[IAEP] 2 design proposals: home view, discoverable shortcuts

Benjamin M. Schwartz bmschwar at fas.harvard.edu
Sun Mar 22 19:26:13 EDT 2009

Hash: SHA1

Jameson Quinn wrote:
> On Sun, Mar 22, 2009 at 4:06 PM, Benjamin M. Schwartz <
>> bmschwar at fas.harvard.edu> wrote:
>> The purpose of the Home view is to allow users to launch new, empty
>> Activity instances in a convenient way.  Are you proposing a change in the
>> purpose of the Home view, and if so, why is your proposal better than
>> simply replacing the home view with the Journal?
> Yes, I am. Not a change, an addition; what you mention is still *a* primary
> purpose, but not *the* primary purpose. This is the logical conclusion of
> "resume by default".

I view "resume by default" as a kind of ugly hack to paper over another
problem:  We still don't have a decent datastore/Journal.  The datastore
is designed accept a flood of user-created documents, and the Journal
should still provide an easy interface for finding the desired ones.  This
is to work by combining versioning, some kind of automatic expiration,
search, and tagging.  "Resume by default" discourages users from creating
new documents until such time as we can handle the volume of documents
they create.

In fact, "resume by default" has the really awful result that in 0.84
users will naturally tend to overwrite important documents, and it will
take conscious effort to avoid this.  That undoes one of the key aims in
the Sugar design: to make sure that users never experience the "oh crap I
forgot to save" moment.  I support "resume by default" for now only
because it's better than the alternative of filling the disk, forcing the
user to manually delete thousands of entries, one by one.

(Resume by default also includes "alt+tab by default", which papers over
our _other_ major UI problem, that users are typically not aware of what
activities are currently running.  This functionality seems less bad to
me, especially since even on Windows, where the list of running programs
is always on-screen, users still tend to run lots of applications at once.)

NONETHELESS, I think you make a very important point: the Journal should
really replace the Home View.  Logically, the Journal makes perfect sense
at that point in the zoom hierarchy.  It would also resolve the weirdness
of the Journal being a single-instance pseudo-activity.  The trick, then,
will be to come up with a Journal interface that is suitable for use as
the main launching point.  From that perspective, your mockups explore
some very important ideas.

- --Ben

P.S.  Unfortunately, what I am talking about is a UI rewrite of a most
difficult kind (e.g.
http://wiki.sugarlabs.org/go/Design_Team/Designs/Journal).  Frankly, I
don't expect it to happen for a long time, and I think our* efforts are
better spent reaching "1.0" stability and feature-completeness in the
current UI.

*: Not that I've contributed enough to be in a position to talk.
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