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General Interaction Issues / bugs

murrayc: I have commented on some of these. Where I have not commented, please just assume that I agree. murrayc: Note to other readers: I asked Daniel to ignore the awful Layout dialog because it's only ever been a temporary solution until we get the drag-and-drop layout working properly.

  • "Open Failed" dialog after cancelling creation of a new document from template doesn't make sense.
  • "Processing" dialogs popping up when loading a document are small and all over the place. Embedding these into the main view would be good, but otherwise they should be centered and a bit more detailed.
    • murrayc: Shall we use GtkInfoBar?
  • "This database has no tables yet!" should not appear every time the tables dialog is closed.
    • murrayc: How can I reproduce this exactly? File a bug if necessary.
  • A resize triangle is always useful, could be combined with a status bar.
    • murrayc: Where? For What?
  • "Save as Template" functionality is not obvious. Where should the file be saved? Why does it not appear in my list of templates after saving it in my home folder? How do I create a new document from it?
    • murrayc: Yes, this is only useful for developers of Glom itself, to create the examples. It should not be visible. Maybe we can make it visible when providing a command-line option. Or even better, just make it a command-line tool.
  • "Add / Delete / Open" button combination is often used, but not always consistent. Also, "Open" can be a little ambiguous, "Details" might be more clear in most cases.
    • murrayc: Please list the actual cases.

Main View


  • "Table" and "Mode" at the top could just as well be dropdown menus, rather than forcing the user to go the menus. The layout of the "Table" header is also not very attractive.
    • murrayc: I fear that users won't expect the entire UI to change just when they change one choice in a combo box.
  • Unless there are imminent plans to add more modes, "Find mode" could be a toggle rather than a radio selection.
  • The notebook adds a lot of visual clutter, considering that it only contains two very small pages, which also provide small click targets (especially compared to the space they take up).
    • murayc: Yes, and it wastes space around the edges. I working on a patch to just have two (Details, List) toggle buttons.
  • The fact that switching to details view shows the details of the selected record makes a lot of sense, but is slightly surprising.
    • murrayc: What other possibility is there? Or is this only an issue when you have previously looked at a record in the details view?
  • Related button groups should be homogeneous or at least have a minimum size.
    • murrayc: For instance, where?
  • Clicking on an empty cell in an empty row and cancelling adds a new dataset.
  • "Found: All Records: 3" is confusing.
  • Very wide minimum size. It would be better to scroll horizontally when the window is too small. Can the minimum width of columns be reduced?
    • murrayc: Should be fixed already. The entry widgets were stupidly wide for a while until I fixed a silly bug recently.
  • The "Clear" menu item doesn't appear to do anything in most cases. If it can't be used, it should be disabled (not sensitive).
    • murrayc: What clear menu item. The entire Edit menu doesn't work. I think there's a bug open about it.
  • Why no "Delete" in the edit menu?
    • murrayc: What would it do?
  • In the File menu, "Import", "Save As Example" and "Shared On Network". Suggesting "m", "a", and "h" respectively.
  • "Shared On Network" should probably be "Shared on Network", see Possibly "Save As Example" => "Save as Example", as the "As" is used as a preposition in this case.
  • "Data" mode mnemonic should be "D".
  • Duplicate mnemonics should be avoided:
    • Copy / Clear (suggesting "e" for Clear)
    • Relationships for this Table / Relationships Overview (suggesting "O" for Overview)
    • Layout / Script Library (suggesting "S" for Script Library and "h" for "Show Layout Toolbar").
    • Translations / Test Translation (suggestion "a" for "Test Translation")


alt Main View Mockup

Glade mockup of details view proposed changes (does not include changes of the application menu). The lower buttons should always show icons, even if icons on buttons are disabled by default. Whether or not to also show text labels is not important for the sake of this mockup, both would be perfectly fine. The records status text in the lower right has been reworded to be more clear.

Tabs are replaced with a toolbar, which unclutters the appearance and saves space. The "Back to List" button is replaced with a "Details" button in list view. This also makes it more obvious that clicking this button will show the details of the currently selected item. To allow quick switching between the views, going back to list should pre-select the previously shown record.

The table label is replaced with a combobox, which allows quick switching between tables without going to the menu.

The "mode" label has been removed from the main UI. Going to find mode (by selecting the Find menu item) could show an additional toolbar at the top with a quick search bar and an "Exit Find Mode" button. This also avoids (or reduces) the input field growing excessively large. This could be using the "extra view widget" look and feel, which is e.g. used by Nautilus for the search view or by gedit when a document was modified on disk. The widget could also include a label describing how to search using specific data fields.


  • The Table is a very primary part of navigation. So it should at least be at the left.
  • "Back to List" suggests that there's a whole history. But it's just a details/list toggle, so that seems confusing.

alt Find Toolbar Mockup

(Very ugly and rough mockup of find toolbar)

alt Nautilus Search Bar

(Nautilus Search Bar)

List View


  • Arrows next to table headers are missing (to indicate active sort order).
  • The folder icon for opening details is not entirely clear, and a very small target.

Details View


  • Input fields are very large. Could this be reduced?
    • murrayc: Fixed already, as mentioned above.
  • Date chooser dialog doesn't need more detail than the title and calendar widget. Icon, primary text and secondary text are not necessary. Could be a popup (as in Evolution). Help button seems excessive and doesn't lead to anything useful right now (what would it possible explain?).
    • murrayc: Sure. A popup sounds nice. Otherwise, if it's a dialog, I think the "Please select a date to enter in this field." text is helpful.
  • Date chooser dialog button could have a calendar icon rather than "...".
    • murrayc: Yes. Please make a GNOME Art request.

Welcome Screen


  • Background window is useless, as the welcome dialog is modal. Gray window in the background does not add anything to first impression.
  • Inappropriate icon, dialog is not a question dialog.
  • Missing window icon.
  • Glom starts with title ".: - Glom" in the window list.
    • murrayc: This might be fixed already.
  • Title overload. Too much text. Too many repeating verbs.
  • Selections are phrased as verbs, e.g. "Select File".
    • murrayc: What could they be instead.
  • Many clicks required for common actions (open existing file, create new document).
  • Unnecessary clutter caused by empty document groups.
    • murrayc: What empty document groups? Maybe you just have Ubuntu's broken package that doesn't have the examples/templates.
  • The red icon used for empty groups inappropriately indicates an error ("no sessions found on the local network" does not look like an error, but a vaguely useful information).
  • Notebook padding not aligned with action buttons.
  • Spacing is not HIG conform.
  • Quit buttons are not commonly used in Gtk applications anymore, so an alternative may be preferable.


  • Either: Make welcome screen optional and non-modal (but keep on top). Replace "Quit" with "Close", and make the initial Glom window usable. Set a reasonable initial title (e.g. just "Glom") and enable File menu options (new, open, etc). Close the welcome screen automatically if a document is opened from the Glom window. Possibly add a "Do not show again" option to the dialog (but that should be accompanied by a preference setting to undo). Remove the dialog title.
    • murrayc: Yes, I don't like having a welcome screen in general. It's meant to be mostly educational. We should explore better behaviour.
  • Or (I suggest this option for simplicity): Make welcome screen a normal window. Don't show the initial Glom window, until a document is being opened. Replace "Quit" with "Close". Keep the dialog title.
    • murrayc: Yes. I'd like to hide the main window when it's empty.
  • Remove the dialog icon. It is not necessary and adds clutter. This is not a standard question dialog, complex dialogs don't need icons.
  • Remove the primary label, as almost the exact same text is repeated in the tab labels.
  • Remove the notebook, and show both lists side by side in frames. This makes it possible to get a quick overview and removes one extra click in many cases.
    • murrayc: No. Creating a new database is the unusual action, and it shouldn't complicate the simpler actions for opening an existing database.
    • murrayc: Also, putting it all in one window would make that window very big (particularly if you do have networked databases in the list) and complicated.
  • Adjust border spacing to 12 pixel and align the borders, see


alt Welcome Screen Mockup

Glade mockup. Advantages are an uncluttered appearance, and a reduction of redundant text for faster parsing. All items are buttons and only require a single click to activate.

The individual items are GtkButtons with RELIEF_NONE and custom packing of an Image and a left-aligned label. The recent documents come first, because they are most likely to be the most frequently accessed. Recent documents should of course have the Glom document icon instead.

Recent Documents are limited to five, Local Network and Template sections need to have a reasonable limit after which they start scrolling. But this should rarely be necessary. If a section is empty, it can contain a similar string to the one shown under Local Network (using <small> markup).

    • murrayc: No. Creating a new database is the unusual action, and it shouldn't complicate the simpler actions for opening an existing database.
    • murrayc: Also, putting it all in one window would make that window very big (particularly if you do have networked databases in the list) and complicated.
    • murrayc: Most of the items in the mockup don't appear clickable. So the typical user just sees a big complicated dialog with a Close buttons. I think most would just click Close and move on. The existing dialog is not perfect, but I think exactly this would be worse.


All Dialogs

  • Missing window icon.
  • Many dialogs have horizontal separators which are deprecated.
  • Many dialogs do not have the right spacings (12px border, 18px between content and action buttons). See
  • The question mark icon is used all over the place. It should not be used for Alerts, etc. And with complex dialogs the icon is probably overkill.

Save Document / Creating From Example File

  • When creating a new document, using a title such as "Create Document" or "New Document" would be clearer.
    • murrayc: I have avoided that because it's often more than just a document. For instance, it can create a database on a central server. One day the document might even just be a link to the database, with all the document's other XML in the database itself. Also, this is not a traditional document-based application - it also has immediate saving of changes. I don't want to give misleading visual cues.
  • The explanation before the "Title" label should wrap, so it doesn't force the dialog to be wide. Consider using <small> markup.
    • murrayc: There is a general problem (with a bug in bugzilla) about GtkLabel not wrapping properly. It needs height-for-width (also in bugzilla) to work properly.
  • There should be a colon after the "Title" label.
  • "New Database" should have more spacing towards the element above and less spacing to the element below to emphasize the grouping. Perhaps "Create Database" or "Database Setup" would be clearer.
  • The general layout of the save dialog with database setup attached to it is not ideal, but it's probably not worth changing the default layout.

Connection Details

  • Dialog should only have one title, primary text is redundant. Consider "Connect to Server" as window title, removing the primary text.
    • murrayc: If dialogs should never have primary text, why isn't this the default in Glade?
  • Form labels should have colons.
    • murrayc: This might be fixed already.
  • Form fields should start 12px from the end of the longest label.
  • Consider "Server" instead of "Host" for consistency with the GNOME connect to server dialog.
  • The "Connect" button apparently has a hard-coded image, as it still shows despite button images being disabled in Ubuntu Lucid.
  • Suggestion: Add a 6px margin below the "Please enter [..]" help text. It could also be removed, as it adds no information that isn't already obvious.

Export Dialog

  • Title should not have a period at the end, also probably should be "Export to File" rather than "Export To File".
  • Export button is missing a mnemonic.

Import Dialog

  • "Choose a CSV file to open" is really elaborate for a title, and doesn't follow capitalisation rules. Suggesting "Open CSV Document", if "CSV" must be mentioned.

Print Layouts

Edit Tables Dialog

  • Label is obvious and could be removed. Title could be "Edit Tables".
  • "Show hidden tables" label would fit well to the left of of the "Add / Delete / Open" buttons.

Add Related Table

murrayc: By the way: This is a useful feature for people who understand Glom very well, but it requires explanation so I worry that nobody will actually use it, though it is based on a request in bugzilla.

  • Label is a duplicate of the dialog title and should be removed.
  • There should be 12 or 18 pixel spacing under the help text.
  • From Field => From field (also needs a mnemonic).
  • Input fields are not aligned and their labels lack mnemonics.
  • Create Table button lacks mnemonic.

Field Definitions

  • Label is a duplicate of the dialog title and should be removed.
  • No spacing between "Table:" label and the table name (should be 6px).
  • Indentation of the treeview is unnecessary. This is not a group.

Field Definition

  • Labels are not left-aligned and lack mnemonics.
  • Should have 6px padding under radio button labels. Suggesting 12px between groups of elements belonging to radio buttons.
  • Tab labels on Default Formatting page should not be bold.
    • murrayc: Yes, I think I felt that this made the structure clearer, particularly when that same notebook UI is used for layout properties - Right-click a field on the layout (in developer mode) and choose "Field Layout Properties" to see that (too high) dialog.
  • The layout is pretty crowded, but this is probably not an issue. But in any case, this would seem like a much worthier candidate for a "Help" button than the date chooser.
    • murrayc: I particularly don't like the nested notebook under Default Formatting. Look at it for a number field to see all 3 tabs there.

Edit Reports

  • Title can be "Edit Reports", does not need the label (and indentation).

Report Layout

  • "Show Table Title" should be "Show table title" with a mnemonic.

Missing mnemonics on input field labels. Labels probably shouldn't be bold.

  • Layout suggestion:

alt Report Layout Mockup

This could do with more consideration though.

murrayc: This whole window is almost as horrible as the Layout window. However, unlike the Layout window, this window will probably always be necessary. It would need a complete rethink. Filemaker does this with a drag-and-drop layout, but that's even more awkward and confusing, allowing the user to make stuff that just doesn't work for no obvious reason. murrayc: I also don't like the awkward way that you have to go through the Reports dialog+treeview just to add a new report. murrayc: Your mockup shows a misunderstanding. Items are not just moved from left to right. The tree on the right contains available items, a bit like a palette. Deleting them from the right does not mean moving them back to the left. Your misunderstanding is not surprising and not your fault.