On Cantarell

There was something bothering me with Evolution in GNOME 3 that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Turns out it was Cantarell, the official font for GNOME 3. While both the Droid family (Droid Sans/Serif/Mono) and Cantarell were “designed for on-screen reading”, I find Droid Sans to be much better than Cantarell for small font sizes.

Don’t get me wrong: I find that Cantarell is beautiful for slide presentations and printed documents (how ironic) and I use it in various places. However, consider the following two screenshots of Evolution. If you have trouble seeing the difference, download the two images below, open one of them with Eye of GNOME and switch between the two with the arrow keys. It’s stunning.

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On GtkSwitch

GTK3 includes the new switch button. Sadly, at the time of this writing, there seems to be no HIG recommendation for it yet so I’m left to guess what its proper use should or shouldn’t be. I’m all for choice/flexibility for developers, but what has been worrying me slightly in the new Control Center is the possible abuse of this new widget. Currently, it’s all over the place.

This is not meant to pick on anyone, but I thought Bastien’s screenshot would illustrate my point:

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Snowy hackfest and Boston Summit 2010

Fellow hackers and designers, I will be in Boston from November 4th to 8th. I have been summoned there to participate, as a designer/tester/usability freak, in the glorious rise of a better user interface for Snowy, the open-source online synchronization and collaborative editing project for Tomboy.

Thanks to sponsorship from the GNOME Foundation, I will be able to participate in this hackfest and, as time allows, attend the Boston Summit.

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Icon view in the Source List

Stephen “lostcookie” Griffiths recently started coding on PiTiVi, learning the codebase as he works through the PiTiVi Love list. He has done awesome work on the source list to implement an “icon view” mode and has managed to somehow not become insane while I pointed out all his mistakes and bugs :)

The icon view is especially useful if you are working on a wide, high-resolution monitor (ex: 1920×1200) with a large number of clips that have nice thumbnails, because you can fit more of them without needing to scroll.

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Move playhead on click, modeless splitting, full-height playhead

This week, Brandon has been doing great work in polishing little bits of PiTiVi’s timeline workflow. Indeed, he has made a second attempt at implementing my “move playhead on click” paradigm, and merged his changes into PiTiVi’s master development branch.

A side effect of this is that we now have “modeless splitting” (ie: splitting is now an action, not a modal “razor” tool). It is faster, more accurate, and simply rocks. I can now say that I can do basic editing just as fast as I used to back in the “old days”.

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Performance vs usability

I had an idea to make Evolution display more human-readable/stuff-I-care-about-only sender information, but it was scrapped. It is sad when you hit technical roadblocks in technology (here, performance considerations) that trump usability (well, that and the fact that the devs were not too enthusiastic about the idea to begin with).

Changer l’épaisseur des barres de défilement

Comme je suis masoschiste et que j’ai maintenant un grand bureau, j’ai décidé depuis de ne plus utiliser de souris (sauf en cas de nécessité) et d’utiliser le stylet de ma tablette graphique (wacom graphire) pour voir si c’est agréable. Ben étonnamment, on s’y habitue. Par contre, y’a toujours le problème qu’un stylet manque un peu de précision quand on doit faire un simple clic sur une petite cible.

Histoire de se conformer à la loi de Fitt, j’ai estimé qu’une des plus grosses difficultés est d’utiliser les barres de défilement (bah oui, y’a pas de molette de souris, donc faut cliquer), parce qu’elles sont étroites. Pas de panique, y’a une petite astuce. Il suffit de créer/modifier le fichier «~/.gtkrc-2.0», et avoir le contenu suivant à l’intérieur:

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