Friday, May 11, 2007

Menu Systems, Some Observations

The number one complaint I hear on Vista is the new Menu. Its a flat panel menu system and most people do not care for it. They would prefer to have the XP like Start menu. Okay it does organize the structure a bit better but it just doesn't sit well with users.

KBFX uses a flat panel menu as well but most people downloaded it to modify the launch button in KDE and set KBFX to use the default Menu. Why? Like Vista users linux users did not care for the flat panel layout. It was skinable though and that was a big plus in its favor.

Tasty Menu tried to be a bit of both and though conceptionally its a practical idea it just doesn't work as well. To many bugs and issues.

Now SuSE Kickoff I like. For a next generation menu system it has the right potential. I'm not saying it doesn't need work because it does. It should be made skinable and that includes its buttons. However, it functions much more intuitively than the others. The tabbed layout just makes a whole hell of a lot of sense. Yes it needs a lot more work but I really like it and want to see reach full potential. here is what I think Kickoff needs to have added:

Themes - If the developers add the ability to use themes in Kickoff I am sure its popularity will swell ten fold. People today want to customize the look and feel of their system. Making the menu customizable with themes would be a huge step to gaining popularity and thus more deployment by end users. Along those lines also set up an easy way to use and set different button sets like KBFX does. That was what made KBFX popular to begin with.

User Definable Tabs - The stock tabs are nice but it would be nice to have a couple of others as well like a tab for URLS. The favorites tab is a nice feature but it really isn't enough. Hard core users may want a tab that gives them instant access to a specific group and or combinatin of programs. Again the Favorites Tab doesn't fill that niche exactly and really shouldn't be used for that purpose.

Now how do you approach these? I know in some ways the look is kinda built into Kickoff but a bit of redesigning and re-coding can fix that. Kickoff 2, if you will, can easily be rewritten to allow for that, and a KCM can handle the issue of providing the interface for the user to select the themes and button sets.

User definable tabs can be added or removed with the checking or unchecking of a check box. The menu type can be drag and drop, user defined via a menu file generated by the KCM using data gathered from the users input, or it can be a url selector and all the user has to do is tell the KCM what browser he prefers the tab gets the bookmark data from. (Firefox, Opera, Konquerer, etc.)

Now of course you do have to set a limit on the number of tabs the user can add but I think three should be about right.

It might not be a bad idea to have a on/off togable Control Center module menu as well which allows the user quick and easy access to the KCMs.

Just some food for thought.

No comments: