Posts Tagged ‘UI’

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touch PhotoFile

So I’m going with the name PhotoFile for my new project. Clever, I know. Actually, not sure what exists out there already, like this or with a similar name. A quick google search didn’t reveal much. Either way, I’m sure nothing exists that is quite so perfect for ME (I’m incredibly selfish), and I think this will be a good learning experience, so I plan on getting it to a reasonably usable state, at least.

PhotoFile - so early it doesnโ€™t have version numbers yet!

I liked the original left-to-rightness, as it visually led the user through the workflow; and that’s how I originally envisioned it. But the whole thing was getting too wide. So I’ve updated the GUI a bit (not final by any means) and I think this is looking better, for now. Open to ideas/suggestions, of course.

Since last upate, I’ve done some (much needed) code refactoring and cleaning up, added minimal Exif support using, and some GUI modifications (file list frame is resizable, added the filename below the thumbnails, moved the Original thumb above the Preview thumb). Most of it is still just GUI stuff and it’s not functional, but it’s getting to a point where I will easily be able to make a few things functional.

$ cat | wc -l
$ cat | grep FIXME | wc -l

It’s still just a wee little program. ๐Ÿ™‚


I’m currently working on an idea I’ve been kicking around for a long time:

photofile 0.0000001

This is being done in Python and PyGTK. It’s mostly just GUI stuff at the moment (none of the operations are functional), as I’m learning GTK as I go. And even though I’ve done a bit of reading regarding Python, it’s gonna be my first real attempt with the language. Bottom line: progress will probably be slow. ๐Ÿ˜›

Some big news for Open Source, recently.

Also, apparently I’m strange, because I like the new Nano.

Now, that I’ve got rid of a bunch of bloggy things, I’m gonna go outside and rollerblade for a bit on this awesome day. Will grab a drink and poke at my new project after a soon-to-be-required shower.

Pidgin 2.1 UI Ideas

Quite a lot of UI modifications have been made to Pidgin since 2.0, in a relatively short time. I’m happy to say, it’s gradually getting better. The window has a minimum size which prevents UI elements from being cut off, the text formatting has been collected into a drop-down menu, and it generally looks much cleaner.

I’ve been lurking on the pidgin-devel list keen on UI discussion, as I think it’s an area where pidgin can improve greatly. I spent an admittedly long time in The Gimp illustrating a couple UI ideas in the form of mockups.

First, this is the target conversation window mockup, done by Hylke Bons.

Now, this is what the conversation window currently looks like (minus the comments, of course).

I’ve basically modified the target UI slightly.

Full-size user avatar


It’s nice to see the avatar how it’s meant to be seen. It makes the conversation more unique for each individual. I think the vertical space will eventually be needed as pidgin implements more protocol features, anyway. Some people complain that too much space is occupied by such an infopane, but a button which toggles full-display and no-display (or small-display) could easily be implemented. I was thinking you could just double-click a tab, but when I tried it to see if that did anything, it let me give my contact an alias within the tab! Feature discovery! heh.

Selectable text

Something that has always irritated me with nearly every modal window: why not make text selectable? I can’t think of any reason why not to do it. It doesn’t change the UI at all, and will make it more useful to those copy-paste users – there’s a lot of them. (Get user info – which is terribly delayed, and fails often – should only be needed when the user wants to select information that is not displayed right in front of them.)

selectable text

Clickable links

Any email links should behave like a mailto: link, displaying a menu with the options of writing an email to that address or simply copying the email address. The same should be done for links inside the chat window, “open in browser” and “copy link location.”

clickable email links!


Pidgin handles many different protocols: MSN, Yahoo!, ICQ, IRC, etc. The idea is that you can use a single IM client to communicate to all of your friends. Many people use multiple protocols for whatever reason (some of my friends are on MSN, the rest on gChat, a couple on ICQ). But really, having a bunch of accounts for the same person cluttering your contact list does more harm than good. A good way to overcome this is to use the “Expand” item in the contact list context menu: right click on a contact, and select Expand in the context menu, then drag all this person’s different accounts into this expanded contact. When in a conversation window, you can change the active protocol used to chat with your friend by using the Send to menu item. But the problem is, you have to go up and check the menu to see what the active protocol is.

super-useful protocol button!

The entire Send to menu can be replaced by a protocol button in the infopane that acts as both the protocol indicator and selector. The space to the right of the protocol button can be used for protocol specific functionality, as they become available (video, voice, whiteboard, etc). Using the button to change the active protocol could change the available actions to the right of it.

Tab size

A lot of discussion/debate/flame is going on with the purpose of reducing tab-size (removing the status, and close icons). Personally, I think the status icon in the tab is very useful for seeing the status of the people you have open conversations with and should not be removed. If you have 10+ conversations open, you can always right-click on a tab and get a nice list. Sean Egan (the lead developer) jokingly put forward the idea of having the conversation tabs on the side, which actually doesn’t look bad. Maybe the format-bar and info pane would have to go on the right of the chat window… not sure how that would work.

Update Aug 5th

  • First of all, if you want the developers to hear your thoughts on this issue, you should discuss it on the pidgin-devel mailing list. If you just want to follow any discussion from the list, you can browse the archives.
  • I noticed this post has been dugg.
  • After a little feedback on the mailing-list, I’ve got another mockup. I’ve added a dropdown indicator to the button when the active conversation-buddy has more than one contact, and put example contact lists for clarity.

    Further illustrating the protocol button next to the contact list.

Update Aug 14th

It’s true. Pidgin doesn’t have a Send button. I had no idea this bothered some people, but I guess it could be made more obvious.

Greyed out text telling the user how to send a message.

Random UI Stuff and Link Dump

Radial menus in GNOME! libsexier, indeed! Awesome. I was wondering when radial menus would creep their way to the desktop. After watching the video, I enabled Desktop Effects in Feisty and ran the demo, but the performance wasn’t very good. I’m not sure why. Should I be using an updated Cairo or other lib? Does my computer just suck that much? ๐Ÿ™

iwant iphoto and imovie. F-Spot devs, please check out the iphoto demonstration, particularly the usage of “events.” (version 4 is out! I still need to try that…) Anyone capable of working on a movie editor for linux, please look at imovie. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m totally jealous of these 2 particular pieces of software… as I would use them a lot.

The Office 2007 UI Bible documents the history of Microsoft Office’s UI and various decisions that were made. I’m not done reading it, but it’s quite interesting.

Compiz Fusion is lookin nice…

More worthwhile links

I hate hardware problems

I think my laptop has officially died. I knew the hard drive was going, and it finally went. Knowing that day was nearing, I didn’t have any important information on it, so that’s ok. Anyway, I bought a new 2.5″ hd to replace it… but it doesn’t always work. I know, that sounds strange, but depending on how I keep the hd in my laptop (manually, with my hand seems to work more often than actually putting the cover on) it seems the drive does not connect completely, and most definitely not consistently. ๐Ÿ™ I know the new drive is ok, because I also bought a 2.5″ drive enclosure to hopefully salvage my old laptop drive (not able) and was able to test it out fine. Yesterday, I got fed up and decided to take apart my laptop and see if I could see a problem of a loose connection or something. Unfortunately, disassembling a laptop is not very straight-forward. Even after removing every screw I could find and prying at the snapped edges I could not figure out how to completely remove the back cover from the laptop – it still seem connected somewhere in the centre. I didn’t want to force anything so I thought I’d better put it back together. After putting the HD in again, and booting it up, I saw “IDE #1 ERROR” which means there is now something wrong w/the DVD drive. Great, I either loosened or damaged something while trying to take it apart. Oddly enough, it then pretends to work and boots…. I can use it for a short while, and then it gets read errors and I must restart, unsure if it will start again. *Sigh*

I’m not sure if I should take it somewhere to get repaired. The laptop is over 4 years old and no longer covered by warranty… so the service alone would likely be costly, before looking at any replacement parts. The battery has been dead for quite a while so that’s another thing to replace… It’s probably a better option to hold off on anything laptop-related until I need one, then just get a new one appropriate to my needs at the time.

Maybe I’ll try taking this thing apart again….

some links

Gaim / Pidgin – New Icon and Beta 7

As you likely already know (if you’re reading this blog), Gaim is now Pidgin. Here are the new application icons and about screen. And the full logo (I’m pretty sure it’s not a secret anymore…).

Gaim/Pidgin beta 7 should be out today, according to the dev mailing list. Can Pidgin really have a beta7? heh. I’m guessing it will be mostly re-branded and hopefully include some good ‘ol fashioned bug fixes. ๐Ÿ™‚

Update: it’s been released! Yay. More information.


Something I’ve always wondered about was the strange lack of mouse control in the ubiquitous alt-tab dialog. (And for UI “dialog“s, should I be using the Canadian spelling, “dialogue?”). I know Windows and GNOME do not supply this feature, and I’m pretty sure KDE does not have it, either. I’m not sure about OSX, however. This seems such a glaring omission, and easily resolved. I’ve thought about getting my feet wet and doing it myself (for GNOME), but my GTK+ skills aren’t quite developed, yet.

I did, however, just recently have a week-long affair with Javascript, and felt up to making a prototype. The implementation is not exactly pretty, but it works (and even then, only on Firefox). ๐Ÿ™‚ Take a look and let me know what you think. Is this a good idea or is there some reason why mouse input has never been implemented?

>> alt-tab with mouse movement prototype