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Why Users Blame Spatial Nautilus 925

An anonymous reader writes "OSNews has a commentary on spatial Gnome and why you KDE/Windows people hate them so much (hint: because almost all of you use Windows and/or a Windows 'interface clone'). Steve Jobs, however, denounced spatial interfaces because they make the users janitors. Hmmm!"
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Why Users Blame Spatial Nautilus

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  • Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BobPaul (710574) * on Sunday June 13, 2004 @05:54PM (#9415725) Journal
    GNOME 2.6 is all about ease of use, performance and unification
    Don't know how to use gconf? Then you shouldn't change the way Nautilitus works, I presume.

    Am I missing something?

    Remove the Kiddie Gloves! []
    • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by hbo (62590) * on Sunday June 13, 2004 @06:04PM (#9415796) Homepage
      Yeah, it's called "respect for the user." In this case it's replaced with "user interface paternalism."

      Browser-mode file browsers hide the lack of thought and organisation in the filesystem structure; spatial ones do not. Folder structure should be simple and as shallow as possible..

      Translation: We know best about how to organize your files. We don't understand why you need a deep directory hierarchy, so we'll make it hard for you to use it.

      What's worst, attacks on the spatial browser try to stop the innovation. While it is hard to call the GNOME's spatial Nautilius "innovative", as spatial browsers have a long history, to mention only the famous Macintosh Finder, it is certainly innovative to bring this idea back to life, after all these years of browser-like file managers domination.

      Translation: You are a pinheaded luddite if you oppose this "innovation."

      • by tentimestwenty (693290) on Sunday June 13, 2004 @06:18PM (#9415883)
        I don't know why this keeps being debated. Spatial interfaces work for when you have few files and shallow directories, just like in the real world on your desk. Browser interfaces work for when you have lots of files and deep directory trees. The only way to get a spatial browser to "feel" like it's powerful when you have a lot of files is to have the computer manage the files in "meta" categories. That way, you're managing groups of things that are smartly organized, not a myriad of individual files. Perhaps when we get some really smart database file systems there will be some automation to bring spatiality back but until then it's browser all the way.
        • by kfg (145172) on Sunday June 13, 2004 @06:28PM (#9415946)
          Perhaps when we get some really smart database file systems there will be some automation. . .

          Someone still has to inform the database just what is considered "smart" behavior.

          This "smart" behavior may well end up being pretty stupid behavior for any particular user. The construction of business rules cannot be fully automated, as they are abstract constructions from particular real world situations.

          You have to decide for yourself which drawer is appropriate to store your socks in, or even whether storing them in a drawer is appropriate at all.

        • by Paul d'Aoust (679461) on Sunday June 13, 2004 @10:06PM (#9416992)

          IMO, the reason this keeps being debated is because of the great diversity of preferences among computer users. For instance, I find GNOME's new spatial thingy to be wonderful (for file managing, at least) in deep folders, as compared to a browser-type file manager. (incidentally, I find spatial browsers to be awful if all I want to do is open a file.) Why do I like it? because if I want to copy a folder in a browser-type file manager, I have to select the files/folders, press Ctrl-C, try to remember exactly how many times I need to press the 'Back' button to get back to the folder I want to copy the files into, and press Ctrl-V to past the files.

          With spatial Nautilus, I find it a breeze to see both folders open on my desktop (even though it's awful clutter), and Ctrl-C Ctrl-V (or Alt-drag) just like that.

          I guess my mind is spatially-oriented instead of timeline-oriented. But that's my point -- there is no one perfect way to do things. For instance, maybe the next person really likes the hybrid browser-plus-tree-sidebar approach that mixes spatial orientation (that tree), easy access to all the folders in the filesystem, and a wee bit o' browsing metaphor.

          I was going to smugly inform the "why do I have to use GConf to get back my old Nautilus" posters that my stock GNOME allows you to change from spatial to browser view right in the Preferences... I was, of course, shocked to find out that I was talking through my hat and in fact there was no such setting. Although I'm very stuck on new spatial Nautilus, I agree that the lack of an easy-to-change option was a rash decision on the part of the GNOME devs.

          • by orcrist (16312) on Monday June 14, 2004 @01:13AM (#9417662)
            Why do I like it? because if I want to copy a folder in a browser-type file manager, I have to select the files/folders, press Ctrl-C, try to remember exactly how many times I need to press the 'Back' button to get back to the folder I want to copy the files into, and press Ctrl-V to past the files.

            Not in Konqueror. There I just hit Shift-Ctrl-L (not sure if this was the default keyboard shortcut since I've been using it so long and have customized quite a few of them) to split the window into two vertical panes and navigate one of the windows to the destination or source depending on where I am. Then I hit Shift-Ctrl-R to close the extra pain again when I'm done. If two panes aren't enough I can hit Shift-Ctrl-L or Shift-Ctrl-H to split any of those into as many sub-panes as I want. Heck I can even open a terminal emulator with F7 which can be linked to any of those panes (i.e. follows the cwd of that pane) and which accepts dragged files or folders as parameters for clt's.

            And don't tell me that that's "just like in Windows".

        • by fucksl4shd0t (630000) on Monday June 14, 2004 @02:33AM (#9417937) Homepage Journal

          I don't know why this keeps being debated. Spatial interfaces work for when you have few files and shallow directories, just like in the real world on your desk.

          What I want to know is why GNOME and it's proponents have to keep justifying their decisions. How good can their decisions be if they have to keep saying "Well, this is what you really like". I'm getting so sick of GNOME zealots telling me how great GNOME is when GNOME is just guilty of the same Microsoft "This is what you want, I don't care what you say" syndrome. If their UI decisions were so good they wouldn't have to keep trying to justify them. If they're not so good, well, lots of people will criticize them.

          When's the last time KDE got knocked for making a controversial UI decision? I don't recall it happening recently, anyway. Of course, KDE has this nasty habit of bringing in UI changes in a fashion that we don't even notice them, or they make it an option we can enable (or easily disable, if that's what we want to do). None of this "Oh, you have to take it because that's how we're giving it".

      • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by tzanger (1575) on Sunday June 13, 2004 @06:23PM (#9415913) Homepage
        Exactly -- I will use my computer how I see fit, thank you very much. It sounds to me like the Gnome team is getting a little big for their britches.
        • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by hbo (62590) * on Sunday June 13, 2004 @06:30PM (#9415966) Homepage
          Actually, the Gnome team isn't who wrote that silly article. They have been making lots of choices for their users through application of the HID, but they do retain the ability to customize most of the interface in true F/OSS style, so I can turn off the behavior I dislike. If it isn't easy for a beginner to do that, well, it's probably a good thing. It should be at least 25% as hard to get in to trouble as it is to get out.
          • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Informative)

            by Moraelin (679338) on Monday June 14, 2004 @02:09AM (#9417856) Journal
            Well, regardless of who wrote that, it's an example of the rampant "if you don't do thing _my_ particular way, you're a n00b/retard/luser/fossil/whatever. I couldn't care less about what _you_ need. Just learn to use whatever I felt like coding" mentality.

            If for the authors of that article shallow directories are ok, more power to them. But here's a real life example (with the corporation and project name changed to protect the innocent;) of a directory I need to get to. It's from a java project:

            ~/workspace/some_project/src/de/some_company/som e_ framework/some_project/util/xml/handlers/content

            What am I supposed to do? Dump the files of all projects together in my home directory, so I can save the "/workspace/some_project" part?

            Yeah, that'll make it so much easier to check in only the some_project files in CVS, when they're mixed with other projects and with every single config file and directory from other apps. E.g., I'm sure everyone will understand if the config file for the game Pingus suddenly appears among the sources I checked in. (Hey, it was something to do between projects, ok?:) For that matter, I'm sure they'll understand that my whole browser cache and history needs to be in CVS in every project too.

            Or maybe unilaterally also dump the "src" (and other directories in each project too), regardless of what the rest of the team decided?

            Or maybe I should tell them that they should stop using packages too, for that matter. Yeah, those projects will be so much easier to use with all the files dumped together in a big mess. EJBs, facade classes, xml content handlers, whole hierarchies of data objects, wrappers, singletons, factories, properties files, deployment descriptors, etc. Yeah, when you need to find the sax event cache classes, and only those, it's soo much easier if they're not in their own package. Not.
            • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Interesting)

              by cyborch (524661) on Monday June 14, 2004 @04:12AM (#9418205) Homepage Journal

              Well, regardless of who wrote that, it's an example of the rampant "if you don't do thing _my_ particular way, you're a n00b/retard/luser/fossil/whatever. I couldn't care less about what _you_ need.

              [snip - lots of good reasons why spatial isn't right for everyone]

              It seems to me that the gnome project has been making this kind of decisions for a while now. I used to be able to do lots of things to change nautilus. These days it seems all the configuration settings have gone away. More and more it looks like windows: "you can change what little we would like you to change, for the rest go look in the registry and hope you are lucky." This is very much accepted by the windows crowd, they stick to the tasks described in the article most of the time. Those of us who use our computers for more specialized tasks will have to go out of our way to configure our computers to our likes.

              The ideas described in the article are indeed a means of getting my grandma to use gnome, and I'm pretty sure that she will like to use a computer where she does not have to worry about things like bitrates and file hierachies. Me, I stick to enlightenment where I can change the stacking of windows, border type for when the developer of some third party app screwed up, as for file browsing im stuck with the gnome 2.4 nautilus until that day when enlightenment 17 stops being vaporware or I find something more configurable. I am not going to be using shallow file hierachies any time soon, and naither are any other people doing specialist work on their computers, I think.

              It seemed that F/OSS was all about choice, the gnome people seems to be taking more and more of that choice away from us in the name of usability. So I choose to use something else. All power to the gnome developers for making "grandma's computer," but it's not for me.

          • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 14, 2004 @03:33AM (#9418098)
            If it isn't easy for a beginner to do that, well, it's probably a good thing. It should be at least 25% as hard to get in to trouble as it is to get out.

            Q. What experience do most new Gnome users have with computers?
            A. Basic Windows use.

            Q. Are these people going to like spatial browsing?
            A. No, they've learned to use a different technique, and non-techies hate it when an interface changes.

            Q. So it's going to cost a lot of money to train them to use GNOME?
            A. You got it.

            Q. Is this going to encourage people to use GNOME?
            A. No, it's going to encourage people to stick with Windows.

            Hmm... I wonder how much Microsoft are paying the GNOME core developers...
        • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by gnu-generation-one (717590) on Monday June 14, 2004 @06:59AM (#9418630) Homepage
          From the article:

          "clicking a link [in a browser] replaces what you are seeing with the new content, unless the link points to another web site (in which case it may open a new browser window for your convenience)"

          And later:

          "Sometimes they [users] even abuse the physical metaphor of tabbed browsing by opening multiple pages - not subpages of the same web site! - in multiple tabs of a browser window. I even know few people who never open more than one browser window, viewing all pages in tabs; I hope they do not try to glue a daily set of newspapers together before reading them..."

          WTF? So I'm wrong to use tabs unless they're pointing to the same website, while websites which open links in a new window are "convenient"?

          Is it just my imagination, or is this the complete opposite of what people normally do when they get a tabbed browser?
      • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by belmolis (702863) <billposer AT alum DOT mit DOT edu> on Sunday June 13, 2004 @06:27PM (#9415941) Homepage
        Folder structure should be simple and as shallow as possible..

        I'm amazed by this statement. In my experience the problem is usually just the opposite. Unix novices or MS Windows users tend to put everything in their home directory, or at any rate have a very shallow directory structure. A well articulated directory structure can make it much easier to find things and to keep related work together. Want to bring the project you're working on with you? If its all in one directory, tar it up you're ready. It's a real pain if it consists of N files in a larger directory. And large numbers of files in the same directory are hard to grok, whether in a shell or in a file browser window, unless they're all of the same type.

        If other people find a shallow directory structure better for their work, fine with me, but the idea that deep directory hierarchies are intrinsically bad is ridiculous.

        • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by skifreak87 (532830) on Sunday June 13, 2004 @07:54PM (#9416415)
          I tend to have // and I LIKE IT that way, it's intuitive for me. I don't want to have everything in shallow structures. Same with my music music directory/artist/album/songs.mp3. Especially since i have lots of live music, it's then grouped by concert and in order (i preface files w/ two digit track number). order matters for live music. I don't want everything in my music.
          if you can explain why shallow structur is better for me i'll switch and use your spatial crap, o/w i want everything in one window.

          also web browing (i tend to use webpages as info i need to recall and i like it tabbed - i hate new windows, i can't find stuff b/c i have too much open). tab 1 - lecture notes, tab 2 - assignment statement, tab 3 - checklist (when applicable), tab 4 - slashdot, tab 5 - other random crap i'm doing. i like to multitask, i don't like reloading web pages every time i need to check something
      • by JCCyC (179760) on Sunday June 13, 2004 @07:53PM (#9416411) Journal
        Right-click on a folder and select "browse folder" (it's the second option in the context menu).

        Me, I like the new mode a lot. It has a Windows 98 feel, very lean, no-frills.
      • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Skjellifetti (561341) on Sunday June 13, 2004 @10:05PM (#9416988) Journal
        The fact that they have had to go such great lengths to defend the utility of such a simple "innovation" really ought to tell the innovators something. Or would if they were capable of listening.
  • Flame on! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 13, 2004 @05:54PM (#9415730)
    In other news, god uses three-space tabs.
    • I use gnome 2.6.

      The spatial nautilus took me all of 30 seconds to get used to and I still use it today...though I use aterm more in day to day stuff.

      But hey folks, it's not rocket science here. It's very easy to use, and it's very easy to get used to. But some people just "I don't want to get used to it! I hate it! HATE IT! I'll never use it!".

      I seem to remember that OSX had a new interface also that people had to spend a little time getting used to it. And I recall in the pre-press shop I worked at people saying "I don't want to get used to it! I hate it! HATE IT!" with that too. But after a few days they couldn't live without it.

      People hate change. But hey, if you don't want to use it, don't use it. Use kde or fluxbox or _______(insert window manager here).

      Ahh...the sweet smell of choice!
      • by spitefulcrow (713858) <> on Sunday June 13, 2004 @08:33PM (#9416605) Journal
        Yeah, I don't even use a graphic filebrowser on my Linux desktop, can you believe that? I save time on performing batch operations on files with bash instead of a filesystem browser, I know that much. mv/cp, when used with wildcards and other matching expressions, is much faster than selecting a set of files and dragging them to another window/folder, etc. And there are a million other things that CLI is more efficient for than a GUI is. I use fluxbox because it's a window manager and doesn't give me any crap I don't want.
  • by CharAznable (702598) on Sunday June 13, 2004 @05:56PM (#9415749)
    Whether a spatial interface is useful or not depends on how many levels of nested directories you have. In linux you can go pretty deep, and a spatial interface quickly becomes unwieldy. On old Mac OS, you hardly ever went deeper than Macintosh HD:Documents, so a spatial interface was very efficient and intuitive. OS X could easily be spatial: all the unix stuff doesn't show up in the GUI anyway.
    • by Lispy (136512) on Sunday June 13, 2004 @06:07PM (#9415817) Homepage
      It doesn't in Gnome 2.6 either. My mom never gets below her home directory. That's exactly what caused her headaches with the Windows Explorer. Seeing all those strange folders named c:\programs c:\temp c:\windows and so on. She never has that kind of clutter anymore.

      She sees one icon: Computer. There she finds her CD-Rom drive and her USB-Stick to go.

      Everything else is in "Personal Folder". She just drags and drops the file into her USB-Stick folder and she's set. She would have never managed to do this inside Windows Explorer, I can assure you. Spatial is easy. And it is fun. I even cleaned up my MP3-Folders. It was a bliss...

      Keep going GNOME!
      • by jcr (53032) <> on Sunday June 13, 2004 @06:20PM (#9415898) Journal
        Spatial is easy. And it is fun. ..and regrettably, it does not scale. I don't have very many songs in my iTunes music folder, (1,513 altogether), and yet finding a particular track in the directory tree is a major PITA.

        iTunes solves this issue with a simple, high-speed search capability that makes it much faster for me to pick the song by typing a part of its title than I can by navigating through the Finder, even if I already know its exact path in the filesystem.

      • by big tex (15917) <torsionality&gmail,com> on Sunday June 13, 2004 @06:48PM (#9416063)
        OK, have you used KDE or WinXP lately?

        They both do this.

        KDE - In the file manager mode of Konqueror, there is a little sidebar with seven icons - Bookmarks, Devices, History, Home, Network, Root, and Services. First, if you want to turn some of these off for your mom, you can right click and make the icon go away. By clicking back and forth between the Home and Devices tabs, she can move stuff just as easy, if not easier - she doesn't have to go and find the damn USB Stick window and move it to where she can drag to it, since it's all one window.
        Besides, there's also a "open folders in separate windows" checkbox in the first configure screen for Konqueror.

        Windows- when you click on the my computer icon, you get a few icons, included within are the My Documents, My Pictures, CD-ROM (or burner, or DVD..) and an icon for the USB stick pops up when I stick it in. Never need to click on the C Drive link.

        Seriously - the GNOME team took an old cow (open in new window), put on a wig (remember where the window was) and wondered why nobody wanted to take her to the prom.
    • by Snad (719864) <mspace.bigfoot@com> on Sunday June 13, 2004 @06:11PM (#9415845)

      OS X could easily be spatial

      OS X is (optionally) spatial. There is a preference option to set the "open-new-window" behaviour, or not, depending on how you like it, or not.

      I'm surprised there's no clear option for doing so with Nautilus given that this "spatial" approach is so often a love it or hate it thing.

      • by BobPaul (710574) * on Sunday June 13, 2004 @06:21PM (#9415900) Journal
        What exactly makes it spatial, then? Just opening folders in new windows the way Win95 and Win98 did by default (and most of us probably disabled?) Or is it remembering your preferences for each seperate folder, the way WinXP does?

        Whether it changes the window contents or not, if it doesn't have a file tree in the left pane, I'm all for it. I just don't like it opening new windows everytime I click on something. When I pull a file out of a cabinent--which, in my 20 years of life I've done so many times that I can count it on 1 hand--I don't dump the whole drawer on the table. I browse through and find the file or paper I want and remove only that folder, just like I only keep open the folder on the desktop I want to use, not the whole cabinent...

        Whatever there is to a spatial desktop that isn't opening a new window, I'll accept. Guess I'll just have to learn to dbl-middle click!
        Remove the Kiddie Gloves! []
    • by gujo-odori (473191) on Sunday June 13, 2004 @06:36PM (#9415996)
      Oh, the reviewer has a ready answer to that. You shouldn't use nested directories because they are a "bad habit':

      What is the real cause of all these attacks on the spatial Nautilius? In my opinion, it is just bad file organisation coupled with a bunch of old bad habits. It's really hard to use a spatial file browser if someone keeps his or her files in a ten-folder-deep structure.

      OK, fine. I'll just take all of my thousands of digital photos collected over the years, which are now organized in nested directories so that I can easily find photos of my kids that I took last November, or of fireworks at Sagami-ko, in the mountains of Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan in 2001, and dump all those pictures into one big folder so that Spatial Nautilus can deal with them better? Riiiiight...

      I typically have four levels deep below my PHOTOS directory, and in some places it's six. Drilling down to the bottom of that would leave me with a lot of desktop clutter, to say the least. His answer to that? Well, he's got a couple, and one we've already seen: just get rid of your nice, well-organized directory structure (and we're going to call being organized an old bad habit now, too; I wonder if he uses drawer dividers in his desk, or just throws everything into the drawers in one big pile? I think I can guess).

      His other answer is to cause the parent window to automatically close by either double-clicking the middle button to open something, or using shift + double-click. This puts extra burden on the user; automatically closing the parent should be the default, and if you want to keep it, you should have to double middle-click.

      He also praises the old Apple Finder for being spatial. As a person who used a Mac in those days, I have to tell you that Finder's spatial behavior (I just called it "pain in the ass") was horrible. It drove me crazy, and I found Windows Explorer to be an incredible breath of fresh air in comparison. It's so much easier to drag a bunch of files from one folder to another in a tree view than it is in a spatial view (and of course, now as a convert to Linux, I find it easiest to move a bunch of files from point A to point B by using cp in a shell; beats graphical file managers easily). He might want to consider the reason that nobody uses spatial file managers anymore is that they were just a failure in practice, no matter how good they sound on paper. I fully agree with the OSNews EIC's opinion: spatial browsers and hierarchical filesystems don't mix. I am not, however, convinced that the future of a MIME-based (ugh!) or db-based (maybe) file system is the answer.

      Overall, the reviewer's defense of Spatial Nautilus seems to be based on two things:

      1. It's the new thing, it's what they've done, so you must like it. If you don't like it, you are Wrong
      2. General perversity of mind, like when he discusses tabbed browsing and says:

        I even know few people who never open more than one browser window, viewing all pages in tabs

      Uh, hello! That's the whole point of tabbed browsing; so that you don't have to have a bunch of browser windows open at once. I only open a second one if I have too many tabs in the first one and they're too small to see.

      In the end, the reviewer is just grasping at straws to try and defend the horrible idea that is Spatial Gnome, and he accuses those who dislike it of only disliking it because it doesn't work like Windows Explorer. It would seem that he is bound to the idea that because it comes from Microsoft, Windows Explorer cannot be good. Could it be, just maybe, that the reason people like Windows Explorer is because it works so well? I dislike Microsoft the company, and I don't much care for most of their products either, but Windows Explorer is quite simply the best thing they've ever done.

      My file manager of choice is a bash shell, so it doesn't matter a great deal to me what's on the desktop as a file manager. When I was a Gnome user I never use

  • Someone explain? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dynastar454 (174232) * on Sunday June 13, 2004 @05:57PM (#9415757) Homepage Journal
    I really can't understand arguments like the one OSNews makes. If people hate the interface then they hate the interface. Saying, "No! You can't hate the interface becasue it's right! You're all worng! You really like it!" just seems, well, silly. What's next, "Why Users Find Spinach Disgusting" telling us why we should really all find spinach to be tasty?
    • by ph4s3 (634087) on Sunday June 13, 2004 @06:17PM (#9415873)
      Thank you for sharing what you think you feel about spinach. In a short while you will be contacted by a local reprentative to advise you why you are wrong and tell you how you will think about spinach in the future.

      Thank you,
      [Anti-Spinach Hating Council for Re-education Of Free Thought]
    • by wmshub (25291) on Sunday June 13, 2004 @06:17PM (#9415876) Homepage Journal
      I think the argument was even dumber than you make out. Basically, the argument is, "spatial browsing is a metaphor for desktops with real files and contentents, thus it is good." But, the whole point of metaphors is to make things easier to use; that is, we pick a metaphor that fits what we want to do, we don't adjust what we want to do to fit the metaphor! Spatial browsing, to a lot of people, adds a lot of work and clutter from taking care of all the intermediate steps to get to their ultimate destination, so if the desktop and file metaphore leads to spatial browsing that people hate, then the answer is to change the metaphor! Not to insist that people live with SB because the metaphor says it is the right way to do things.
      • by kenaaker (774785) on Sunday June 13, 2004 @06:50PM (#9416074)
        I think the argument is in the same class as the argument that we should ignore all the benefits of using fixed or rotary wings to fly, and only use ornithopters, 'cause that's the way the "real world" works. Or wheels are a bad mental model, and all land transportation should use legs. I'm using the power of the computer to increase my ability to organize information. Why should I limit myself to "real world" models, when I can do so much better by stepping outside the limits of the "real world"?
    • by metalhed77 (250273) <> on Sunday June 13, 2004 @06:45PM (#9416054) Homepage

      Sometimes they even abuse the physical metaphor of tabbed browsing by opening multiple pages - not subpages of the same web site! - in multiple tabs of a browser window. I even know few people who never open more than one browser window, viewing all pages in tabs; I hope they do not try to glue a daily set of newspapers together before reading them...

      Dead on, the writer of this article is a serious pedantic asshole. The only argument this person has is some bizarre adherance to the rule of a metaphor. I truly am baffled by this person's mind.
  • Windows (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cristofer8 (550610) on Sunday June 13, 2004 @05:59PM (#9415764) Homepage
    As some of the osnews comments pointed out, there's nothing new about the spacial interface. the first version of macos had it, and windows has had it since win95. In fact, you can still switch to it easily in winxp. However, xp does provide an easy way to turn it off, which nautilus apparently doesn't.

    Overall, I think that the spacial metaphor is good for novice users, but once users get used to organizing files and folders themselves, they begin to find that it clutters their interface more than a browser-based interface does.
    • EXACTLY. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bani (467531) on Sunday June 13, 2004 @06:17PM (#9415874)
      why the gnome devs require end users to dig through hidden settings with gconf-editor is beyond me.

      if such a fundamental ui thing as spatial browsing can be disabled, present it to the user in an easily accessible manner. don't hide it away.

      i mean, what's next, hiding away the logoff button in some hidden menu because users might accidentally use it?
  • Bleh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by arkanes (521690) <> on Sunday June 13, 2004 @06:00PM (#9415767) Homepage
    This has got to be one of the whiniest, worst written apologies I have ever read. You aren't allowed to dislike the new spatial paradigm! If you don't like it, it's only because you're messy! SUBMIT!

    Some people aren't interested in the Gnome developers personal interperation of the desktop metaphor. Some people think that making poor decisions based on pushing on a metaphor to the breaking point is stupid.

    Some people think that using a tool to apply struture to files is an excellent use of a computer, rather than yelling at users that they're too messy and they need to conform to thier tools rather than the other way around.

    Jesus. What egocentric crap! There's nothing wrong with a "spatial metaphor" if thats what works for you, but your underwear twisted in a knot when other people don't willingly submit to your attempt to push it on them is just egocentric and irritating.

  • what nonsense (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CAIMLAS (41445) on Sunday June 13, 2004 @06:01PM (#9415769) Homepage
    I've not read such a bunch of poorly written flaptrap rhetoric in quite a long time.

    There is not a single case of anything there but first-hand anecdotal nonsense. Not only that, but it ignores the fact that spatial browsing (as they call it) was tried with Windows - and dumped, because it largely sucked.

    Some people might like GNOME, but most do not. I do not like it because it is not configureable. Even Windows is more configurable than GNOME is in some respects.

    The author tried to say that hard disks should be browsed like a file cabinet's folder. That's fine - but I like to browse by task (if I'm browsing at all). It would drive me nuts if i had a seperate bash instance or state for every directory I navigated to - as I've evidently moved from those directories, and no longer need them.

    That said, this guy's writeup is borderline incomprehendable. How'd this make it to the front page, again? My left testicle could make a more sound argument for castration than this guy's half-assed attempts at arguing for spatial file browsing.
    • Re:what nonsense (Score:5, Insightful)

      by RickHunter (103108) on Sunday June 13, 2004 @06:11PM (#9415837)

      Some people might like GNOME, but most do not. I do not like it because it is not configureable. Even Windows is more configurable than GNOME is in some respects.

      I'd say that about sums up my problems with GNOME in a nutshell. With KDE, I can configure everything, but its still not overwhelming because the defaults are chosen sensibly and the options are well-presented.

    • Re:what nonsense (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Alan Hicks (660661) on Sunday June 13, 2004 @06:41PM (#9416029) Homepage

      I'm going to try to go easy on the GNOME developers here for the simple fact that I can't do a better job, largely because I don't code. I hate to run some one's name in the mud if I can't do any better, but it seems to me the GNOME developers have lost sight of what made people like GNOME.

      Some people might like GNOME, but most do not. I do not like it because it is not configureable.

      Does anyone remember the reasons GNOME can to be? One of course was to provide a truly free linux desktop as an alternative to KDE. The other was to make a very powerful and configurable desktop. In the GNOME 1.x days you could configure anything you wanted (which sometimes got you into trouble of course). Replacing the window manager was as simple as clicking an option in the preferences dialog.

      In those days a lot of people really liked GNOME. We liked it because it was fast, and it was leaner than KDE. You could run GNOME on pretty much any modern (P5 or better) machine and have a full DE that was usable. In those days, KDE was simply too slow to run on a lot of commodity hardware. These days hardware is cheaper, but GNOME runs like ass. In most cases I find that KDE is noticeably faster (can't offer empirical evidence other than to say that is my perception).

      Somewhere around GNOME 2 the development philosophy changed. The developers seem to care more about making this really dumbed down you-can-only-do-it-this-way GUI in the mistaken idea that this will both attract newbies, and make things easier on them. In reality GNOME now loads in more time than it takes me to wait out the dog days of summer. If it isn't fast, nobody is going to use it, certainly not newbies, who don't have a personal attatchment to your program.

      These days it seems to me like the only people running GNOME are doing so from plain inertia and/or dislike of KDE.

      Myself? I run XFCE, which is GTK+ based. I like many of the GNOME apps (Galeon is the best browser and Abiword is just a straight up fast WYSIWYG word processor, Eye of Gnome is a decent picture viewer), but running them on GNOME is an excersize in patience. There's really only one thing I liked about GNOME 2.6, the improved GTK+ save/open dialogue. This has long been needed in GTK+; it's a shame that the sluggishness of the desktop it was designed for and the idiocy of spatial nautilus overshadowed this important addition.

  • by ErichTheWebGuy (745925) on Sunday June 13, 2004 @06:01PM (#9415772) Homepage
    I for one am kinda tired of people flaming me and saying things like "you kde/windows people" just because I don't care for spatial nautilus.

    I'm not trying to flame anyone here, but it is a valid opinion shared by me and lots of other users.
  • I hate to say it... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by linuxci (3530) on Sunday June 13, 2004 @06:02PM (#9415775)
    To be honest I don't use GNOME or KDE, my most common activity is browsing the web (firefox), mail (thunderbird) and most other things I do are through a terminal window. Sometimes I use other apps (openoffice, media players, etc) but that's insignificant compared to normal usage.

    The Gnome interface guidelines are different to what people are used to under Windows (e.g OK and Cancel buttons in a different order) which makes it annoying when using Firefox which conforms to these guidelines, because I'm swapping between platforms all the time.

    Thiw isn't a firefox problem as they designed it to fit in with the Gnome UI guidelines, but it's not going to be successful unless they get guidelines that all main Linux apps use (Gnome, KDE, and other apps that don't fit into either like OpenOffice) otherwise it's just an inconsistant mess.

  • by conner_bw (120497) on Sunday June 13, 2004 @06:02PM (#9415778) Homepage Journal
    How about instead of trying to justify why people should like Gnome, the open source community make it better so that people stop hating it?

  • by Sigma-X (787916) on Sunday June 13, 2004 @06:02PM (#9415779)
    "Well, that point of view is one-sided. The whole thing about spatiality is to provide the user with a real-life-alike interface that keeps objects' state and does not alter the contents of any physical object if not ordered to. Browser mode folder windows violate these rules by replacing physical object (folder, represented on screen by a window) contents with new set of icons every time the user opens a new folder, and not retaining folders' state (view mode, sort order, icon placement)." Whoever thinks a computer should emulate a file cabinet should trade their compiler for a carpentry set. Poor interface design requires bullshit defenses like this. Good interface design becomes obvious upon using it.
  • by crazney (194622) on Sunday June 13, 2004 @06:03PM (#9415790) Homepage Journal
    The guy is basically saying that this way of browsing your desktop is better for you, so shut up and get used to it.

    Thats just insane.

    Users have their way of using their desktop, and software should adapt to that. Yes - software should push new ideas. However, when users flat out reject them it is not the place of the developers to say "quit your bitching, we know what is best for you."

    As for the guy that wrote the article, attacking users that complain and don't know how to use gconf? What, only power users are allowed to choose how their desktop feels?.. [ as a side not, perhaps if gconf wasn't so crap... ]
  • by Alan Hicks (660661) on Sunday June 13, 2004 @06:04PM (#9415793) Homepage
    I've decided to post this instead of mod.

    I've thought about this, and seen the way a lot of different people use their computers, and i've come to this conclusion why spatial mode is a really dumb thing to do. Spatial mode only helps you move or copy documents from one directory to another.

    Users are basically divided into two groups: people who can find their files, and people who can't.

    People who can find their files hate spatial nautilus because it just clutters up the screen without providing any real functionality. Sure it makes it easier to drag and drop files the few times you need to do it, but it makes navigation of the file system a complete bitch. These people don't want the hassel of working with twelve different windows.

    People who can't find their files typically put every single one of their files regaurdless of content or file type into a single directory, "My Documents" or its equivilant. Since these people pretty much always save their files in this same place, they never benefiit from spatial nautlilus because they never have multiple places for their files. The only benefit of spatial mode is easier copying or moving of files from one directory to another, and since these people only use one directory, spatial mode means nothing to them.
    • by visualight (468005) on Sunday June 13, 2004 @06:30PM (#9415963) Homepage
      From the article:

      What is the real cause of all these attacks on the spatial Nautilius? In my opinion, it is just bad file organisation coupled with a bunch of old bad habits. It's really hard to use a spatial file browser if someone keeps his or her files in a ten-folder-deep structure. Browser-mode file browsers hide the lack of thought and organisation in the filesystem structure; spatial ones do not. Folder structure should be simple and as shallow as possible, and the "master" folders (something like My Images or My Music folders known from Windows) should have their own shortcuts on a GNOME panel, so that playing your favourite song would only require opening My Music from the panel, opening the appriopriate album folder and double-clicking a file icon, instead of browsing straight from the home directory (or, worse, the root one) through several levels of subfolders

      He seems to equate good organization skills with having all your files in one or two folders and having a directory structure 10 folders deep with bad organization. He also uses a lot of "should be's", as if he wants to press his preferences onto the rest of us.

      I don't know about Music Folder idea either. His My Music folder sounds horribly disorganized, or maybe his collection is really small/limited to one genre. His directory structure should be Media/Music/Rock/80s/Singles/ 3. Whats that 5 folders deep? So if he wants to play that song he has to open 5 windows. Or he could go with his shortcut idea and eventually have 30 icons on his desktop. How tidy.

  • Weak (Score:5, Funny)

    by J4 (449) on Sunday June 13, 2004 @06:06PM (#9415804) Homepage
    I'm sorry but the newspaper analogy sucked donkey balls. I mean, my web browser doesn't turn my hands black either.

    GNOME devs - Lay off the Kool-Aid and switch back to something with caffeine!
  • Ivory Tower (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SilentOne (197494) on Sunday June 13, 2004 @06:06PM (#9415807) Homepage
    This article is what is wrong with the OSS community. Simply because one disagrees with the author, that person is wrong wrong wrong.

    I *hated* the folder diarrhea that began with Mac OS. Some people love it. The option to turn it off and on should be an easily configured checkbox in the app, not something "hidden" in the gconf setup.
  • Clutter (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kunudo (773239) on Sunday June 13, 2004 @06:06PM (#9415810)
    Yes please, can I have some more?

    Yes, I'm sure it would be perfect if all files were only 2 directories deep, but achieving that would require you to really really want it (for philosophical reasons?), and waste your time on it. It's not real-world though.

    In the article (I read it) it says that the spatial nautilius mimicks the way physical objects behave, ie by staying in the same place unless you put it somewhere else etc (not replacing the directory you had open). This works fine in the physical world, but computer systems are often more complex (or more simple but act in a different way, depends on how you see it), and therefore we have developed suitable abstractions and interfaces to be able to interact with them. The "browser" mode is one of these. It prevents clutter, and it's easy to get at both folders a level above and below where you are in the directory structure.

    BTW, congratulations on getting an extreme flamebait submission accepted.
  • by mblase (200735) on Sunday June 13, 2004 @06:06PM (#9415811)
    And say that of all the file browsers I've ever used, the default OS X system (and its simplified iPod cousin) with multiple columns scrolling left and right is probably the most useful. It simultaneously tells me what files are in my current folder and leaves a breadcrumbs trail back to the root directory, with the added bonus of giving me detailed info on whatever file I've selected.

    It's not perfect -- it's stuck on alphabetical order and always takes me to the top of a folder's contents instead of scrolling to wherever I last was -- but it gives me a lot of information in one window, which is just the sort of thing an info-geek like me loves.
  • by Zweistein_42 (753978) * on Sunday June 13, 2004 @06:08PM (#9415823) Homepage
    The author seems pretty stuck on extremely stretched "real-life metaphors". I never ever actually thought of files & folders as drawers in a cabinet, or webpages as pages in a book -- any artificial attempts to link these two quite separate activities are doomed to failure. Let's use the advantages of new interface media whenver possible - after all, it was the failure of QuickTime and so many other media players of few years ago to try to immitate real-life devices (CD-players or PDAs) in an interface too different to make such "metaphor" work.

    Advice for shallow folders seems stuck in ages of DOS when you had 100s of files on a drive max. In age with 100's of thousands of files, shallow hierarchy is a murder both in terms of organization and performance.
    Similarly, author's disgust at some people using tabs to display separate pages seems ridiculous - we're not supposed to use interface in the most convenient way possible, just to avoid crossing some imagines real-life metaphor none of us knew existed?

    I guess I just cannot get myself into the mind of the reviers, or the way that he apparently uses his computer... all I can say is, he better realize that other people don't all use the computer in the same way, before he presumes to write UI articles with any authority... :-/

    • by RedWizzard (192002) on Sunday June 13, 2004 @07:06PM (#9416171)
      The author seems pretty stuck on extremely stretched "real-life metaphors". I never ever actually thought of files & folders as drawers in a cabinet, or webpages as pages in a book -- any artificial attempts to link these two quite separate activities are doomed to failure.
      Exactly right. Metaphors break down, and tend to get in the way when they do. In UIs metaphors should be used to reduce the steepness of the learning curve, but should be abandoned as soon as practical and not pushed beyond their natural applicability.

      In this case, the "drawers / cabinet" metaphor doesn't even match particularly well - it doesn't explain links at all, it doesn't map well to the deep hierarchies that are common in filesystems (what's that supposed to be - a drawer inside a drawer inside a cabinet?), and it doesn't explain removable media well. I've used computers long enough to want to think of my harddrive's contents as what they are - files, directories, and links. I want a window to be a view (that I can change) into the filesystem, not a representation of a specific directory. Any interface that gets in the way of that is a bad one.

      The problem with this spatial mode Nautilus has is that it doesn't account for what people want to do. In probably 90% of cases a user opens a new directory they are finished with the old one and leaving it lying around is not the correct thing to do. As Jobs said, it makes the user into a janitor, constantly having to clean up unwanted windows. The author responds to this point by saying "you can use double middle click instead", but why have such an obscure operation for the common case, and why open a new window and close the existing window when replacing the contents of the current window makes more sense?

  • What the hell? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by colonslashslash (762464) on Sunday June 13, 2004 @06:11PM (#9415835) Homepage
    "I even know few people who never open more than one browser window, viewing all pages in tabs; I hope they do not try to glue a daily set of newspapers together before reading them..."

    Ok, I am one of these people, I like to have one browser window open with all of the pages I need in tabs along the top. Why? Because I find it much more efficent functionality wise, if I had multiple windows on the bottom menu bar, it would get far too cluttered.

    I am getting the feeling the author is attacking people like myself who use their browsers like this based on his view that people like their software interfaces to act like objects we encounter in real life. But why should I be limited to how objects work by the laws of physics, when there are better options available to me that aren't confined by these laws?

    I don't understand the attack here, if I find it more functional to use my browser this way, who the hell is he to suggest otherwise? No I don't glue pages of a newspaper side by side, because that would be plain stupidity, but this is not the same. It would take ages to glue newspaper pages together in a different arrangement, whereas on a browser interface such as mozilla, it takes a simple: Right click > Open link in new tab.

    Worst analogy ever.

  • I like gnome 2.6 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by narrowhouse (1949) on Sunday June 13, 2004 @06:11PM (#9415843) Homepage
    I like spatial mode. But the GNOME developers should be careful about ignoring complaints about the lack of options. Linux users aren't fond of being told what's best for them and it wouldn't be a huge development effort to make an options page for the top 5-10 things that GNOME users complain about not having an easy way to change (i.e. not tracking down a gconf key, please let's not head down the path of the undocumented/obscure reg-hacks again)
  • by Prothonotar (3324) on Sunday June 13, 2004 @06:13PM (#9415852) Homepage
    I'm an avid user of Gnome, though a less avid user of nautilus (I tend to prefer the good ole terminal window, myself). I have nothing against the "spatial" nautilus or its detractors/competitors.

    However, reading this article is like a HOWTO on the philosophy of poor user-interface design. Software engineers in general make bad user-interface designers because of the philosophy of those like Radoslaw. That philosophy is that you can engineer a perfect design and ram it down the throats of users who don't like it, because it is based on "sound" engineering. A desktop "metaphor" is only as good as it does its job- which is to aid the user in doing what he or she wants to do (in whichever context you're in).

    "Spatial" nautilus (and to be honest, I'm not entirely sure how it differs from the Windows 95 file manager, but as I said, I don't use Nautilus very much) may be great, but it won't be because it rests soundly on some abstract file drawer metaphor. Hell, if I want to something that matches the usability of a file drawer 100%, I'll buy a file drawer, thank you very much. Nautilus, and any other piece of desktop software will be great if and only if it helps its users get their jobs done. If users are clamoring for an option to turn it off, then that's probably an indication that they are not buying the new UI, or at least not ready for it. Provide them the option (apparently there is one, buried somewhere in gconf no doubt) and move on. Stop trying to deliver a "revolution" to the unwilling, and stop developing user interfaces in a vacuum.
  • by coupland (160334) * <dchase @ h o t> on Sunday June 13, 2004 @06:13PM (#9415856) Journal

    I don't use Nautilus but I decided to read this article just cause it's a slow day. I was amazed at what an absolute buffoon the writer is. Check out some of these choice quotes. Speaking of tabbed browsing:

    Sometimes they even abuse the physical metaphor of tabbed browsing by opening multiple pages - not subpages of the same web site! ... I hope they do not try to glue a daily set of newspapers together before reading them..."

    What an opinionated moron. I browse the web all in one window, using nothing but tabs. But *apparently* I'm abusing my user interface! Here I thought I just preferred it that way, who knew I was offending a purist! And further for people who don't find spatial Nautilus conducive to browsing:

    Folder structure should be simple and as shallow as possible, and the "master" folders (something like My Images or My Music folders known from Windows) should have their own shortcuts on a GNOME panel

    Ahhh, now it's how we're all storing our files the wrong way. Silly us! I appreciate the basic gyst of his argument. "If you change your way of working to conform to your user interface, then you'll find it's completely intuitive. Sorry, no offense to the folks who use and love Nautilus, but you need to keep this buffoon from engaging in any more advocacy.

  • by neonstz (79215) * on Sunday June 13, 2004 @06:13PM (#9415859) Homepage

    I hate it when people applies real world constraints to the computer. Yes, each folder is a seperate entity, but that doesn't mean that you have to treat it as such whenever you handle it. Instead of thinking that each folder has its own window, you can treat the window as a view inside your file system. Opening a new folder is just like switching channels on the tv. As someone else mentioned, each window does not have to represent the folder itself, but rather the current task.

    I'm also one of those "few" people browsing the web using just one window (opera). Web browsing is usually one task, thus one window. It's also quite practical if I want to move the browser to the other monitor. Instead of moving 10 windows I can now move one. If I want to use both monitors, I just detach one of the document windows (or create a new window) and move that window.

  • There is a reason that every single desktop environment (barring GNOME 2.6) has dropped the "spatial desktop". There is a reason that people now write code languages that are not Smalltalk, no matter how much you try and make them so. There is a reason that people get cable modems/dsls, instead of dialing up an ISP on their phone. Let the old technologies die. They served their purpose, and trying to ressurect them is not only painful to those around you, but to the poor, severely beaten corpses of these once proud horses.
  • by AnEmbodiedMind (612071) on Sunday June 13, 2004 @06:19PM (#9415892)
    This is such a bad argument. The author seems to be arguing that the spacial file browser makes a better user interface because it is a closer match to how we think of files and folders...

    They explicitly argue that the spacial metaphor is somehow intuitively more appropriate:

    Think of your hard drive contents as of a desk full of drawers. Every time you put something into a drawer, you may be sure that the next time you open the same drawer it will be in the same place (and the drawer itself will remain in the same place). So, when you open a folder and try to locate a particular icon, it should be where you put it before. Simple?

    But so what!? There are other viewing metaphors (such as the browser) that are just as coherent to the user, but don't have such negative usability impacts (such as hundreds of open windows, new windows opening in seemingly random locations, and seemingly random changes in view).

    Arguments for usability need to be based on usability testing or proven heuristics - not on "this metaphor is the most conceptually pure, but who cares about its usability impact". The only real advantage of a strong UI metaphor is to increase peoples speed at learning the interface due to their familiarity with the metaphorical concept, but the choice of metaphor needs to be carefully weighed up against how usable that product will be once it is learnt.

    I find it a confusing and jarring experience when OS X finder switches view mode based on the previous way I was viewing some folder, because I don't remember how I last viewed a folder, I'm thinking in a browser/viewer type framework (but I realise my experience may not be typical of the average user). How usable is this for the average person?

  • by Bystander (227723) on Sunday June 13, 2004 @06:19PM (#9415894)
    The commentator claims in part that spatial browsing is better because it encourages a shallow directory structure, which is clearly preferred over deep directory hierarchies for organizing information. He gives as a metaphor the contents of a drawer, which is easily visible to anyone who opens it. But he fails to consider the problems for people who have large numbers of files and documents that need organizing. Imposing shallow directory trees implies that there will either be large numbers of files in each directory, or that there will be a large number of subdirectories under each root and branch node. The appropriate metaphor then is not a few drawers in a desk to keep track of, but a garage with walls that are packed with the contents of shelves, boxes, jars, drawers, cabinets, and other containers. After a while, people forget where things are stored and resort to brute force searching to find things they know are there, but can't recall exactly where.

    The solution isn't to impose a particular form of organization for storing and browsing files, but rather to provide superior tools for indexing and cataloging all entries so that they are easy to recall. What we need are browsers that allow us to browse by content attributes, rather than simply by file name or directory path.
  • poor UI design... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hankaholic (32239) on Sunday June 13, 2004 @06:42PM (#9416038)
    I am not familiar with the software in question. However, the author of the article said a few things that lead me to believe that the overall interface is probably designed quite poorly.

    "I even know few people who never open more than one browser window, viewing all pages in tabs; I hope they do not try to glue a daily set of newspapers together before reading them..."
    Why would one artificially limit their use of tabs to only pages served from the same website? The author likens tabs in a browser to marks in a book. However, he almost suggests that use of such a tool should be limited in use to one specific style of usage. To me, it might make sense to use tabs within the same window to group pages related by task (recipies for tonight's dinner, for instance) rather than source.

    By the way, I cannot imagine how spatial browsing must lead to screen clutter: opening folders with double-middle-click or Shift-double-click closes the parent folder window at once.
    And this is intuitive how? The author seems to think that UI elements should map directly to real-world objects. I am left wondering which real-world object would lead the user to stumble across the idea of holding the shift button while double-clicking.

    Why double-clicking? Why must a modifier key be used? My remote control never requires a double-click. Nor do the climate controls on my car. The author seems to like the book analogy -- I've definitely never had to turn a page twice while holding a random button to get the desired response from a novel.

    And even if it is not enough, one can click one field in the gconf configuration editor and turn Nautilitus into "classical" non-spatial file browser. Don't know how to use gconf? Then you shouldn't change the way Nautilitus works, I presume.
    The author also suggests that if one cannot figure out how to change the application's default behavior then they should constrain themselves to the developer's idea of what the proper settings should be. In other words, if a user finds a UI to be confusing and unfriendly, it's their own fault and they aren't qualified to determine what environment they prefer.

    Is this really the type of thing one should be saying of an application with a well-designed UI?
  • by theantix (466036) on Sunday June 13, 2004 @06:49PM (#9416068) Journal
    The reason people hate Spatial Nautilus is simple: they use KDE or (more likely) Windows most of the time and are used to that. They boot into Gnome and try out the new Nautilus that they've already seen flamed to death on slashdot and osnews. The first thing they do is click the fuck out of it and explore their entire hard drive, opening up dozens and dozens of windows on the screen. They fail to try to explore the interface or read any documentation and don't realize there is a "File->Close Parent Windows" or Ctrl-W available to them, nor do they even notice that folders retain their characteristics like position and size over time.

    They then decide that it sucks because they never bothed to give it an honest look in the first place and were either resistant to any sort of change or were simply confirming the pre-existing bias they already had.

    Here's who *likes* spatial nautilus: people that use it to manage files instead of browse their filesystem. People that use Gnome as a tool and not a toy, people who and organize their personal files logically. If you actually *use* it, you'll probably end up loving spatial nautilus, despite the areas that still need improvement in it. But those are not the people that tend to review new distributions or new versions of desktop environments which is why there are so few positive spatial Nautilus reviews out there.
  • by Tony Hoyle (11698) <> on Sunday June 13, 2004 @07:01PM (#9416131) Homepage
    It's easy to start on an OSS program to 'scratch an itch' - I started that way myself. 6 months down the line I found I had *real users* who actually (gasp) wanted the program to work for them too.

    5 years down the line I probably spend half my development time thinking about how each change impacts the users (yes, even the really annoying ones). I have a rule.. if more than 10 people complain about something I have a design issue that needs fixing (since there's probably another 1000 who didn't get as far as the mailing list to complain).

    Too many programmers treat their projects as an excercise in masturbation and forget that there are real, flesh and blood people out there who are relying on you to get it right - some of them have invested money because they believe you can do it.

    People don't read documentation, or FAQs, or even google. They want their software to do what *they* want it to do and it is our job as programmers to at least attempt to give them that. Bleating that all the users *must* be wrong because this wizzy new feature is so revolutionary it'll change the world is just wrong on so many levels I can't even begin to express it.

    Innovation is good, but you do it slowly - first offer the option, make it a bit more obvious over time (once the teething troubles are out), and see how people pick it up and use it. If they all hate it, then dump it. Forget the ego... you'll just piss everyone off and kill the project.

  • by Taos (12343) on Sunday June 13, 2004 @07:03PM (#9416144) Homepage
    We're currently in the process of rolling out Linux at our animation studio (RedHat -- don't bitch, it's what our software vendors support). Being the one who knows linux best, I've tried a few things on the artists to see how they like it.

    First thing I tried was KDE on RedHat 9. What an abysmal failure that was. I upgraded the machines to 3.2.1 using the kde-redhat rpms available here []

    The problem we had with that setup was the file browser. It's way too complex for non-knowledgeable linux users. 800 tabs on the left side of the screen to get to different parts of the file system just simply doesn't work. Nobody could get to anything.

    So I switched them to a custom compiled version of gnome 2.6 on redhat 9 (again, vendors restrict us to it). It's actually gone quite well. However, the change I've had to make across the board is getting rid of the spatial windows (a pretty easy option to change, and now part of our default user config). We use a very large file structure to get around our assets and shots, and navigating it with a spatial browser would have taken a ton of windows and the user would have spent way too much time closing windows. So, their browser window has actually been quite sucessful.

    In short, the gnome browser view is a winner, but spatial navigation just doesn't work for very large directory structures.

  • by cos(x) (677938) on Sunday June 13, 2004 @07:18PM (#9416252)
    This just occured to me. If the file system is to be seen as a file cabinet full of files - then how can there be subdirectories at all? If root is the filing cabinet, then the directories in root are the drawers. Inside the drawers, there are files. How can there be subdirectories inside the drawers? Drawers inside drawers? Entire filing cabinets inside drawers? No matter how you look at it, the metaphor doesn't hold. So the argument of making it "just like real life" is just plain wrong.
  • from a keyboard user (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Panther_Wyvern (787921) <> on Sunday June 13, 2004 @07:30PM (#9416302)
    For many years, OS/2 Warp was my preferred desktop. Had it not been for IBM's virtual abandonment of the product, I'd be using it today. There are many things I still miss from OS/2's gui (the Workplace Shell). One thing I remember with nostalgic fondness was the spatial interface. It really worked well on a system that views drives the same way DOS/Windows does (C:, D:, E:, etc.). This kept my directory tree much shallower. When I finally gave up on OS/2, I moved to Windows. I couldn't and can't stand the interface, but the one thing I really began to rely on was the browser-based interface. What really grabbed me at first is that I could very comfortably begin doing file manager operations entirely with the keyboard. For example, to move a file to its parent directory, you can "Ctrl-X" the file, "Alt-Left" to the previous directory and "Ctrl-V" to finish the move. Trying the same operation with the spatial interface would never have been as quick or simple. Being a keyboard-oriented user by preference to this very day, I can really appreciate this. When I finally moved to Linux, I loved the fact that my command prompt became so important again, but in the gui category, I was back to near-total mouse usage. When I found KDE (and especially when KDE introduced Konqueror - which outstrips IE in almost every way as far as I'm concerned), I was happy to get a return to the browser interface.

    There are still some things I'd like to see resurrected from OS/2's WPS, but for the spatial interface, I'm okay with nostalgia.
  • by Animats (122034) on Sunday June 13, 2004 @07:35PM (#9416328) Homepage
    From the article:
    • By the way, I cannot imagine how spatial browsing must lead to screen clutter: opening folders with double-middle-click or Shift-double-click closes the parent folder window at once. And even if it is not enough, one can click one field in the gconf configuration editor and turn Nautilitus into "classical" non-spatial file browser. Don't know how to use gconf? Then you shouldn't change the way Nautilitus works, I presume.
    Or, "I am so l33t that I know how to use double-middle-click and the "gconf configuration editor". And people wonder why Linux has trouble getting traction on the desktop.

    Keyboard "shortcuts" are shortcuts. You should never have to use them, and all of them should be visible in menus. Go read "Tog on Interface", or "The Inmates are Running the Asylum". The user should never need to know a secret code to do something.

  • In the name of all that exists, please stop trying shoving metaphors onto the abstract beauty of computers.

    The following things are stupid:
    - disabling the backspace key because you couldn't easily erase things with typewriters
    - eliminating Undo, Redo, and Repeat because time travel is physically impossible
    - having take two hours to load because it takes two hours to go to the physical ticket booth
    - making directory trees behave like physical drawers

    Metaphors do not make things easier to use. If Jane-Six-Pack tosses an empty vodka can out of her armoured utility vehicle, she expects it to disappear. She does not expect it to stay where it landed until it decays in twenty million years.

    If computer interfaces were just as tedious as real life, no one would bother with them.
  • by smash (1351) on Sunday June 13, 2004 @07:58PM (#9416432) Homepage Journal
    In the Real World (tm), users have more than playing mp3s and looking at pr0n to use their computer for, so more than 2 or 3 folders, and a multi-level file structure is required to store the different types of work.

    One of the first things I always did in Windows 95 explorer (once I found the option for it) was turn OFF "open folder in new window", because its a pain in the arse.

    As to the whole "but a web browser is like a book!" argument... well.... my PC is like a filing cabinet. I don't want to pull files out of the filing cabinet (open in new window) until I find what I'm looking for. I'd rather sift through the open drawer (tree list at side of browser window for example), until i find what I want.

    "BAD" interface design is when the implementor makes decisions on behalf of the end-user that increase work-load for *no good reason*.

    "Because its bad interface design" is NOT a self-justifying reason. If it makes my work more efficient, it is not bad.

    I'll bet the supporters of this crock are akin to those who think that storing every file they create under the root directory is a good idea as well, because sorting through 10,000 files in the same folder is good interface design.


  • by xrayspx (13127) on Sunday June 13, 2004 @08:03PM (#9416457) Homepage
    I had no idea that I was abusing the privilege of tabbed browsing by using it to keep as few browser windows open as possible. I need to rethink my entire browsing paradigm. This guy makes too many good points, I've been browsing all wrong all these years, what could I have been thinking? Thank you Random Polish Guy, thank you for explaining why one shouldn't abuse tabs by having two separate sites open at the same time.

  • by dtfinch (661405) * on Sunday June 13, 2004 @08:09PM (#9416489) Journal
    The forced spatial mode is bearable.

    What I dislike is the "mime-magic" feature, where it attempts to read every file in the current folder to determine the file types, for 3 reasons:
    1) You can't turn it off without downloading the source and rebuilding.
    2) It makes the file browser run unbearably slow.
    3) Nautilus will ignore your file type settings almost entirely, except to refuse to open a file when it disagreees with you on the type of a particular file. There's no way to tell it "screw you, I'm right and you're wrong, so stop bugging me and let me open the file with a double click"

    This is not all entirely bad. Gnome has become an experimental desktop, with cool bleeding edge ideas mixed in with some bad or underdeveloped bleeding edge ideas, the better of which will survive in the long run. If we don't have at least one desktop environment on the bleeding edge, developing new ideas before anyone else, Microsoft, Apple, or some other company is going to patent those ideas and all open source desktops, not just gnome, will be held back by stagnation and threats of patent litigation.

    So on the whole, we shouldn't be criticizing gnome, but helping to make it better.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 13, 2004 @08:13PM (#9416509)

    I've been listening to this stupid Nautilus flaming ever since it first came out. Unfortunately, it seems that today's computer using community is largely divisible into two groups. One group likes the Windows way, and one group likes the MacOS way. Then there's the minority who prefer the CLI, Amiga, Atari, VMS, or the C64.

    I just want to know why anyone even cares what the default on Nautilus is. I mean, seriously. Who here on Slashdot uses the default for anything. Aren't you geeks? Don't you edit your damn .zshrc to your liking, or the equivalent for whatever shell you use? I've seen this gconf-editor (I don't use GNOME, or KDE, or any other fruity desktop environment, for that matter) and it's not that big a deal. It's not like you couldn't figure out how to do it.

    Personally, GUIs annoy me. I probably would prefer the browser paradigm to the spacial paradigm, but I'm not such a fucking pansy that I can't be bothered to change a little, well documented configuration option, and I certainly wouldn't be here whining on Slashdot about it.

    For those of you that like the browser system: use it. For those of you that like the spacial system: use that. The GNOME devs are guessing that the majority of new users (ie, the grandma you dorks are always going on about) are going to prefer the spacial system, and you know what, they're probably right. My Grandma could use early MacOS. Not so with the new versions, no matter how pretty they may be. I'm sure (though I don't pretend to be a UI expert, unlike every geek on Slashdot) that the spacial paradigm had something to do with that.

    God, you guys are the worst. I've been saying all along: if you want Joe User on Linux, you're going to end up with a shitty default UI -- keep it hobbiest, so we can do what we like -- but NOOOooo. Gotta make "desktop penetration" a goal. Gotta "bring down MS". Couldn't let a good thing be. So now you have all these "user-friendly" efforts going on that are exactly what Joe User would benefit from, and GUESS WHAT? They suck for power users. Thats how it works. As they say, if you sleep with dogs...

  • by WoTG (610710) on Sunday June 13, 2004 @08:27PM (#9416575) Homepage Journal
    I'm a little behind in my GNOME versions... so I had to dig up this short article with pictures of this spatial mumbo-jumbo []. Here I was imagining the weird virtual reality type file navigation in Jurassic Park, but no, it's just another file browser - albeit one that is somewhat more like Explorer in recent versions of Windows.

    I really don't see the fuss, it's not like anyone's forcing GNOME 2.6 on anyone. No button to turn off the feature? If it is that big of a deal, then someone will create said button... it ain't rocket science.
  • by krmt (91422) <therefrmhere@ya[ ].com ['hoo' in gap]> on Sunday June 13, 2004 @11:50PM (#9417428) Homepage
    Ok, apparently no one knows how to properly use spatial nautlius. If you've got deep heirarchy, as I do too, spatial still helps immensely. Spatial is about using people's innate knowledge of space in order to help them navigate, and this spatial knowledge does not disappear as you drill down a heirarhcy. Indeed, it becomes more and more important because a deep heirarchy adds complexity, and using your subconscious spatial awareness instead of scanning every directory name as you go down speeds things up (or at least creates a placebo effect towards it).

    The benefits of having deep heirarchies over shallow broad ones applies to spatial metaphors as well. You don't have to remember where a thousand pieces of the puzzle are placed individually in a single directory, but instead have to remember a few discreet pieces of information per group, which is easier for most people to handle. This article is amazingly flawed in ignoring this, and totally ignores the benefits of organizational division.

    Spatial isn't perfect by any means. I've found that adding custom icons to folders helps quite a bit as well (on Debian /usr/share/pixmaps/other has a slew of them if you're interested) in conjunction with spatial. You can actually drag a an icon pixmap directly on to the icon in the properties window to quickly apply it to a folder in Nautilus. What Nautlius badly needs is an "align to grid" function to clean up slightly misplaced icons. Overall though, you have to double-click on every folder you want to open up anyway, and holding down shift or using the middle mouse button to close previous windows is absolutely not an issue once you start doing it. If you give it a fair try for a little while, you may be surprised.
  • by LoocSiMit (760771) on Monday June 14, 2004 @12:09AM (#9417480)
    I use a spatial interface every now and then. It's commonly known as the "real world". As an interface, it sucks. Every time I want to go to the pub I have to walk down the road, turn left, walk up the road and turn left again. Not only that, but I have to do the opposite to get back to my house!

    The "real world" system is intuitive, but it's too damn inefficient. I mean, why can't I have the pub, toilet and a selection of restaurants right next to my bed? Why do I even have to get out of bed? Why can't I just have a list of places I like to go and click one and go straight there?

    At least on my computer I can use the equivalent of a teleporter, even if doing so upsets some wannabe hack on OSNews.

  • by diamondsw (685967) on Monday June 14, 2004 @12:14AM (#9417495)
    Okay, the writer's an ass. Get over it. The guy writing the article is an ass for trying to impose his world view on you (particularly the preposterous claims of reducing folder depth - I find spatiality works *better* with increased depth). His points are poorly chosen and made. But that doesn't mean that spatiality is bad - far from it - it just means this guy is an ass.

    The main point of a spatial interface that he fails to emphasize (but mentions briefly in passing) is that every time you open a window everything is exactly as you left it. The icons are in the same spots, the view options are set as they were, the window looks the *same*. Each folder is unique.

    I can glance at my screen for a split second and tell you exactly what folders are open, just based on their position and view options - all of the "major" folders have distinctive views set. As I click through windows, I'm already moving the mouse to the next icon because I know exactly where it will be. Although he beat his metaphors to death, it *is* just like a desk. I always keep these files here, I can look at my filer and tell how much I have left to do, etc.

    Many of you are using spatiality in your web browsers and not even realizing it. When you open a lot of tabs at once, I'll bet you know instinctively where each site is (Megatokyo, Real Life, then PVP, etc) and don't necessarily have to read the titles - you just know that "that's the one I want". That's spatiality.

    The reason spatial interfaces on Windows and most Linuxes have failed is *not* because spatial = bad, but because their implementations have generally sucked. The whole point of a spatial interface is that everything maintains its state - it's where you left it and predictable. Linux and Windows (especially Windows) fail in this regard because thye only seem to keep state for a while, or not in all circumstances. Every so often on Windows all the folders lose their state information. That makes a spatial interface impossible to use effectively.

    Recently the Mac (where all of this really got started 20 years ago) has screwed it up with its brushed metal windows that interfere with state maintenance in particularly brain-dead ways. Nautilus is the first really good implementation of a spatial file browser in a long time.

    To all of the people touting the explorer view, consider this. How often do you need to copy files and end up scrolling the tree pane up and down, clicking through directory trees, or even try opening two explorer windows at once and resize all over to copy? It happens a lot because you're trying to show the entire directory structure in a window at once, and *that* doesn't scale well. However, having one window for one folder does scale. In a spatial model, I open each folder (maybe by clicking through other folders to it, maybe by using a menu or shortcut) and then drag.

    Honestly *try* it for a while. Don't like it? Switch it off. Done.

16.5 feet in the Twilight Zone = 1 Rod Serling