Things I found confusing in Haiku

Just some small things that I think could be improved…

Sometimes when I right click an object, possibly by mistake, it turns out to have a context menu and the top alternative is automatically selected. At other times when I want to use a menu I press and hold a mouse button, but nothing happens when I release on the option I want. Ie I have to click it. Seems to work in some places though… Bug or problem with VirtualBox maybe.

Double click on title to hide the window is incredibly annoying. I do it by accident a lot and I think it’s very confusing :frowning:

When I click Tracker in the deskbar I only see “No windows” but it would be so much better if there was a “New tracker” option here.

I think click twice for inline rename in Tracker should be disabled by default. Most of the time I do this by mistake :\

I’m not sure I’ve understood the full potential of replicants, but I’m sure they’re great in some way. However I find the implementation kind of strange:

  • The wrench icon in the corner is tiiiiiiny. At first I didn’t notice it at all, and when I did I thought it was a rendering error.
  • When I drag a replicant program to the desktop I suddenly have 2 running instances. Don’t know if it’s bad but it seemed a little strange. Maybe you’re supposed to have a big program that can replicate parts of itself, and not the entire UI like the clock does… Well in all of my experiments with replicants I closed the original window just after dropping a copy on the desktop.
  • Right mouse button on wrech opens menu seems a bit backwards. Usually when there’s a clickable widget, you use left mouse button to open it’s menu. Right mouse button is for context menus on non-widgets. And I also think Haiku is good because it doesn’t seem dependent on the presence of RMB, which makes it usable on tablet / touch screen pcs, but here’s an exception.
  • And what’s with the name “replicants”? I just doesn’t make any sense to me and I keep writing replicators :frowning:

Haiku could turn into a Desktop Hell (what Win98 looked like after you used it for a while). I don’t think it’s a good idea to stuff harddrives/folders, trashcan, downloaded files, programs, shortcuts plus aforementioned replicants on the desktop. Personally I prefer an empty desktop, but anyway here are some reasons:

  • After a while it just turns into a big mess, making finding all those “important” files not so easy.
  • All the clutter in the background distracts from the windows you’re working with.
  • Most of the time open windows obscure the desktop.
  • If I’m going to have to press the “show desktop” icon to see my stuff, how is that better than having something like a second Start button (I mean the Windows Start button… don’t know what it’s called in Haiku :))
  • Not only I have to clean my real desk, I have to clean my computer desktop too :frowning:
  • It’s a lazy solution… Can’t think of a good way to let users find and manage their favourite data? Just put it on the desktop and ignore the problem!

No dynamic start menu. I think it’s great if applications keep to their own folders (hate it when a Linux program installs to 10 different folders on my system…) but we have to be able to come up with some way installed programs can add themselves in a suitable category (yea, we’ll also need categories in the app launcher). Having to manually add it is very user unfriendly.

But all in all, Haiku looks very promising!

Hi fhein.
I think much of your confusion results from coming from another system and expecting Haiku to work in a similar fashion. Double-clicking tabs to hide windows is an example for that. Like right-clicking to send to back, it’s a feature easy to get used to. If you do it by accident (never had that happen to me…), maybe you could try to increase double-click speed in the Mouse preferences.

You may be right to have Replicant widgets also reacting to left-clicks. At least I don’t see what would speak against it.
Even small BViews can be replicatable, see the CPU-buttons of Pulse. Aside from an aesthetical point of view, it doesn’t make sense to make the Replicant widget any bigger.
A Replicant is independently runnable code+gui that can integrate itself into other apps. The Desktop is just one of the unfortunately very few examples. Another would be BeHappy, that replicates a browser window of NetSurf.
At this time Replicants are underused.
As for the name, it’s from the movie Blade Runner, but, as I just learned when looking for more info on that on wikipedia, “the term “replicating” […] is the process of duplicating cells for cloning”. Fits perfectly.

I don’t understand your rant on the “Desktop Hell” at all. You’re the user. If you litter your Desktop with dozens of files, that’s your choice. I can’t see what’s the difference to other OS here.
Haiku at least offers a window-unobscured Desktop by quickly switching to a pristine workspace.
You can also put a link to /boot or any folder into your Deskbar and navigate from there if you don’t want to rely on the Desktop.

That said, years ago there have been ideas on the Glasselevator list, dealing with a “Sorting Chute” where you drop files and they are sorted after defined rules into folders.

These are topics for R2+. R1 isn’t the end goal of Haiku, it’s just the well defined (=BeOS R5) milestone.

Coming to a new system can be challenging. Maybe, if you post small specific questions instead of many points in a longer post, people can easier address the issues and point to a possibly overlooked Haiku way to solve the problem.

And no mistake, it’s important for newcomers to state their difficulties. A much appreciated opportunity to recognize areas for improval.


I agree about the confusion between menus where you select by releasing the mouse, and those where you must click the item. It’s not a bug in Haiku or VirtualBox - BeOS had that behaviour too, but despite many years with BeOS as my primary OS I still ended up doing the wrong thing quite frequently for those menus.

Replicants - the name makes sense to me. Agree there should be some better way of moving them around than with the tiny screwdriver, but I don’t have any good suggestions for how to do it better. Sometimes they’re pretty difficult to remove too, once “replicated”.

The Desktop is just a folder - though maybe the default download location should be in /home/Downloads/ rather than the desktop. Any other clutter that accumulates is only by the user putting stuff there.


Thanks for your replies! I know that I’ll probably get used to a lot of things, but I thought it might be useful to have the initial thoughts written down before it all becomes second nature to me :slight_smile: I’m starting to like right click to send to back when I’m sitting with 10+ windows open but it also makes me start thinking that maybe something could be improved so I don’t need 10 different windows while programming. Looking forward to stack and tile!

Personally I don’t see any advantage with double click minimize compared to having a dedicated minimize button next to the maximize/zoom button. It feels a little like ye olde unix middle mouse button to terminate application. Takes time getting used to, confusing to regular users, sometimes you do it by accident and it isn’t much more efficient than having a close button :\

Well the name “replicants” make sense now that I know more about them, but just hearing the word I would never have been able to guess what they were. Hopefully we’ll see better use of them in the future, as I’m no big fan of putting stuff on the desktop.

And speaking of that, what I meant is that the reason I don’t have a single icon on my Mint desktop is that I have better ways of doing these tasks (Starting applications, accessing downloads/fav files etc). I could still fill it with stuff if I wanted to but there’s not really any point. If I’m not mistaken, in AmigaOS you could minimize running programs as icons on the desktop (Workbench :)) but nobody in their right mind would ask for that feature because nowadays we’re used to much better ways of managing applications. I think we could easily identify the tasks people perform using desktop icons and either invent something new or at least copy how some other OS has solved it. Of course users should still be allowed to put things there if they wanted to.

I do concede one thing WRT the Desktop: I don’t like that it’s the root of volumes and location of the Trash. IMO, those should be only links. Esp. right-click navigation is seriously awkward when you always have to navigate to the Desktop first.

Could you expand on the “confusion between menus where you select by releasing the mouse, and those where you must click the item”? I frankly don’t see that behaviour. Either you (1)click a menu once, then navigate without holding the mousebutton, and finally click the menu item. Or you (2) click and hold the mousebutton on a menu, navigate while still holding the button, and finally release the button with the pointer on the item you want to execute.
Of course, you can’t mix these two ways…

The one instance that’s inconsistent, is the context menu of the column headings of listviewed Tracker windows. It’s used to toggle displayed attributes and only answers to the above described method (2).
I’ll file a bug report for that, but first I’d like to collect the other inconsistencies you’ve mentioned.

BTW, I too had problems with menus closing and selecting the wrong menu items under VirtualBox. Since I went native, however, all that’s gone.


Context menus in Bon Echo only work with method (1) above. I think there was somewhere else I noticed this too, but now I can’t remember where or find it

Bon Echo - BeZillaBrowser, being a massive-monster port doesn’t count. :slight_smile:
If you discover any instance with Haiku apps, please post’em here or file a bug report yourself. These are things that have to be worked out before R1.


“Like right-clicking to send to back, it’s a feature easy to get used to.”

I like the idea of sending things back but if right clicking everywhere else brings you a context menu, it should do that on the tab too. I think there should be more buttons on the tab: minimize and send back.

No please let’s not emulate the excessive window decorator buttons on other operating systems. Right-click and double-click work great for those functions and users can adapt to them quickly.

Though if you REALLY wanted those buttons you could develop your own window decorator, though at the moment that requires hacking the app_server code. Long term it would be good to make it possible to add decorator add-ons on the fly. Of course this is getting dangerously close to emulating Linux window managers and could lead to inconsistency.

I’m beginning to warm up right click to send to back and it’s really useful when I’m programming and have lots of windows open (though maybe the question should be, isn’t there a better solution to working with several things at once instead of building a huge pile of windows?), though I agree with arielb that it might be a little inconsistent.

But double click to hide, now that’s one of the worst designs I’ve ever seen, and here are some reasons:

  • It’s confusing for new people and when you do it by mistake. The window just disappears and it might look like the app crashed or terminated. This will be less of an issue if Haiku had some effect like OSX/Compiz that actually shows the window minimizing to deskbar, but a lot of people seem to think that’s just unnecessary eye-candy.

  • It can’t be easily undone. For example if an OS had double click for minimize to title (aka shade, which is another horrible mechanic, please don’t add it :)) at least you could double click again in the same place to get your window back.

  • Even if most people will eventually adapt to it, it’s still not very user friendly. You have LMB+drag to move window, LMB click to raise, LMB double click to hide, RMB click to lower and Shift+LMB+drag to move tab (maybe there are even some more that I haven’t figured out yet… who knows?). But if decorators are so evil, let’s take it to the extreme and remove the zoom and close buttons too! Why not set Shift+LMB double click to zoom and MMB to close window? Most people would probably learn to use it after a while, but would it be user friendly?

  • It’s not intuitive. If I’m new to computers there’s really no way to remotely guess that the window is going to hide if I double click it’s title bar. People will figure this out by a) accident b) trying to maximize the window or c) reading the manual (and nobody reads the manual) but until then they’ll just be wondering why you can’t minimize windows in Haiku.
    Some other OS might have dbl click to maximize (zoom) window instead, but there’s also a maximize button you can use and if you accidentally do it, at least it’s very easy to figure out what’s just happened if your app now covers the entire screen.

  • Other OS:es have separate buttons for minimize / maximize. Do you think it’s only because they copy eachother and have legacy UIs to think of, or might there actually be a concious design decision behind this?

  • The efficiency savings of double clicking the title compared to clicking an icon on the title are microscopic. And you save a few pixels, but if they’re so valuable then why is the zoom button there?

Oh btw, how will you let a user change a window so that it’s visible on all workspaces, if windows have no context menus? Shift-Alt-LMB to enable and Shift-Alt-RMB to disable? :smiley: (And sorry if this post might sound a little harsh, it’s nothing personal I’m just arguing my point)

“No please let’s not emulate the excessive window decorator buttons on other operating systems. Right-click and double-click work great for those functions and users can adapt to them quickly.”

No discoverability and…where’s the context menu? Without the context menu, you don’t get to do good stuff like send apps to different workspaces.

Now, we probably don’t need a minimize AND a send to back button.
Just have the min button on the tab next to max (like every other OS) and put the send to back feature in the right click context menu. Everything should also get a keyboard shortcut.
The other thing about send-to-back is that it will probably be used less in the new stack/tile world.

I think several confusing things noted in the 1st post really make sense and are not especially because “coming from another system”.

I find the right click option utterly annoying: I often start the slide show in ShowImage because I right clicked on the image by mistake. I don’t think adding a blank line on top or better, making a persistant menu would break everything, especially when there is no reason people would choose slide show instead of zoom for example. It’s not consistent with the desktop behavior where right clicking on the desktop would raise a persistant menu.

A new tracker instance in the taskbar would be helpful too.

For the double click on the title bar, I don’t think it’s annoying though, on the contrary I find it conveniant, and quicker than to click on a tiny icon, but it’s just a matter of tastes. It could have the option to disable it if some people don’t like it. Double clicking on the taskbar could also raise again the last hidden window.

I think most of these issues are in the perspective of people who aren’t used to the way Haiku does things, but are very used to how things are done in other systems (although the cry for consistency (mouse press on menus) is valid, granted.)

Haiku/BeOS has a way of dealing with windows. I find how window management is implemented awesome. I use the keyboard a lot (with all the OSes I use). I have learned the differences, and I’m not crying. If your app launches 100 windows, the app is doing something wrong, not the window manager (PE I’m looking at you!).

Beware of always thinking about these hypothetical users who are new to computers. Please, make at least one OS with intelligence in mind. People can learn. Don’t rob them from the chance to. If they “just want to use a computer” there are options in the plenty.

On every alternative OS out there, I see users trying to hijack the unique solutions to conform more with what “everybody are used to”. How are you ever going to be able to create an alternative if every OS ends up looking and behaving like Windows?

We’ve been discussing some of these issues, especially double click on title to hide, on the mailing list and here’s a short summary:

A couple of others and I have concluded that hiding windows is used as a solution for 3 different problems.
A) Overcrowded and cluttered desktops.
B) Hiding the UI of background programs, like a music player.
C) Moving several apps between workspaces.

I think A should instead be dealt with by providing better tools for workspace usage, to encourage better utilization of them instead of filling a single desktop with tons of windows. B could be solved by daemonizing such apps so that the user can close, instead of hide, the control window. This probably needs a lot more thought and innovation, but we’ll see how it turns out. C could also be tackled with better workspace tools, for example something like Gnome-Shell.

Well, hiding windows shouldn’t be necessary, so I stand by that double clicking the title should do nothing by default. Let there be a keyboard shortcut and maybe an option to bind whatever function to double click for those who can’t live without it.

You’ve really got my opinions totally wrong. I’m advocating that people should think in new ways, instead of locking their minds onto how these problems have been solved in the past and current OS:es. Sure BeOS was revolutionary 10 years ago and still is in many ways, but it wasn’t perfect and even other OS:es have made some advances in the last decade that are worth copying. Just because Windows has a feature doesn’t make it evil. Currently my biggest source of inspiration is the upcoming Gnome 3 as they have some really nice stuff that I haven’t seen before (though I’ve later heard that some of it is copied from OSX)

IMO an efficient, consistent and easy to use OS would benefit everybody and not just newbies. If you honestly prefer an OS that requires intelligence and learning instead of something that just works, maybe you should give Linux a shot :wink:

Most people I’ve talked to said Haiku’s target market is “all desktop users” and I think that includes a lot of people who like to do things the easy way. If you only target computer geeks with a fetish for minimalistic super efficiency, you’re going to end up in quite a small niche market. I used to be one of those geeks myself, but I suppose I grew out of it. Now I just want something that combines power with ease of use. So no, I definitely don’t want a Windows clone.