Re: global (MacOS Style) menubar applet

Iain wrote:

> Why do people seem to think it is a good idea? It seems the only real reason is
> "Because the Mac had it and the Mac's GUI is the best around".

The "real" reason is that it exploits Fitts' Law, which in user
interface terms describes the relationship between how easy a target is
to hit in terms of its size and distance from the pointer.  Having menus
(or any other control) docked to the edge of the screen effectively
increases their "size", and thus makes them easier to hit, because you
can't run the mouse off the edge of the screen-- at least not if you
take virtual desktops out of the equation.

> a) It was designed when screens were smaller.

The physical size of the screen is fairly irrelevant to Fitts' Law...
what's important is how far you have to physically move the mouse to get
the pointer from A to B.  I still run my Amigas on a 20" TV screen from
time to time, but it doesn't make the menus any easier or harder to use
than when I'm running them on 14" monitors... at least not unless I set
the sensitivity of my mouse so low that I can't traverse the whole
screen within the area of my mousepad, which few people do.  (Although
from the description in your email, it sounds like that's exactly what
you do, and we shouldn't discount people who prefer it that way.)

Having said that, I'm not sure I'd welcome the Mac-style menu bar to
Gnome with open arms, either.  Apart from your click-to-focus point,
which is a good one, another thing that's become commonplace since the
Mac and Amiga first hit the shelves is toolbars-- where would they go,
for example?  You could argue that they ought to be Fitts-ized even more
than the menu bar, since they're supposed to be the quickest way of
accessing features (apart from keyboard shortcuts)...


CALUM BENSON, Usability Engineer	Sun Microsystems Ireland
mailto:calum benson ireland sun com    Desktop Engineering Group			+353 1 819 9771

Any opinions are personal and not necessarily those of Sun Microsystems

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