Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Nautilus User Interface Tweaks

Canonical's Design and User Experience team has launched the One Hundred Paper Cuts project to improve Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala. A paper cut is a trivially and fixable usability bug that the average user would encounter on their first day of using a brand new installation of Ubuntu Desktop Edition. They have identified 100 paper cuts, and are going doing their best to fix them.

One of the paper cuts discussed this week was Nautilus' user interface. Users identified Nautilus complexity and inefficiently of the windows used screen space. David Siegal's blog discussed some proposed changes that were impressive but ultimately rejected upstream.

I agree that Nautilus' user interface is overwhelming (especially on a netbook's small screen) and it's use of screen icons, labels and space excessive.

nautilus_defualt
- Notice the icons have labels. Explanations of the icons is unneeded. The icons themselves do a great job defining their actions.
- The top nautilus bar takes up almost 20% of the Mini 9's screen space.

Below is a pic of the rejected changes to Nautilus that were outlined in David Siegel's blog. Even though they were rejected they show were Nautilus should be headed.
new_nautilus
- Notice the streamlined icons without labels
- The redundant home and computer icons just appear in the left plane.
- Location bar bar moved to the navigation icons.
- Space is efficiently used.

Hopefully we will see some of these proposed changes end up used in Nautilus. Until then we can save space by changing Nautilus settings in Appearances.

To get there go to System>Preferences>Appearance
Under the Interface Tab you can save space by turning the icons in the left plane off, and change the appearance of the icon layout with the pull down menu.
Appearance Preferences

Icons Only
nautilus_icon_only

Text Only
nautilus_text_only

It's not a perfect solution but it does make Nautilus easier to look at and use.

Have a question or problem that this article doesn't cover?
Ask our Ubuntu Mini 9 Google Group for help.

1 comment:

leleobhz said...

For karmic testers: Add the repository for Karmic and...

sudo aptitude install nautilus=1:2.27.4-0ubuntu2~ppa2