fd.o HIG

Sean Middleditch elanthis at awesomeplay.com
Thu Oct 21 22:53:32 EEST 2004

On Thu, 2004-10-21 at 12:06 -0700, Rahul Sundaram wrote:
> Hi
> > I've said it before, and I'll say it again - this is
> > a waste of time.
> > The differences between KDE and GNOME are huge. 
> > What about other
> > desktop environments, like ROX?  GNUStep?  Are you
> > going to include the
> > Aqua HIG and Windows Style Guidelines as well?
> No. I am not going to include rox or gnustep. we arent

Then this isn't FDo material; take it elsewhere.  FDo is not
"GNOMEandKDE.org" it's "FreeDesktop.org", and ROX and GNUStep are just
as Free as GNOME or KDE.

> targetting stuff for windows or mac users here.

So any cross-platform application (and the desktop is definitely part of
the platform) will still need separate UIs for OS X and Windows targets.
Having a unified look (and that's all you can get with a HIG) across two
platforms (GNOME and KDE) while still having a 100% alien look on other
Free desktops and other non-Free desktops doesn't do a developer a whole
lot of good.  The proposed HIG's scope is too small to be of any
practical design use.

> The focus is primarily on kde and gnome. However this
> doesnt mean others dont count If interested you could
> point out whether they have any documented set of
> guidelines.I believe we could create a basic set of
> guidelines thats applicable to everyone though. How
> could that would be depends on an interest to have a
> consistent interface across different toolkits.

My point is, what good would those guidelines do?  They perform
absolutely no useful function.  The UI differences between KDE and GNOME
run very, very deep.  Even if you can iron out and unify every
difference between the two desktops except their button ordering, you've
still failed, because button ordering is pretty major.  As is standard
dialog boxes, configuration behavior (instant apply vs change/apply/test
cycle), widget style (how do date/time boxes look), tabs vs lists,
tables vs trees, menu items, and so on.  Not to mention low-level notes
like the VFS layer.  (Apps that can't access my WebDAV shares in GNOME
piss me off, and I'm sure KDE users feel the same about apps that can't
access their KIOSlaves.)

> If you are happy with the current situation you may
> continue to believe its a waste of time. 

It has nothing to do with being "happy" about it as much to do with
knowing what the issues are before diving in head first pretending
something as simple as an LCD HIG is going to solve *anything*.

Let's say we have this FDo HIG like you propose.  It only documents the
things that are the same between two (and only two) of the Free Desktops
for UNIX/Linux.  Now, I come along and write an app that complies with
that new HIG.  Guess what - that app still feels alien in both KDE and
GNOME, because it doesn't fit in properly with either of them.  The
situation is only marginally better, if that.

Now, let's say I come along and write an app using the GNOME HIG.  It
would *automatically* be compliant with any FDo HIG, because it'll
already follow the GNOME guidelines that are the same as the KDE
guidelines.  The parts where KDE and GNOME differ, my app will feel
alien on KDE, but that's no different than if I wrote it for the FDo
HIG.  The only way to get it 100% proper in KDE is to write it against
the KDE guidelines - which is the correct solution.

If you actually want a HIG that is of *any* use, you should perhaps work
on actually unifying the HIGs of KDE and GNOME.  I'm sure there are all
sorts of places that they differ that both would be willing to
compromise on for compatibility.  Otherwise, you should be advocating to
developers to just follow one of the two HIGs fully.  You'll get a lot
more value out of your time that way.
Sean Middleditch <elanthis at awesomeplay.com>
AwesomePlay Productions, Inc.

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