Tuesday, March 20, 2007


File dialogs



The file dialogs we use on a day to day basis have changed significantly over the years. Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse.

Back in the dark ages of operating systems, we have the old Windows 3 file open dialog:

It might be old and considered outdated, but it was quite elegant. You had a drive selector, a directory selector, the file selector, a filter for files, and a box to type in the name of the file you wanted for quick access. It was all very nice, the only flaws being seemingly bad organization, and lacking some features the later ones added.

Windows 4 came along and offered a major reorganization with several new features:

Here all the drives, directories, and files were combined into one pane. A virtual parent called My Computer (renamable) was created to house all the drives, so it could all be dealt with in a uniform manner, as drives themselves were also just logical subdirectories. A drop down tree was added to easily jump back anywhere to one of the parent directories. Minor file management could be done here, such as renaming a file/directory, or creating a new one for whatever you wanted to save. You could also list files in the multi line scrolling list, or select a detailed view to see files with information such as dates and sizes, in case one of these would help you remember which file it was you were looking for. You also got icon support for viewing types and displaying executables.

But my favorite addition to all of this was the file name box. You could type in quickly which file/directory you were looking for, as opposed to just the filename like in Windows 3. But the best part was you could enter a path! If you knew the path you wanted to jump to, it was often quite quicker for those of us that know how to type to just enter the location manually, than to spend time navigating with point and click, and waiting for directories to load. You were able to type in relative or absolute paths, or even type in the full path of the file you wanted and have it work instantly with no time wasted. I absolutely loved it.

Then Windows 5 came along, and they offered some additions, nothing too different, but changes nonetheless:

It basically was the same file dialog from Windows 4, but they added a quick directory pane to the left side. Now one could easily jump to popular locations without having to do much more than a single click. Now I'm a bit sketchy on this detail, someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I recall you couldn't add or remove which quick location buttons appeared on the left, unless you installed Tweak UI, which makes the feature a bit useless by default.

What annoyed me most about the quick location buttons though was how useless it was. If you're not on a network, what does Network Places do for you? You also had quick access to the desktop, which, if you use your desktop properly, is quite pointless. The desktop is a good place to gather links (shortcuts) for frequently used apps, not to gather applications or various documents. How often does someone who cleanly manages their computer need to jump to the desktop to launch an application via a file open dialog? For those of us who know how to type, My Computer shortcut there was also pointless. Why would I go to My Computer? To open F: perhaps? I find typing F: directly to be faster than moving the mouse and clicking, and if I had more details about where I wanted to go offhand, I would enter that too. I ended up feeling while this was an intriguing addition, it was completely useless to power users - those who managed their files neatly, knew how to type, and had more of a clue where they kept their stuff.

Another highly annoying thing I found was the entire virtual directory setup. First there's My Documents. What exactly should one be storing in My Documents? When I first noticed that in Windows 98, I figured that's where various text files, papers, spreadsheets, and presentations might go. Should I stick source code to my app in there? Should I have Command & Conquer 3 store its save files there? If I was ripping a DVD would it go there? Should my virus scanner save log files there?

Now if I'm in My Documents, and I press directory up, instead of going to my home directory, I reach My Desktop. What's the logic behind this? And don't try to go up from My Desktop either, you won't go anywhere. Your home directory compared to UNIX also seems completely illogical. What does one put in their home directory? A casual glance at it and you see My Documents, internet browsing related directories, and hidden application settings. Would I put my personal applications here? What about stuff I want to share with all users of the computer, say pictures of my kids? Now I personally would set aside a whole drive for things like pictures of the kids and have it all organized neatly, and then have it symlinked to from the home directory of each family member. Yet Windows seems to not really have any provisions for this. Symlinks are non existent, and the shortcut system is a joke, which just constantly acts weird when you try to set a link to another drive or directory and you scratch your head wondering why did a new instance of Windows Explorer just launch?

I'm told Vista got some of this user stuff improved, but I've yet to see it, as I don't feel like shelling out several hundred for something I've already spent a considerable amount on for previous versions.

I'd appreciate if users of Windows 6 (Vista) could write in and tell me if we actually have sane home management, and that the virtual directory nonsense has been sanitized. Also would be nice to know if one can easily add or remove quick locations this time around.

Oh and before I finish on this one, Windows 5 also allowed thumbnail viewing of multimedia files in the file dialogs, in addition to other useful views added.


Now lets take a look at some of the UNIX counterparts.


First off we have the despicable GTK/GNOME file dialog. Sorry for those of you that now have to go poke their eyes out from seeing this, but it has to be shown:

Now while it looked pretty much the same as it does now compared to say, 3 years back, it has had some changes since then.
It displays a directory/file browser quite clearly along with the date of everything in a simple scroll down view. Don't bother looking for any way to change the view or to get any additional details to show up such as file size. I assume they think they make up for it though by allowing you to reverse the order of the alphabetical sorting, or by allowing sorting via date. Although like other open dialogs, they got the file type filter right. Now in style with a group which likes to copy everything Microsoft does with Windows, but try to put a new spin on it and say all their goals are to do everything different than Windows; they copied the quick locations browser on the left, right down to a completely useless irremovable desktop quick location. Although it's nice to see they included home, and surprisingly enough they have a section where you can easily add or remove your own additions to the quick locations (but not remove the built in ones).
One thing which might be an improvement is the crumb browsing on top. Unlike Windows 4+ where they offered a drop down of the directory tree, you now see each directory component in a button by itself, and you can easily immediately click on the one you want to jump to. This mechanism was also combined with the traditional up button which is no longer needed with this interface. A nice idea indeed, which I think might make life easier for more inexperienced users, and perhaps getting them more familiarized with what a full path is.

Although those of you who looked good at that file dialog must be scratching their head, wondering where is the box to type in the file quickly or to change paths? Now in earlier versions of GTK, it simply didn't exist, even though everyone who used a file dialog from the past decade had access to one. After enough pressure from users demanding one, they finally added it, albeit it's completely hidden and doesn't appear till you start typing something. Heaven forbid a new user should see an input box, it's of course much better to have a user think this is an old version of GTK, where they can't navigate quickly </sarcasm>.

Speaking of navigating quickly, for some reason this utter disgrace also takes forever to display any directory with many files in it. But it doesn't just stop there. When they finally got around to secretly adding the quick navigation field, they decided to put an auto complete feature in. Sounds great, right? Wrong! I'm in Firefox and want to tell it to open the file I just downloaded with KWrite. I go to input "/usr/bin/kwrite", after I type in "/us", it finished scanning for matches to "/u" as "/usr" and replaces it, leaving me with "/usr/s", forcing me to backspace in middle of typing, and then go through the same nonsense again with the "bin" component. But it hardly stops there, I've seen this thing freeze before when trying to auto complete whatever I was typing for a good 10 seconds or more, which is completely unacceptable. But then just when I got "/usr/bin/kwrite" entered and am hoping it's now going to launch KWrite for me, it instead freezes for 20 seconds loading up "/usr/bin" which contains ~2000 files (due to UNIX being made up of many small applications, and most executables being stored in one location), and just showing me the kwrite entry highlighted, where I further have to go ahead and click okay. Why the heck is this thing so freaking slow? And why the heck didn't it just load KWrite once it saw it was an absolute path to a file?

And if you haven't guess it yet, no this garbage can't do any kind of file management from it's file dialog.

After having to put up with this annoying broken piece of trash, I'm trying to find a replacement to every GTK application I use in UNIX where I might have to use a file dialog for some reason. If you know of a way to get Firefox plugins working in Konqueror, or of a GAIM replacement with a similar interface, drop me a line.

GTK/GNOME is just downright awful, and don't just take my word for it, even Linus Torvalds says so.


Next we have the Qt4 file dialog. Qt wraps to whatever native file dialogs are for that system, so on Windows you'll see whatever Windows does for that version, and on Mac OS X, whatever it does. For Linux, *BSD, Solaris, or any other UNIX, since there is no native GUI, it creates it's own. Let's take a look:

It looked pretty much like what you get from Windows 4. Everything Windows 4 can do, this can too. There really is only one difference (which I personally like a lot). The drop down on top instead of showing just the name of the recent path and offering a way to go up to previous components, it displays the full path every time, and allows it to be edited! I enjoy this a lot, as I can easily type in where I want to go, with it being obvious where to put this data. But this goes a step beyond anything we've looked at till now, for it has good auto complete! If it finds a match to what you were typing in, it displays the match, but for anything extra you entered gets properly inserted into the match replacement string. I think this is the file dialog that all others should be judged against.

Next we'll look at the modern KDE 3.5 file dialog. Although KDE 3.5 is based on Qt3, and KDE 4 will be based on Qt4, they reimplemented anything to do with files. They did this not just to perhaps improve on Qt's file dialogs, but because KDE can transparently work with files across all kinds of network protocols, which Qt or for that matter other APIs don't. Let's have a look:

Looking at this, it seems to be pretty much the same as Qt4, except it inherited Windows 5's location buttons on the left. Now while I don't care for some of the default buttons such as Desktop, everything here is fully editable - as it should be! One can right click on any of those locations to edit an entry, delete an entry, or change its icon. One is free to remove any of the default ones if they don't like them or feel they're useless. To add a new one, you can either right click, and select name, path, and icon, or you can just drag a directory from the browsing pane right into the location pane!

What's more though is that this thing is super configurable. You can click on that wrench icon to change the options as you want. If you don't want the quick location pane, you can easily turn it off. If you prefer to have directories and files split into two separate panes like Windows 3, you can do that too. You can also select to see regular or detailed view. During even the regular view though, you can tell it how you want things sorted from the wrench drop down. If you want to see multimedia files displayed as thumbnails as you browse like Windows 5, that's a configurable option as well. Yet this goes above and beyond to combine fast browsing and thumbnails. You can tell it show a thumbnail box on the right, which will only show a thumbnail for the selected file, so you can easily preview without having to slow down browsing by generating all those thumbnails. Thumbnails also go beyond multimedia files, for text files, it will display the first few lines of text.

Now regarding the path entering on top, you can enter any path as you like. Like Qt4, it offers very good auto complete, yet goes even a step beyond. When entering a path, it also tries to auto complete, but the drop down displays all matching paths (see image above). So you can easily press down to select the first one and continue typing, or you can select one of the others ones too. And as mentioned earlier, this works with all kinds of protocols. If you wanted to open a remote file from some website, you can easily enter http:// and the URL, or you can browse some FTP site with ftp://, and enter a user name and password when prompted if need be. It also works for Windows networks, or for browsing any system you can SSH to, or any other protocol you can think of, provided that KDE's I/O library supports it.

The only missing feature here is that you can't rename files from the file dialog like you can in Windows 4+ and Qt4. I always found that feature useful if you wanted to save a file as the same name as something existing, but wanted that old file to be backed up. Perhaps some KDE developers have been spending too much time with GNOME/GTK devs.

Speaking of which, I've been previewing some stuff for KDE 4. Now while I have no idea what the final product would look like, some changes as they currently stand are a bit disturbing. The KDE developers said they were changing the system to use the Dolphin interface. The Dolphin interface seems to be inspired by GNOME/GTK. They took a leaf out of their book and are providing a crumb based path above, so you can jump around like you can in GNOME/GTK's file browser. Although they mention they want to improve it by making each of those a drop down. A drop down would allow one to jump to sibling directories, although that wasn't in the build I was testing. Now the path editing I love is also there, although you need to click a button up top to switch to it. If they don't allow you to select the default method, or perhaps always display both, I will be quite upset. However their crumb browser seems to have adopted stupidity from Windows as well. It now adopted the whole virtual directory idea that Windows has. So say I'm in my home directory and want to go up one so I can select my spouse's home directory, no dice. One can't select a crumb before their home directory, as nothing exists above it when you jump to home. I don't know why KDE devs are adopting stupid GNOME ideas, or taking a step backwards to design mistakes and oddities from Windows, but I sure hope someone knocks some sense into them soon.

If I wanted to design a good crumb based editor, I think I would merge the various ideas. Have the kind of input box we're used to, but make it that each slash turns into a button which you can use to delete the path components after it, or drop down with a list of sibling directories.


Finally, let us take a look what Trolltech has in store for us next. They are redesigning the dialog for Qt 4.3, and one can download a development snapshot and play with the new file dialog. Although based on what I heard, they don't plan on changing it much from what they have in their repository at the moment . Here it is, direct from my personal compile of Qt 4.3's repository as of yesterday:

I don't know what they did. Perhaps Trolltech hired some bozos who work on GTK to come up with this. They seem to have more or less taken from KDE 3.5 the quick location pane on the left. It has sane defaults, and you can remove what is there, or add by dragging from the main browsing pane. Yet no editing of any sort, or adding by typing in a path is available. Your changes don't seem to be saved in any way either from one run to the next, making customizing it pointless. I don't know why they didn't just replicate what KDE 3.5 did here, as they had it perfect.

For your browsing, details view now seems to be the default, although you can change to the old default of list view. Now in detailed view, the only thing you see is file name and date, just like in GTK. The copying of stupidity is uncanny. It seems they removed features and changed defaults to make it resemble GTK more, for some absurd reason. Thankfully though you can rename and delete files here, but surprisingly enough, there seems to be no way to create a new directory.

And those of you who have been paying attention, of course will wonder, where is the path editing box? Yet again it seems they copied GTK and hid it by default, to reach it you have to click on the browsing pane, and then start typing. Not at all intuitive, and sadly, seems to be copying a bad Qt knock off. At least the path editor though has the improved auto complete seen in KDE 3.5.

I don't know what's becoming of KDE and Trolltech these days, they seem to be taking the bad from GTK/GNOME and throwing away their own good technology.
But that file open dialog from Qt 4.3 is really freaking me out. I can't even begin to describe what a major step backwards it is. What happened to the sanity? Where's the intelligence? Where's all the good stuff? Why am I looking at garbage from a lesser API, in the best cross platform one available?!? If they wanted to improve it, they should be taking what they can from KDE 3.5. Someone needs to smack somebody at Trolltech - hard.


If anyone has any more details, or knows of planned changes, please post about it in the comments. If I get more details, perhaps I'll do a part 2 in the future.

17 comments:

Kiyoshi said...

You're correct regarding the bookmarklets on the left in Windows dialogs; you need to either edit the registry or use Tweak UI [XP only] to change them, but you cannot add new ones, just replace existing ones. They're also machine-specific.

IF you know Javascript, you can replicate Firefox's extensions' functionality [although, not the XUL portions] in Opera using the UserJS stuff.

Dan said...

While I was reading this I was thinking to myself "no one could design an auto complete that retarded." Unfortunately, I think that no longer, as I promptly tested it on my own system. If I type "/usr" I end up with "/usr/src/ with no idea when I typed "/src". What the hell are they thinking these days?

Insane Coder, say hi to the wife and kids for me. ;)

Marcel said...

I am soo your opinion, that is why I beg you to write a mail to the QT guys with the URL of your article, they are usually quite open to sane criticism. Why they did what they did in the first place I have bloody no idea, maybe they have become infested by some sort of hybrid gnome/retro-virus.

Leo S said...

Nice article. Just a note, you can actually rename files from the KDE 3.5 file dialog. Right click on a file, and choose properties. The name of the file is highlighted and you can just type the new name right away. It's a bit confusing that there is no entry specifically called Rename, but it is quite possible, and with no extra clicks.

Benjamin said...

Lots of good comments, some notes on the Qt4 dialog

Although based on what I heard, they don't plan on changing it much from what they have in their repository at the moment.

The interface isn't set in stone and will be improved based upon feedback before the 4.3 release.

They seem to have more or less taken from KDE 3.5 the quick location pane on the left. It has sane defaults,

I am actually quite unhappy about the defaults, but that will have to wait until 4.4 at the earliest as the freedesktop group only recently standardized directories.

and you can remove what is there, or add by dragging from the main browsing pane.
Yet no editing of any sort, or adding by typing in a path is available. Your changes don't seem to be saved in any way either from one run to the next, making customizing it pointless. I don't know why they didn't just replicate what KDE 3.5 did here, as they had it perfect.


Sidebar saving is an issue that should be resolved for 4.3.


Now in detailed view, the only thing you see is file name and date, just like in GTK. The copying of stupidity is uncanny.


The size and type are still available by right clicking and selecting what you want to see.

surprisingly enough, there seems to be no way to create a new directory.

Why is that surprising to not have a New Folder button in a open file dialog? If you launch the save dialog the button is present.


And those of you who have been paying attention, of course will wonder, where is the path editing box? Yet again it seems they copied GTK and hid it by default, to reach it you have to click on the browsing pane, and then start typing. Not at all intuitive, and sadly, seems to be copying a bad Qt knock off. At least the path editor though has the improved auto complete seen in KDE 3.5.


The view should have focus so you shouldn't need to click with the mouse, but should be able to just start typing. You should still be able to type

Ctrl-o ; /home/user/foo.h ; enter

to open a file and not have to use the mouse.


Someone needs to smack somebody at Trolltech - hard.


Eh, well I guess you just did.

The vast majority of the work that went into the file dialog was not to the interface, but to the underlying file system model. You mentioned how slow the completer was in the gtk dialog. Browsing to directories like /bin can cause the gtk dialog to freeze for many seconds while the new Qt dialog can show it in no time flat. If files are added or removed while the dialog is open it automatically updates itself. Sorting is done using a natural sort, the bare minimum stating is performed and a thread is use so browsing to nfs wont have the chance to hang your application. And more :)

The interface was an attempt to create a dialog that behaves similarly to the way that the desktop environments seem to be moving towards. For example GTK, OS X, Vista all have save dialogs that are small by default and made larger with an animation. GTK and OS X open dialog do not have a line edit because you are opening a file.

The dialog itself is a ui file that you can open up in designer and play with.

The majority of the blog highlighted what you didn't like about each file dialog. What I would like to hear it what you would want to see a file dialog to have.

insane coder said...

Hi everyone thanks for the comments. I got a lot of feedback from all over the place, so I'll probably do a part 2 in the near future.

Dan: You're right, I tested that, and noticed if I typed /usr quickly, I do indeed get /usr/src. It's funny yet sad how backwards that GTK dialog is.

Marcel: well it seems Benjamin Meyer from Trolltech responded here, so all will be well. I've had very good results in the past with Qt developers paying attention to issues and fixing bugs.

Ben: Thank you very much for responding. In accordance with your wishes, I'll detail what I think should be done alongside my response.

The location pane on the left is okay (once you fix the saving problem), but you should be able to add a directory without needing to drag. Right click and add would be nice. Also being able to rename the entries would be useful. As it stands, I'll have 3 quick links to "src", but no idea which "src" it is referring to. Being able to name them "Qt Source", "MPlayer Source", etc, is needed. KDE 3.5 already does all this correctly.

Thanks for pointing out the right click on the file/size bar, I tried right clicking in that window, but not on the bar itself. To make it more noticable that there are options available, perhaps add an option button in the corner to tweak the dialog a bit.

For the path box, ctrl+o doesn't work for me until I press tab a total of eight (8!) times. It is also unintuitive to have it hidden. Is there any reason to have it like this? Everyone I spoke to said they'd like to have it visible by default without needing to do anything special to make it appear.


Someone needs to smack somebody at Trolltech - hard.


Eh, well I guess you just did.

Normally I'd be a upset if someone bashed my hard work. Thank you for keeping your cool. This only reaffirms my belief that you guys at Trolltech are really nice, and really want to make a pleasing library.

Now I never had the Qt dialog slow down for me at all, but if you made it even faster, terrific. The auto update thing interests me. You have it constantly monitor the directory for changes?

Again on the direction and how to improve, trying to copy GTK and OS X is not what us power users want. Vista and others might be offering a more minimal view by default, but I never noticed in Windows a case where standard dialogs had options completely hidden until you typed something in. If you want to offer a more minimal approach as a default, so be it, but it should be very clear (via visible options) that more can be made available, and set as a new default.

As for what I'd like to see, I thought it was quite clear what I wanted based on the praise and bashing I gave the various other dialogs.

Being able to split the main view into directory and files in separate QScrollViews like Windows 3 had it would be nice. Some people still think that approach is best.

Now this might sound far fetched, tell me what you think. First off, with the current setup, I have no idea which path I'm in since it's not displayed anywhere. If somehow possible, it'd be very nice that on top, we'd have a QLineEdit containing the path. However each / or \ would be a QPushButton between two QLineEdits. Backspacing at the beginning of a QLineEdit would erase the previous QPushButton and move the cursor to the end of the previous QLineEdit along with the focus. Entering a directory separator would end the current QLineEdit, insert a new QPushButton with the slash, and create a new QLineEdit to continue typing in. Of course this would have to be very fluid. As you're typing in the current box, a drop down should appear for auto complete matches. As for these QPushButtons themselves, clicking each of them should popup underneath a QMenu containing a slash to jump to that path, and a list of directories at that point, to easily navigate to one of them. If that's a bit rough to achieve, perhaps just have it automatically jump to that path and forget the QMenu. In Windows, the first component would usually be a drive, which should be a drop down allowing one to pick the other drives.
Was I clear enough? I can dry drawing a picture if need be. Although when I'm more free one day, perhaps I'll try implementing it myself, since it's unusual and I'd like to see it in action.

With the above setup, you'd see the full path at any given time, offer crumbs, sibling crumbs, and easy typing. I think that would make everyone happy. It would also be way ahead of the curve compared to every other file dialog I've seen to date. With this you can also remove the current drop down, and the up button.

The new save dialog while following your minimal at first glance idea, becomes quite unintuitive once enlarged. I can type a path in there too, yet when I do so, it doesn't change it properly. Say I type /usr/include and hit enter, "Where" would say include (which include?), and "Save As" still contains /usr/include. The path should be absolute, and when entering a new directory into save as, the box should clear its contents. Once maximizing, it also seems unintuitive to have the path on the bottom with the file name on the top, I usually see it the other way.

Lastly, if someone switches views, or changes which details are shown for the current view, that setting should be saved for future opens.

Benjamin said...

For the path box, ctrl+o doesn't work for me until I press tab a total of eight (8!) times.

Haha, sorry, by ctrl-o I mean like in the text edit demo, by ctrl-o I mean the File/Open action which would bring up the file dialog at which point the view has focus and I can just type.

It is also unintuitive to have it hidden. Is there any reason to have it like this? Everyone I spoke to said they'd like to have it visible by default without needing to do anything special to make it appear.

The theory as far as I understand is that when you are opening a file unless you want to type in the full path the file/dir will be in the view, ready to be activated so there really wouldn't be anything to type in. Because you can't open a file that doesn't exists having a line input just gives the users a way to input bad names. And for those who do want to type in the full path (not most people) you still can.

Now I never had the Qt dialog slow down for me at all, but if you made it even faster, terrific. The auto update thing interests me. You have it constantly monitor the directory for changes?

Yup, it uses the QFileSystemWatcher. Also some other fun new features: In 4.3 the dialog start up faster, uses way less memory and on windows and mac will use the native icons and on unix will use the current kde/gnome style icons. Pretty slick.

Vista and others might be offering a more minimal view by default,

Hehe, Vistas file dialog is just brings up Explorer. Hard to describe how confusing it is, check it out when you are at Fry's/Best Buy next time.

Being able to split the main view into directory and files in separate QScrollViews like Windows 3 had it would be nice. Some people still think that approach is best.

What do you think of OS X's Column View?

[snip paragraph about crumbs]

As far as breadcrumbs are concerned I spent a few weeks playing with it last fall http://www.kdedevelopers.org/node/2362 but I found it to be be unusable after some users testing http://www.kdedevelopers.org/node/2437. Right now there are a number of different crumb ideas out there all that behave differently and most which don't do very well. Gnomes latest file dialog bread crumbs actually perform _very_ well when user tested fyi. This is something best to let sit for a year and let everyone else figure out what works best I think.

Thanks for the feedback.

Kiyoshi said...

As far as the crumb widgets are concerned, I think Dolphin has the best implementation in actual use. I think insane coder has the right idea, though.

MamiyaOtaru said...

The theory as far as I understand is that when you are opening a file unless you want to type in the full path the file/dir will be in the view,

Well yeah, very often I do. I use the file system to organize my files. Very often a file I want is not in the last directory from which I opened a file. A legacy of half a decade of using various operating systems and hard drives doesn't help, but I can't ignore it.

It's amazing to me that something to be used in the *nix world (among other worlds) discounts the idea of typing something in instead of point and click for each directory.

This dialog is currently a reason for me to avoid using any pure Qt based app on *nix, tha same way I try to avoid gtk.

superstoned said...

@Benjamin:
It's lovely the user can just start typing and find whatever they want/go wherever they want, but really, this needs a visual que. Just having a filtering search field somewhere would already help a lot, imho, and the current drop-down could just as easilly be editable.

Benjamin said...

Following up on this if you check out Qt snapshots you will find that the dialog interface has changed based upon the feedback received here and elsewhere. It now looks and feels very much like the one in 4.2. Also saving now works. :)

Some screenshots can be found here:
qt file dialog take 2

insane coder said...

Thanks Ben for the changes.
I'll write a part 2 probably tommorow or Sunday.

Regarding the one you were showing off at KDE, that looks a lot like what I was suggesting. Although it'd be nice to be able to click between any letters and start typing.

Is the code for that widget anywhere though? I'd like to play with it a bit.

insane coder said...

Okay, part 2 is up. I covered all the new data recieved and integrated comments from here and elsewhere.

3delite said...

Just finished a file and folder selector component (.dll) for Win32, that I wanted to address most of the issues I had with the dialogs.
It is available as a developer component, that is a .dll (http://www.3delite.hu/Object%20Pascal%20Developer%20Resources/filesystemdialogs.html) and also there is a patcher for Windows (98SE/XP/Vista) (http://www.3delite.hu/Object%20Pascal%20Developer%20Resources/vangarengimangaro.html) that patches the old dialogs to use Filesystem Dialogs.

Best regards
3delite

James D said...

Incidentally, you can get rid of the awful GTK file dialog in Firefox in KDE by using kgtk-wrapper. Now to find something to sort out the menu bar...

sputnik said...

This is a very nice post about file dialogs. It speaks out a lot of truth about my own intuitive way of working with my computer... and also about what is missing in some designs - and what ist very good in some others.

I just have one note - not regarding the file dialog: I completly use my "Desktop" in reverse to you:

For me the Desktop is not the place to use advertisment-like short-cuts (often done autmatically under windows) to programs (there are much better ways to do that... actually the most effective way for me seems to be something like "Katapult" under KDE 3.5... or "Quicksilver" on Mac) but I use it (in reverse) ONLY for quick saving and working activities.

This is not only a way that makes sense to the original name "desktop" - but goes also well with some organisation philosophy like "Getting Things Done" where you have something like an inbox and you only afterwards store things away that are not currently used anymore.

However: Ofcourse it is possible to use different folders for these working avtivities - but to see the actual files on my wallpaper is a very quick and nice way to get an overview over my current project.

David Heffernan said...

What the hell have you been smoking? Windows 4 and Windows 5. Do you live in some parallel universe?!!!