XFCE design SIG: Thunar: Several design ideas

Pasi Lallinaho pasi at shimmerproject.org
Thu Jun 2 15:36:59 CEST 2011

Personal opinions thrown in, just to answer these and not just tell
Thunar != Nautilus. :)

On 06/01/2011 07:05 AM, xfcemailing.kyoo at xoxy.net wrote:
>    I have a couple ideas to make Thunar a "better" file manager in my
> opinion.  Mostly, they're based on things I liked about Nautilus2
> before switching to XFCE at the coming of Gnome3.  As someone who
> currently has little programming knowledge, ideas is all they are. 
> I'm not suggesting XFCE4 is made over to be completely like Gnome2. 
> I'm just saying some ideas from Gnome2 could be used to improve XFCE4.
>    I currently use Nautilus2 as my file and desktop manager, but it's
> no longer developed and I'd rather use Thunar than Nautilus3 - if
> Thunar has the options and niceties that originally made me choose
> Nautilus2 over Konqueror, Dolphin, pcmanfm, etc.
>    1) Allow the user to set a background/wallpaper for the file and
> folder pane(?).  I appreciate being able to customize the look of many
> things and like having something besides the default plain white in
> the file and folder view.  Nautilus2 FM with a background:
> http://ompldr.org/vOHZpMg

I disagree. As much I'd like to enable things being customisable, a
background for the file/folder pane just doesn't make sense. The GTK
theme should take care of that.

>    2) An optional, more compact icon arrangement.  This would be
> different from the current similarly-named Compact List.  My idea
> would be both to have the icons closer together in the Compact Icons
> view than the Icons view and to show only a certain amount of long
> file names, until the files' icons were moused over, as Nautilus2
> does.  As you can see in the following image, Nautilus2 shows more
> icons in the view than Thunar, even though Thunar's icons are
> smaller.  Both windows are the same width and height.  Nautilus2
> compared to Thunar: http://ompldr.org/vOHZpaA

I wouldn't enjoy this arrangement myself. Also, it is not very
clear/accessible. And I can also imagine it would not be ideal/easy to code.

>    3) In 2)'s image above, you can also see that Nautilus' file and
> folder names are center-aligned, rather than left-aligned.  To me,
> this looks more tidy, especially for certain names where some lines
> are significantly shorter than others (compare [The Watcher] as well
> as daa2iso.zip).

I think this proposal might stand a chance, though maybe only as an
option. I can't say much on how the accessibility would be with
center-aligned filenames, maybe somebody focused more on accessibility
can answer that?

Maybe the filename splitting could be a bit more intelligent though
"daa2iso.\nzip" rather than "daa2iso.zi\np".

>    4) One feature Nautilus2 didn't have that I would like is a
> "separate" thumbnail view.  From the View menu, View as Thumbnails
> could be chosen, which would set the same setting Edit > Preferences >
> Display > Show thumbnails does.  I usually don't want thumbnails as
> they take up more room and visually break up things for me.  However,
> I occasionally want to browse images by thumbnail rather than file
> name. Having this in the View menu would be allow switching between
> icons and thumbnails more quickly.  Alternately, a check box could be
> added to the View menu directly below Show Hidden Files.

Disagree on this as well. I see no real idea of having one more view
just for showing/not showing thumbnails.

>    5) I think it looks nicer to name and rename files and folders in
> the file manager window, rather than opening a pop-up to do this.
> Renaming in the FM window in Nautilus2: http://ompldr.org/vOHZpaw

Accessibility guys?

At first I didn't like the resize dialog either, but actually it is
quite accessible because it is a simple way to give the user feedback
("you can start typing now"). With renaming in Thunar window, you don't
get this feedback.

>    6) While having a simple drop down box to choose the default
> application to open a file type with on the first Properties page is
> nice, I would also like to be able to -remove- applications from the
> list in the case where certain applications I never want to open this
> file type with add themselves to the list (ex: "A Wine Application" on
> numerous file types).  The way Nautilus2 handles this in the GUI is to
> add an extra tab to the file's Properties page.  I suppose an x or
> minus icon could be added beside each item in the drop-down list, but
> I think that would make it fairly easy to remove the wrong app,
> especially if there are several the user wants to remove.  Here's a
> mock-up using a combination of Thunar & Nautilus2:
> http://ompldr.org/vOHZpcw

I don't know if this is the right approach to do this (sounds/looks a
bit bloaty...), but I agree that it is sometimes frustrating to have
some extra items (especially Wine Notepad) in the list. You sometimes
hit that item, whether you wanted that or not.

>    7) Having the option of applying rwx permissions to files and
> directories with a grid of checkboxes rather than drop-down menus
> would be nice.  At the least, execute permission should be added to
> Thunar's Properties > Permissions tab.

I don't know if the grid of checkboxes would appeal even most of the
super users. Also, it's not very accessible/beautiful.

I do agree on the execute permission bit though, but I'm not sure if the
design SIG is really the right place for this. Maybe file a feature
request for this in the Xfce Bugzilla (you can even send me mail
personally, if you want me to chime in to the "bug" discussion :))

>    8) In Nautilus, I like being able to select whether to run or view
> an executable text file every time.  In Thunar, the file is always
> run.  In Nautilus' preferences, the options given are always run,
> never run, and always ask.

Is it possible to edit with right-click? I don't know if it's worth
adding an extra dialog to ask *every time*, but if right-click-edit is
not possible, maybe add that functionality.

>    9) Occasionally, having pasted files/folders automatically selected
> after pasting is useful.

Jannis, do you have a deeper insight on this? Would it be too awkward to
add some special keycombo to do this (eg. Ctrl+Shift+V)?

>    10) The option to create a symlink to the selected
> file(s)/directory(s) (with an absolute path) in Nautilus' right-click
> menu is used often by me.

I say: maybe. Jannis, again?

>    Thanks for reading my large number of selections with long
> explanations. If/when I learn C properly, they're all on my long list
> of things I want to change, at least to patch the copies on my
> computer. However, I would quite appreciate if the best of these
> suggestions (or all of them) were implemented sooner than that.
>    Regardless of whether any of this is added, what is people's feedback?
> -Matt
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Pasi Lallinaho                              » http://open.knome.fi/
Leader of the Shimmer Project               » http://shimmerproject.org/
Webdesigner, graphic artist, Ubuntu member  » IRC: knome @ freenode

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