MAY
2
2005

kcontrol5 Mockups

Yesterday I suddenly realized with horror that I missed a trend: everyone seems to rewrite kcontrol or create mockups how it should look like but not me. :-) First I had to find a project name, I chose kcontrol5 because kcontrol3 and kcontrol4 already exist in kdenonbeta. After having this difficult task finished I created these mockups which meanwhile incorporate first feedback from #kde-usability.

Note that his is only a proposal for a new kcontrol interface, how to navigate. It is not (again) about restructuring and renaming the modules (like trying to flatten it to two levels), cleaning up modules (later more about this), introducing a task-based approach, improving how good the search works or introducing context between options (that will be left to Tenor). In short, only what could be easily improved in KDE 3.x series.
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Comments

I prefer the treeview design. Navigating up and down the hierarchy would be significantly more cumbersome and time-consuming following this approach, making it harder to find a preference than it currently is. Putting the search field in a more prominent spot does not counteract this, as most users, in my experience, inherently distrust search systems of this sort (they usually suck: search for something it doesn't recognize and you end up thinking the preference you're looking for doesn't exist, even if it actually does; add to that a sense of lost autonomy).


By eike hein at Mon, 05/02/2005 - 11:41

> Navigating up and down the hierarchy would be significantly more cumbersome and time-consuming following this approach

The underlined parts of the path above the right pane are supposed to be clickable: you can switch from "Web Behavior" module to "Web Browser" one up or "Internet & Network" with one click. Also when you haven't done a search just before you have the top-level categories visible all the time in the left pane.

The only situation where you "lose time" I can think of is switching between categories starting the second time (because the first time you have to open the subtree as kcontrol starts with all of them closed). But I think this is negligible.


By at Mon, 05/02/2005 - 12:04

Let me refine: Thanks to the treeview, the user can see the entire context at a glance - with the approach outlined in the mockups, he/she has to navigate up again in order to see the toplevel categories. The treeview allows one to "delve down" the hierarchy without losing that context.


By eike hein at Mon, 05/02/2005 - 16:51

> Thanks to the treeview, the user can see the entire context at a glance

Are you sure that any user does that with the treeview? Currently you need 11(!) mouseclicks to unfold the whole tree and even then it doesn't fit on the screen at once.

> with the approach outlined in the mockups, he/she has to navigate up again in order to see the toplevel categories.

You see the toplevel categories the whole time at the left until you start a search. You see the whole time which category you're are in because it's the one selected on the left (shot #2), for the single special case of third level it's not selected but still the current (shot #4).


By at Mon, 05/02/2005 - 17:21

I have seen quite a lot of users that basically hate the treeview because of the information overload; too many choices at ones.

The iconview is better for the majority of our userbase, as unlikely as it may seem to you; they actually do find things faster there.


By Thomas Zander at Wed, 05/04/2005 - 12:01

Why do most (all?) new designs for kcontrol insist on using icon views? I can understand that big icons are nice, but every time I resize the window the linebreak gets scrambled. As a result I can't find the icons anymore because they moved all over the place.

Why not use a list view with large icons? There are not that many elements in each category. Then you could also place the description next to each element.

Another minor point: why not combine the search stuff and the path above the right pane to a tool bar.


By Michael Olbrich at Mon, 05/02/2005 - 15:00

> Why do most (all?) new designs for kcontrol insist on using icon views?

Because it makes their authors feel more familiar (initially)? I have no good answer to that question, haven't tried (neither as mockup or in reality) listviews yet.

> why not combine the search stuff and the path above the right pane to a tool bar.

What would you gain by that? Do you want to hide it? Move it? Detach it? Do you want to change its content!?


By at Tue, 05/03/2005 - 11:09

> > why not combine the search stuff and the path above the right pane to a tool bar.

> What would you gain by that? Do you want to hide it? Move it? Detach it? Do you want to change its content!?

Put it at the bottom actually.
And I don't understand why you hide the path in the top-level view and show it in the others. That seems inconsistent to me.It's not like the space is needed. It doesn't necessarily has to be a toolbar for this, but it won't hurt either.


By Michael Olbrich at Wed, 05/04/2005 - 11:23

It's better, but there's still large problems. You've got the confusing state of having what look like pretty equal icons in the left and right panes and not knowing what to do with them, and you've still got a pseudo tree view.

However, all these problems stem from the fact that no one wants multiple dialogues on top of each other like Windows' Control Panel, and I think that's right. If you want to see how to create a control panel/centre that keeps everything nicely in one Window then look at Mac OS' System Preferences. That's the way to do it, and there's probably not going to be much deviation from that.


By segedunum at Mon, 05/02/2005 - 17:31

> You’ve got the confusing state of having what look like pretty equal icons in the left and right panes

Agreed, some icons could differ. Like the "Web Behavior" and "Connection Preferences" icons could have a small wrench overlay on their current icon. But this has to be solved by our artists. :-)

> you’ve still got a pseudo tree view

Care to elaborate? As written I don't want to have changed/flattened the current hierarchy currently.

> If you want to see how to create a control panel/centre that keeps everything nicely in one Window then look at Mac OS’ System Preferences.

I never used Mac OS and don't have often the chance to see it. And this proposal as the current kcontrol keeps everything in one window.


By at Tue, 05/03/2005 - 11:21

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