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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Mac-style menu bar
by Luminair on Thu 17th May 2007 20:20 UTC
Luminair
Member since:
2007-03-30

When building applications and a coherent system, Mac-style is is more problematic because not everyone uses the same interface standards. An application may not even have the component that the Mac-style menu bar is displaying.

When maximized, the Mac-style menu bar works the same as Windows-style.

When sized to a fraction of the screen with other windows present, the Mac-style menu bar:

1) conserves the vertical space of n-1 menu bars, where n is the total number of windows being displayed.

2) shows less information because only one application menu bar can be shown at once.

3) forces the user to click an inactive window once before they can access the menu bar for it.

4) is farther away from where the mouse is (the currently active window), forcing the user to move their mouse longer distances for menu bar actions.

Conserving screen resolution was important when we were using 640x480 screens. Today, families have 1280x1024 resolution screens. Artists have 2560x1600 resolution screens. It doesn't take a rigorous study to look at the users of these interfaces and see that they don't need to save the n-1 vertical space when multiple windows are tiled.

The Windows-style menu bar keeps all application functions grouped into one window element, which is analogous to the physical world where the handle of a hammer is attached to the head, and the power button for the blender is on the base of it. Detaching a control menu from the tool it affects is a purely virtual construct, and presents an intuitive leap for new users.

By my count it is hard to justify providing the Mac-style menu bar in an optimally designed user interface. Legacy users might want it, and that is fine. But I wouldn't present that interface to new computer users.

Edited 2007-05-17 20:23 UTC

Reply Score: 5

RE: Mac-style menu bar
by steve_s on Fri 18th May 2007 10:00 in reply to "Mac-style menu bar"
steve_s Member since:
2006-01-16

When maximized, the Mac-style menu bar works the same as Windows-style.


No it doesn't.

Maximised windows on Windows have their menus offset from the top of the screen. The effect of this is that it is harder to hit a Windows menu than a Mac menu. On a Mac you throw your pointer to the top of the screen and then you're there where the menus are. On Windows with a maximised window you throw your pointer to the top of the screen and then have to go down a bit before you can hit a menu.

The Mac's menu bar is not about conserving screen space, it's about ease of use.

Yes, we have much larger screen resolutions these days, but our windowing software also includes mouse acceleration, which makes it easy to reach the top of the screen.

The best solution that I have seen however was RISC-OS, which used the middle mouse button (on a three button mouse) to pop up application menus.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE: Mac-style menu bar
by lindkvis on Mon 21st May 2007 08:51 in reply to "Mac-style menu bar"
lindkvis Member since:
2006-11-21

"4) is farther away from where the mouse is (the currently active window), forcing the user to move their mouse longer distances for menu bar actions."

Which is a view which is opposed by Fitt's law because nobody is pixel perfect in their mouse movement. Having the menu bar in the application window almost always requires a second mouse movement to reach it because the first one overshoots. Or it requires you to slow the mouse down before clicking, meaning it takes longer time.

The exception might be FPS-gamers.

It would be interesting to see any studies about the effect on RSI on these two different types of menu bar placements.

Reply Parent Score: 1