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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Compatibility with the real world
by manjabes on Fri 18th May 2007 09:16 UTC
manjabes
Member since:
2005-08-27

The way I see it, the menu bar tied to the window approach is much more like stuff happens in the real world, therefore more logical. For example, think of a hand drill. All the functions are represented as buttons or dials (the equivalent of a menubar or menus in my example) on the drill itself, not as a separate little box near the other end of the power cord. As computer programs are just tools (means of doing something) for most of the people using computers, the logic of manipulating the way the tool behaves should be connected with the tool itself, not the power outlet the electric drill draws power from.

About this UI cleanliness thing many people seem to focus a lot on: The CLEANEST UI is the blank screen. Nothing to "distract" you, just the perfect thing for meditation. </irony>

The funniest thing I read in this thread was that the menu bar "DISTRACTS" you from doing your tasks with the application. I personally cannot think of a person that fires up a word processor to write a PhD thesis and then gets "distracted" by the menu bar, and, instead of writing the thesis, starts to examine and investigate the menu bar. But maybe such people exist, dunno. But I do feel that to the majority of us who DO understand that the menu bar is there for a reason and is nothing we should feel intimidated by, the efforts to remove the menu bar altogether (like the new Office) seem like doing something just to show that we do SOMETHING.

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.
My point is that we should not ditch well-established behaviours in favour of some obscure way of doing things just because some of us have driven cars with joysticks. THAT would be intimidating for the vast majority of people that have grown used to the way they do things only to find out that the next update of my favourite word processor ditches that way of doing things.
And for the "cluttered UI" problem, I personally (not to be understood that I think I'm some kind of majority on my own) think that a well-designed way to customize the workspace (like in Opera where I can remove the intimidating "print" button with the appropriate selection from the menu that jumped up when I right-clicked the bastard) may be a solution of sorts.

Then again, as Gnome tends to focus more and more to approaching OS X's behaviour, the more I feel that this DE is not for me, so go ahead, have a blast - make the desktop turn itself 90 degrees so that we have to place our heads horizontally to work - it's more logical in some illogical way. I'm happy with my stagnant non-OSX DE.

Reply Score: 3

DeadFishMan Member since:
2006-01-09

Unfortunately, I currently donīt have any mod points left now to give you a +1. Your post describes precisely my feelings towards this "lets make it easier for the stupid crowd" trend that started a couple of years ago and has been crippling some applications for quite some time.

I agree with everything that you say but your remark about the cleanest possible UI is bloody brilliant and I think that you hit the nail on the head with that one: Only when you present a blank screen, the "simplicity people" will finally settle down for something that does not distract the user! ;)

Also, your statement about how the user cannot possibly be a newbie forever was right on the mark. One thing that these changes for usability sake never seem to address is what happens when the user outgrows the basic UI that is presented and needs to use the full extent of the software.

Nobody has ever succeeded convincing me how this usability thing fits into certain types of application, such as 3D modelling, raster and/or vectorial images editing and other specialized apps that actually REQUIRE the user to know a thing or two about what he/she is doing.

Please note that I have nothing against usability efforts per se and do appreciate when they are used properly.

As for the global menu thing, I canīt say that I have any argument against nor towards it other than it definitely breaks the focus following the mouse, which I personally donīt use but know a bunch of fellas that would cry "Bloody murder!" if you take it away from them. KDE has had it for ages, I tried it for a couple of minutes and while it didnīt affected my productivity not even a little bit, it also didnīt make it any better. Iīll join the crowd that feels that the menu bar belongs to its application window.

Edited 2007-05-18 14:57

Reply Parent Score: 2