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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Laws of relationship
by Ben Jao Ming on Thu 17th May 2007 22:00 UTC
Ben Jao Ming
Member since:
2005-07-26

In addition to Fitt's Law I would like to introduce the laws of visual relationships.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gestalt_psychology

Putting the menubar outside its application window is actually bad HCI. I know studies have been conducted before, but I doubt they assumed the high number of windows and the huge screen resolutions we have today.

What really annoys me about Mac is that I can't tell which program the active menubar belongs to if I have many windows open - at least I have to first decide visually which window is active and only then can I tell what the menubar at the top is for.

Also I would like to add that the menubar isn't so important anymore. The coefficient from Fitt's law should be multiplied by some factor of importance. If something of low importance is placed somewhere with a high Fitt number, it should count in a negative way. Having a high Fitt number and a low importance is counter-intuitive.

(disclaimer: I'm not participating in the overall discussion, I'm just making a point)

Reply Score: 4

RE: Laws of relationship
by subterrific on Thu 17th May 2007 22:50 in reply to "Laws of relationship"
subterrific Member since:
2005-07-10

Exactly, menus are more effected by Hick's Law than Fitt's Law.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hick%27s_law

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[2]: Laws of relationship
by rayiner on Thu 17th May 2007 23:02 in reply to "RE: Laws of relationship"
rayiner Member since:
2005-07-06

That argument is completely orthogonal to this one, though.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE: Laws of relationship
by macUser on Fri 18th May 2007 04:25 in reply to "Laws of relationship"
macUser Member since:
2006-12-15

What really annoys me about Mac is that I can't tell which program the active menubar belongs to if I have many windows open - at least I have to first decide visually which window is active and only then can I tell what the menubar at the top is for.


I suppose that the application menu next to the apple in the top right hand corner of the screen is too difficult to read... You know, the menu that is the name of the application.

Do people compute with blinders or something?

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: Laws of relationship
by alexandru_lz on Fri 18th May 2007 12:04 in reply to "RE: Laws of relationship"
alexandru_lz Member since:
2007-02-11

Well, it takes some time getting used to it -- it's simply that the active window has a more obvious shadow. It's easy enough for me, I never had that problem and I'm working with two 21" screens, meaning about 8 or 9 windows open at any time.

(Later edit)

And finally, my favorite ranting topic: people are not eternally newbies! Just as in real life - the more you drive a car, the more you feel accustomed to it. There is no reason to replace the steering wheel with a joystick-type-thingy just because it would feel "more logical" to a fresh driver, even more so because if you have just learnt to drive a car, your preferences in what concerns the interior and controls of a motor vehicle are likely to develop as you yourself develop as the driver.

A couple of years ago there was a pretty heatened debate regarding this. There were several new approaches in GUIs, from 3D desktops to alternative input methods (like mouse gestures) or paradigms. Googling a bit will reveal what seems like hundreds of new ideas about what seemed like the "desktop of the future" in the early 90s -- yet all we have now are the desktops of the 1980s with more colors.

The reason for this is that when the first GUIs were conceived, the master idea was that of the desktop analogy, even to the point where, in order to ease the transition, there were horrible programs which actually simulated a desktop (i.e. the word processor would look, on the screen, like a typewriter -- with real keys etc.).

Of course, a lot of these changed -- but the essences remained, like the ideas of "files" and "folders" and "drawers" etc.

The new desktop paradigms tried to change this. It was like, screw the desktop analogy, it should be more efficient than that etc.. Did any of them succeed? As you well know -- none of them did. Why?

...the answer is in the user inertia. Once somebody is used to working in a certain manner, there is no way to convince him that another one is "logical" or "more logical", even if it actually is. I am dependent to emacs keybindings myself -- I was never comfortable (I'm still not comfortable) with using the arrow keys to move the cursor, as stupid as this may seem.

The same goes for OS X users switching to Gnome: after only as little as a few months of working with OS X, finding the application's menubar just... sucks.

Basically, it would be a completely stupid idea to enable the global menubar by default -- 90% of the users are NOT used to it. But accepting the patch and making it possible for users to turn it on or off would be reasonable enough. Nobody who is not used to it would be harmed -- and in this case, why the long debate?

Edited 2007-05-18 12:13

Reply Parent Score: 1