particularly important for menubars, which tend to have a fairly small height, and thus a very low W unless they are at the edge of the screen.

*) By a moderate amount. It's likely that the tops of most windows are near the top of the screen anyway, so the increase in D is unlikely to be even a factor of 2.

Reply Parent Score: 5

RE[2]: Why?
by miscz on Thu 17th May 2007 19:35 in reply to "RE: Why?"
miscz Member since:
2005-07-17

I have a hard time believing that. It doesn't take into account that menubars for not active windows are hidden and require bringing them "up" which in reality places mouse about 10 pixels from place where classic menubar would be. If the app is not taking the whole screen the distance between area that you operate on and menu is quite big and grows annoying if you have to access it frequently. At least that's my impression after using OSX.

Reply Parent Score: 5

Rimmer's Law - to paraprhase Red Dwarf
by Coxy on Thu 17th May 2007 19:51 in reply to "RE: Why?"
Coxy Member since:
2006-07-01

Rimmer's Law 271 states just as clearly, "No chance you metal bastard."

Fitt's Law is for you and your fellow robots, a few fractions of a few ms saved aiming the mouse at a menu option only annoy those who have to repeat tasks ad infinitum: like machines. To people just editing documents, creating websites, reading the news and who aren't spending 24/7 online the time save by Fitt's Law isn't worth worrying about.

Edited 2007-05-17 20:00

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE[2]: Why?
by Luminair on Thu 17th May 2007 19:56 in reply to "RE: Why?"
Luminair Member since:
2007-03-30

Can you tag an english conclusion onto that so I know what you're talking about? ;)

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: Why?
by djst on Thu 17th May 2007 19:57 in reply to "RE: Why?"
djst Member since:
2005-08-07

"Moving the menubar to the top of the screen has the effect of increasing [variable], but also has the effect of drastically increasing [other variable]"

What you're trying to say in a very mathematical way is that moving the menu bar to the top makes it easier to access it. But who says the menubar -- an extremely old UI paradigm -- deserves this level of attention? Why not move the toolbar up there instead, which contains the most useful commands for any given application, rather than every possible command?

I'd say if an application needs this focus on the menu bar, it's badly designed.

Reply Parent Score: 5

RE[2]: Why?
by stestagg on Thu 17th May 2007 20:07 in reply to "RE: Why?"
stestagg Member since:
2006-06-03

I agree with your comments about Fitts law, but global menubars break basic UI design. The application menus belong to the application and not to the screen/desktop.

It's not my place to say which set of laws should win, but there is a conflict between them here.

Reply Parent Score: 5

RE[2]: Why?
by subterrific on Thu 17th May 2007 22:23 in reply to "RE: Why?"
subterrific Member since:
2005-07-10

I've been a Mac user since 1987 and I used to quote Fitt's law and all the other standard reasons for having a top menubar. Then I actually tried timing my response and others to a request to find and click on a menu item under Mac OS X and Windows. My experiment found that having the menubar at the top of the screen made no measurable difference. My observation was that most of the time isn't spent positioning the mouse (the part Fitt's Law applies to), but recalling which menu to select and finding a menu item. Menus are not as efficient UI elements as buttons in terms of time to action, Fitt's Law proves this, and so you gain nothing by putting menus that change per-application at the top of the screen. My theory is that the top menubar is a hold-over from the original design before the Mac could run more than one application at a time, then it made a lot more sense and Desk Accessories had no menubar probably for this very reason. I don't think Apple revisited the menubar when they were forced to implement the MultiFinder to stay competitive.

GNOME uses mostly static buttons (with the exception of three static menus) in locations positively effected by Fitt's Law. GNOME has correctly applied Fitt's Law and Apple hasn't in this case.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[2]: Why?
by dusanyu on Fri 18th May 2007 01:35 in reply to "RE: Why?"
dusanyu Member since:
2006-01-21

to prevent Microsoft form saying that GNOME violates there patents for the look of menus

Edited 2007-05-18 01:37

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[2]: Why?
by nrlz on Fri 18th May 2007 05:29 in reply to "RE: Why?"
nrlz Member since:
2006-01-27

Fitt's law doesn't seem appropriate for 2 reasons:

1) If an action is frequent enough that efficient access is needed, it would be placed in the toolbar of the application window.

2) Menubars require 2 clicks to activate an item. Any speed gains from opening the menu is lost in finding the menuitem, after the menu has opened.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: Why?
by shaunm on Fri 18th May 2007 15:37 in reply to "RE: Why?"
shaunm Member since:
2005-10-24


Menubars at the top of the screen are the pedagogical example of the utilization of Fitt's Law.

Fitt's Law is given by:

T = a + b log2(D/W + 1)

Where a and b are empirically-determined constants, D is the distance to the target, W is the size of the target in the direction of travel, and T is the time required to perform the motion.


When people apply Fitt's Law to mouse distnace, they often forget that distance on the screen is not one-to-one with distance of the mouse.

There is a region around your pointer that does not require you to move your wrist, and is thus very easy to mouse to. Mouse acceleration makes this region larger, but usually not large enough to cover the entire screen. There is a region surrounding that for which you need to move your wrist. And there's a region surrounding that for which you need to pick up your mouse, move it, set it back down, and move it some more on the mouse pad.

Obviously, where each of these regions lay depends on your screen size, mouse acceleration settings, mouse skills, mouse pad size, and other factors. Nonetheless, most people can't hit their entire screen without at least moving their wrist. I can hit a little over a quarter of my screen without moving my wrist.

What's more, other types of input devices (track balls, touch pads, stupid little nipply things) have different ways in which the input device motion does not map one-to-one to screen motion. And touchpads, at least, are fairly common devices, since most laptops are equipped with them.

None of this is to say that the spirit of Fitt's Law is bad. It's just that with modern screens and input devices, the screen corners aren't quite as magically easy to hit as the too-simplistic Shannon formulation might suggest.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[2]: Why?
by dagw on Sat 19th May 2007 11:03 in reply to "RE: Why?"
dagw Member since:
2005-07-06

Fitts law is a bunch of bollocks quoted by usability experts to try to make what they do sound scientific. Any change that requires quoting Fitts law to justify is generally a bad change.

People don't spend most of their time hunting for the menubar so shaving a fraction of a second off the time to find it is pointless. Doubly so if the change forces people to work in a new way that they are uncomfortable with.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: Why?
by phoenix on Sun 20th May 2007 05:44 in reply to "RE: Why?"
phoenix Member since:
2005-07-11

For applications with large windows, where the top of the window is close to the top of the screen, on a single monitor under 1280x1024 in size, I can see this being true.

For applications with small windows (like IM programs), or on computers with multiple monitors, or large monitors (1600x1200 for example), separating the menu from the active window makes things harder. Especially if the menu always starts on the left monitor, and you are working on windows in the right monitor.

As with everything, there are times when one way is better than the other. Making it a togglable option is good. Forcing it on users is not.

Anyone using multiple monitors on MacOS X care to comment on it?

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE: Why?
by eosp on Thu 17th May 2007 20:45 in reply to "Why?"
eosp Member since:
2005-07-07

Because menu-bar usage is common. Instead of carefully aligning a cursor where it goes, you can just flick it upward.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[2]: Why?
by hobgoblin on Thu 17th May 2007 23:12 in reply to "RE: Why?"
hobgoblin Member since:
2005-07-06

thats to hit the bar in general...

but then you have to find the specific menu you want, and the entry in said menu.

keyboard shortcuts for the win ;)

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: Why?
by phoenix on Sun 20th May 2007 05:51 in reply to "RE: Why?"
phoenix Member since:
2005-07-11

How would that work if you have an app open on monitor 2, and the global menubar starts on monitor 1? Going straight up doesn't hit anything but empty space. ;)

Reply Parent Score: 3