Submitted by: thaeger on Fri. 02.16.2007
Those who read this blog probably know that Interaction Design matters a lot to me. It has been one of the things I have advocated extensively in my work with desktop Linux. To be sure, part of why I still like working for Novell* is that the desktop team at Novell continues to produce not only great technical advancements, but also continuous improvements in the look and feel of the desktop. The new Main Menu for Gnome that debuted with SLED10 showed how studying user interaction with the desktop can result in a strikingly improved interface. (I don’t kid myself here–there are many who have vocalized their preference for Gnome’s traditional Applications-Places-System menu. But, many do like it.)
I’m pleased to share that the desktop design team at Novell is working on further improvements to the original Main Menu. The video below comes from the upcoming SLED10 Service Pack 1 as it looks in the current internal beta 3. (The unreleased status means that this is not necessarily the final product, and things may change from what you see today.
- The video is a 12.1 MB Ogg Theora file.
- I recommend using something like Totem for viewing. (Helix/RealPlayer did not play the video very smoothly.)
- I narrated the video using a small PC headset rather than a professional microphone, and I did no post-production editing. So, it’s kind of rough.
- If the video link is broken, please leave a comment. then I will put it on a different host.
*Yes, I say “still” that is an admission that I have been challenged with a certain, recently-cemented partnership
Submitted by: thaeger on Wed. 02.14.2007
I made a quick video to show that, no, you do not have to use default Main Menu in SLED10. With a couple quick clicks you can change it back to the way you like.
Submitted by: thaeger on Wed. 02.14.2007
The July 2006 SLED10
Here’s the Computer button in the original SLED10:
With a single button replacing the standard three menus of the GNOME desktop, it sported some nice visual elements, such as the slight shading effects. A clean font and anti-aliasing make the text look very smooth, and the Tango-themed icons add to the friendliness of the overall appeal.
Here’s the same button, after being clicked:
When you click the button, the button outline appears, and the Main Menu pops up (here we see just the blue border of the whole menu) and casts a slight shadow on the button.
So all in all, nice visuals. Can they be improved upon?
Service Pack One for SLED10
Here how the computer button looks in the current beta of SLED10 Service Pack 1:
The icons look to have been brightened up just a bit. The upper edge of the panel (that’s the bar on which the Computer button is located) is a touch more pronounced from a slightly thicker shadow that sports a smoothly blended fading effect.
Here I have flown the mouse pointer over the Computer button:
When the mouse pointer flies over the Computer button, it takes on a pleasing shade of blue so that you can see exactly where you need to click. (Previously, the button boundaries showed up only after you had clicked it, and it became a metallic tan color.) This new way functions a lot better for a user who might not at first have understood that there is a button there. Now, when a user flies the pointer over the button, it says, “Hey, you can interact with me.”
The changes I show here are certainly small and subtle, and at first blush, such over-attention to detail may seem frivolous. but from what I have seen so far, they are pervasive across the desktop in Service Pack 1. When you use it, the extra gloss is everywhere, and makes the whole product feel like it is a very advanced system.
There’s more to it than just, gloss though. If you consider the investment, care, and discipline that has to go into such attention to detail, there will likely be a correlation in technical features that really shine, too. (How many cool innovations has the Macintosh driven over the years? It seems to me that during the periods that Apple seemed to have lost its way with regard to design, their technology started to fall behind the curve, too.) I would argue that you may not be able to implement great design unless you are also thinking a lot about the technology that supports it. Shoddy products that look so slick at first quickly lose their appeal when you actually interact a little more familiar with the platform.
That of course means that I need to show some of the interface improvements that are backed by features. So watch this space–I’ll try to cover some of that as we lead up to the eventual release of the service pack.
Submitted by: thaeger on Tue. 02.13.2007
Submitted by: thaeger on Mon. 02.12.2007
Tonight I will be arriving in Los Angeles to attend and present at, SCaLE5, also known as Socal Linux Expo. This is one of the great community-based Linux shows that I get to attend. While Linux vendors are there in force, the show is mostly free of the vendor bloat and overmarketing of the big LinuxWorld events. At SCALE, you can hang out and talk tech with people all day long in a refreshingly casual atmosphere.
My friend and Novell Open Audio cohost Erin Quill will be there to help me present a session on virtualization and virtual machine management. This is good, as apparently Erin has become known as “the smart one” on Novell Open Audio. (But at least people still tell me that I’m the one with a great face for radio.)
Also in attendance will be my good friend and Ubuntu community manager, Jono Bacon. I'm not sure what we should do to him this year, so please make suggestions. (Last year I learned that apparently IN-N-OUT does not kill the man. He’s like a damn cockroach!)
Google’s Chris DiBona will be there as well, and I look forward to seeing him again.
Submitted by: thaeger on Fri. 02.09.2007