Window options vs App options
One of the global app menu approaches is to differentiate between the specific opened window option and the application general options. With the last Nautilus (3.6) it’s very easy to know what this means: when the user wants to open a new ‘tab’ on the current window, it’s necessary to click on the window menu. But if the user wants to open a new window, then it’s necessary to click on the global application menu:
Understanding GNOME Apps Menu
This approach is not actually the best one as it’s not always clear what’s an app or window option (it does make sense with multi-window applications, but what about when there is only one window?). For that reason, on the article I mentioned at first, there is a proposal based on three points in order to ease the developers understanding of this global app menu:
- Explain the app menu to users. Every modern OS has a friendly introduction which explains the most basic, non-obvious concepts. For GNOME, this could be as simple as a single-screen “Welcome to GNOME” app, which helpfully points out the Activities screen, notification bar, and app menu.
- The app menu has the most basic options. An app always has one, and it always has the core, global functions in it: “About,” “Preferences,” and “Quit.”
- Other menus have All The Options. People who are used to them expect that a Windows-style menu bar, or a Chrome wrench style menu button, will have a complete listing of the app’s functionality. If an app has either of these (and modern GNOME apps should prefer the GTK+ menu button to space-eating Windows-style menus), it will contain all of that app’s options, including the ones in the app menu. This makes GNOME more accessible and less frustrating.
The second and third point make things clearer and, from my point of view, logical. When you look for the ‘Preferences’ menu or ‘Help’ or ‘About’, this usually changes depending on the application you are using. Having ‘Preferences’ inside the global app menu make this menu completely useful to me.
On the other hand, with the latest versions of Nautilus, Web, Documents and other core applications a new menu button has appeared. This menu button is like the ‘Chrome’ button that you can use to access to all the application options. But the global app menu tries to put logic on this and make users life’s easier.
Sadly, this global app menu seems to have a lot of weak points:
- How will this menu work on other desktops (XFCE, Unity, etc)? Will it look fine?
- How will GNOME convince 3rd party application developers to implement this menu?
- The principles of the app menu are not 100% clear. And this will affect (somehow) users and developers