Let me start by saying, I have no idea where Haiku stands on the idea of a Preferences Manager. Obviously, I am aware that the expandable folder is located in the Haiku menu, but there has to be an easier way (if desired) to view all the preferences in one window as opposed to having to go the drop down menu every time (or it’s location in tracker).
So, I present the Preferences App that could be implemented in Haiku. WARNING this application/software DOES NOT exist. This is purely a schematic, and I put it together with some graphic software.
obviously, there are a few little bugs with this (there should be some faded text in the text field indicating that you can enter some text in there, and I think that the category names should be in bold.
Anyways, give me some feedback, good, the bad or the ugly!
Hmm. I like the general idea, for sure. But what are the items on the toolbar for? I don’t think that there’s ever going to be so many preference items that you’d need navigation aids, beyond the category organization you’ve already done.
The idea of a visual separator between the categories isn’t a bad one, but I don’t like the alternating backgrounds; looks too much like old tractor-feed receipt paper. It’d probably be better with some light separator lines instead.
I love it… okay it borrows from Mac OS X and Ubuntu (or Gnome Shell), but it’s not a bad concept. The navigation options are fine but it depends on if you’re trying to mimic Mac OS X System Preferences and/or Ubuntu System Settings where the former has the inclusive Show All option and the latter has the exclusive All Settings option. You could probably find a happy medium.
In a way, I’d rather see a few preflets combined, much in the way of Appearances. E.g., Keyboard+Keymap+Shortcuts, Mouse+Touchpad
So that we don’t have to make a specialized app, Haiku could extend tracker’s ability so that tracker had the ability to sort files based on some sort of standard category attribute. Windows such as the preferences window could automatically sort files into their respective categories.
I’m going to be the first party pooper. I’m sorry.
Your mockup is nice, but I think “preference managers” (on Windows, OSX, and KDE alike) are a bad idea. Some of the reasons are:
- It's difficult or impossible to look at settings for multiple things at once. For example, if I'm trying out new desktop wallpapers and want to change screen resolutions, can I do that without closing the desktop wallpaper settings?
- It forces settings into a specific, possible arbitrary, category. For example, why isn't touchpad in "Hardware"? Can I change "Personal" settings like single-window mode by clicking on "Tracker" under "System"? Email is part of network settings, not the "Internet", but if you change "Internet" to "Network" then "Network" settings would be under the "Network" category.
- There is a lot of wasted space.
There may be “an easier way”, but preference managers have never made it easier for me.
In general I like the idea of having items grouped in windows somehow, specifically preferences as there can be so many as I also agree that each prefence icon should represent specific preferences. In Mac, Windows and modern Linux desktops they are all combined in a single window with no way to see few of them at once.
But back to the main topic. I like the Haiku way where Tracker is the Tool for navigating and finding everything from contacts to apps to docs to whatever. Some time ago I made an experiment where I added extended attributes to all UI apps thus making Haiku menu fully dynamic and updated in real time as new apps got installed no matter where on the disk. I even managed to get the Linux app menu right. Typically (be it Gnome or KDE) an app (say OOo Draw) is linked either in Graphics or Office. But using live queries instead of links the app can be reached from either group, granted the developer or user sets appropriate attributes. In this way developers could add attributes to their apps instead of maintaining installer scripts which generates items in ~/config/be folder.
If Tracker and query windows had ability to group items by attribute the usability would increase by the order of magnitude - Tracker would no longer be just file manager, it would be what numerous file and media managers intend to achieve and more. Let’s say Mouse preference has attributes app_type=preference and app_group=hardware: the first attribute puts the item in the Preferences query in Menu folder whilst the second one is used to further group items in the Tracker window (window/folder view itself would have configurable grouping e.g. Group by attribute->app_group).
Basically what is needed: Tracker ability to group items by specific attribute. This would give end users much power: group mp3’s by artist or album (similar to modern media players in other systems), grouping app icons such as preferences and last but not least - any contents having attributes could be sorted and grouped. Imagine user doing several projects at once which share some common content. One could open a query for all documents or images and group them by project - instant view of items which are in shared. Add nested groups, thumbnail previews &c!