@mark, seb, re: discoverability with automatically hiding widgets

OK, I wanted to include a picture so I just made this into another blog post.
I would like to argue that this is more of a solution for making the app usable when it’s resized to less than normal sizes. If actually having to teach the user that it needs to make the window larger to get the controls he want on screen, then someone has messed up the defaults of the application. As long as it’s initially resized to a good size, it should feel natural to the user instantly if he sees windows grow smaller and then finally disappear when he gradually makes the window smaller.

And another point: have a look at this small krita.

…or even smaller!

Would you agree me with me if I say that in this case, the problem that the interface has just become practically unusable, should take priority over the fact that the user might be a little bit confused about how to get his windows back (although I still thinks it should feel natural if done right)? And instead, it automagically turned into this:

Hope I didn’t create any strawmen here by misunderstanding your arguments, yell back if I did🙂

9 Responses to “@mark, seb, re: discoverability with automatically hiding widgets”

  1. Andre Says:

    But where has the layers panel gone? It would be better if it was visible in the tabbar or as a vertical tab on the right side.

  2. maninalift Says:

    This seems like a great idea, combined with some sort of tabbing or other feature to make it possible to discover and use hidden widgets.

    When I saw KOffice being built on mobile platforms I thought that it would be really great if the layout could automatically adjust to deal with that and if it were not a special “I’m on a small form factor device” switch but rather a general capacity to optimise it’s layout to it’s geometry.

  3. Thomas Zander Says:

    If you look at KOffice2 there is a little ‘collapse’ button for each of those panels (colors/layers etc).
    Maybe we should auto-collapse them since this already gives you most of what you want, and they are still on screen. Mostly😉

    The hard part is deciding when to collapse what. I mean, you just want it on window-resize I guess…

    Patches to koffice2 welcome to try out strategies🙂

  4. Ingomar Wesp Says:

    This whole idea sounds like it could face some severe difficulties when it comes to an implementation that is sufficiently user-friendly. I imagine that different users need different sets of palettes for their day-to-day work, so the choice about which UI elements are hidden automatically should be either up to the user or adaptive enough to learn about the user’s preferred layout at different sizes.

    While I personally like the idea, I think it’s probably not going to happen. On the other hand, I’m not a KDE dev.

  5. Stephan Says:

    Awesome! Good idea.. and I like developer with a usability eye!

  6. mutlu Says:

    How about having a hierarchy of widgets (or several, automatically chosen according to the currently performed task), the least important of which become collapsed under space constraints?

    To accommodate user choice, it should be possible to a) turn auto-collapsing off and b) rearrange the hierarchy (kind of like the file associations dialog).

  7. Antoine Chavasse Says:

    I think Harald’s point is that even if you collapse the wrong widgets with regards to what the user would prefer, it’s still better than not collapsing them at all.

    You end up in a configuration that the user may not find optimal but is still usable, which may not be ideal but it’s much better than something unusable like on the second picture.

  8. James Ots Says:

    If the widgets collapsed down into a bar at the side of the screen containing just the title of the hidden widget, then it would (hopefully) obvious to the user what had happened, and they could click on that bar to get their widgets back – probably at the expense of another widget if there isn’t enough room – or possibly it could float over the other widgets and then hide again when it was finished with.

    I don’t know which widgets I’d make disappear first though – I guess you’d need some algorithm like ‘closes to edge of screen and largest first’, or something.

  9. FACORAT Fabrice Says:

    IMHO you are trying to fix a real issue from the bad point of view.

    At least concerning krita, the issues are the following :
    – the window ( and at least each pane/widget ) should have a minimal size and then should prevent to be shrinked at too small size. IN this case scrollbar should be add, but as said, at point point, the user should not be able to resize the application more unless he decides to hide ( collapse ) some elements from the interface.
    – widget/pane should not allow to be overlapped by others widgets/pane.

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