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Seriuos user interface redesign

  • Peter Coyote

    Peter Coyote - 2009-11-30

    Dear Igor,

    First of all let me thank you for this highly usable peace of software.
    Secondly, I need to point out one weak side of 7zip. User interface looks really ugly for the year of 2009…

    Please, don't get me wrong. I'm an IT professional and I always look for functionality over the aesthetics, but in case of 7zip, program is gaining more and more popularity, but the user interface stays the way it was many years ago.

    Alternatives to 7zip carry less quality but offer much nicer interface to the end users, therefore gets more easily accepted by them.

    If it is too much effort for you at this stage to take care about this, while working on functional aspect of the new betas, you might ask for help of the community and make a poll, with which icon set to replace the current one and what cosmetic changes to implement.

    Anyway, keep up the good work and have a nice upcoming holidays.

    Thank you once again for working on this project.

    Best regards,


  • Xizzzy

    Xizzzy - 2009-11-30

    I support your opinion, Dejan. Earlier I wrote on the forum with a specific proposal to modify the interface.

  • Vacon

    Vacon - 2009-11-30

    Hello everyone,

    I remember your proposal. And Igor pointed you to . Just today I had a look there but nothing happened since spring this year. Didn't you get any reaction?

    Best regards!


  • Peter Coyote

    Peter Coyote - 2009-11-30

    I have found the topic vacon had mentioned and I have to ask the following:
    Is it possible that an official attitude of 7zip's developer is that the proper way of dealing with the program's interface is to have a 3rd party developer develop an application which will binary change the original package?
    If that's so, I must say that this is one of the most amateurish approach I ever saw in software development so far.

    Anyway, I want to thank the guys who replied and gave me a hint toward clarification of the current status on the 7zip's interface design topic.

    Best regards and good luck in the future development,

    Peter Coyote

  • Gabriel Magana-Gonzalez

    Peter, you forget that this is development done on a volunteer basis.  You are insulting Igor for all his efforts to build quality software and give it away for free.

    You would, perhaps, with your eye for good design, like to contribute to the project?  I think it would be great if you would help out in fixing the user interface problems you so emphatically point out.

    You calling the development effort "amateurish" just shows your ignorance.  As if anyone can just sit down and code the very complex compression algorithms that Igor does.

  • Peter Coyote

    Peter Coyote - 2009-12-01

    Please forgive me for being a bit over the line there in my previous post, but what I said is still my point of view regarding interface design for this application.
    It is important for me also to point out that I came here as a fan not a hater. I came to express my gratitude to the developer for the effort he is putting in this project, which I did in the first post, but when I saw that developer himself is fine with the idea of resource icons replacer I was a bit shocked and disappointed. That led to my reaction and I am sorry about that.

    Usability is an integral part of program interface, therefore when you are developing an archiver and not only an archive format library, you need to deal with that aspect as well. I am not talking only about icons, which are crying for refresh by the way :), but also for the dialogs and windows redesign. This can not be achieved by custom variant of resource hacker (this is how would I characterize the application for changing the icons).

    An amateurish approach to the software design has nothing to do with the functional quality of it in this case, but that's only one part of the development. Igor could decide to stick with the console version, or even to decide not to develop anything more but a library. In that case the project would be called Archiving Command Line utility or 7zip archive format library.

    When you work on archiver development you can not neglect the interface. It is integral part of the project and to the end user it is more important than a little more better algorithm.

    When I initially searched for the freeware archiver to use I looked at many. All of them were only a front-end to the archive format libraries. 7zip archiver was the real deal from my perspective as it was maintained by the author of the 7z archive format himself. I thought: OK he has something more important to do before he gets his hands on the interface. This happened years ago, and the interface is still the same.

    The bottom line is: Take a look at the design of 7zip in its entirety. The design is not one of its stronger sides (not only the application but also the web page). It might be wise to team-up with somebody who would work only on interface usability and aesthetics design.

    Best regards,

    Peter Coyote

  • Bulat Ziganshin

    Bulat Ziganshin - 2009-12-01

    people, 7-zip isn't only program that supports 7z archives. just buy PowerArchiver that has great GUI. if you don't have $40 for program you need why you constantly trying to push Igor to make it for you for free???

  • Xizzzy

    Xizzzy - 2009-12-01

    2 vacon:
    I thought and decided that either my design accepted for the main application, or let it overtake oblivion.

  • Peter Coyote

    Peter Coyote - 2009-12-01

    Dear guys,

    I consider myself not so capable for creating beautiful designs etc. I do code a little bit but not professionally.

    As an example I have created a simple demo of what have I meant when I mentioned the redesign. I am not talking in any way about rewriting anything from the functional aspect, just to rearrange and beautify to a certain extent the interface of the program.

    I created this with Turbo Delphi in a couple of hours and the intention was just to show that the interface could look differently. Don't get me wrong, I am aware that this is probably not much nicer than what 7-Zip can offer in the equivalent dialog at this moment and I know that it can be done much much better!
    Additionally, I don't have the need for creation of another GUI for 7-Zip and other compression libraries like IZArc, I thought that if 7-Zip archiver already exists it could be a little bit improved for better user experience.

    (Some buttons are programmed to show how the user could interact with the interface. Nothing special. Created only for illustration purposes.)

    Best regards.

  • Peter Coyote

    Peter Coyote - 2009-12-01

    Just to show my good intentions I will continue trying being creative… :)

    As I already mentioned, I am far from being artistic (unfortunately), but anyway here is the idea for a conceptual model of possible future logo or icon or whatever else.
    Feel free to continue working on the idea if you feel inspired.

    Current 7-Zip icons can be really easily replaced by some of the free ones (Tango project icons could be used for example).

    Anyway, there could be some kind of contest for ideas for logo, icons and interface designs if there is enough interest on this topic.


  • Anthony

    Anthony - 2009-12-03

    No offense, but i don't get the problem Dejan. I feel there should not change anything at all in the GUI. 90% of the time i use 7-zip through the shell context-menu anyway. And maybe the icons are not the most fancy in the world, but it doesn't bother me in any way: 7-zip is, imho, by far the best program in its category & i see the classic GUI with big simple icons as a feature, not a problem.<br>
    There are different other archiving programs that are merely a graphical shell around 7-zip ànd there is the theme manager mentioned in one of the previous posts, so if it really bothers you so much: there are other options out there.<br>
    I just had a look at the sample GUI you created, but (again: no offense), the dialog you created is already in 7-zip: select some files, "right-click -> 7-Zip -> Add to archive…", and there you have it. The only difference is the default hiding of some more advanced settings in your example. Same with your concept icon. It 's great that you 're doing so much efforts, but what 's wrong with the current icon? & would a different icon really add value to the program?<br>
    Usability is not about fancy icons & special effects, but about ease-of-use & being able to work efficiently. And so 7-zip, to me, is an extremely usable program. It doesn't need fancy icons to hide a lack of functional quality. And even then: i like the icons in 7-zip much better than the icons in Winrar.

  • Peter Coyote

    Peter Coyote - 2009-12-04

    I won't be defending or explaining myself on this topic anymore (except this one more time). I think I provided enough details to explain what my intention was and to point out the side of 7-Zip which, IMO, needs some improvement.

    If usability and look-and-feel are not in any way important in software development, let's all switch back to the consoles and use command line programs.

    Theme manager you are mentioning is nothing else but a binary resource replacer, patcher, file modifier. Many security suites will alarm you when somebody try to "change a theme" that something suspicious is happening on 7-Zip exe file etc.
    If 7-Zip would be checking for a new version on the internet, every (good) firewall program would alarm you that an unknown program is trying to reach internet after every "change of theme".

    From the beginning I was provoked by this "theme manager" as it is not the proper way to deal with the things for which it is meant to be used. It is a workaround if there is not enough will to do some effort and modernize icons a little bit.

    Once again I need to point out, 7-Zip do not need any change from the functional side! And if some work is done to make 7-Zip more beautiful or easier to use, it won't be against any already existing or new functionality. The idea of a sample dialog was exactly what you mentioned to show the SAME and EXISTING dialog in a littlebit different way from the interface design point of view. Think about both of them, the original and the redesigned one. Which one would be more easier to use and understand for majority of non-technically skilled computer users? That is exactly the idea about which I am talking about.

    For the icon, I just had an idea in the process of working on the example for the dialog so I thought it would be a shame not to share it with the others. I agree that there is absolutely no need to change it anytime.

  • Anonymous

    Anonymous - 2009-12-04

    I agree with the need for a update in design. It looks like a windows 98 program. You don't need to do much and the design can still be simple. also he needs to update the program so i don't need to run as administrator to change settings.

  • Vacon

    Vacon - 2009-12-04

    Hello everyone,

    why for heaven's sake don't you go and use some other tool if you want some stylish / fancy / hardware-eating and needless-sound-making interface? Just today the new  came out. (note: it doesn't make sounds!, but maybe looks nicer in the eyes of some people). At least I prefer stability over eye-candy!

    Best regards!


  • yarby.twitch

    yarby.twitch - 2010-02-06

    IMHO, I would rather Igor use his amazing programming talent working on the part of the program that in the end actually matters than wast time writing a new gui where a perfectly functional one already exists. Especially when i primarily use the right click menu or access it via its COM interface

  • Andrain

    Andrain - 2010-02-06

    For those who complain about ugly Icons there is the 7-Zip Theme Manager.

    It allows you to change the toolbar icons and filetype icons.
    It also works with the current 9.x betas, but it does not work yet on 64-bit 7-Zip versions. We are currently working on the latter.

  • iycgtptyarvg

    iycgtptyarvg - 2010-02-08

    I think the most important part of updating the GUI is the acceptance by a wider audience. Most technically savvy people I know are already using 7-zip. But, the masses prefer things like (cracked versions of) WinRar. This has a lot to do with the GUI.

    Now, I'm personally ok with the GUI as is, but would certainly not mind a 'prettier' GUI.

  • Falcon4

    Falcon4 - 2011-04-10

    OK, guys, look. Yes. 7-Zip's user interface is absolutely embarrassing. I can't stand recommending it to people. I usually do so along side WinRAR, because people have a choice: either a free program with a butt-ugly, borderline unusable user interface… or a pay program with almost no website to speak of (I had trouble finding a working link to WinRAR a few minutes ago). The alternatives are glitzy, scamware archivers with bitmap interfaces…

    Wait, what's that? I'm slamming "bitmap interfaces" there? YES. I DO NOT mean that 7-Zip needs some kind of glorified, massive, bloated, resource-sucking bitmap UI with fancy buttons. I'm not talking about eye candy here. The things I'm referring to could be implemented by someone without even TOUCHING Photoshop or a graphic editor… I'm referring to "usability improvements"… making the installer smarter… making the UI more intuitive, putting functions that people use in the spotlight while shuffling-away features nobody uses… adding some functions that would make life easier… and none of it involves glitzy bitmap icons and other eye-candy.

    What 7-zip needs is a whiteboard. Sketch out the common flow of how someone uses the application. Reduce the screen clutter. Group related functions. What do "open inside" and "open outside" mean? I'm aware of their meaning myself, but the wording does little to relay its function. What about the handling of EXEs? If I open "setup.exe" in even Windows Explorer, it's smart enough to temporarily extract all files and run Setup. 7-Zip doesn't. 7-Zip also immediately deletes the temporary extracted files the moment it sees the handle is closed. WinRAR waits until the archive is closed, then cleans up (if it can). 7-Zip should do the same. And figure out what kind of I/O that 7-Zip is doing that makes it so god-dirt-slow while extracting to a Flash drive… maybe it's doing millions of tiny I/O transactions that cause it to update the FAT tables thousands of times a second (on uncached devices). Hell, for that matter, improve on the whole extraction progress flow… when it stumbles on an error, the window never shows a state of completion other than "cancel" changing to "close" but still looking the same… I waited some 15 minutes one time for the thing to finish, when it already finished 14 minutes ago with a warning. And enable drop-down autocomplete for the "destination" name field… its drop-down button is a visual cue that it should already be there, but every time I type into it expecting the path to be filled in, I just have to hit Browse anyway. Or just append the archive name to the "Browse" destination by default, because I always want to extract to a new folder (except in rare cases), but I have no way of re-applying the archive name to the destination path after selecting the alternate path! I can always delete the path if I want it directly in that folder.

    Make the installer smarter… after all, aren't we installing 7-Zip to be our archiver? Wouldn't we want it to associate itself with "7z" files by default, at a bare minimum? Take association of the unresolved file types?  Why would I want all languages installed by default? I only speak one language, I don't roll dice and decide what language I want my computer to speak today. Pick the install-mode language and turn the others off, they're just excess baggage. Put both 32-bit and 64-bit binaries in the same package and decide at install-time (32-bit installer can install 64-bit programs and shell extensions - look at MyDefrag, WinRAR, etc).

    See, these are the things I'm talking about regarding UI design. Making it easier and more intutive to use… NOT "nicer looking". Each of these things is pretty trivial and minor, but combined, they eat away at a program's credibility over time. Every time a file I just extracted can't be accessed because 7-Zip deleted it before the program could open… it eats away at its credibility. Or whenever I have to enter a new extract destination and have to browse even though I could auto-complete via the Windows "Run" command. It eats away. Or when I install it on a new computer, then have to open it, and go to "Options", and select "all" types to make it associate itself. It eats away…

    It's a free program, but I could also write a 1k "HELLO WORLD" script and give it away for free. Free means nothing. EVERYTHING is free. You either make a superior free product and survive, or you make an inferior free product and you die. Personally, I develop software (see FalconFour's Ultimate Boot CD) and I listen very closely to user feedback to help develop something everyone loves. I love hearing feedback regarding how an interface should be changed or what someone would like to see. It's obviously something that someone cared enough to write out and describe… and I WOULD NEVER tell someone to "find something else to use". Free means nothing. User interface is everything…

  • Moshe Flam

    Moshe Flam - 2012-08-05

    Is there a free  open source preferably online website were people can quickly build good looking user interfaces, or at least give a quick mock of what they would like to see?


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