← Back to team overview

unity-design team mailing list archive

Re: Category-based app browsing, was Re: Some impressions about the current status of Unity


On 25. feb. 2012 21:07, Thorsten Wilms wrote:

Segmenting data into chunks helps tremendously in dealing with it. A relation between a number of items, like their membership in a certain set, is data, too.

Search-based access breaks down, if you have only a vague concept of what you are looking for and of what is actually available. It is not a good strategy for building an overview, to access the big picture.

Sure, and the applications lens does have categories to provide that.

Large numbers of items need to be organized to become browseable. Be that directories, categories or sets, trees, graphs ...

We'll probably need to investigate that subject more when we get online-games scopes, for instance. It's unlikely that we can ever display all of them in one view in the current implementation. But if you need different sub-contexts, then a specialized lens is probably called for, such as the Video lens. Even that might become limiting in the future, but I think there are things that is in more urgent need of attention.

I don't think anyone has suggested that category-based views aren't useful. The question is whether the interface should be designed to be efficient when you know what's available, or to be efficient when you don't know. I think the dash is very good when you know what you want to launch. It's also good when you know what you're looking for, but can't quite remember the name. If you don't know at all, then Ubuntu Software Center should be used instead, since that provides more information than any launcher-menu ever could.

It always matters if the interface feels efficient and supportive, or needlessly complicated.

Sure. What's complicated is figuring out what's easy. For instance, the old menus are very difficult to use for people with reduced dexterity, which a large number of people have for a large number of different reasons.

Each added step reduces the likelihood that a user becomes aware and sure of the functionality and completes the task. Setting a "Filter" does not fit well into a browsing approach.

Can you explain what? Is it the name "filter" you react to, or selecting categories? Because you do that in Gnome menubar as well, when you select Applications > Internet for instance. A current issue is that it's set to multi-select by default. I think that's simply wrong. When you click a category, the previously selected category should be unselected and the new one selected. If you want to select more categories, you should do something specific, like holding shift or middle-clicking instead of left-clicking. That's how all other software works, so in order to be consistent, this should be fixed. I don't see any problems using them for browsing categories otherwise.

If a user is looking for an application that is not on the Launcher and not among the most recent used of the first Dash page, the probability that they don't know or have forgotten details like the exact name increases.

Yes, and if the problem is simply that you don't remember the name, then using categories in the applications lens is good. If you don't know what you're looking for, then you should use the Ubuntu Software Center. But let's say you have 10-15 applications on your launcher, and 15-20 recent applications in the dash. Then you have your 25-35 most frequently used applications very easily available. Obviously, the less frequent an application is used, the less frequently you'll have to look for it as well, meaning it's not the most important aspect to optimize.

Jo-Erlend Schinstad

Follow ups