XFCE design SIG: Thunar: "Redesign of the Shortcuts Pane", ideas and comments

Jannis Pohlmann jannis at xfce.org
Tue May 31 20:22:12 CEST 2011


first of all, thanks for the feedback, it's much appreciated!

On Tue, 31 May 2011 19:59:35 +0200
Harald Judt <h.judt at gmx.at> wrote:

> Hi,
> Here are some comments on and ideas for the redesign, not in any 
> specific order:
> I'd go for the example using no custom widgets, as from all the 
> proposals, I like it best.
> * I've never attached more than 4 devices to the computer at one
> time. External hard drives with multiple partitions might make a
> difference; Maybe the partitions of a hard drive should be made a
> separate level of the tree then, or color-coded?
> > If e.g. “Devices” is collapsed but the user inserts some removable
> > media, the header of the collapsed section should give some feedback
> > of the new device (Jannis proposed blinking) (Simon Steinbeiß)
> Absolutely good idea. Or (unintrusively) change the background color.

I don't want to apply too many colors to express different states as
that will take time for users to learn what they mean. So I think
flashing a few times between a light and darker background color could
do very well.

> > But since the nodes aren't really like links (even though I agree
> > you could argue the opposite here as well) I think the hand is
> > misleading. To me they're more like folders and folders don't
> > need/have much prelight. (Simon Steinbeiß)
> Although I like the idea very much, I agree the "hand" cursor would
> look strange here, but maybe another cursor or not changing the
> cursor at all would be good enough? In any case, another thing is
> missing compared to current thunar: The bookmark indicates you
> clicked on it, and what you see in the standard view now reflects its
> contents. On the other hand, thunar doesn't have any action for
> hovering over the item.

IMHO a hand cursor might be confusing, so I'd rather just use the
default cursor like we do everywhere else (except in single-click
mode; but in the side pane there is no double-click mode anyway, so no
need to distinguish between the two modes).

> * Give the category headers an additional purpose:
>    Example: When the user clicks on "Devices", a list of devices is 
> shown like files and folders in the standard view, similar to 
> computer:///. There, a color-coded progress bar (green, yellow, red) 
> indicates occupied and free space, like Windows 7 explorer does in 
> "Computer". Of course, it could show other useful device information 
> too. The item could be treated like the corresponding item in the 
> shortcuts pane (mount, eject,...). Optionally, the special view could 
> have a different (grey like the shortcut-pane's) background, to
> indicate that it is special.
>    Example: When the user clicks on "Places", a list of places is
> shown in the standard view, along with how much space they occupy,
> etc.

That's something for later. I still have the idea in mind to allow
plugins to implement their own views for certain URI schemes (e.g.
computer could display a drive overview like you are proposing). But
implementing that is a lot of work and for now I'd rather concentrate
on (a) fixing bugs and (b) improving the integration of GIO in Thunar.

> * Will the places section be configurable? That is, will it replace
> the bookmarks functionality of the current side-panel? There
> shouldn't be any things in there the user doesn't need or want, and
> the user should be free to adjust the order as he or she wants. In
> particular, thunar should not delete bookmarks when the resources
> cannot be found, because it might be on a device the user works with
> regularly but which is not available all the time.

Actually, integrating bookmarks for remote locations was one of my main
motivations to think about a redesigned shortcuts pane. I really don't
want to remove those on every start but in Thunar 1.2 remote bookmarks
are not really supported at all.

So what I have in mind for the configuration is that remote bookmarks
pop up in the "Network" category and stay there; plus they have an
eject button to their right if they are mounted, as can be seen here:


Also, the new side pane will support drag-and-drop as the current one
does. I also plan an editing feature like Finder has:


The reason for this is that currently, Thunar aims at hiding all
internal partitions that the user cannot mount/unmount without
administration rights. However, some people have been complaining about
that and it does not work very well either (due to GIO, or rather
udisks or gnome-disk-utility, not detecting permissions in fstab
properly). The editing feature will make about everyone happy, I guess.

> * How about enabling custom actions for devices or certain types of 
> devices? Use-case: Formatting an USB stick or an optical disc.

In the context menu perhaps, but that mostly depends on plugins to
implement those context menu items.

> * I don't know if this belongs to this specific proposal, but since
> I've seen it on the wiki page: How are samba shares different from
> network resources? Will they be handled in a different way? Do they
> use /etc/fstab? Maybe there's a better, general name than the
> technical term "Samba Shares"? Or wouldn't it better qualify as a
> subcategory of network, if an own category is needed at all?

Samba shares and other remote location are similar but not the same in
the GIO API. The main reason for separating them would be that
conceptually, locations mounted over SSH or FTP are not "shared" with
others, while samba shares are locations that several people may access
at the same time to exchange data.

> > Archives or iso-images make sense as part of the devices, if the
> > feature lands in thunar, I guess this is how it should look/work
> (Simon Steinbeiß)
> ISOs mounted via loop device are already shown in the bookmarks pane,
> so there may not be so much left to do ;-)

It's all about how GIO handles them, we will not implement mounting
archives on our own.
> I hope this is a bit helpful and of interest to you.

Absolutely, thanks again for the comments!

  - Jannis

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