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THE GUI SHOULD BE BETTER

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Posted (edited)

  @Ross Scott FYI: Posting response here regarding alt-tab display, since I think others may also find this helpful.

On 8/10/2020 at 3:56 AM, Ross Scott said:

Also, we may disagree on this, but I actually WOULDN'T want a screenshot preview of the applications.  I like big, dumb, icons with the names.

That's actually how Mac displays them.

 

osxdaily-2-640x400.jpg.cf9e54d86e4a8a73c8c3e8e062d1977d.jpg

 

In fact, that's how Windows XP displayed them. Windows Vista changed it to thumbnails but there is actually an easy registry hack to bring back the XP style on Windows 10. However, this does have it's trade offs because it removes the close buttons but that's because you can't use the mouse to select them! But I do kind of find this faster if you don't mind cycling through them with tab.

 

img_5d2fafcc4e5f7.png.pagespeed_ce.7CUszKcQl5.png.3992a188c10fd39b0d4ed94efdd0156b.png

 

There are also various tools like Alt+Tab Tuner to tweak different aspects of the default alt-tab thumbnail and your best option will likely be a compete replacement like the Alt-Tab Terminator.

 

As for icons vs thumbnails overall, this is partly a personal preference thing but which is objectively faster for visual identification alone depends on the content. If for example, you have many files of the same type open at once (like multiple text files in notepads) then application icons are useless by themselves because you can't tell which is which with just an icon. But if you only have one of each type of application open than just showing the icons will let you identify each program more quickly. So icons are best for program identification and thumbnails for the actual content within a program. When excluding labels of course.

Edited by Isaiah (see edit history)

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Going to give my thoughts here. 

 

One, the GUI on Windows is something I honestly hadn't thought of before - which is odd because I do a lot of UX work. I think you're right in that the range of acceptable thought on this has definitely be calcified by the "Windows aesthetic". Putting circledock, Nexus, and StrokesPlus on my PC have been absolute game changers, and I'm looking for a well functioning and aesthetic replacement for the file explorer. 

 

I think your GUI needs will be heavily dependent on who you are as a person and what you use a computer for. I disagree with some of the developers here that the command line is necessarily better than a GUI. The idea behind a GUI to begin with is that it's easier to visually get your bearings and click on what you want than it is to type out what it is you're after every time. Sure, the command line is faster for some things, but certainly not for any design/multimedia. My own personal workflow is a mix of that and code. I'm sorry, but having to type out every single request under those circumstances would make me blow my brains out lol

 

I also think personal preferences play a heavy role. I disagree with Ross on dark themes, for example. I enable dark mode on everything I can find because I'm prone to sensory overload and it makes it easier on me. Likewise with desktop shortcuts - I find them to be clutter, and to a degree that gets stressful and slows me down. However, bringing up circle dock with my most commonly used programs in one place, arranged a circle (easier to scan with the eyes and find what you want than rows on a desktop), and with a visually pleasing frame removes a significant amount of stress. In the same vein, commonly used hot keys bound to a mouse gesture lowers stress - It's not looking at a busy keyboard. Additionally, Nexus dock being hidden unless I want it and customized to be visually pleasing when I do gives me more workspace, and less visual distraction/stress. 

 

That said, I understand that my needs aren't for everyone. Some people don't mind having a billion tabs, windows, and toolbars open at once with the brightest on high enough to rival a xenon headlight. And that's fine! They should be able to customize their system how they want to. The level of default customization on Windows is a problem for everyone. 

 

My personal GUI wishlist:

Docks hidden unless I want them 

Docks must be highly visually pleasing 

Circles and curved shapes are less stressful for me 

I want a file explorer that's mostly dark, as few rows as possible (I like thumbnails better if I HAVE to have rows) and customized to look kinda Cyberpunk or like a Druid grove if I want to 

Mouse gestures for everything unless I'd have to go into powershell or something to do it, then some way to bind that to a hot key

Dark theme on everything. 

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On 9/10/2020 at 10:25 AM, xawesomecorex said:

You should check out an app called Rainmeter. From what I understand, it allows win10 users the type of customization usually seen only in linux (specifically KDE).

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rainmeter

 

https://www.rainmeter.net/

 

a demo of possible skins: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nzWaUVXri5g

 

 

The problem with rainmeter is that it's an application, which means dedicating a lot more processing power than a shell replacement. I do like stuff like rainmeter and wallpaper engine, but they're not practical if you don't have a beefy rig already. 

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5 hours ago, centersolace said:

The problem with rainmeter is that it's an application, which means dedicating a lot more processing power than a shell replacement. I do like stuff like rainmeter and wallpaper engine, but they're not practical if you don't have a beefy rig already. 

explorer.exe is literally just another application on top of windows though, i mean windows in itself is just another computer program actually, and i understand that it feels hacky having to kill off explorer.exe, but it's actually the most logical approach

 

the operating system is nothing more than just another computer program, running other computer programs

 

is rainmeter really that heavy to the point where it slows the system down?  (i mean this isn't a sarcastic question, i actually don't know, i never used rainmeter)

 

i mean all it's doing is to show a buncha stuff on your screen, but i guess modern day software is more bloated than i thought

 

anyway rainmeter just seems like a fancy way to display stuff but, i'm not sure if we could replace the whole user interface with it, that's how we should be looking at it anyway, i mean, just being able to put stuff on the desktop isn't good enough

Edited by RaTcHeT302 (see edit history)

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11 hours ago, RaTcHeT302 said:

explorer.exe is literally just another application on top of windows though, i mean windows in itself is just another computer program actually, and i understand that it feels hacky having to kill off explorer.exe, but it's actually the most logical approach

 

the operating system is nothing more than just another computer program, running other computer programs

 

is rainmeter really that heavy to the point where it slows the system down?  (i mean this isn't a sarcastic question, i actually don't know, i never used rainmeter)

 

i mean all it's doing is to show a buncha stuff on your screen, but i guess modern day software is more bloated than i thought

 

anyway rainmeter just seems like a fancy way to display stuff but, i'm not sure if we could replace the whole user interface with it, that's how we should be looking at it anyway, i mean, just being able to put stuff on the desktop isn't good enough

 

What I meant is that rainmeter isn't a replacement for explorer.exe. It's just a visual thing that runs on top of it like wallpaper engine. And like I said it's heavily dependent on the rainmeter and system you're using. If you're using a simple rainmeter and have a pretty beefy system then the effect will be negligible, but if you're using a potato, then it will definitely have an impact. 

 

What Ross was wanting was a shell replacement, one that will work even on a potato system. 

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Just now, centersolace said:

What I meant is that rainmeter isn't a replacement for explorer.exe. It's just a visual thing that runs on top of it like wallpaper engine. And like I said it's heavily dependent on the rainmeter and system you're using. If you're using a simple rainmeter and have a pretty beefy system then the effect will be negligible, but if you're using a potato, then it will definitely have an impact. 

 

What Ross was wanting was a shell replacement, one that will work even on a potato system. 

yeh

 

i think it would be nice if we could literally change everything tho

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42 minutes ago, centersolace said:

If you're using a simple rainmeter and have a pretty beefy system then the effect will be negligible, but if you're using a potato, then it will definitely have an impact.

I haven't tested it, but Rainmeter is supposed to be very light on system resources because it's not a shell replacement. And I would also point out that Windows itself already has a lot of resource hogging processes built-in, some of which you can't turn off.  So can't really run Windows 10 on a potato as is anyway. At least not well. But you can replace some of these built-in programs with others to come out about even.

 

I recently tried out Porteus (KDE flavor at only 373M!) on an old laptop and was shocked at how much faster and snapper it was to use compared to Windows 10. So I'd say Linux is really the way to go with you have a potato and don't want to run ancient versions of Windows with all their vulnerabilities.

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5 hours ago, Isaiah said:

I haven't tested it, but Rainmeter is supposed to be very light on system resources because it's not a shell replacement. And I would also point out that Windows itself already has a lot of resource hogging processes built-in, some of which you can't turn off.  So can't really run Windows 10 on a potato as is anyway. At least not well. But you can replace some of these built-in programs with others to come out about even.

 

I recently tried out Porteus (KDE flavor at only 373M!) on an old laptop and was shocked at how much faster and snapper it was to use compared to Windows 10. So I'd say Linux is really the way to go with you have a potato and don't want to run ancient versions of Windows with all their vulnerabilities.

There are plenty of reasons why windows 10 is garbage. And don't misunderstand me, rainmeter is great and I love it for what it is, but it's not what Ross is looking for. And honestly I'm seriously considering building a linux machine. Maybe not my next computer, but the one after that, I'll consider it.

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14 minutes ago, centersolace said:

rainmeter is great and I love it for what it is, but it's not what Ross is looking for.

Not on it's own, but it can work as a replacement for some aspects of his current setup, and he even said so in the video. Not that I'm saying it's an ideal solution or anything. A complete custom shell replacement would be best, and Windows 10 even added a shell launcher which officially lets you do that. But creating a complete explorer replacement is no easy task. So using a combination of tools like this and Circle Dock are the best we can do for now unfortunately.

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27 minutes ago, centersolace said:

And honestly I'm seriously considering building a linux machine.

I didn't even install Linux on my laptop.  I Just download Rufus and loaded the Porteus iso  into it. Created a formatted USB drive with that and then booted directly from it. Super easy if you just want to test things out. I'll probably install a distro later but that's not even necessary with many of them.

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20 hours ago, Isaiah said:

I didn't even install Linux on my laptop.  I Just download Rufus and loaded the Porteus iso  into it. Created a formatted USB drive with that and then booted directly from it. Super easy if you just want to test things out. I'll probably install a distro later but that's not even necessary with many of them.

Eh, I kinda want to divorce myself from microsoft and apple as much as my profession allows.

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Me too. Just wanted to point out how easy it is to test Linux. I hope to make Linux my main OS eventually. Software compatibility is the only thing preventing me from quitting Windows completely. But the good news is that the Unity editor is now officially supported on Linux. So it's now possible to use Linux for most of my work!

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On 9/15/2020 at 10:02 PM, centersolace said:

The problem with rainmeter is that it's an application, which means dedicating a lot more processing power than a shell replacement. I do like stuff like rainmeter and wallpaper engine, but they're not practical if you don't have a beefy rig already. 

I didn't know you could replace the windows shell. After looking up I noticed Cairo which has cool stuff and a discontinued Kde shell. Either of those might make win10 more tolerable. Though , that being said Cairo and definitely that Kde shell (if it works and you can find it) will also hog resources.

Edited by xawesomecorex
grammar (see edit history)

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23 hours ago, xawesomecorex said:

Cairo and definitely that Kde shell will also hog resources.

Sure, but how much vs Explorer (default shell) is the question.  Blackbox 4 Windows is supposed to be extremely light and seems to function much like LiteStep.

 

xoblite_20200913.png

 

This is a screenshot of the most recent Blackbox for Windows flavor/build called xoblite, which you can find over here.

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i really am not a fan of transparency, it's not readable at all and the contrast is just plain terrible and just plain black boxes is so lazy to me, like we have trillions of colors and that's the best we can do, as far as an user interface goes? i mean i get elegance but that just looks lazy, anybody could make that in paint in 30 seconds

 

i mean jeez, plain black background with plain white text, breaking new boundaries here guys, BLEH

Edited by RaTcHeT302 (see edit history)

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30 minutes ago, RaTcHeT302 said:

just plain black boxes is so lazy to me, like we have trillions of colors and that's the best we can do, as far as an user interface goes? i mean i get elegance but that just looks lazy, anybody could make that in paint in 30 seconds

And that's probably exactly why this is the developer's screenshot.  They probably just threw together a basic theme here as a starting point. It is by no means "the best we can do", just one example. Black box is very customizable and this build even comes with a xDesignerGUI plugin by default. So you can make it look however you like.

 

boxshots.org has a gallery of many Black Box styles to show you whats possible. Maybe this is more your style:

Spoiler

5473.png

 

😛

 

I think this one is interesting (not that I think it's the best or would even use it).

d59dl19-e20ee32d-7470-4b66-8367-4f2d686e

 

Anyway the point of all these screenshot is not to say these are the "best" GUIs. That is mostly subjective and therefore impossible to say. It's just to show that you can fully customize the shell using black box. 

 

Edited by Isaiah (see edit history)

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2 hours ago, Isaiah said:

Sure, but how much vs Explorer (default shell) is the question.  Blackbox 4 Windows is supposed to be extremely light and seems to function much like LiteStep.

 

xoblite_20200913.png

 

This is a screenshot of the most recent Blackbox for Windows flavor/build called xoblite, which you can find over here.

You have a point. I'm using Manjaro Xfce, so compared to that Kde is pretty resource heavy. Compared to explorer though it might actually be lighter. I forgot how sluggish Windows can be.

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On 9/24/2020 at 4:51 PM, xawesomecorex said:

I didn't know you could replace the windows shell. After looking up I noticed Cairo which has cool stuff and a discontinued Kde shell. Either of those might make win10 more tolerable. Though , that being said Cairo and definitely that Kde shell (if it works and you can find it) will also hog resources.

 

You can. Windows is very finicky about that sort of thing but you can.

On 9/25/2020 at 4:15 PM, RaTcHeT302 said:

i really am not a fan of transparency, it's not readable at all and the contrast is just plain terrible and just plain black boxes is so lazy to me, like we have trillions of colors and that's the best we can do, as far as an user interface goes? i mean i get elegance but that just looks lazy, anybody could make that in paint in 30 seconds

 

i mean jeez, plain black background with plain white text, breaking new boundaries here guys, BLEH

 

Transparency can be done well as long as it's kept fairly minimal. I like how windows 7 handles it. 

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