Sugar UI design and Tux Paint
Jameson "Chema" Quinn
jquinn at cs.oberlin.edu
Sat Dec 29 19:39:45 EST 2007
Sugar entails a complete redesign of some basic UI concepts, so I thought a
thread on how to rethink applications to take advantage would be
One thing I've noticed in Tux Paint is that an Edit toolbar is far less
useful than an Edit menu. You want to copy something - you go to the edit
toolbar - you select the copy 'tool' - and nothing happens, because you
don't have anything selected. So how do you select something? Oh, that tool
is over in some other toolbar.
There are various possible solutions. In order from smallest to largest
1. Move the select tool onto the Edit toolbar, or put it in both places.
2. Automatically change to the select tool for as long as you're using the
3. Move from an select - action (object - verb) metaphor to an action -
select (verb - object) metaphor. In other words, have a 'copy tool' which is
just a select tool which copies as soon as you let up the mouse. In a larger
graphics program, like Inkscape, this would mean a separate selection tool
for every possible transformation, and some sort of UI 'pronoun' idiom (a
graphical menu on the side? Or a dropdown from the tool?) for reselecting a
recent selection set, for when you want to do various transformations on the
same set of objects.
Idea number 3 is more radical, but I would be inclined towards it. I
understand that for text, when the mouse is ALWAYS the selection tool, the
current object-verb metaphor is best - but for graphics, it's actually more
steps to get select tool, select, then transform, than it would be to get
transform tool then select. For a kid who's in the see-what-it-does
mentality, I feel verb-object is more direct too.
Some more random sugar-related UI ideas:
-- Obviously, the 'preferences dialog box' becomes the 'preferences screen',
to be selected via the toolbar tabs, as if it were a toolbar.
-- The current Sugar spec on the wiki says almost nothing about the game
buttons - a good interface should allow give a consistent way for you to
select any control or menu, including contextual menus, using just these
buttons. As it is, the directional rocker is just useful for moving around
inside text, and the four shape buttons seem to move around rather than
doing actions or changing modes (X=select, O=context menu, square=toggle
focus from main window/toolbar/frame, which leaves check free as a modifier
key to use as shift with the arrow buttons... but that would be another
-- The clipboard stack should show the first few characters of a text
fragment in the frame
That's plenty for now, I hope that other people opine here too. If this
thread goes anywhere, I'll try to distill it onto the wiki.
Happy new year,
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