Go forward in time to November 2011.
During the Desktop Summit, Garrett and I had a very fruitful discussion on the daily workflow around files and documents. To me it was heartwarming to see that, after careful explanation, we mostly agreed with the vision for Document-Centric Gnome — and that it could be improved gradually.
One of the ideas we played with is about making document-creation applications more useful when they have just started up. Most such programs, when started, give you a blank slate that has some default configuration, as in the page size for print-oriented media.
When you start a program, though, you generally want to do one of these: create a new document from scratch, create a new document based on something that you can use as a template or a starting point, or open a document on which you've worked before.
Right now those actions are rather scattered in the UIs of applications. File/New may give you a blank page, but you then have to configure the page with Document Properties, or Page Setup, or Format/Page, or some other idiosyncratic command. Templates are left up to the user ("open something you had and Save As to another name"), or they get put in a deeply-hidden place.
Gedit's documents don't really have a physical media size, so the option at the top of that window is simply to edit a new, empty text file. The other options let you select recently/frequently used files.
Garrett and I talked about having a similar kind of "dashboard" for when other applications have just started up. The dashboard, or "blank slate that helps you get started", would give you the option of creating a new document with meaningful options for the page size, or to create something from templates, or to open something that you have already worked on.
Here is my first cut at a mockup for the GIMP. The part that is cut&pasted from a screenshot needs a little work to fit better within the sketched part; I just grabbed the screenshot to avoid doing all the work in Pencil.
The four big buttons in the "Create" section are the various ways in which the GIMP lets you create new images: from an empty image, from a scanner, from a screenshot, etc. When you click on those buttons, the section under them would change to present the appropriate options.
One question is whether this should be a rather abstract, but standardized mega-widget in GTK+, or if we should just publish some guidelines for how applications can implement this.
Let's see if we can turn this into a real UI pattern: Blank slate helps you get started. Please add any comments/discussion there (the discussion section is at the bottom of that wiki page).
As part of ongoing work, I used last week to continue the implementation of GtkPlacesSidebar.
Both Nautilus windows and GtkFileChooser dialogs have a sidebar that shows you bookmarks, volumes, and some special locations like your home directory. For historical reasons, these are separate code bases. Nautilus calls this the "places sidebar"; GTK+ doesn't really call it anything, as it is just a chunk of ad-hoc code inside the file chooser's implementation.
It's time to separate out the code that deals with the places sidebar and make it usable for applications. Of course, the first two clients will be GTK+'s file chooser itself, and Nautilus windows. With some luck, even other file managers like XFCE's will be able to use it.
I am taking NautilusPlacesSidebar and turning it into a GtkPlacesSidebar, based on Jon McCann's original patch - this removes the Nautilus-isms and turns the places sidebar into a standalone thing.
I'm doing this in the places-sidebar branch in GTK+, if you want to follow the development.
Update 2011/Oct/05: There is a wiki page with the things that remain to be done.
Go backward in time to September 2011.Federico Mena-Quintero <email@example.com> Mon 2011/Oct/03 14:49:58 CDT