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Re: [desktop] why kde and gnome's menu situation sucks

On 10/22/2002 2:42 PM, Colin Walters at walters@verbum.org wrote:

> I believe the reason they chose to do this is because deeply nested
> menus are considered bad from a user interface standpoint.
Correct.  Deeply nested menus are bad UI.  SuSE and Mandrake tend to violate
this policy quite a bit.  Red Hat 8.0 does not.

Good menu UI design is very difficult.  I watched Red Hat struggle with this
issue in successive betas leading up to Red Hat 8.0 - they changed around
their menu design quite a bit.  Right now, they have a pretty good one.  Not
bad for their first time out trying something like this.

Deep nesting means that you can include lots and lots of programs, under
various categories.  Shallow nesting requires that you really think hard
about those category names, and limit the number of them.  It also means
that you can't have every available program listed in your menu - there just
isn't enough room.  This means that hard choices must be made.

Example:  Red Hat 8.0 has one and only one X terminal emulator program in
its menu, and it is not on the top level, because newbies don't use the CLI
all that much - it is available in a sub directory - System Tools.  Red Hat
made a tough choice and picked only one of the many X terminal programs
available.  But the result is a really clean menu and UI.  (Note:  Red Hat
chose konsole for KDE and gnome-terminal for Gnome and xterm for
Windowmaker. In the respective menus, none of these names are used - just
the word "Terminal", which is located in the same spot in each menu layout,
regardless of whether KDE or Gnome.)

On the other hand, the supposed desktop champion Mandrake 9.0 has an entire
subfolder devoted to X terminals, and you can choose from about six or seven
different ones.  This is great for power users, but it is totally confusing
and pointless for newbies.

Lesson?  Debian Desktop should pick only one X terminal to put into the menu
(my choice would be a well configured xterm but I am flexible) to make it
easy for the newbie.  The power user can add other X terminal programs to
the menu if he doesn't like Debian's default choice.  Note:  these other
terminal emulators will of course be installed and waiting, ready for use,
they just won't necessarily show up in the default menu under KDE, Gnome,

>> You can bolt Debian menus onto the side... but frankly I'd just drop
>> their menus (and KDE's) and use our own by default.  (At least this
>> would be equal-opportunity anti-desktop action on our part ;-)
> I hope we can come up with a better solution than that (unless our menus
> are equally good).
As stated above, UI design for menus is very tough stuff.  However, that
said, I do believe that Debian Desktop can come up with better menu layouts
and design than the defaults which come with Gnome, KDE, etc.  This is one
of the areas where I would like to contribute my efforts.

Luke Seubert

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