Thursday, June 12, 2008
I hate graphical file managers. Not only graphical. I hated the text mode filemanagers of yore. I feel deep comfort seeing the lonely and stark command prompt.
Using Dolphin the other day to browse through my drives, I realized why. I would dislike affixing a large magnifying glass in front of my face. Hence the command prompt. I tell it what I want to see, and it shows me.
Dolphin starts up with an incredibly cluttered interface. No, not the menus, toolbars and the like. Every addition is painstakingly decided and parsed. But the 251 Items, (88 Folders, 163 Files) show up unbidden and undesired. In the Tools menu there is a helpful Show Filter Bar selection, which brings up a text line where you can enter some kinds of filter. Forget everything you know about wildcards and the like, it doesn't work. If you type the first letter of a folder, it will list all folders and files whose name contains that letter. If you select the folder, the filter stays, and to see what is in the folder you have to clear the filter editor. Maybe I will implement T days, or if I'm particularly grouchy, Y days, only seeing the filtered files and folders with that letter included.
If only the darn thing showed up next time I ran Dolphin. Maybe if I ran the thing more than once every three weeks I could remember where to find the menu selection. Maybe if it showed up when it started I might run it more than that. But no, clutter is evil. Except in the file listing. This is where I start looking for the little X button. Did I mention that I hate graphical file managers?
But I persist. Konqueror did automatic file previews. This was one feature that overcame my apprehension of graphical file managers. Dolphin does similar. The file type is identified by an icon, and as you hover, the preview shows up in the information panel. It is a bit small, showing just not quite enough information to identify a text file for example, but adequate. Definitely a plus. Clicking on a file loads a viewer or editor as expected. I miss the embedding from Konqueror. Hovering and previewing or even getting a left menu takes a long time. The application becomes unresponsive. Hopefully it improves by release time.
Tabs are supported, but as of 819969 drag and drop between tabs doesn't work. Strange, but I think it did work at one time. Not sure.
A neat feature that I just noticed is the ability to zoom in and out. It changes the density of the view pane, increasing or decreasing the size of the icons. The small icon size messes up the + and - clickable points though.
There is no indication once you click or hover whether something is happening. That may be a kde4 issue.
As I said, I don't like graphical file managers. Dolphin has some sweet spots and if it was lightning fast, much could be endured. I'm sure that will improve in time.
Something I found in browsing my cluttered drive:
Settings > Configure Dolphin
Check "Show filter bar" in the "Startup" section.
This will not be supported in Dolphin, as it is intended being only a file manager not a file browser. That's one reason (among a lot others) why we still have Konqueror :-)
> Hovering and previewing or even getting a left menu
> takes a long time. The application becomes unresponsive.
> Hopefully it improves by release time.
This is related to http://bugs.kde.org/show_bug.cgi?id=163050 and will (must) be fixed for KDE 4.1.
> Tabs are supported, but as of 819969 drag and drop between
> tabs doesn't work. Strange,
> but I think it did work at
> one time. Not sure.
Did never work in Dolphin, is planned for KDE 4.2.
>> But the 251 Items, (88 Folders, 163 Files) show up unbidden and undesired.
Uhh, yeah. I would suspect that, you know, actually showing you your files is a desireable feature in a file manager.
>>Forget everything you know about wildcards and the like, it doesn't work. If you type the first letter of a folder, it will list all folders and files whose name contains that letter.
Good. At least the default behaviour should be like that. Sure it would be nice if it supported some more wildcards, but its a rare occasion when you have to do complex queries on your files. (Could always use the find dialog for that).
>> Definitely a plus. Clicking on a file loads a viewer or editor as expected. I miss the embedding from Konqueror.
I sure don't. Our apps should be light enough to launch at an appropriate speed. Cluttering the interface of a file manager with a view-only embedded container is not cool.
>> Hovering and previewing or even getting a left menu takes a long time.
What's a left menu? Context menu you mean? You might have a problem with your video drivers. I think some of them conflict with Qt in some way and you end up with piss-poor performance. I found that Qt4.4 helped a lot there..
For example a graphical file manager makes really easier to work with nested subdirectories, while in a shell it's almost easier to work in a horizontal way (that's why you have tons of folders/files in your home directly). Moreover you're talking about wildcards and file filtering but that's legacy... the correct answer is to use labels and categories, and filter on them, if needed (we aren't still there with KDE4 but we will get there, Peter and Sebastian are extraordinary hackers with a clear vision, IMO).
To sum up, just as in other posts, you're giving the image that you're "getting old" for KDE4, and you have two choices: adapt yourself or quit KDE4. I personally think that adapting will be easier than quitting KDE :)
500 gig drives for $92. 1 terabyte for $225. 'viewing nested subdirectories' is a solution looking for a problem. A problem that I had in 1988.
As for tags and categories, I agree. As long as the user isn't expected to provide them. Nepomuk and strigi hold the possibility that I could look for files about hough line detection and get a list. Great.
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