Yenya's World

Mon, 23 May 2011

Lost GUI features

Contemporary GUI applications have several problems which, if I remember correctly, previous systems did not have. I wonder whether somebody else also considers it being a problem:

Creating a new file
Almost every TUI text editor (like vim) happily accepts a non-existent file as a command-line argument, and the straightforward interpretation is "user wants to start working with a new file". On the other hand, most GUI applications simply complain that the file does not exist, and some‒like‒exit after that message. Other GUI apps, like Gnumeric, present a warning, but then open a new work with the default file name (Book1.gnumeric in the case of Gnumeric) instead.
Working directory
The file open/save dialog of contemporary GUI apps does not offer by default the working directory from which the application has been started, and uses some silly default (such as ~/Documents in case of Even gThumb needs to be explicitly told that the user wants to browse the current directory with the "gthumb ." command line.
Iconified applications
Once upon a time, in a stone age of GUI computing, there was a twm window manager. When the application window was not needed on the screen, twm could be used to iconify the application. All applications, and all instances of them, could be iconified and then restored back the same way. Then Windows 95 happened, and it started to minimize the applications to the bottom panel instead of iconifying them to any place in the desktop. It also reused the desktop icons as application shortcuts instead of representing the minimized running applications. Unfortunately, the panel was too small for so many running minimized applications. Users stopped expecting to be able to restore the application after minimizing it. The applications which required to be minimized and restored back frequently (music players etc), developed their own means of minimizing, the notification icon area. So we have the iconification back, only not usable from all applications, and with each application implementing it in its own crappy way.

So what other important features of the "desktop of the past" do you consider missing from the present GUI systems?

Update - Mon, 23 May 2011: Iconified Apps

I have just discovered that XFCE4 in Fedora 15 allows the desktop icons to be switched between the Application launchers/shortcuts and Minimzed applications modes. Yay!

Section: /computers/desktops (RSS feed) | Permanent link | 8 writebacks


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