Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Some thoughts about Icaros GUI

 Although many people still prefer using Icaros Desktop with Wanderer (AROS' default Workbench replacement), there's no doubt that Directory Opus 5 "Magellan" offers a great wider range of features and options which, once mastered, allow to do with files whatever we like, and the fact that Dopus5 can be still customized to perform any modern task with no issue, after so many years since its conception, is really astonishing. Would you like to convert a MP4 file into a different format with one click? Just bind the ffmpeg command line to a Dopus5 button, select the file and enjoy! Unluckily, "mastering" Directory Opus 5 is not easy, and some old limitations of its GUI make it less appealing to users. There is no doubt that Icaros Desktop's lister toolbar offered a good range of actions already pre-configured for file management. All common operations were available either with a left or a right click on the mouse. Problems were, after a little survey among users, that:

1. the right side menu with global actions (the multi coloured icon group on the top right corner of the screen) was practically never used by the 'common user' of Icaros Desktop, makeing it just a complex-to-understand, confusionary and pointless waste of space on smallest screens.

2. lack of on-mouse-over tips, which unfortunately is a limit of Dopus 5 I can't do anything for, makes icons meaning almost impossible to remember: it's already hard to remember what more commond lister toolbar buttons do, there's no hope somebody will ever remember what those buttons on that mysterious top-right corner menu would do.

So, in a nutshell, the top right menu was a total mistake I have to apologize for, and for this reason it has been shut off by default in Icaros Desktop 2.2 (it was already on the Xmas Edition). People who want it back, can always re-enable it with the usual Dopus menu. Right menu, however, is not the only issue I had to think about. Let's have a look to our usual lister toolbar:

Not too bad. Even without tips, some buttons are really easy to understand, or, at least, to remember: the home button should have really opened MyWorkspace:, but it opens a lister with all available volumes and assigns. Not really a "home" but more a "Computer"; the parent and new drawer buttons on the right are quite easy to manage as well. Things get more complicated for the selection buttons (pattern selection, all-none selection), immediately followed by a rename button that really looks like a "create new project" one. The dustbin is quite easy to understand as a delete option, while the 'copy' button just makes sense for people already accustomed to DirectoryOpus' logics (copy from a source directory to a destination one), while just didn't work like Microsoft's. Moreover, the doubled sheet icon does not really help understanding the meaning of the button. So, two years after, I decided that it was time for a little overhaul again. In the latest days, I transformed the above toolbar into this: 

In the same horizontal space there are exactly half the buttons, but all of them has a double function (left or right click) and a written label on the right. Those labels are part of the image, so they must be re-edited to be localized, but they are definitely much more easy to understand. I have, by the way, eliminated some really pointless one, and moved them in better positions. Let's say goodbye, for instance, to the 'home' button. Not really needed, when you can just need double click on any free pixel of the workbench to make the volume list appear. Definitely not needed as well, when you can click more times on "Parent" to go there, or use the [<] button that Dopus 5 already provides on the top right. "Select All / Select None" button still lives, but it has been moved away from the visible ones. It's absolutely pointless, when the "Toggle Select" button just selects all files when a lister has been opened and no file was selected among it. Having a button for rename operation wouldn't make much sense as well: just click on the middle of a file name in list view mode, and you can edit that file name directly. But I kept the function anyway, by right-clicking on the new Copy button. More: the "open a shell here" operation has now been explicited with its button, while in the past it was "hidden" behind a right click on the "Home" button. Right clicking on the "Shell here" button will cast the "Protect" function instead. And the other actions? Just ckick on the double arrow button on the right to make them appear. More on this later...