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How to get more attractive open/save file dialogs?
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Rattlehead


Joined: 11 Sep 2008
Posts: 223
Location: Madrid, Spain

PostPosted: Sat 05 Feb 2011, 21:56    Post subject:  How to get more attractive open/save file dialogs?
Subject description: What's the replacement needed?
 

I use ratpoison as my WM, and I'm more and more keyboard-oriented every day. But in most of the programs, the open/save file dialog is quite uncomfortable for keys: getting to navigate through the folders requires going to "places"(alt+p), typing the first letters of the folder you want, then pressing esc to disable text search, then pressing 5 times (!) tab to get to the folders, and then you have to press backwards tab and then delete whenever you want to go back one level...

Is there anything I could change to have more keyboard-friendly open/save file dialogs? The desktop environment? A different file manager? Or such menus are hard-coded in each program and cannot be modified no matter what you install? I've done my Internet research, but I cannot seem to figure this thing out. As you can see, I am a bit confused about the basic concepts, and the open/save dialogs are used very often, so improving them would make everything lighter... Smile
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disciple

Joined: 20 May 2006
Posts: 6458
Location: Auckland, New Zealand

PostPosted: Tue 08 Feb 2011, 05:28    Post subject:  

Most of the programs in Puppy use GTK, so I presume you are referring to the standard GTK open and save dialogues.
I think to replace them you would need to patch GTK, and there are probably no patches available to do so... but you could look Smile

I'm pretty sure there has been some discussion over the years about major changes to them, but I'm not certain where it's got to... I guess it's most likely to come in GTK3.

Have a look around for more information, but I don't think you'll get much better than avoiding the use of File-Open, and minimising the use of File-Save As by using bookmarks heavily or saving files in a standard location then moving them.

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disciple

Joined: 20 May 2006
Posts: 6458
Location: Auckland, New Zealand

PostPosted: Tue 08 Feb 2011, 05:29    Post subject: Re: How to get more attractive open/save file dialogs?
Subject description: What's the replacement needed?
 

Rattlehead wrote:
...then pressing esc to disable text search, then pressing 5 times (!) tab to get to the folders...

No, no. Just press enter Smile

But it seemed to be only Tab 3 times for me, anyway. Weird.

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Last edited by disciple on Tue 08 Feb 2011, 05:36; edited 1 time in total
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disciple

Joined: 20 May 2006
Posts: 6458
Location: Auckland, New Zealand

PostPosted: Tue 08 Feb 2011, 05:32    Post subject: Re: How to get more attractive open/save file dialogs?
Subject description: What's the replacement needed?
 

Rattlehead wrote:
and then you have to press backwards tab and then delete

What is backwards tab? I can't figure out how to do this Sad

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Flash
Official Dog Handler


Joined: 04 May 2005
Posts: 11167
Location: Arizona USA

PostPosted: Tue 08 Feb 2011, 08:50    Post subject: Re: How to get more attractive open/save file dialogs?
Subject description: What's the replacement needed?
 

disciple wrote:
....What is backwards tab? I can't figure out how to do this Sad

The Tab key on my keyboard has an arrow pointing to the right, and an arrow pointing to the left. It never occurred to me that those two arrows meant the key could do two things. Maybe Shift+Tab undoes a tab?
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`f00


Joined: 06 Nov 2008
Posts: 809
Location: the Western Reserve

PostPosted: Tue 08 Feb 2011, 11:17    Post subject:
Subject description: maybe..
 

mmhm, my tabkey has both |<- and ->| on the labelcap so shift is 'reverse' more-or-less but it's highly dependent on wm keybinds at times (pekwm does lots of kybd things, but it's pretty easy to change - icewm and openbox as well as most others too, ice' drove me nuts at times 'til I got a bit more familiar with it Laughing ). It can be weird, but mainly up to the user to 'standardize' things to their particular habits if anything really puts surprises up on the display (like flipping the desktop or other behavior).

@rattlehead - maybe a different file manager? (for sure they don't all use gtk - xfe and emelFM come to mind) .. the other apps should have non-gtk alternatives as well (it was nice having the tcl/tk option standard in p42 as I recall, but times change - fltk etc)
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disciple

Joined: 20 May 2006
Posts: 6458
Location: Auckland, New Zealand

PostPosted: Wed 09 Feb 2011, 03:04    Post subject: Re: How to get more attractive open/save file dialogs?
Subject description: What's the replacement needed?
 

Flash wrote:
disciple wrote:
....What is backwards tab? I can't figure out how to do this Sad

The Tab key on my keyboard has an arrow pointing to the right, and an arrow pointing to the left. It never occurred to me that those two arrows meant the key could do two things. Maybe Shift+Tab undoes a tab?

Yes, it does. But I thought Rattlehead must have been talking about something else, since he didn't say to press it 5 times (or once, and then press up twice), and since pressing tab 4 times would be faster Wink
Rattlehead wrote:
and then you have to press backwards tab and then delete whenever you want to go back one level...

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disciple

Joined: 20 May 2006
Posts: 6458
Location: Auckland, New Zealand

PostPosted: Wed 09 Feb 2011, 03:09    Post subject:
Subject description: maybe..
 

`f00 wrote:
@rattlehead - maybe a different file manager?

But that isn't the problem - Rox doesn't even have file open/save dialogues Smile

`f00 wrote:
.. the other apps should have non-gtk alternatives as well (it was nice having the tcl/tk option standard in p42 as I recall, but times change - fltk etc)

How much more keyboard friendly are the other gui toolkits? Maybe we should ditch X altogether and use only console apps Wink

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amigo

Joined: 02 Apr 2007
Posts: 2279

PostPosted: Wed 09 Feb 2011, 16:07    Post subject:  

The file chooser used by most apps is the gtk one. The only laternative is the one used by mtpaint -if we could those guys to package their file chooser as a separate library or as patch to gtk itself. For older gtk-1.2 I use a very hacked version of the file_chooser function which combines some fixes and hacks from suse, gento, LFS and others... looks better than the stick one. But mtpaint has a prettier one.
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Rattlehead


Joined: 11 Sep 2008
Posts: 223
Location: Madrid, Spain

PostPosted: Wed 09 Feb 2011, 21:21    Post subject:  

Thank you for all the replies and suggestions. I've been a few days absent.

Sorry if "backwards tab" is not a very 'techie' expression. I called it like that because I use the key to navigate through menus: Tab takes me to the next button, and shift+tab takes me to the previous one, so is sort of 'backwards'. I don't understand everything you discuss, but I think the core issue is that I erroneously supposed that all keyboards in the world are configured the same way, while there are differences according to countries, models...

I'll investigate the GTK patch possibility (and provide any given result to the community Smile ), or in any case wait for version 3 and hope for the best. As a recent convert to keyboard, I'd like to see more applications that allow full keyboard operation (another example: the options applicable to a file in the otherwise excellent Rox Filer, can only be accessed via mouse, AFAIK). And the MT Paint interface you mention isn't too keyboard friendly either...

Quote:
maybe a different file manager?


I did try EmelFm, but it had stability issues. I've settled in Vifm, which I think is gorgeous but still a bit undeveloped, I'm looking forward to new versions, and in my wet dreams I even think of tweaking the program myself some day Smile

Disciple, thank you for the suggestion of pressing enter. It's totally noobie but I hadn't thought of it it. In fact it does improve navigation a lot. Please be merciful with those who come into the light after so many years in the M$ dungeon! Smile .

And you were right, it was only(!) 3 key presses instead of 5. I got into a mess with that. It's like when you try to explain your aunt how to use the web browser. It's easier to do it than to describe it with words Smile ...
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wjaguar

Joined: 21 Jun 2006
Posts: 291

PostPosted: Sun 13 Feb 2011, 18:43    Post subject:    

disciple wrote:
Most of the programs in Puppy use GTK, so I presume you are referring to the standard GTK open and save dialogues.
I think to replace them you would need to patch GTK, and there are probably no patches available to do so... but you could look Smile

There is also the LD_PRELOAD route. And here is one package using it that I know of - replacing GTK2 file dialog by its KDE equivalent:
http://kde-apps.org/content/show.php?content=36077

disciple wrote:
I'm pretty sure there has been some discussion over the years about major changes to them, but I'm not certain where it's got to... I guess it's most likely to come in GTK3.

GTK3 has been released a couple days ago... and looks like not much, if anything, has changed in this specific widget:
http://library.gnome.org/devel/gtk/unstable/GtkFileChooser.html

amigo wrote:
The file chooser used by most apps is the gtk one. The only laternative is the one used by mtpaint -if we could those guys to package their file chooser as a separate library or as patch to gtk itself.

GtkFileChooser API is rather extensive - see the link above; mtPaint's builtin fileselector doesn't even try to implement it - instead, it has an extremely simple API identical to a wrapper API that I built around GtkFileSelection widget (the GTK+ 1.2 file chooser, which mtPaint used before, and still can use as an alternative). So, mtPaint's file selector in its current form is not a drop-in replacement for GtkFileChooser.

-= With best regards, Dmitry Groshev, maintainer of mtPaint =-
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amigo

Joined: 02 Apr 2007
Posts: 2279

PostPosted: Mon 14 Feb 2011, 02:29    Post subject:  

wjaguar, I know that the mtpaint file-chooser is not a drop-in replacement -I just thought it might be possible to get you guys to separate the code needed to do a LD_PRELOAD hack similar to what you linked to.

I use a very hacked-up gtk-1.2 which combines two hacked versions of the file-chooser dialog -very unique and somewhat better than the stock one -but still not as attractive as the mtpaint one.
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Rattlehead


Joined: 11 Sep 2008
Posts: 223
Location: Madrid, Spain

PostPosted: Mon 14 Feb 2011, 09:52    Post subject:  

Thanks all for the ideas and suggestions.

As for the KDE thing, the screenshots look pretty neat, but I wonder, should I install the whole KDE to make it work (I read it was quite bloated and that's why Puppy does not use it. And besides, the installation can be complicated, require another round of forum questions, etc... Rolling Eyes )
...or, instead all I need is the application pointed to in the link?

I'm afraid the LD_PRELOAD thing you mention is beyond my knowledge (no c++, just a little bash).

Wjaguar, I'd like to use this occasion to thank you for MTPaint. Is a great replacement to Gimp, less intimidating for the artistically challenged like me Razz . If I may add a suggestion about the save interface that originated this thread, from the point of view of a keyboard user, it would be very comfortable that all the navigation could be done with the tab key. Currently you have to use tab until a certain point, where you get 'stuck' and have to move to the arrow keys. What's the use of having two alternate navigation keys in the same window? I just mention it in case it is a very simple tweak.

Just my two cents on usability. For things I've read here and there, it seems to be quite a 'hot' issue in the field of programming... Smile
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wjaguar

Joined: 21 Jun 2006
Posts: 291

PostPosted: Mon 14 Feb 2011, 16:37    Post subject:  

amigo wrote:
wjaguar, I know that the mtpaint file-chooser is not a drop-in replacement -I just thought it might be possible to get you guys to separate the code needed to do a LD_PRELOAD hack similar to what you linked to.

The code in question is well enough separated already - fpick.c/.h contain all the non-reusable parts, and the reusable ones are easy to extract from the other source files. But - first, unlike GtkFileChooser, our code doesn't allow selection of multiple files at once. And second, making a shim for GtkFileChooser is by itself a large, and hairy, task; KGtk's shim alone is larger than mtPaint's entire fileselector (2000 lines vs. 1400).
Myself, I switched Firefox to using its builtin fileselector, and am using Midnight Commander for a file manager - so am encountering GtkFileChooser much too infrequently for it to annoy me enough for such an undertaking. Smile

Rattlehead wrote:
As for the KDE thing, the screenshots look pretty neat, but I wonder, should I install the whole KDE to make it work

Yes. Sad

Rattlehead wrote:
Currently you have to use tab until a certain point, where you get 'stuck' and have to move to the arrow keys. What's the use of having two alternate navigation keys in the same window?

Explained in the second paragraph of section A.8 of the handbook; namely, Tab key in the entry box serves for tab completion, in the builtin fileselector same as in GtkFileSelection. Manuals are meant to be read. Wink
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disciple

Joined: 20 May 2006
Posts: 6458
Location: Auckland, New Zealand

PostPosted: Tue 15 Feb 2011, 03:21    Post subject:  

Rattlehead wrote:
Thanks all for the ideas and suggestions.

As for the KDE thing, the screenshots look pretty neat, but I wonder, should I install the whole KDE to make it work (I read it was quite bloated and that's why Puppy does not use it. And besides, the installation can be complicated, require another round of forum questions, etc... Rolling Eyes )
...or, instead all I need is the application pointed to in the link?

I'm afraid the LD_PRELOAD thing you mention is beyond my knowledge (no c++, just a little bash).

I don't think anyone was suggesting using that to address your problem - I doubt that it is much better for keyboard navigation anyway.

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