Discussion on the different views for UI style

Whilst browsing through the Haiku forum, whether back when I first joined the forum or today, I have noticed threads such as “GUI Concept”, various ones on UI redesign, and most resulting in long discussions or sometimes, to put it plainly, sometimes leading to debate or argument. And really, after reading through quite a bit of posts and threads, I thought I would try to unify this down to two different sides (and some variations in between) that seem to be shown throughout:

A. Keep it classic and simple

This view seems to adhere to the core of Haiku OS, and it calls for a simple Deskbar and BeOS window management design, keeping with the same appearance, such as in the UI controls and icons, and more importantly, the same principles and style, even in the code. This idea calls to keep things consistent, compatible, and to be a gentle continuation of the Be legacy.

B. Make it modern and/or follow trends

This view calls for “UI redesign”, with things such as translucency, new ways of working with apps and workspaces, and having an overall different feel than Haiku currently has today, and thus, is the opposite viewpoint of the previous. This view also seems to be held by individuals who are trying Haiku from other systems for the first time, such as from Gnu/Linux, or younger users that want a more “modern” UI simply to follow the “trend”. (But this summary of View B, of course, is just my opinion, and may not reflect everyone who has this view.)

My opinion: Balance

Personally, for those interested in my opinion, I respect View A due to its merits, and wouldn’t want it to change, because Haiku is unique as a desktop environment and operating system with its classic look and feel. But I personally adhere to View B if I, or anyone else, were to fork or make changes, as the UI paradigm is moving forward and evolving daily in all software (with the exception of Windows; hopefully, 10 may repair the clear duality that was in 8.x). At the same time, too much freedom leads to anarchy and I’m honestly afraid that Haiku would split off in too many directions, it’d become like the world of Gnu/Linux distributions with a “flavor of the week” mentality, and would thereby lose its strength.

I guess I’m tired of seeing the various different threads that debate this, when there needs to be unity, and not division. But is this summation of the two views about right? Again, I’m hoping to discuss this, so hopefully everyone can say something peacefully – but I do not in any way want to start any flame wars! Thanks, all.

Given the clear paths presented here, I am re-phrasing a comment I made in another thread:

I believe it would be wise to focus on getting to R1 with the current UI (classic and simple). This will unfortunately disappoint many of those who are exploring Haiku after using any of the numerous Linux distributions and wish for a more exciting UI.

Once R1 has been reached, then it would be appropriate to define what would be an ideal UI for R2 and start implementing it. Nevertheless, this UI should strive for simplicity and should not get in the way of responsiveness of the OS to inputs from the user.

stacking and tiling is the best development in desktop ui in decades and no other system has even talked about doing anything similar.

The menu/toolbar is the only thing I personally don’t really like, or maybe it is the icons used.
I have been using Linux since 1999, started with the ‘bells & whistles’ distros, but found the ‘true way’ to be simplicity.
I use the easiest/simplest way of doing anything on my computers - no wobbly windows for me.
My choice of Linux is AntiX, using Fluxbox, occasionally IceWM.
If I am asked to recommend a desktop it will be XFCE, because it is not bloated.
If I install (Free)BSD, it will have Fluxbox on it.
(These are my views, I don’t expect everyone to agree.)

Having seen a number of threads on this subject now, I would like to raise the topic of consistency.

GNU/Linux distributions are extremely tweakable, customizable - the end user can change the look of their system beyond recognition. This is great for new users who are playing with the settings, getting used to their new non-windows playground.

As a user of Slackware for 14 years myself, I have now settled on XFCE because it is simple and gets the job done without getting in my way.

That’s what I love about the Haiku/Be UI. It is consistent. It is neat. It gets the job done without trying to put on a light show for the end user.

If Haiku is going to have a super configurable UI that lets you change completely how it works, you can say goodbye to consistency, you can say goodbye to the idea of having a stable and consistent looking UI. A lot of Windows users won’t touch Linux because it looks inconsistent. Well, if Haiku goes down that path, they won’t be touching that either.

At the moment, the Haiku UI is lightweight, responsive, consistent and not intimidating for new users. I think that is how it should be.

Step one: Make it work (we are here)
Step two: Make it look pretty.

I don’t believe Step two should involve redesigning our “Desktop-Centric, fast and lightweight OS” to look like any one of a number of Linux distributions or a (tablet?!) OS.

Consistency, functionality and simplicity. That’s how it is now, and I would argue that it is how it should stay.

this isn’t something most users do, ever. at the most, there’s a selection from an available premade theme and a change of the desktop. the one thing preventing theme selection in haiku is nobody who’s talked about them so far has done the work of making and deploying even one, in over a decade.

This is the point I am making, sorry if I wasn’t clear. I’m arguing for Haiku keeping its current style as a default. Much like windows has Windows Classic. Precisely because of the point you made. Keep sensible defaults for things that people don’t want to fiddle with - I’m of the opinion that Haiku shouldn’t necessarily go through a UI revolution or massive visual changes because firstly it has charm and an identity as it is, and secondly, because it would be a strange time to start changing something like that. Haiku just needs more applications (including tools to make application development more enjoyable for those that might consider to do so).