Friday, 6 May 2011

Unity is a Crock

I have Ubuntu 11.04. After jumping through hoops to get the thing going, I also have the Unity 3-D interface.

Now I am wondering, like Benjamin Humphrey ("What’s wrong with Unity & how we can fix it" published March 17, 2011) where it's all gone wrong. It's worth looking down Ben's post and the - long list - comments which follow, especially as one of the early ones is Canonical supremo Mark Shuttleworth. Scroll down to Mack Richard's response as a tutor, in particular.

So what is wrong with Unity? How long have you got...?

I have called out Unity on Twitter as an inconsistent, unfinished crock of ####. I'm barely scratching the surface, but here goes:
  • The Applications dash has no option to open full screen.
  • There's a hidden and inexplicable hierarchy of icons on the launcher, so I can't move the icons I want to the position I want (Applications and Find won't go at the top, workspace switcher won't move at all.)
  • The crazy stacked/concertina view for the overspill icons at the bottom means I can't even see properly the icons that I can't get at.
  • I've now got three types of scroll bars on my desktop;
    • Dash has thin scroll bar without the scroll controls you get on applications.
    • Firefox has conventional scroll bar I can actually hit with the mouse from anywhere
    • 'Native' apps like Gedit have the micro-thin scrollbar with the popout drag control.
  • Everything defaults to opening full screen.
  • It breaks my workflow: bad workspace and window management
  • Big, lary Fischer-Price icons are fine so long as they tell you what they are for. I have to mouse over icons for Applications and search to get the text tip to find out what they are!
  • Why, in Unity Dash does it take up space showing applications that I 'could install'? Apparently it's a 'bug' [read design goof that shouldn't have got through design much less coding and testing]. Mark Shuttleworth knows about it  and is having it fixed. See? A product half-finished.
  • The stupid arrows in launcher beside running apps must be the poorest visual cue ever. Now that my top-panel is hands-off uncustomisable I've lost my window-switcher. Madness.
  • The runner-dash (alt-f2) has the same "see more results" madness as the main dash.
  • Menus. Where do I start on the issue of menus? Matthew Paul Thomas does it better than me over on the Ayatana mailing list: https://lists.launchpad.net/ayatana/msg05037.html
    • "in Unity, menus are invisible until you mouse over where they are supposed to be. For a window, until you mouse over it, the space reserved for its menus is taken up by an application or window title. And for the desktop, until you mouse over it, the space for its menus is completely empty. I reported a bug about this, but John Lea marked it as Invalid on the grounds that "this change request contradicts the design".
    • Get this straight: hiding the menus makes functions invisible. This is not a productivity gain.
  • It now takes MORE clicks or keystrokes to do something in Unity than it used to in regular Gnome. FAIL. Go to the back of the class.
How exactly is all this supposed to help the legion of new users that Canonical is hoping to tempt over form Windows and Mac? Mark Shuttleworth's responses have been gracious but less than helpful.

"Your comments, while appreciated, are not news to the designers or the folks building Unity ;-) But the existing system has tested quite well already, and warrants it's first release."

No Mark, the smiley in your reply does not make up for the fact that you've foisted a half-finished piece of #### on your user base.

"I agree with your view that everything should be movable and removable, except for the trash, which I think should always be at the bottom left, where it will no doubt stay."

So there. The opinion of the (benevolent) dictactor counts because he is signing the cheques. Your opinion, no matter how valid, simply does not count.

You say you tested it, people responded well. That's a politicians answer. You tested it and ignored the torrent of abuse and ideas you got and decided to implement your version anyway. Why not come clean and admit you've implemented a date, not a project.

To quote respondent sicofante: "Don't ask the community for help (I know you didn't, but somehow Ben suggests it's possible) when you simply do as you wish and tell everyone "this is not a democracy" when asked why you made a controversial decision."

Mark has said if you don't like something in Ubuntu, you are free to fork and develop what you like. That is true. If you're a developer, good luck. However, keep on telling the average Joe User to vote with their feet and they may well do it.

Let's be clear, NO computer interface is intuitive. They ALL have to be learned and understood. But some have more clarity and consistency than others, an open door through which to walk. Some are like a concentric maze of bar-gates and padlocks. This is why I hate my Sony HDD-recorder. This is why I'm hating Unity more each time I use it. RC

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