Sunday, November 29, 2009

Reducing UI clutter, docking bars removed



GIMP has a UI that feels rather cluttered. Not only because of the many windows, but also because of the contents of each window. It is not hard to point out areas for improvement. The last few weeks I have worked on getting rid of one thing that contributes a lot to the clutter in docks: the docking bars.

The docking bars were used as drop targets when moving around dockable dialogs with drag-and-drop. They had many problems:
  1. They took up space, even when no drag-and-drop was going on
  2. They were not pretty
  3. They were only at the top and bottom of a dock, preventing dockable dialogs from being dropped in the middle of docks
Instead of having dedicated widgets acting as drop targets, I have now made certain areas within the existing widget hierarchy drop targets. These areas are highlighted when hovered. The new drag-and-drop system still has some rough edges, but it is already infinitely better than the docking bars.

13 Comments:

At November 30, 2009 at 9:31 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well done, keep it up Martin! :)

 
At November 30, 2009 at 12:28 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

+1
Good work. Maybe I will test that soon.

 
At November 30, 2009 at 12:40 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is very nice. I think something like this should probably be built-in in GTK.

I hope you're still progressing on the single window mode for GIMP? Besides the continuing progress with GEGL, I think that is the single most important change in 2.8 (and maybe even in 2.x as far as many many users are concerned).

 
At November 30, 2009 at 2:57 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't exactly understand the change. Presently, I can move a dockable dialog from one dock an other one. However, if I use a docking bar as a target, this creates a new dock in the window. Does your change completely remove the second possibility?

 
At November 30, 2009 at 3:33 PM , Blogger Martin Nordholts said...

Hi! No, this possibility is still there, it is just the docking bars are removed. In GIMP from git you can actually also drop dockable dialogs at the *side* in dock windows, creating columns of dockable dialogs. In other words, not only will there be a single-window mode in GIMP 2.8, the multi-window experience will also be improved.

 
At November 30, 2009 at 3:43 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great work! :) I build once in a while GIMP from GIT, but seems that when changing to single window mode(without docks opened) makes the single windows without docks lol. And i have to organized the whole space everytime i activate it. (they won't save either)

I'm sure you're working on it ;)

 
At November 30, 2009 at 9:48 PM , Anonymous twitter said...

Interesting, in ten years of casual GIMP use I never noticed the docking bars. It sounds like your change brings flexibility. Is there a trade off? Can I still drag and drop images onto my tools pallet from any file browser and have it open?

 
At November 30, 2009 at 10:11 PM , Blogger Martin Nordholts said...

@twitter: No functionality at all has been removed, dropping onto the tools dock still works.

 
At December 2, 2009 at 5:02 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

seems that gimp 2.8's UI will be more flexible then photoshop's. fantastic!

 
At December 4, 2009 at 8:14 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

about single-window mode, do you plan to add a split window mode, where two pictures can be edited at the same time (needed for clone) before 2.8?

I saw that Peter Sikking agreed that it makes sense but he didn't update his blog with new specs. That would be a real letdown if that's not added. But I can believe it's quite complicated to add.

The only alternative would be two gimp windows but that can communicate for clone for instance.

 
At January 25, 2010 at 4:57 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Multiple gimp window communication would be a must for a lot of advanced stuff.
(2+, 3 and more)

 
At April 15, 2010 at 4:12 PM , Blogger Giorgio Martini said...

why use those ugly UI sliders and buttons , they look like a windows library ,


why not code something cool in opengl like blender ???

 
At April 27, 2010 at 7:58 AM , Blogger Martin Nordholts said...

@Giorgio: It's not about being cool, it's about being usable. Not saying that the depicted part of GIMP is particularly usable, nor that things can be both cool and usable.

 

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