[sugar] Axis of time: up/down rather than right/left?

Eben Eliason eben.eliason
Mon Feb 25 11:13:20 EST 2008

This is an interesting idea, and we did toy with similar thoughts
early on in the design phase when we bumped up against exactly the
same inconsistencies that you mention.  In the end, we couldn't find
"suitable evidence" that such a change would actually be beneficial,
and so we kept with the "standard" metaphors.

For instance, with regard to a media player, the left and right time
metaphor is often useful since it maps directly to the motion of the
playhead within the graphical timeline which represents the length of
the song.  Of course, one might argue that you could turn that
sideways as well, but then you have to completely rethink the
positioning of the toolbars at the top vs. the side of the screen,
etc, and you'd have a bizarrely inconsistent experience between
multiple media activities and between activities and the browser as

The undo/redo buttons don't have this problem.  There is another
potential point of confusion here too though.  If you were to, for
instance, turn the current icons on their side so that undo is an
arrow which reverses direction and points down, while redo is the
inverse, you'll notice that the shape of the redo icon looks like a
'U', which for me actually made me think "undo".  Obviously this is
language specific, but again, we weren't sure that its benefit would
outweigh keeping with tradition.

I'm certainly open to more arguments on both sides, if people have
thoughts.  As was mentioned, there is support for mirroring the
interface as well (we don't do this perfectly yet, but we should be
able to).

- Eben

On Thu, Feb 21, 2008 at 4:42 PM, Benjamin M. Schwartz
<bmschwar at fas.harvard.edu> wrote:
> On Thu, 2008-02-21 at 15:21 -0600, Jameson "Chema" Quinn wrote:
>  > The problem with left/right is that it is biased towards LTR languages
>  > (or it requires extra L10N work), and it inevitably inconsistent with
>  > the up/down axis necessary for lists.
>  When running in an Arabic locale (or other RTL locale) the sense of the
>  entire UI is automatically reversed around the vertical axis.  This
>  behavior is built into GTK, and Sugar has been made consistent with it.
>  Everything from the forward-back buttons in the browser to the list of
>  Activity launch icons is reversed.  Try it.
>  (This does not address your other suggestions.)
>  --Ben
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