[packagekit] UI suggestions and interaction notes

Jud Craft craftjml at gmail.com
Sun Dec 21 11:16:54 PST 2008

When selecting packages to install...

1.  It's hard to get a sense of what your current transaction will
involve.  You can select more than one package, but PackageKit-GNOME
has no way to show you a summary of everything you've selected so far.

2.  Likewise when you begin the installation process:  Rather than
displaying a summary of the transaction, PackageKit jumps right in and
starts downloading and installing stuff.

3.  I know that you want minimal involvement on the part of the user
(select what you want, and then PackageKit installs it.  simple).  And
this worked fine back when PackageKit immediately did what you told it
to:  I want to install Qt4, it installs Qt4.  But now that we can
specify multiple packages for download in a single transaction, it
makes sense to be able to view the current state of that transaction
and confirm it before PackageKit starts doing the magic.

When updating/installing packages...

4.  It's hard to tell what's going on, see #3 above (unable to get a
sense of the current state of the transaction).  At any moment, you
know PackageKit is installing or downloading something.  But you don't
know what it's already done, or what's next; you also don't know how
fast the download is going, or even if it's downloading at all, or the
estimated time remaining.  These things matter on big packages; I've
had moments where I wondered if my connection had petered out and
PackageKit was just sitting there idling time; I later found out the
package I was installing was 50 megs in size and taking quite a while
at 30 KB/sec.  (I got caught on a bad mirror).  Some basic feedback to
the user would be very helpful.


A) the size of the current package (and percent complete), perhaps
with estimated time (I know Yum provides that, don't know about
others.  But PackageKit could still expose API that allows you to send
this information in the DBUS signals).

B) some way to track the state of the current transaction.  This could
be as simple as Microsoft's Update (where in addition to the current
package progress, it displays a "Updates 1 of 13 complete"), or as
direct as something like Apple's download queues (seen in System
Update or iTunes Downloads) or in Firefox downloads -- where a
complete list of all transactions is shown and checked off as they are
completed.  Such a queued list could also be used to solve #3 above:
there could be a "View Update/Installation Summary" under the Filters
menu, which would allow you to see a list of all items you've prepared
for install/update.

Even if no one desires a type of Queue style overview in B, the extra
information for the current package in A could be added to the current
dialog boxes without changing the interface drastically, and would be
very handy.

Just some talk from the peanut gallery.  Keep up the great work!

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