Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 16th Feb 2009 14:07 UTC
Editorial Late last week we ran a story on how the Google Chrome team had decided to use Gtk+ as the graphical toolkit for the Linux version of the Chrome web browser. It was a story that caused some serious debate on a variety of aspects, but in this short editorial, I want to focus on one aspect that came forward: the longing for consistency. Several people in the thread stated they were happy with Google's choice for purely selfish reasons: they use only Gtk+ applications on their GNOME desktops. Several people chimed in to say that Qt integrates nicely in a Gtk+ environment. While that may be true from a graphical point of view, that really isn't my problem with mixing toolkits. The issue goes a lot deeper than that.
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j-kidd
Member since:
2005-07-06

...and if they means that the GNOME HIG becomes the 'HIG to rule them all' then I say go ahead and make it so.


No way. GNOME HIG sucks donkey balls. It was created by a bunch of developers who suddenly regarded themselves as usability experts after reading "The Inmates Are Running the Asylum".

Here's an example that illustrates how bad it is:

In Epiphany, the tab bar is at the top. This makes sense for a web browser. In GNOME Terminal, the tab bar is again at the top. This makes absolutely no sense for a terminal app. The HIG fails when it preaches consistency above senses.

Reply Parent Score: 2

Delgarde Member since:
2008-08-19

In GNOME Terminal, the tab bar is again at the top. This makes absolutely no sense for a terminal app.


Why not? Having it consistent with Firefox, Eclipse, and other tools works fine for me - I've never felt the need to find some way to change it.

Reply Parent Score: 2

jpkotta Member since:
2007-03-24

First of all, it makes sense to have the tabbar on the bottom because the bottom is usually where you're looking in a terminal. It's more or less arbitrary in a browser, but the menus and such are at the top so the tabs might as well be there too (I'm sure there are a few more reasons to put them at the top). The menus argument is moot for terminals because you only look at the menus when you're using your mouse to select them, which pretty much guarantees you're not using the command prompt.

More importantly, the point of consistency is to make the apps easier to use (or if you prefer, usability is a better goal). If there is a compelling reason to make the app more usable at the cost of making it inconsistent in some way, usability should always win.

Reply Parent Score: 2

WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

In Epiphany, the tab bar is at the top. This makes sense for a web browser. In GNOME Terminal, the tab bar is again at the top. This makes absolutely no sense for a terminal app. The HIG fails when it preaches consistency above senses

Umm, why would it make more sense for the tabs to be at bottom for a terminal app? I don't understand. Atleast I find it consistent and easy if all apps have their tabs in the same place. What does it matter what the content of the tabs is when their functionality is still the same?

Just because you are used to having the tabs at bottom for terminal apps doesn't mean it actually is better design or more consistent.

Reply Parent Score: 2

Torsten Rahn Member since:
2005-08-20

Umm, why would it make more sense for the tabs to be at bottom for a terminal app?

Because the user's prompt and visual focus is at the very bottom of the terminal window 99% of the time on average (as long as you are in command line mode).

That's pretty much different from a web browser or an editor where you start to read at the top as soon as you open a new Url and keep the text you are interested in about in the center of the viewport when scrolling.

So arranging the tabs at the bottom of the terminal window keeps the names of the sub windows within reach of your visual focus.

Reply Parent Score: 6

gustl Member since:
2006-01-19

The problem with the Gnome and it's HIG is this:

If you can't wrap your brain around the interface, you are not going to use it, because you cannot configure it to behave as you like it.

The Gnome HIG is not written for my brain, so I find it clumsy, unintuitive and uninformative.

People who think like the HIG - guys will of course have the opinion, that there is no better desktop than Gnome, because everything just fits for them.


An example:
Take the "File > save as" dialog. In KDE you get a tree view when you open the dialog, in Gnome, the only way to find out where the file will be saved, is to read the bread crumb line.
I am a person, who can take in the contents of a picture with ease, it takes me half a second of looking at the tree view, to find out where my file is going to get saved. Reading the breadcrumb view takes MUCH longer (for me!), so the Gnome dialog is a nightmare (for me!). I always have to click on the "file browser" button to get a somewhat retarded graphical representation of where the file is going to be saved.

Reply Parent Score: 3

j-kidd Member since:
2005-07-06

Atleast I find it consistent and easy if all apps have their tabs in the same place. What does it matter what the content of the tabs is when their functionality is still the same?


I have 3 windows opened right now, Konsole, Opera, and VMware Server Console.

For Konsole, the tab bar is at the bottom (the default setting). Hopefully Torsten's explanation has made you aware of why this is regarded by us as a better design, although "99% of the time" is definitely an understatement ;)

For Opera, I place the tab "bar" at the left. This is because:

- I usually have 10-20 tabs opened. A horizontal tab bar doesn't scale and will make it very difficult for me to identify one tab from another.

- I have a wide screen monitor (1280x800). Even if I only have 1 tab opened, I can afford the screen real estate needed by a vertical tab bar (about 160x700).

- I haven't encountered any website that was designed specifically for wide screen anyway.

- Having it at the left gives me infinite depth to hit the scrollbar with a mouse click, compared to having it at the right.

Finally, for VMware Server Console, the tab bar is at the top (the default setting) when it is needed. Most of the time, I just hide it because I usually run one VM at a time.

So there, 3 different apps, 3 different usage patterns, and 3 different tab bar locations.

Edited 2009-02-17 15:49 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 1

reinouts Member since:
2005-07-20


Here's an example that illustrates how bad it is:

In Epiphany, the tab bar is at the top. This makes sense for a web browser. In GNOME Terminal, the tab bar is again at the top. This makes absolutely no sense for a terminal app. The HIG fails when it preaches consistency above senses.


Please show us where in the HIG ( http://library.gnome.org/devel/hig-book/stable/controls-notebooks.h... ) it says you have to put your tab bar at the top? It's not much more than the Gtk+ default. In fact there's an Epiphany extension to put tabs on the side.

You may or may not be right about the tab positioning, but don't blame the HIG without backing it up.

Reply Parent Score: 1

j-kidd Member since:
2005-07-06

How about this? http://library.gnome.org/devel/hig-book/stable/principles-consisten...

While this document serves as the basis for consistency between GNOME applications, you are encouraged to look at and follow other application's conventions where this document provides no guidelines.

Most of the recommendations in the GNOME HI Guidelines are designed to help you create applications that are consistent with the GNOME environment and other GNOME applications.


So, when there is no explicit guidelines, the Consistency principle says you shall HIGify your application so that it is consistent with other GNOME applications

And how about this? http://bugzilla.gnome.org/show_bug.cgi?id=75420

It is a bug that was opened 6+ years ago because the reporter wanted the tab bar at other location than the top. Incidentally, it was shot down immediately by none other than Havoc Pennington, the one who would then bring the holy book of "The Inmates Are Running the Asylum" to the world of GNOME (http://osdir.com/ml/gnome.usability/2002-12/msg00167.html).

And finally, here's a cute one from Ubuntu's Mark Shuttleworth: https://wiki.ubuntu.com/TabConsistency

tabs should appear at the top of the application window


The GNOME guys are working on adding some guidelines to the tab usage, and Mark's document is being referenced by http://live.gnome.org/UsabilityProject/Whiteboard/TabImplementation...

Reply Parent Score: 1