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I'm very impressed and happy for the continued support for non-Linux systems. It's very heartening that when necessary, they are coding backends for other systems, instead of buying in to the Linux-only systemd lock-in.

I was also very surprised to see how decent the UI looks even under GTK+ 3. I was afraid they would get sucked into the horrible catastrophe that has befallen Gnome with things like client-side decorations.

Gedit, for instance, went from this: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/df/Gedit226... ... to this: http://cdn.xfce.org/about/tour/4.12/xfwm4-csd.png ... the horror.

Has anyone given this a try yet? I would like to know if the common dialogs (eg file open, file save) use proper window decorations, or if they too now look like the Gnome 3 CSD garbage.

Also, it's still possible to use Clearlooks-Phenix, right? They're just saying they discontinued the Xfce-* themes, right? Adwaita is such a dull theme.

I think it's a little unfair to compare the gedit UI at different sizes. I hastily mocked up how they would look at the same size: http://i.imgur.com/hb6TLEr.jpg

Personally I love the minimal and uncluttered look. I don't need big buttons for copy and paste, and even on a 30" monitor I appreciate the extra space it allows for actual content.

That unstyled grey look, plus the missing File, etc. menus under fvwm, caused me to abandon gnome apps under fvwm. I couldn't get a theme that supported gnome apps nicely. Sorry gnome, I don't want a mac-style menu bar.

Your mockup is right on target, Allan Day blogged about it at http://blogs.gnome.org/aday/2014/08/27/gnome-design-saving-y...

> I love the minimal and uncluttered look.

Uncluttered, unintuitive, unhelpful - just like a vi buffer in input mode.

> unintuitive

Unintuitive for whom? It abandons the traditional structure, which some people are accustomed to, but I suspect that it would be measurably more effective for people who haven't developed patterns of familiarity with the traditional workflow.

> just like a vi buffer in input mode

I think the key difference is discoverability. In gedit I can immediately see how do 6 common actions, and that there's another layer of less common actions in the hamburger menu. I never had to google "how to exit gedit" for example.

Wow, that Gedit transition looks awful. I'm curious what the motivation was for these 'client-side decorations' you speak of.

1. What do you consider "awful" (or, OP, a "horror") in this transition? (This is a real question, not a rhetorical one.) CSD are one of the better recent GNOME UX trends, I think, for the reasons below which feel well executed to me.

2. Motivations are (to my understanding) to save vertical space, reduce window clutter, and put common actions at the forefront. Matthias Clasen talks about it in great detail at [1] [2] [3].

[1] https://blogs.gnome.org/mclasen/2014/01/13/client-side-decor...

[2] https://blogs.gnome.org/mclasen/2014/01/20/even-more-client-...

[3] https://blogs.gnome.org/mclasen/2014/03/21/dialogs-in-gtk-3-...

The problem is when you want to use some action which isn't one of the 2 or 3 that they've put at the forefront. Sure they've saved some vertical space but in doing so they've also made the UI a whole lot less efficient to use. There's also more clutter, not less, with all sorts of unrelated controls crammed into one tiny space.

> The problem is when you want to use some action which isn't one of the 2 or 3 that they've put at the forefront.

Agreed on that point. The Office team made a wonderful job at this, by also putting actions in the title bar (e.g. by default: save, undo, redo), but making it configurable. However, MS has orders of magnitude more dollars to develop/support/bugfix the added complexity, and given the hate of GNOME committers regarding anything configurable, I doubt that will ever happen in GNOME.

I'm not bothered by it because, like others here, I use keyboard shortcuts for 99% of my actions and never need to reach for buttons or the sandwich menu, but I understand why I'd be bothered too if it wasn't the case.

Why not simply use shortcut keys? These are more efficient than having to grab to the mouse, especially on an editor, on which most the the time both your hand are at the keyboard anyway.

Yes but here we're talking about a graphical user interface and the whole purpose of a GUI is to let you do things by interacting with graphical elements.

Then, I don't understand the criticism about efficiency for regular users, as this is – for text editors – also clearly out of scope for graphical user interfaces. (Of course, the story is different for the graphical domain such as Blender).

One thing I'll always miss with CSD is window snapping. Now it's shadow-snapping.

First; I have a nice, long titlebar strip with left-aligned titles like I like. I can click anywhere in there and move my windows around (I know about alt+click, but I don't want to use my keyboard to move a window, and that doesn't work on my other OSes anyway.)

Second; I like having a choice in how my window decorations work. I can run Clearlooks-Phenix, or Aguelemon, or Be, or Crux, or whatever else I like. Some of the themes have window borders on the sides (which I like), some don't. With CSD, my only option is a poor OS X imitation theme. No edges to the sides of windows (awful ... I can spare 4px so that my window doesn't blend into my desktop, and so I can grip for window resizes easier, thanks), no control over titlebar text placement (I don't want to scan to the middle of the title bar to read the title. The left is a consistent location.)

Some of these WMs have special features like middle-click the maximize button to maximize it horizontally, nicer snap-to-window and snap-to-edge functionality, etc.

Third; I want my title bars free of clutter. The title bar is for the title of the window, and for moving it, and at most you'd have the minimize/maximize/close buttons on a corner. I've been using windows the same way since Windows 3.1; so about 23 years now. You may scream Luddite, but I say that if it's not broken, don't fix it. With CSDs, now I have to dodge all of these ridiculous controls like "Open", "New Tab", "Save" and "Hamburger" when I want to move a window. And all of those further reduce the available space for a title. So I guess I can forget about showing the full filepath for my files open in gedit.

Fourth; and this is a big one; consistency (eg discoverability.) All of my Xfce windows look the same, act the same, work the same. I have a title bar, a menu with all of my features, and usually an optional toolbar with all of the major features. Now with these CSDs, every single window looks entirely different. To get to menu commands, I have the added step of clicking on the hamburger first, which has a miniscule hit window. And that's assuming everyone designing these awful CSDs uses the same hamburger icon and placement. Again, we go from something we've been using for 23 years to "the trend of the week design." Because newer must mean better, right?

CSDs are basically what you get on Windows with every OS driver installation GUI. I do not want that for my desktop at all.

There's a reason this has all mostly stayed consistent since GUIs became a thing. It's not because people were lazy, unimaginative, not aware of design guidelines, or anything like that: it's because it works. And it works really, really well. A lot of us are simply tired of relearning how to use our computers every time a "modern" designer gets a hair up his ass and decides that we need to radically change all the things! The ribbons, the Metros, the CSDs, etc. So in four years, while I stick with my tried and true approach, Gnome 4 will have undoubtedly moved on to an even newer idea for how to design windows, and you'll be explaining to others why Gnome 3's CSD approach was flawed compared to $newTrendyDesign. And while you're learning to get used to where all of your operations have moved to, I'll be over here getting work done instead.

> Motivations are (to my understanding) to save vertical space

Even when I was stuck on 1024x768 CRTs back in the '90s, I can't say I've ever thought to myself, "if only I had an extra 10px of vertical screen space, my user experience would be vastly improved." The idea of crushing everything into this hot mess to save the same on my 2560x1600 panel (let alone 4K/8K panels) is just asinine.

The only time I've ever had issues with the titlebar taking up space was during the 640x480 fallback VGA modes when installing my video card drivers.

Besides, isn't the trend lately (even in Gnome) to add ridiculous amounts of excessive padding to everything, for the sake of all twelve touch screen desktop users?

> reduce window clutter

That window looks a lot more cluttered to me. I do turn off the toolbar (and status bar for that matter) on gedit 2, and I can turn off the menu (with an addon), and use keyboard shortcuts for my actions. I have no control over this CSD, whose height is twice that of a plain titlebar anyway (to accommodate button heights.)

> and put common actions at the forefront

The toolbar does the same thing, and common actions goes from 3 to 13 common actions in this case (with room to spare on the latter.) Even better, the toolbar is completely optional.

For all but the three common actions, it is now harder to do things with the new gedit. And terrifyingly, one of those now-harder actions is "move the window."

Thanks for taking the time for a detailed answer. Not going to answer in turn in detail, because I have a comically exact opposite point of view for almost all of your points ^^.

Well, I guess that just means hail to choice in the Linux world; you're happy with a traditional/conservative xfce and I'm happy with a more minimalist/moving GNOME. Cheers.

Sure, and thanks for not taking offense. I know I was a bit polarizing there in my words. But the reason I'm becoming terrified and outspoken is because the design that was ubiquitous for the last two decades has, in the past 2-3 years, become so obscure that I now find myself running FreeBSD (a niche of Linux, which is itself a niche of Windows) with Xfce (a niche of Xorg WMs) ... and they're both my last-resort options to run a traditional desktop. Yes, it's choice, but ... man.

Everybody else has decided that everything must change drastically, and even worse ... said change is completely different everywhere. The days of installing the OSS packages (Firefox, Pidgin, Transmission, mplayer, etc) and using Windows, OS X or Linux almost the same are over. Native-looking cross-platform applications become more impossible with each passing day. The ones that remain do so by using the old paradigm anyway (Pidgin, Transmission, old Firefox, etc) or simply doing their own CSD rendering entirely (Chrome, Chromrefox, etc)

Even for those who like the changes to their specific environment, I'd caution you ... if they so freely changed things with no choice before, nothing is stopping them from doing it again in the near future. You should never be too supportive of radical, forced change; for one day it might not be the change you wanted.

> you're happy with a traditional/conservative xfce and I'm happy with a more minimalist/moving GNOME

Funnily enough, there are only two things I need from the traditional paradigm: Window buttons in the panel (so I can hide windows by clicking their buttons in the panel), and panels than can be set to be vertical. Everything else that is new in Gnome 3 I pretty much like, but these two things I cannot get in Gnome 3.

So I run the Xfce desktop, but with all Gnome 3 apps, like gnome terminal, gnome file browser, etc. The Xfce alternatives I have uninstalled.

XFCE is for people who like old GUI-design, so of course such users are going to get annoyed when modern GUI design starts to creep in.

How anyone could consider the first screenshot of gedit prettier than the second is beyond me, but that is probably why I'm on OSX and not XFCE.

How anyone could consider the second screenshot of gedit more functional than the first is beyond me, but that is probably why I'm on Xfce and not OS X.

The functionnalities are not lost, and using keyboard shortcut is more efficient/functionnal anyway, especially on basic functions like those on the menu of the first screenshot. I can understand that some users prefer icons, but describing the second screenshot as "horror" and "less functionnal" because it does not have pictures in the menu bar is simply wrong.

You're right, they're not lost. Instead, they're hidden and obfuscated behind multiple layers of menus instead of just being there.

I'm really interested in your use of the words 'modern' and 'old' in the above post.

The human perceptual system does not change much from millennium to millennium and that our understanding of how that system works becomes richer over decades.

Can you explain how one set of afordances can be considered more modern than another?

I'm not being snarky, I'd really like to understand your idea of modern/old in this context.

He probably means the word just in the sense that e.g. Wiktionary defines: Pertaining to a current or recent time and style; not ancient.[1]

[1]: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/modern#Adjective

EDIT: And by old, he probably means "old-style".

So XFCE 4.12 is a modern UI according to your definition, having just been released.

Now you are being snarky.

Well perhaps I'll confess to a little licence with this last reply. I really find use of the M word strange in relation to UIs. The whole idea of a GUI is, what, 40 years old?

I mean old in the time-line of GUI, not human history.

The modern design trend is minimal widgets and minimal chrome, where as older design trend are heavier on buttons and chrome.

Did Microsoft miss that memo with Ribbon? Not only do they pack way more than your average toolbar in there, they also resort to packing even more buttons into your titlebar.

But I'm sure you know that trendiness is cyclical. I just want off the treadmill.

Is this essentially a fashion choice then? Is there an underlying reason for minimal widgets and chrome?

Yes. It's a pervasive attitude as of late that "users are stupid; so kill all the options for choice" and "older = worse; newer = better"

Think of it like learning Dvorak. Sure, in theory, by some arbitrary histrionics, these new UIs are 3% more "effective". There's no real objective proof of it, but people just feel like it is. And hell, maybe it really is! So to gain that 3% advantage, they want you to throw out 20 years of muscle memory and familiarity. They want you to throw away all that you're used to and retrain yourself again and again. And sure, maybe after enough time, you might actually like it a little bit more. But all of the time you've wasted relearning everything will never make up for the tiny, marginal increase in efficiency you gained. Nor for all you had to give up to get there.

But this attitude of eternal improvement never ends. You jump on Dvorak because it's such an improvement, and you spend months, maybe years, getting up to your native speed again ... and along comes Colemak, but now it has competition with Workman. Which do you choose? Colemak or Workman? Gnome 3 or Unity? Gotta throw away that Qwerty and Dvorak mechanical keyboard; gotta throw away all those old GTK2 UIs; and start over.

The infinitesimal, unscientific usability enhancements are so subjective as to be irrelevant. Change certainly favors the young, and is hardest on the older generations; but true positive change has historically been accomplished incrementally through evolution (Windows 3.1 - XP, parts of 7). Yet nowadays, it's trying for revolution. Choice is no longer en vogue. And this attitude is ... pervasive. And that is absolutely terrifying.

> How anyone could consider the first screenshot of gedit prettier than the second is beyond me

And I feel exactly the same in reverse. And it's perfectly okay that we are polar opposites, so long as we each continue to have access to our choices. Gnome has thrown us under the bus entirely lately. Thankfully mousepad is a good replacement for gedit 2.x now. I just hope the Gnome devs don't force GTK+ 3 library users into their UI guidelines (like the aforementioned common dialog question.) So far, the Xfce 4.12 screenshots are a lot more promising than I had expected.

> but that is probably why I'm on OSX and not XFCE.

And I really hope you'll stay away from the Xfce dev team in that case :D

Choice is apparently a "usability nightmare" for the unwashed masses...

Not everyone who uses XFCE prefers "old GUI-design," some people (myself included) are forced to run it on weaker machines, or on alternative CPU architectures ill-suited for more popular WMs. For instance, I run XFCE/Xubuntu on my Samsung ARM Chromebook because it's the only WM that runs clean for me in Crouton.

Design wankery under the banner of "usability" most likely.

The whole Gnome/systemd/fedora sphere seems to have a severe case of OSX envy.

It looks awful with Xfce default theme. Gedit = Gnome Edit (I guess) - and it looks well and integrated really well when used in GNOME environment (gnome-shell).

So its not fair to judge it this way. Try to open some Xfce apps in GNOME and it will look like horror too (compared to gnome ones) :)

To be fair, although they made the keyboard shortcuts invisible, added another nesting level to the menubar, gave the title too little horizontal space while simultaneously wasting vertical space, and made the UI inconsistent with every other window on the system... they did manage to save as much as 7 pixels of space.

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