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Author Topic: A unified FARR / Launcher Interface Proposal  (Read 23340 times)
nontroppo
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« on: February 01, 2006, 06:55:09 PM »

Dear All,

Mouser has suggested making a DC Launchbar app in another thread. I actually believe a seperate application is more trouble than it's worth; FARR can do that job really easily. The two apps overlap somewhat, and unification has many benefits.

My proposal is to integrate virtual groups, based on shortcuts dragged-n-dropped into a menu editor that would be part of FARR. FARR will be dockable and allow buttons to be bound to those groups and displayed on its interface. That gets you a launchbar. FARR will also be able to adaptively search as usual, including in such groups, thus leveraging its fast and efficient search in a unified manner.

The mockup show FARR as launchbar and as adaptive searcher. I've taken a slight liberty to have FARR skinned in a way currently not possible, but it does not affect the main point that integrating these two seems not only intuitive and logical, but will unify development efficiently: [ ERROR: SPECIFIED ATTACHMENT MISSING ]


* FARR+.png (105.57 KB, 750x1260 - viewed 998 times.)
« Last Edit: February 01, 2006, 07:34:55 PM by nontroppo » Logged

rkrause
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« Reply #1 on: February 01, 2006, 07:16:13 PM »

Oh, yeah! This is a great idea. I hope Mouser agrees.

Rick
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mouser
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« Reply #2 on: February 01, 2006, 07:41:33 PM »

this is a *really* interesting idea.
and i *love* the mockup images, absolutely beautiful.

it does seem to me that there might be some real benefit to integrating the functionality of these tools.
of course the launch bar stuff would have to be 100% optional for find+run, many people won't want to use the launch bar functionality.

but it does ofter some very interesting possibilities; there is a lot of overlap in terms of sharing the links/groups..
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kfitting
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« Reply #3 on: February 01, 2006, 07:46:56 PM »

Very, very interesting idea.  One quick question: would the user be able to add this launchbar to his taskbar?  This would free up screenspace and allow those who already have a bunch of dockable apps to free up space for them.  I personally don't really like dockable things (except my media player, QMP) but putting FARRLB in the taskbar would be neat.

Kevin
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nontroppo
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« Reply #4 on: February 01, 2006, 07:56:50 PM »

it does seem to me that there might be some real benefit to integrating the functionality of these tools.
of course the launch bar stuff would have to be 100% optional for find+run, many people won't want to use the launch bar functionality.

Well, by default no groups would be set up, and thus no links available. By default FARR would be as it was. It would still be triggered by a key, not screen-docked until a prefs setting was toggled.

Very, very interesting idea.  One quick question: would the user be able to add this launchbar to his taskbar? 

I imagine that would require mouser pretty radically changing the current UI code, but maybe i'm wrong.
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Amadawn
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« Reply #5 on: February 01, 2006, 08:04:07 PM »

mouser,

if you ever do this, you will have to make sure that the "launchbar" does not require hitting any key to be shown. For instance you should be able to dock it to the border of the screen and then, after a delay, it would show. If then you start typing the text should be put in the launch text and FARR should start a search. Then it would need to be able to auto-hide if you take the mouse from it AND you have not typed anything, but stay open if you typed something.

The problem with all this, as you can see, is that it seems that a launchbar is "mouse oriented" and while a launcher (such as FARR) is "keyboard oriented". Stricking the perfect balance between the two will be hard!

Angel
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nontroppo
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« Reply #6 on: February 01, 2006, 08:17:42 PM »

Well, by default it would not dock at all, but simply require key activation as now. The option to dock would need, as you say, some thought. However I don't see why you cannot use a key to trigger it; alt+space or whatever could still be used to activate it in its docked state as if the mouse had hovered it etc.

If it lost focus and some text was entered, it could auto-hide, with the clever point that it does not erase the text when nothing was launched, thus reshowing it starts where you left off only if you failed to launch the previous time.

I think the correct balance between mouse and keyboard is quite possible.
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Amadawn
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« Reply #7 on: February 01, 2006, 08:57:44 PM »

If you want a launcher (something that is as good or better than RocketDock, for instance), you need to be able to access it without using the keyboard. Otherwise, what would be the point? You'd first need to access the keyboard and then use the mouse to select the button that you want...

At least that's what I think!

Also, I hope mouser does not get distracted by this idea (which I think has merits and it is very woth considering! smiley ) and does not delay the release of the next version of FARR. And I hope that even with these new features FARR stays as small and fast as it is right now.

What I like about your idea is that basically FARR is already almost launcher, as you can add apps to its toolbar. The only thing that is missing is the ability of having "submenus" and the dock/autohide capabilities. But for that very reason (that you can already configure the toolbar) I think that things like the already discussed frequency sorting, QuickSilver-like program controls, task management, control panel indexing and search optimization should be addressed first, in my opinion.

Cheers!

Angel
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allen
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« Reply #8 on: February 01, 2006, 10:56:26 PM »

As long as the overhead doesn't increase by much, and I don't think it would knowing mouser, I don't think those of us who wouldn't use the launcher would object to the functionality being there so long as it could be removed.

As for FRR being an almost launcher, I think it's more than that -- at least for keyboardcentric users, it's a ver powerful, fully capable launcher.  Between its search setup and the configurable groups, launcher gives immediate access everything I need to get to with minimal interaction -- couple of keystrokes, and I'm where I want to be.  This isn't to say I don't understand FRR's obvious weaknesses to those who prefer to use the mouse to interface with their computer -- it takes no stretch of the imagination to see where FRR falls short in that regard.

Personally, I'd rather see unified than separate and I don't even have any immediate plans to use the launcher.  As mouser stated, it would be advantageous in terms of the ability to maintain groups as well as frequent/recent access lists between the two interfaces -- as well as other shared configurations.  On a day when I'm sitting back and actually using my mouse, if I toggle on the launcher module, all the stuff I'm used to accessing in FRR is right there and vice versa.

There's also the matter of having one application to maintain/support versus having two -- while having one that is merged would be more effort to maintain than either of the two as individuals, I can't imagine it would be easier to maintain them both than to maintain one app.

Plus, having one fully featured application ideally suited to both ends of the mouse v. keyboard debate is surely more likely to grab the attention of the WWW -- offering a loaded hybrid program is surely more valuable than offering two great but limited programs.
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jgpaiva
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« Reply #9 on: February 02, 2006, 03:47:17 AM »

Since nontroppo sugested this in another topic, i thought it was a brilliant idea.
Quote
for me i use a launch bar as a kind of "visual memory"
I agree with mouser, seeing the apps right there, sometimes might be better that launching them, since it allows you not to forget what you have in your computer.

Another idea just popped to me:
With this adition, farr will let you not need start menu for anything. So, i was already thinking of a way to remove the button. Then i though: if this bar would have support for taskbar support (like yzdock has, similar to mac osx's dock, i think), farr would allow me to remove the taskbar and use only farr, in a much more intuitive way than the taskbar works!
(i just love this idea, but i know, it's just plain crazy, but still, a nice dream Wink )

ps: nontroppo, that skin is beautifull!  tellme tellme
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nontroppo
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« Reply #10 on: February 02, 2006, 04:49:19 AM »

If you want a launcher (something that is as good or better than RocketDock, for instance), you need to be able to access it without using the keyboard. Otherwise, what would be the point? You'd first need to access the keyboard and then use the mouse to select the button that you want...

Yes exactly. My only point is that it is not so hard to keep both keyboard-centric (of which I am one) and mouse-centric users happy.

I think that things like the already discussed frequency sorting, QuickSilver-like program controls, task management, control panel indexing and search optimization should be addressed first, in my opinion.

I also agree with you! In the thread on launchbars, I made my position clear in that for my personal needs they are superfluous. But I respect that other people find them useful. FARR has been patiently waiting for a number of discussed features that will really enhance it, IMO more than an launch sub-menu. However, if mouser is going to invest time and energy in something, I simply rather he didn't duplicate his hard (& precious) work, and working on FARR in whatever endeavour keeps it alive. There is clear overlap in the stated aims of both programs (as Allen eloquently expresses), and having such a flexible and adaptive interface can only be a good thing.

Then i though: if this bar would have support for taskbar support (like yzdock has, similar to mac osx's dock, i think), farr would allow me to remove the taskbar and use only farr, in a much more intuitive way than the taskbar works!

Well, one of my wishlist items for V2 is task control, but that is from a keyboard centric perspective (adaptive search through running apps). There is lots of existing code (Litestep, BBLean etc) out there for this sort of thing that mouser could use, though for me it then skirts too close to becoming an explorer replacement for my liking.

ps: nontroppo, that skin is beautifull!  tellme tellme

Sadly, the current skin engine does not support alpha-transparency and so I cannot make such a skin for FARR yet. It is something mouser maybe able to do something about, and hopefully the skin module mouser uses may one day be updated to support it. The icons are from the obscenely talented David Lanham, and are called puft (also check out his desktops and other artwork).
« Last Edit: February 02, 2006, 12:50:51 PM by nontroppo » Logged

jgpaiva
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« Reply #11 on: February 02, 2006, 06:20:55 AM »

Well, one of my wishlist items for V2 is task control, but that is from a keyboard centric perspective (adaptive search through running apps). There is lots of existing code (Litestep, BBLean etc) out there for this sort of thing that mouser could use, though for me it then skirts too close to becoming an explorer replacement for my liking.
I know that this was one of the things to be implemented (i think associated with the quicksilver-like interface, right?), that's one of the reasons i think this would not be hard to add to the toolbar. But as i said, this is only a dream Wink
As for being an explorer replacement... It wouldn't be, the main shell would still be explorer, only without taskbar.
(i just hate not having the possibility of inconizing tasks in the taskbar, the titles take too much space tongue)

Sadly, the current skin engine does not support alpha-transparency and so I cannot make such a skin for FARR yet.
Actually, i don't think that's bad..We don't want farr to be slower, right? Wink
But i like the design proposition you presented for farr v2, very smooth cheesy
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mouser
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« Reply #12 on: February 02, 2006, 06:31:25 AM »

holy cow this thread has turned amazing.

look at jpaiva's avatar, haahahahah!!!! smiley
and that david lanham art is outstanding.

i really like the idea that the groups be displays as tool menus in that farr menubar - it seems to me that sometimes you want to locate by name, and sometimes you like to browse visually, so it's a nice idea.  not sure exactly how to handle the case of groups where there are regular expressions involved..


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jgpaiva
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« Reply #13 on: February 02, 2006, 06:50:28 AM »

i really like the idea that the groups be displays as tool menus in that farr menubar - it seems to me that sometimes you want to locate by name, and sometimes you like to browse visually, so it's a nice idea.  not sure exactly how to handle the case of groups where there are regular expressions involved..
I agree with your statement about "recall vs. recognition" and yesterday, i found that i have my computer full of interesting apps that i never use because i tend to forget them. At the very least, the toolbar could remember me to delete them! Wink
But i didn't get what is the problem you mentioned... Can't the launchbar be integrated with farr? What's the problem with reg-ex?


look at jpaiva's avatar
I just thought i should be supporting the "Egiptian guy running", so as his great app can get even more attention cheesy cheesy


[offtopic] PS: i forgot to mention in my earlier post, David Lanham's site has very good artwork, not only good-looking icons, but also well-made backgrounds (and in widescreen, just as i need them! cheesycheesy) [/offtopic]

I just noticed this post is my 100th post on DonationCoder! I'm one happy, proud member! cheesy cheesy
(please congratulate me  tellme tellme)
« Last Edit: February 02, 2006, 07:12:31 AM by jgpaiva » Logged

mouser
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« Reply #14 on: February 02, 2006, 07:43:50 AM »

congratulations on your 100th post.  i wonder if we should have prizes of some sort..

what i mean about the regex is:
some alias groups are used to do things like open an email to a user, or search website for some string.

now if you put that on a menu, what exactly are you saying..
the closest thing you could do is maybe when they select that item it pops up an input box where they can type what string to use in that command.
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mouser
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« Reply #15 on: February 02, 2006, 07:46:38 AM »

from irc channel i was telling  jgpaiva my response to seeing his avatar this morning:

i nearly spit out my tea when i saw it
actually i closed the browser
and then i had one of those double take moments
where i was like
wait a second...
what the f, did i just see what i think i saw... and had to repoen browser and there it was..

(in case anyone doesnt know what im talking about, that avatar is based on the lores icon used for find+run robot program smiley
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nontroppo
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« Reply #16 on: February 02, 2006, 09:24:16 AM »

(i just hate not having the possibility of inconizing tasks in the taskbar, the titles take too much space tongue)

Try bblean as an alternative to explorer as it has this function.

Actually, i don't think that's bad..We don't want farr to be slower, right? Wink

Supporting alpha-transparency does not have to make FARR slower at all. The drop in speed will come with the use of skins themselves which FARR already supports (and didn't slow it dowm...)

i really like the idea that the groups be displays as tool menus in that farr menubar - it seems to me that sometimes you want to locate by name, and sometimes you like to browse visually, so it's a nice idea.  not sure exactly how to handle the case of groups where there are regular expressions involved..

Indeed it needs some thought. My original idea, similar to yours, was to have regex searches simply "fill in" the text entry field so you can complete the required information. That is hybrid key/mouse but I think it would be useful. Thus you'd have an "EMAIL Someone" entry in the menu; clicking it would fill in the command in the box up to the point where you would enter the mail address. The neat thing is that allows people who are a bit scared of aliases have a visual interface to them which I think is much less threatening.

One thing I'm not sure how to do cleanly is nested groups, which would give us the option of sub-menus. Ideally we would have a drag-n-drop interface that would allow groups to be dropped in the menu built from other groups.
« Last Edit: February 02, 2006, 09:28:41 AM by nontroppo » Logged

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« Reply #17 on: February 02, 2006, 09:37:13 AM »

This may have been mentioned already (I may not have understood something somewhere!) but could you make the folder structure of the toolbar autopopulate?  Could each "folder" really be a filter?  For example I could have a folder that has a definition of "C:\MyFolder | pdf".  When I click on this folder, all pdf files from c:\MyFolder are shown as icons.  Of course, this is a simple example... more powerful would be multi-foldersearches with regex.  I'm not suggesting this as a replacement to normal folders, but as another type.  This is the gray area between FARR currently and a launchbar. 

The main reason I suggest this is because the reason I dont like launchbars now is that I have to preload all my "shortcuts."  This takes a lot of time to set up correctly and it would be nice to have shortcuts determined on the fly.  Obviously, there are going to be some groups you want to handpick, this just extends the original idea.

Just a question.  I think this would increase complexity, but while we're discussing this type of thing... let's add to it!

Kevin
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mouser
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« Reply #18 on: February 02, 2006, 09:59:38 AM »

kfitting, this is sort of where the idea of merging the new application launchbar / context menu codebase with farr is getting interesting, because those kinds of features will be present in the launch bar, in addition to the submenu construction gui that nontroppo was mentioning.. so adding that technology to farr seems like a natural thing to do..
in fact, the launchbar configuration gui, which i have spent a couple weeks on and which i am EXTREMELY proud of, is fully working and seems to me might be well suited for the new farr configuration system which i have been dithering about.

it does mean you should prepare for a totally different configuration experience for farr2.  hopefully you'll agree it's a better one.

i mean in a sense if you look at the toolbar in farr now, its a launch bar already.  i mean that is already what we are talking about, it's just a tiny little one.  so this idea is really more of following that through and making the launchbar more robust, and also giving user the ability to dock it on the screen for permanent viewing if desired..

ok i like it, let's go for it.

we still have to figure out this issue with quicksilver style choosing of actions on files that im still unsure of how to handle best.
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jgpaiva
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« Reply #19 on: February 02, 2006, 10:24:51 AM »

Try bblean as an alternative to explorer as it has this function.
That is exactly my problem. I've been using bblean for 2 years, up until last week, when i decided to go back to explorer. (because of a few compatibility issues) But i couldn't find a way of bringing that feature to explorer Sad

Supporting alpha-transparency does not have to make FARR slower at all. The drop in speed will come with the use of skins themselves which FARR already supports (and didn't slow it down...)
OK..I thought that transparencies slowed down the computer, and not the skins themselves.. So, i agree with you, i hope someday Farr will look that good Wink

so adding that technology to Farr seems like a natural thing to do..
Good to know that, i think it will prove itself very useful!

OK i like it, let's go for it.
Yippee!!! dance dance dance

-[some text moved]-
« Last Edit: February 02, 2006, 11:04:39 AM by jgpaiva » Logged

mouser
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« Reply #20 on: February 02, 2006, 10:29:30 AM »

i think we need to have a good conversation on the concept of "actions" and the various "workflow" cases, ie. what is the best way to do the different tasks.  but it really belongs in that other thread where we were discussing it before.  let's leave this thread for the launchbar merge idea.

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« Reply #21 on: February 02, 2006, 10:47:14 AM »

Hey mouser, sounds good, but another issue that is becoming critical is the user configuration GUI.  Right now it is starting to get cumbersome.  Adding all these options (great ones, mind!) will make it unwieldy.  My suggestion is to go to a left hand tree structure with tabs across the top.  But, regardless of the final outcome, this will need to be dealt with soon.

Kevin
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« Reply #22 on: February 02, 2006, 10:57:13 AM »

funny you should mention that but the entire new interface ive been working on for context menu commander and launch bar commander is all about tree based configuration, so we're on the same page.
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« Reply #23 on: February 02, 2006, 11:36:29 AM »

Not to get off topic...but...

congratulations on your 100th post.  i wonder if we should have prizes of some sort..

Mouser, belated congratulations on your 5000th post too!
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Carroll - HamRadioUSA
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« Reply #24 on: February 02, 2006, 11:57:35 AM »

This may have been mentioned already (I may not have understood something somewhere!) but could you make the folder structure of the toolbar autopopulate? 

I had made a recommendation to the UI designers of Opera to do something similar, and called it sticky searches (opera has a dynamic find in mosts parts of its UI): http://nontroppo.org/test/Op7/VirtualFolders.png

This has lots of parallels to FARR, in that Opera uses dynamic searches, and thus a saved "search" is a dynamic view into the dataset, storing it makes a really cool updating link. In terms of implementation, basically I believe in our groups, individual items can have properties, and one of them is that it activates FARRS search on a pattern and presents a result.

in fact, the launchbar configuration gui, which i have spent a couple weeks on and which i am EXTREMELY proud of, is fully working and seems to me might be well suited for the new farr configuration system which i have been dithering about.

Do you have a screenshot?

it does mean you should prepare for a totally different configuration experience for farr2.  hopefully you'll agree it's a better one.

no problem for me Wink

i mean in a sense if you look at the toolbar in farr now, its a launch bar already.  i mean that is already what we are talking about, it's just a tiny little one.  so this idea is really more of following that through and making the launchbar more robust, and also giving user the ability to dock it on the screen for permanent viewing if desired..

we still have to figure out this issue with quicksilver style choosing of actions on files that im still unsure of how to handle best.

See my mockup in the other thread :devil:

 
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