Re: [Tails-ux] Category-based applications menu / Activities…

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Author: intrigeri
To: Tails user experience & user interface design
Old-Topics: Re: [Tails-ux] Category-based applications menu / Activities overview
Subject: Re: [Tails-ux] Category-based applications menu / Activities overview

(I don't mean to restart this conversation but instead to get some
kind of closure; I'm happy to come back to it later.)

> intrigeri:
> Now, we have no idea about the usability of the activities overview vs
> the Applications menu one you're in it. We know that the Applications
> menu has slightly confusing categories but that people make it quite
> all-right (I've seen it many many times in usability tests). But we
> can't say the same of the activities overview as we've never tested it.

While I understand it's not the same as proper usability testing
focused on exactly this topic, here are my 2cts:

- In another life of mine, several times a year I see 3-9 people
interact with GNOME for the first time. Almost all of them discover
the Activities overveiw by themselves. All the apps they need in
this context are in the dock (favorites) so I don't know how they
would find other apps.

- According to my notes, starting apps was not a problem during the
usability testing of Debian Stretch that some of us have run 2.5
years ago.

> […]
> I could reason about its usability in the abstract but, since it's
> already a working piece of code, it might be more efficient to see how
> it perform with users.


>> To balance this, let me make it clear that maintaining the status quo
>> does not exactly come for free either: we've been paying a recurring
>> cost for keeping the Applications menu + desktop icons in a good
>> enough shape. For example, the last iterations (Buster) took us hours
>> of work.

> I thought that the Applications menu and desktop icons were orthogonal
> issues. We don't have the desktop icons because we have the Applications
> menu.

For me it's not entirely orthogonal: we have desktop launchers because
that's the only place where we can give them this much visibility,
which is a constraint that comes from using the Applications menu.
Other available tools come with different features and constraints.

The Activities overview has this dock with favorites; we could move
our current desktop launchers there; if needed we could make the dock
always visible (like Ubuntu does). And then we would have one single
place where launchers that we particularly want to highlight live,
instead of two currently (desktop + favorite apps). Incidentally, this
could also allow us to trade some vertical screen estate in favor of
cheaper horizontal space, by dropping the bottom taskbar. has pointers
wrt. this idea, for whoever want to explore this further.

> How much of the work you did for Buster was on the desktop icons and how
> much was on the Applications menu?
> I had the impression that most of the work was done on the desktop
> icons. […] Anything else done on the Applications menu
> itself?

segfault wrote that #16981 took him "quite a lot of time". I have no
detailed data but I would venture that in terms of total developer
resources, dealing with the Applications menu was in the same ballpark
as desktop launchers while porting to Buster. But if we consider the
last 4-5 years, the desktop launchers have definitely cost us much
more (I'm trying to mark those issues as related to #11717 so we have
some data next time we discuss desktop launchers).

> A possible next step would be to have a branch that replaces the
> Applications menu with the Activities overview so I can test it at some
> point while I'm testing other things (I don't think that it deserves a
> run of tests on its own).

> I created #17077 to track this. A possible next step could be to write a
> branch that does the replacement so I could test it at some point.