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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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

Darkmage Member since:
2006-10-20

actually I did try kde for a while and I HATED the kterminal's tabs being at the bottom. It really bugged the hell out of me. OSX and gnome both have the tabs at the top of the window.

Reply Parent Score: 1

ari-free Member since:
2007-01-22

"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)."

good point and the same is also true with IRC apps. Note that the tabs in chatzilla (part of mozilla) are at the bottom.

Reply Parent Score: 2

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