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Why Users Blame Spatial Nautilus

michael posted more than 10 years ago | from the 80-by-24-is-all-anyone-should-ever-need dept.

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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No kidding (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9415719)

I tire of those movies that show those 3d interfaces... Matrix Revolutions... Minority Report... what a useless waste of movement!

Ceren does not use Spatial Nautilus (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9415723)

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$Id: ceren.html,v 7.0 2004/01/01 11:32:04 ceren_rocks Exp $

Re:Ceren does not use Spatial Nautilus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9415795)

Gross.

Huh? (5, Insightful)

BobPaul (710574) | more than 10 years ago | (#9415725)

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! [osdir.com]

Re:Huh? (5, Insightful)

hbo (62590) | more than 10 years ago | (#9415796)

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."

Spatial for shallow, Browser for deep. (5, Insightful)

tentimestwenty (693290) | more than 10 years ago | (#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.

Re:Huh? (5, Insightful)

tzanger (1575) | more than 10 years ago | (#9415913)

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.

Dupe (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9415728)

Spatially dupe

1st (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9415729)

first woot!!!

Flame on! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9415730)

In other news, god uses three-space tabs.

How to turn it off. (3, Informative)

MooKore 2004 (737557) | more than 10 years ago | (#9415732)

From the Wikipedia article... [wikipedia.org]

If you do not like Spatial Nautilus, turn it off by setting the following key to true using gconf-editor. /apps/nautilus/preferences/always_use_browser

Re:How to turn it off. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9415849)

Not sure what's so informative about this. He tells you how to do it in the article...

Re:How to turn it off. (-1, Flamebait)

elmegil (12001) | more than 10 years ago | (#9415862)

WhoTF uses Nautilus anyway? It sucks in 2D in the old metaphor, it's gonna suck in the new metaphor too.

Yeap janitors. (0, Offtopic)

jwcorder (776512) | more than 10 years ago | (#9415734)

One of the highest paid janitors in the world....but I don't smell like piss and vomit....well not today anyway.

Well... (3, Insightful)

b0lt (729408) | more than 10 years ago | (#9415739)

There shouldn't be such an outcry over this. People are accustomed to things such as double-clicking (OOPS, VIOLATED A PATENT) and other parts of Windows. To ease the transfer from Windows to Linux, the GNOME team should at least create an option to disable it.

Re:Well... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9415751)

or, if you weren't retarded, you'd remember that double clicking was for PDA's only.

Re:Well... (1)

Dreadlord (671979) | more than 10 years ago | (#9415773)

Well, the GNOME team did actually solve these problems, middle-click the folder and Nautilus will open it in the same window, benefits:

1) No double-click patent violation.
2) It works the same way as in Windows.

Re:Well... (1)

b0lt (729408) | more than 10 years ago | (#9415822)

1) The double-click patent was a joke. It only applies to PDAs IIRC. 2) It does? I don't recall that middle clicking opened a folder in the same window. I don't even think i does anything for that matter in Windows. Remember, the point is for the average Windows user to be able to figure out how to use it almost instantaneously (from past experience, for example) It doesn't need to be EXACTLY the same, just familiar.

Re:Well... (1)

Dreadlord (671979) | more than 10 years ago | (#9415897)

1) Mine is a joke too.

2) Yeah it does, it closes the parent window and opens the child's.

Re:Well... (4, Insightful)

EvanED (569694) | more than 10 years ago | (#9415905)

"middle-click the folder and Nautilus will open it in the same window"

Actually, it doesn't. It opens it same as normal, then closes the parent window. The difference is that unless you're very careful the windows will be in different locations and different sizes. Both are really annoying when you're trying to get to a directory that is pretty deep quickly.

Also, most people's middle "button" is my mouse wheel, and double clicking that makes little sense and can actually be somewhat difficult.

Re:Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9415878)

the patent was on PDA's, well i can't blame you, slashdot news is so unrealiable

Spatial browsing can be good if... (5, Insightful)

CharAznable (702598) | more than 10 years ago | (#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.

Re:Spatial browsing can be good if... (4, Interesting)

Lispy (136512) | more than 10 years ago | (#9415817)

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!

Re:Spatial browsing can be good if... (4, Interesting)

jcr (53032) | more than 10 years ago | (#9415898)

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.

-jcr

Re:Spatial browsing can be good if... (4, Informative)

Snad (719864) | more than 10 years ago | (#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.

Re:Spatial browsing can be good if... (5, Insightful)

BobPaul (710574) | more than 10 years ago | (#9415900)

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! [osdir.com]

Someone explain? (5, Insightful)

Dynastar454 (174232) | more than 10 years ago | (#9415757)

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?

Re:Someone explain? (2, Insightful)

Beatbyte (163694) | more than 10 years ago | (#9415827)

I believe its more of an explanation of why people don't like it. Not why they are wrong in their opinions.

Kinda like why some people don't like front wheel drive automobiles and some don't like rear wheel drive.

They're not saying rear wheel drive is what you should like and this is why. More like these are some common misconceptions of rear wheel drive and common mistakes when using it.

Re:Someone explain? (2, Insightful)

belmolis (702863) | more than 10 years ago | (#9415838)

Actually, I do almost all of my filesystem navigation in shell windows. Its much easier and quicker. And one reason I don't like file browsers is precisely because I don't like having the new directory replace the current one in the window. That makes it real fun to move a file from a subdirectory into the parent, for example. So other things being equal, a spatial file manager would probably be preferable to me.

I agree with parent up to a point. Much of the time there's no point telling people they should prefer something else. But it is also true that people can be very resistant to new things out of bad habits or because they don't understand the benefits of the new approach. In this case, it seems to me that its a good idea to introduce spatial behavior but it should be easy to turn it off. And easy doesn't mean using gconf. It should be possible to do this from within Nautilus, and not several levels down in preferences. In fact, I can imagine that I would want to switch back and forth frequently, so a button right on the toolbar would be handy.

Re:Someone explain? (4, Funny)

ph4s3 (634087) | more than 10 years ago | (#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,
A.S.H.C.R.O.F.T.
[Anti-Spinach Hating Council for Re-education Of Free Thought]

Re:Someone explain? (5, Insightful)

wmshub (25291) | more than 10 years ago | (#9415876)

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.

Thats not why! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9415759)

People blame spacial browsing because it sucks.

Disclosure? (1)

xIcemanx (741672) | more than 10 years ago | (#9415762)

Did anyone see the book/movie Disclosure?

Spatial navigation is the wave of the future, face it. It's much more intutive than our current system. We just need to get used to it.

It's like the metric system: we don't want it now because we're not used to it, but everyone knows it's better than the English system.

Re:Disclosure? (2, Interesting)

acebone (94535) | more than 10 years ago | (#9415783)

Wave of the future ? More like blast from the past, early win95 did this - and it sucked.

Re:Disclosure? (2, Funny)

Sigma-X (787916) | more than 10 years ago | (#9415797)

then the future must be awkward and take a while to close when you're done using it.

Re:Disclosure? (1)

pjay_dml (710053) | more than 10 years ago | (#9415832)

i like your comparison with the metric system! there does seem to be some form of equality.
is this again a case of humans not wanting to change?

but my guess is, that is has more to do, with what i would label 'surrounding technologies'!
people are just too used to a 2 dimensional computer world. all attempts to bring depth into the visual display have been rather laim (3D buttons, shadows, etc.).

call it 3D, spatial, or artificial environment. a new and revolutionary way of interfacing will come. this is just mearly an intermediate technology.
i believe, we are on the verge to something far bigger!

stop bashing inventive developers, rather stick with M$ bshing, if you have to stay at a primitive level!

Re:Disclosure? (5, Insightful)

kunudo (773239) | more than 10 years ago | (#9415847)

It's like the metric system

As in it's not like the metric system? The metric system is mathematically elegant, but the spatial nautilius is just oversimplified. An oversimplified approach to a rather complex task. It's an abstraction level below the browser nautilius, and one step to low. Clutter.

we don't want it now because we're not used to it, but everyone knows it's better than the English system.

As in clearly not everybody knows it's better than the browser nautilius?

Troll? Yes, probably.

Metric System Better? Hardly! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9415850)

Just imagine:

"And kilometers to go before I sleep, and kilometers to go before I sleep"

- OR -

"I can see for kilometers and kilometers and kilometers...."

Yeah, the metric system is better, really.

Re:Metric System Better? Hardly! (1)

xIcemanx (741672) | more than 10 years ago | (#9415880)

Um.......you think poetry involving "meters" is any better with the American "feet"?

Also, the Metric system IS better. NASA uses it. Scientists use it. It's easier to calculate. You can use decimeters and dekameters. Even Coca-Cola and Pepsi use it, for crying out loud.

Re:Disclosure? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9415865)

I reckon that metric system is flawed - I was one of those who have been brought up on the metric system, but I find that for quick guesses as to how long something is, the meter is too large, and the centimeter is too small to use practically.

The inch, and the foot, are both easy to use in this regard, and nothing says that you can't have 32.12432", or 1.2152 feet, I don't see anything "better" about the metric system.

Sure, We don't have to memorize "12 inches in a foot, X feet in a yard...", but we have far more names now, We have the millimeter, centimeter, dekameter, meter, hectometer, kilometer, and megameter, gigameter, terameter, petameter, exameter, and down the other scale, and right down the other scale.

I reckon that the Metric system is "more intutative" only because (1) We already know it, (2) Everyone else (in out neighbourhood) uses it, (3) It "seems more modern", and finally, (4) It is foundational to the SI notation, but not because of anything special (The meter was originally just one millionth of the distance between paris and the north pole, if I'm not wrong)

Likewise, with this spatial navigation... Only time will tell. Personally, I reckon this depends on the way the person thinks, and how the files are organised, but may not work for everyone all the time.

Re:Disclosure? (2)

xIcemanx (741672) | more than 10 years ago | (#9415895)

For the too big/too small....use dekameter and decimeter.

It's also unfair how you say how we have to memorize prefixes. You're comparing it to memorizing conversions. We have to memorize feet, inches, miles, leagues, etc. Also, metric prefixes are same throughout. No more memorizing pounds, ounces, etc.

Re:Disclosure? (1)

CAIMLAS (41445) | more than 10 years ago | (#9415907)

Maybe you haven't been paying attention. Spacial navigating file managers have been here and gone quite a long time ago as a 'standard', because people hate them. (Windows pre-IE4, MacOS classic)

Re:Disclosure? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9415908)

Spatial navigation is the wave of the future

Actually it was the default behavior in Windows 95. You don't want to go back to Windows 95, do you?

Re:Disclosure? (5, Interesting)

pantherace (165052) | more than 10 years ago | (#9415920)

Spatial navigation is the wave of the future, face it. It's much more intutive than our current system. We just need to get used to it. It's spelled intuitive, btw.

If you have to get used to it: It's not intuitive. Please understand this. If it has a learning curve that means people need to get used to it, it's not bloody intuitive! Apple Zealots seem to fall for this sooo much.

Now, not being intuitive doesn't mean it's a bad interface. Some programs have non-intuitive interfaces that require (sometimes steep) learning curves: Grapics editors (photoshop, gimp...) 3d Editors (Blender comes to mind for the praise people who have mastered that learning curve heap on it, and the scorn those who haven't: suggesting it's a good design, but not intuitive.), CAD programs, and other complicated ones.

GNOME is going for the philosopy that good= intuitive= simple= striped-down-to- lowest-common-denominator. It's a choice they made. User options are regarded as bad things. The user shouldn't have to think. Which is fine for some users who only do very basic things or just happen to work/think the way the GNOME devs do, but it tends to highly annoy most other people. Honestly, why does almost every servey of Linux users come out with KDE being lots more popular, even in the US? I think it comes down to: KDE offers the user choice. Can anyone name a GUI interface that everyone likes with default settings? I don't like OS X, nor BeOS, nor Windows, nor GNOME, nor (shudder) CDE, nor even KDE's Keramic. I can use all of them, but they annoy me. If you like one of those, use it, but don't claim that it is the one true best one.

Oh, and apparently intuitive's spelling isn't intuitive, nor is it's definition.

Windows (3, Interesting)

cristofer8 (550610) | more than 10 years ago | (#9415764)

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.

Re:Windows (2, Insightful)

rmarll (161697) | more than 10 years ago | (#9415836)

Not to mention you can force that metaphor using control keys and reverse that behavior easily in Windows.

There is a reason the UI has moved to the modern "same window" default, because that's what people prefer.

This "edit your gconf file" business is bulls... inapropriate. There is no good reason to force that down someone's throat and feels more like a lousy excuse for forgetting to put a button in the UI.

Re:Windows (1)

DeathAndTaxes (752424) | more than 10 years ago | (#9415853)

I've been running linux on the desktop for about 6 months now. I like the spatial nautilis for stuff in my home dir, but once you get outside of there, the spatial paradigm doesn't make much sense. I mean, I don't really go to /usr/lib/autoconf very often, so it's having it's own position, size, and layout doesn't really make much sense.

I have 3 nfs shares from a filesharing machine that are all media...Movies, pictures, etc. It's very nice for me to have the spatial paradigm for these because they are commonly accessed, and I get some additional feedback from intuitively knowing where they are, etc.

There's positives and negatives about both paradigms, and I think each has their place. I think it would be great if there was a button or something in the basic preference panels to turn it on and off...Even better would be the ability to set general rules like "if not in my home directory, use the browser interface", etc.

EXACTLY. (4, Insightful)

bani (467531) | more than 10 years ago | (#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?

this whole thing is silly (2, Insightful)

maryjanecapri (597594) | more than 10 years ago | (#9415765)

i recently switched from GNOME to KDE. i was using GNOME in it's infancy but found lately that there were certain tools (gnome-pilot for example) that were trash. and then the gang at GNOME pull off this wonderful new "spatial" feature which seems to me just a nice and fancy way to describe "opens a new window every time you click on something". what was wrong with the method that millions upon millions of people had grown accustomed to? and no - it's not a "you're just a windows user" thing because i've not had windows on a computer of mine since 1997. it's hard enough to get people to accept Linux as it is. people are simply afraid of change. i think it's time the Linux community accepted this and just improved on the already working interfaces we already have. and stop giving behaviors fancy names to try to trick people into thinking it's oh so new and oh so improved. instead - just make the darn think work as well as it always has... and maybe kill some of the memory leaks and, for the love of all things good, someone please fix gnome-pilot!

Re:this whole thing is silly (1)

CAIMLAS (41445) | more than 10 years ago | (#9415922)

what's wrong with gnome-pilot?

Bleh (5, Insightful)

arkanes (521690) | more than 10 years ago | (#9415767)

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 (5, Insightful)

CAIMLAS (41445) | more than 10 years ago | (#9415769)

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 (0)

BenjyD (316700) | more than 10 years ago | (#9415824)

It's an OSNews article - what do you expect? Most of their content is "poorly written flaptrap rhetoric". Their basic pattern seems to be to get somebody to fiddle around with some program for five minutes and then write some badly thought out article that mentions something vaguely contentious so that Slashdot picks it up.

As many UI design people have said, interfaces designed by the user are rarely any good.

Re:what nonsense (4, Insightful)

RickHunter (103108) | more than 10 years ago | (#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.

mod me flamebait but... (3, Insightful)

ErichTheWebGuy (745925) | more than 10 years ago | (#9415772)

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.

Re:mod me flamebait but... (0, Flamebait)

KrispyKringle (672903) | more than 10 years ago | (#9415854)

"What's worst, attacks on the spatial browser try to stop the innovation."

You're right. This article is stupid. Just because someone doesn't like a particular innovation doesn't make him somehow anti-innovation. Or perhaps we're just not hip enough to get it.

More efficient? (2, Interesting)

pantherace (165052) | more than 10 years ago | (#9415774)

So, Windows & everything else doesn't do spatial. Why do people insist upon acting like anything Windows does is bad? Windows in this instance (along with most other OSes and/or DEs) got it right.

I use Konqueror. I use the command line. I don't like IE for various reasons, for one it freezes often when opening a directory, especially when it's networked. I don't like Spacial file managers. I didn't like classic MacOS's spatial mode, why should I like it now?

Re:More efficient? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9415812)

I don't like Spacial file managers.

You obviously don't like to spell words correctly either.

I hate to say it... (3, Interesting)

linuxci (3530) | more than 10 years ago | (#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.

I have a new brilliant idea! (3, Insightful)

conner_bw (120497) | more than 10 years ago | (#9415778)

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?

retarded interface design (4, Insightful)

Sigma-X (787916) | more than 10 years ago | (#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.

If you ask me (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9415782)

Not everything on a computer has a real-life metaphor like the author of the article is suggesting. Sure, they can be helpful to describe some things, but they should almost never be the sole reason to do something.

I hate spatiality in file browsers, regardless of my directory structure. I'm pretty much always only using one file manager window. I never manage five windows at once, so I have no need to open five different windows -- I'm only using the one. All the rest are clutter, whether it's five extra windows, or just one extra window.

I guess, if we keep taking their metaphors too far, then a non-spatial file-manager would be like a drawer that magically changes its contents to be whatever you want. Sounds useful to me. Also, butchered the hell out of the metaphor.

different strokes... (1)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 10 years ago | (#9415784)

...for different folks.

I personally agree 100% with Steve Jobs about the stupidity of having to tidy up a virtual desktop, and that's why I run fluxbox. But the whole point of open source is freedom to choose. If other people want icons heaped all over their desktop, they can run Gnome and configure it that way.

Ditto with the recent /. discussion of whether KDE and Gnome are getting too slow and bloated. I happen to agree that it is a problem, but again, nobody's forcing me to run Gnome, so it's a big non-issue.

not a very thoughtful article. (5, Insightful)

crazney (194622) | more than 10 years ago | (#9415790)

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... ]

Umm... (1)

lvdrproject (626577) | more than 10 years ago | (#9415791)

Hrm, i must be confused about the term 'spatial'. Steve Jobs thinks it makes users janitors, but... i always thought the whole spatial concept was invented by Apple. The whole the-directory-is-a-folder-on-your-screen thing...? Am i confused, or has Jobs changed his tune, or what? :/

Why Spatial Nautilus Sucks (5, Insightful)

Alan Hicks (660661) | more than 10 years ago | (#9415793)

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.

Re:Why Spatial Nautilus Sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9415906)

"The only benefit of spatial mode is easier copying or moving of files from one directory to another"

you mean the only benefit of a spatial file manager is easier file managing? amazing!

Re:Why Spatial Nautilus Sucks (1)

cyxxon (773198) | more than 10 years ago | (#9415919)

I can't mod right now, so I have to comment: this is probably the best analysis (even if it is only 3 paragraphs long) of the whole problem.

I work as tech support in a university (part timie, while studying comp. science myself), and I am always amazed at how bad people with degrees are at keeping order with their files. They throw all their crap in their home directory, have hundreds of files in there, and if they are advanced, they even know the difference between Word and Windows ("my file doesn't work" - "what did you write it with at home?" - "windows 97").

And then, there are like 5 people in our department who figured out by themselves why Mozilla is better than Netscape 4.7, that you can browse your files with the explorer (and you do not have to use the File Open dialog Word offers), and who can create subfolders.

I really doubt even anyone in that last group would benefit from spatial nautilus. "Us geeks" here will not, for sure.

Question from an spatial almost-convert (2, Interesting)

MisterP (156738) | more than 10 years ago | (#9415801)

I've spent a week or so using spatial nautilus, after previously disabling it, and I'm starting to get the hang of it.

However, lots of my file are on NFS mounts several levels deep. How is someone supposed to deal with that? I can't seem to make shortcuts in the "Computer" place or anything like that. How does one make shortcuts? (making symlinks on the command line doesn't count)

well the answer is easy! (0, Flamebait)

bani (467531) | more than 10 years ago | (#9415904)

simply restructure your filesystem to fit the UI better! after all, its not spatial browsing that's at fault -- it's the end user's fault for having a filesystem structure which doesn't fit well with the UI's design.

see, that was simple, wasn't it?

Weak (4, Funny)

J4 (449) | more than 10 years ago | (#9415804)

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 (4, Insightful)

SilentOne (197494) | more than 10 years ago | (#9415807)

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.

Not for every use... (0, Offtopic)

fatquack (538774) | more than 10 years ago | (#9415808)

From the article: "why oh why does it need 2 minutes to list 3000 files stored in one folder"; I'd better not use it to browse my porncollection then...

Clutter (5, Interesting)

kunudo (773239) | more than 10 years ago | (#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.

I'm gonna start a flame war here... (5, Insightful)

mblase (200735) | more than 10 years ago | (#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.

Familiarity works. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9415815)

The Ford car company doesn't go with handle-bars one year, to a joystick the next year, then back to handle-bars.

And I'm sure that ideas and concepts can be expressed better than using the English language but we use it primarily because the work put in to re-learn a different language exceeds the drawbacks of the English language itself.

Bad habbits (1)

zeroclip (700917) | more than 10 years ago | (#9415820)

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...

Ouch.... that hurt.

Re:Bad habbits (1)

Rydain (783069) | more than 10 years ago | (#9415875)

It makes no sense, either. I do all of my browsing using multiple tabs in the same window for one main reason: it allows me to quickly and efficiently view lots of content. I middle-click links to open them in new tabs and then use gestures to switch between tabs and close them when I'm done. How in the hell does that relate to gluing a newspaper together?

Imaginary Real-life metaphors? (5, Insightful)

Zweistein_42 (753978) | more than 10 years ago | (#9415823)

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... :-/

What the hell? (5, Insightful)

colonslashslash (762464) | more than 10 years ago | (#9415835)

"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.

For a really unique interface. (2)

MooKore 2004 (737557) | more than 10 years ago | (#9415842)

Try the new FSview that debuted with KDE 3.2. In konqueror, click the icon that has multiple colored squares. You will then easily discovered where your disk space went. I gained over 10 Gigs of space today by trying it out!

I like gnome 2.6 (4, Insightful)

narrowhouse (1949) | more than 10 years ago | (#9415843)

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)

Re:I like gnome 2.6 (1)

teeth (2952) | more than 10 years ago | (#9415903)

I too quite like the spacial mode; but not for everything.

If there was a toggle button, or at least a View menu option, I might find myself using spacial mode more, however having drilled down through gconf to set browser mode I'm probably just going to leave it that way.

Tidiness and state of mind (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9415846)

People hate untidy desktops. If I store 10 real manila folders inside one another, the last thing I want is to open them all up on my little 17" desk, and find the stuff.

I'd like to know how many Nautilus developers actually leave the spatial mode "on".

And here is why engineers make bad UI designers (5, Insightful)

Prothonotar (3324) | more than 10 years ago | (#9415852)

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.

What an arrogant jerk (3, Insightful)

coupland (160334) | more than 10 years ago | (#9415856)

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.

Constraints in the real world vs virtual world (3, Insightful)

neonstz (79215) | more than 10 years ago | (#9415859)

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.

Doesn't work without manual placement (1)

fozzmeister (160968) | more than 10 years ago | (#9415861)

OK so my view of a folder is like a draw (even tho it's called a folder). why when i delete something beginning with the letter "D" does everything "E" onwards move around? I take my "Desk Tidy out of draw, my Eraser, Ruler and Pen all move position. its a flawed metaphor unless it works perfectly, This is what the Anandtech web page said which all the work was based on.

It doesn't happen in Windows, Mac OS X or anything else I've come across, all thier "Arrange Items By Name" type options do just that, whereas our "Arrange Items By Name" should really be "Always Arrange Items By Name". Cleanup is good for Manual Layout but I don't want to have to switch every god damn folder to manual layout!

spatial nautilus is bad... (1, Insightful)

bani (467531) | more than 10 years ago | (#9415863)

...because it forces the user to adapt to the way the UI does things, rather than the other way round.

a UI should allow the user to do things the way the user wants, and not force them to adapt to the developer's whims.

good software accomodates the whims of the end user, bad software doesn't.

gnome seems to be making some really astonishingly bad ui decisions lately. how much abuse gnome end users will tolerate before jumping ship remains to be seen. 'choice is bad', says gnome devs. um, ok.

(yes, i know it can be disabled, but making users have to use gconf-editor to change it is bad. it should be an easily accessible option up front, not hidden away.)

Windows was first with this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9415864)

They've had it for almost 10 years now. It's still the default setting in windows, all versions. I see users using it and complaining about it every day becuase they don't know any differently or how to shut it off. They just know they don't like it even when they've never seen anything else.

It's one of the very first settings I change when I do a fresh Windows install.

This is ridiculous (1)

Julian Morrison (5575) | more than 10 years ago | (#9415877)

"Folder structure should be simple and as shallow as possible", what utter rot. Folder structure is a matter of individual preference, and in practise when you're organizing a squillion files, it's semantically useful to build n-levels-deep categorizations. Imagine a person with several thousand PDFs - a variety of language manuals, specific program manuals, tutorials, misc textbooks, howtos, ebooks both fiction and non... and they all sit scrambled together in a "my PDFs" folder. My ass, more like. Stupid prescriptive halfbaked interface nazis. You kiss your gnome browser's ass, and I'll use konqueror in tree mode.

Computer Vs Reality (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9415879)

so in reality.. i open a cabinet... then a folder...
and in that folder i have 16,000 files.
Hm.
Sorting that is gonna be a job for a janitor, subdirectories (DIRECTORIES, NOT FOLDERS) makes this infinetely easier.

Im not using all this hardware to make life as hard as using paper

Old Technologies Die For A Reason (3, Interesting)

SwansonMarpalum (521840) | more than 10 years ago | (#9415882)

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.

Article has a lot of 'shoulds' (1)

achaudhary (461062) | more than 10 years ago | (#9415891)

I'm sorry, but I don't like my file manager forcing me to change the way I browse ('should' have a shallow directory structure, 'shouldn't' nest folders too deep, etc.). I think the spatial paradigm is pretty cool, but it should be an easily-disabled option.

As for the screen clutter, sure you can close the containing folder when opening a subfolder etc. with non-obvious keyboard shortcuts, but I shouldn't have to RTFM to get rid of simple annoyances like that!

'Real-life interfaces' are generally a bad idea. The vast majority of people have cluttered desks in which stuff is impossible to find quickly. Review the Interface Hall of Shame [libero.it] 's critique of 'real-life' inspired UIs (IBM RealCD [libero.it] and RealPhone [libero.it] , Apple QuickTime Player 4 [libero.it] ). They're quite thorough and brutal. Computers are not for the purpose of merely representing real-life objects electronically; they are there to aid us in improving productivity over 'real life' methods.

This is such a bad argument (4, Insightful)

AnEmbodiedMind (612071) | more than 10 years ago | (#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?

Shallow org works for small number of files (5, Insightful)

Bystander (227723) | more than 10 years ago | (#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.

Well; (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9415896)

Isn't that spatial?

ROX still better (1)

xlyz (695304) | more than 10 years ago | (#9415909)

I like in spatial to be uncluttered, fast, and that keeps the view of your choice for each directory

but I really can't stand the fact that it open a new window for each directory

to browse within the same window you have to go back to the old nautilus, that I dislike even more

shouldn't be too difficult give the option to keep spatial closing the current window while opening the new one

well back to Rox, for the time being ...

Metaseaches and spartial mode (1)

grumbel (592662) | more than 10 years ago | (#9415921)

The articel itself is standard Gnome propaganda again: "blabla, your file organisation is wrong, you are wrong, but our filemanager just must be right, blabla". Gnome has a whole lot of great ideas in it, but all to often Gnome maintainer seem to think they know better then the user what is good for them. Removing or hiding configurabilty in GConf makes this even worse.

Anyway, back to another issue in the article which I don't get at all, at the end Eugenia talks about Spartial Mode and DB-based filesystem with no folders at all and how they 'mix' well. Well, how do they mix? Isn't spartial actually the completly opposite of a DB-based filesystem? In spatial mode you represent folders as windows, one window represents exactly one folder, its size and position is safed, so that the window actually becomes the folder from a users point of view. With a DB-based filesystem however there wouldn't be folders, just data sorted in whatever way you need it at the point, so you would have lots and lots of different views onto your data, no windowfolder corelation which seems to be what spatial is all about.

Essay on the Spatial Way with Pictures (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9415925)

For those of you who want to know what they are talking about. http://www.bytebot.net/geekdocs/spatial-nautilus.h tml [bytebot.net]
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