#51 three-pane layout is redundant and confuses users


Gnomebaker is a neat program, and it looks like Ubuntu
is going to pick it up so it might even become *the*
gnome audio cd burner (nice website too), but I think
the interface layout is flawed.

I recently setup audio cd burning for a non-technical
friend of mine on Ubuntu. We tried Graveman, Gnomebaker
and k3b. Gnomebaker was the nicest of th three. With
all three programs, my friend was immediately confused
by which of the displayed files were going to be
burned, and how to add files to be burned, they all do
this in a confusing and inconsistent way, with popup
file-picker dialogs and file-browser dialogs and
tree-views built into extra panes of the main
interface. All three times I had to show my friend how
to add files and explain which files are the ones that
will be burned, and we are not talking about a
particularly computer illiterate person here, just a
non-technical user.

I think GnomeBaker would benefit from a one-pane
interface, it should contain only the pane for the
files to be burned with the data disc/audio disc tabs.
Files should be added to this pane by drag-dropping
them from seperate nautilus windows. This way,
gnomebaker would break new ground for a simple and
intuitive audio burning interface instead of following
what has been done before, and it would present an
interface to the user with an immediately obvious
function. Gnomebaker could still have a '+' or 'Add
file(s)' button, but this button should simply open the
users home folder (or music folder or something, have
it as a preference) in a seperate nautilus window, from
which the user can drag-drop files.

It's interesting to remember why file-pickers for apps
and browsers built into UI panes in applications exist
- they were invented when computers could not run two
programs at once, so the system file browser could not
be run at the same time as the CD burning application.
This is no longer the case, we have the system file
browser, there is no need to uselessly duplicate its
functionality in a slightly different way, which just
confuses users and obfuscates the function of the

I'd be really pleased to gnomebaker move to a v.simple
one-pane view and just integrate with nautilus.


  • seanh

    seanh - 2005-04-28

    Logged In: YES

    Just to make it really clear to the user, you might want to
    add some text above the pane saying something like 'to add
    files for burning drag and drop them into this window'.

  • bidd

    bidd - 2005-04-28
    • assigned_to: nobody --> bidd
  • bidd

    bidd - 2005-04-28

    Logged In: YES

    I disagree with the title of this bug; the three pane layout
    is far from redundant and the majority of feedback from
    users that I get is that they like GBs GUI layout and the
    convenience that the integrated filebrowser provides.

    However, I do agree that it may be confusing for some users
    and that was why I added the 'Show file browser' option to
    the view menu. I think it's exactly what you're looking for.

    Give it a try and I'd really like to hear your feedback.

  • Nobody/Anonymous

    Logged In: NO

    You're right, with 'show file browser' off GnomeBaker is
    pretty much exactly what I'm looking for.

    Ofcourse, I think it should be off by default, but since
    there is a disagreement, I think it's great that gnomebaker
    provides both options. Nice one.

    Comments -

    With 'show file browser' off the 'add' button is greyed out
    and disabled. A greyed out 'add' button has got to be
    confusing to users. It'd be better if it just disappeared.
    It'd be even better if it did something - open the users
    home or another preferred folder in nautilus.

    With 'show file browser' off I still think a bit of text
    saying something like 'drag and drop to add files' would be
    good (although if all apps worked by dragging and dropping
    like I think they should, this wouldn't be necessary).

    Drag and drop worked good for me with data and audio files,
    and with multiple files but:

    - it will not let me drag folders, either for data or
    audio, and there is no message explaining why. It should be
    able to do the 'smart' thing when a folder is dragged - put
    the folder on the disc for data, put all audio files in the
    folder on the disc for audio. One thing that non-technical
    users always have trouble with is selecting multiple files
    and then opening or dragging them - they always want to drag
    or open the folder, and don't realise you can use ctrl and
    shift to select them all. They'll end up dragging each file
    in an album one by one.
    - if I try and drag data files to audio there is no message
    explaining why it doesn't work

    I'm not advocating a popup dialog that you have to click on
    to get rid of, but something less intrusive like a beep and
    a bubble message that fades out or disappears on its own
    would be good.

    I think the 'show file browser' button should be on the main
    window, not hidden in a menu, so that user will know it's there.

    I still maintain that the file browser is redundant (okay,
    your users like it, so you're probably not going to care and
    should probably keep it), but what exactly does it provide
    that nautilus doesn't? I don't see that it's any quicker
    than nautilus either (especially with the nautilus launching
    'add' button that I suggest). And I still think it breaks
    the desktop metaphor.

    Anyway, I'm perfectly happy with the interface now though,
    good job.

  • gamehack

    gamehack - 2005-05-16
    • status: open --> closed

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