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In pictures 09 and 10, the 'turn on' / 'turn off' checkbox seems a bit confusing. I'm presuming that the label switched from 'turn on' to 'turn off' depending on the state of the checkbox, and likewise the box switches from a tick to a cross? If so, this seems inconsistent with the standard checkbox UI on Mac/Windows/etc (and also on the web). Which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but I'd be interested to know if there was a good reason for this, and whether it has been tested or not. Frankie Roberto 05:37, 2 March 2008 (EST)

This user behavior is similar to how you unmount/mount drives in linux desktops, where there is an option to 'mount' or to 'dismount/eject' depending. Perhaps you are looking at the 'check' icon and assuming it is a 'check box', when it is generally used in Sugar for 'ok', 'go', etc., like you see in the Enter key. P.S.-I'm not involved with the design of Sugar. HoboPrimate 13:18, 2 March 2008 (EST)

I think you might actually mean slides 8 & 9. The main difference in the approach is that in our design, the menu item represents an action, quite literally, and the icon is meant to add clarity to the textual description of that action. In a "normal" menu, you might expect to find either a) a textual description of an action which changes based on state eg. "show grid" or "hide grid" with no graphical accompaniment, or b) a textual description of a state which remains fixed, but is accompanied by a check when active eg. "grid shown" or "√ grid shown". In our case, the main problem with respect to the "turn off" action is that an empty checkbox would look mostly like a square, which is lacking in meaning. The "close" button, used throughout sugar to mean cancel, close, or erase, we thought would instill the correct idea regarding the action, and is often juxtaposed next to the check which usually means enable or accept. -Eben
Yes, I did mean 8 & 9, apologies. I've inserted them below for easy reference. As HoboPrimate suggests, I was reading it as checkbox and label, rather than one big action button. Is there a rollover state which shows the icon and the text to be connected? Where I got confused is that, if you read it as a checkbox and label, the 'tick' next to the 'turn on' label can be read as saying that the camera is already turned on. Perhaps a camera or eye icon would be better here? It should be consistent across the UI though of course, and I'm only giving an initial reaction to the mockups, so feel free to ignore! Frankie Roberto 07:14, 12 March 2008 (EDT)
Well, this is a good observation. To answer your question, it will be quite clear on rollover that this is a single action, with both icon and text. It behaves much like a menu, with a gray band spanning the width of the palette on hover. See, for instance, this slide. -Eben
Turn on
Turn off


Configure option in devices palettes

Should the devices have a configure option on the secondary palette, which would open the control-panel showing the device page? Would be a good shortcut and makes sense, when you want to configure a device, you can do it through its object.HoboPrimate 02:46, 16 March 2008 (EDT)

This is a nice idea. Once we have a robust graphical control panel, it will make sense to add this. -Eben

Download notifications in Browse

Right now, when you start a download, a non-modal dialog appears in browse. I wonder if, now that the Journal icon is allways present in the frame, this information could better be associated with that icon, to visually explain what is going on (a object is being downloaded to the Journal). Or perhaps all it needs is a Journal icon to appear inside the non-modal alert, to explain it is being put in there...HoboPrimate 03:33, 27 March 2008 (EDT)

Highlight "icons the user ought to be paying attention to"

The colors I have chosen are on the dark side - dark blue for the fill and medium green for the stroke.

In the "new design" Joyride, I clicked (in Home view "list" mode) on an Activity icon. I presume this put the Activity's icon in the top left corner of the Frame, and made it pulse there.

BUT I did not notice it there - a dark icon pulsing in a black background (the Frame).

When there is an icon in the Frame that the user __should__ notice (such as "loading an activity", or an "arriving notification"), its presence in the Frame ought to be *highlighted*. In my opinion this is best done by giving that icon a background that contrasts with the rest of the Frame. White will contrast with the black Frame (so would a fluorescent color).

Overall assessment: brilliant

I'm just amazed. Looking through all the sections and all the screens (Frame, Activity, Journal!, etc) I'm just flabbergasted. This is a brilliant new direction. Keep up the fantastic work, and I hope to see this make solid progress in the months ahead! :) -Bbasgen 19:17, 18 April 2008 (EDT)

I agree, the "workflow" is quite smoother and faster, with the new frame and journal and everything. Beautiful revamp of the interface. HoboPrimate 10:36, 7 May 2008 (EDT)

Usability observation

Definitely nice, but as far as i see all the pop up menus still keeps the same color schema for items that are click able/selectable and for items that are not. When I let my children to freely play with the XO I registered from them a bit of confusion out of this, and even more in case of explicative/hint labels that pop up from single action buttons( they actually start clicking on the message itself more times than on the button!). I am strongly convinced that all click able/selectable items should be distinguishable by default from informative one even without mouse passing over. -Carlo 14:17 29 April 2008 (GMT+2)

Notifications auto-revealing primary palette on first frame invocation

Just had an idea. When there are new notifications, bringing up the frame will make them reveal their primary palette for a certain time. Notifications would only behave this way if their palette hadn't been revealed before (like if the user had hovered them while they were still in the corner, or after a first auto-reveal). Only the primary palette is auto-revealed, since it should contain the most important info (invitation to chat would contain inviter, chat name). This also makes sense in that you wouldn't want to show options, the time they are shown would be too short to give users the time to make a decision.


  • Allow fast overview of notifications. Before or after a new invitation has slided into the frame, invocating the frame using the keyboard frame key, or the corners, make new notifications reveal more of their information for a short period of time.
  • Mitigates the need (posed above) to have a visual stronger than a badge for identifying items within the Frame with associated alerts. -Eben


  • Too much chatter? Everytime the user opens up the frame, new notifications throw their info to the user.
  • It's unclear how to handle circumstances in which nearby elements both had alerts (two new invitations, battery and network, two adjacent activities, etc). -Eben

HoboPrimate 10:33, 7 May 2008 (EDT)

This idea has some promise. In our early designs, we intended to do exactly this for "urgent" messages, but it might be just as well suited for previously unseen notifications of any variety. I added both an upside and a downside above... -Eben 11:39, 19 May 2008 (EDT)
Good point on the urgent messages only idea. I forgot that Windows used to be very annoying a few years, with text pop-ups appearing from the system tray icons a bit too much (though in this case you would have to invoke the frame, still, you would do that to access common stuff). Eventually, they settled and only urgent messages are automatically shown. Perhaps that is a better idea to do.
With regards of other ways to notify, I also have more ideas:
Distinct Prelight - Making it subdued but noticeable when next to the other non-notifying icons
The Icon itself is changed for special notifications - Like it already happens with battery, but could happen with activities as well. For example, if someone had just spoke an unread message in Chat, the Chat icon would change (three dots ... inside the chat bubble, for example).
Make more diversified badges - Such that you can have a specific badge for when another user has acted on a shared activity, generalizing what I mentioned before with the Chat case, to work in Write, and other as well. Perhaps just creating one or two more badges would be enough, like in addition to the comment "Urgent", "Attention needed", there would be "Information".
Perhaps with some or all of these methods, the automatic palette reveal, badges and other subdued indications, you can achieve the granularity needed to be used by the different kinds of notifications.HoboPrimate 00:15, 20 May 2008 (EDT)

Invoking the Frame

I have been thinking about the sensitive corner issue, which I think I have read on the devel list may be addressed by making it an option. What if the frame key, invoked with a modifier -- pick any, but probably one that is less easy to hold down by mistake -- would switch the default for sensitive corners vs. no sensitive corners?

This certainly seems like a reasonable thing to add, if we need it. Some of the recent talk in the mailing lists regarding alternatives to the instant activation (or instance, toggle buttons which appear only in the corners which can reveal/hide the Frame) might actually bring us to a better default place where such a toggle isn't needed. Time and testing will tell. - Eben 11:35, 19 May 2008 (EDT)

General Questions and Comments

What happens to the right side when there are 20 other XOs in the neighborhood? how about 50 or 100?

All edges (except the clipboard, which needs a hard cap) will have "paging" arrows at either end, when their limit is exceeded. It's slightly suboptimal to need this, but we expect the cases in which they are actually exceeded to be rare. -Eben

Can you write down a list of all elements which will be in the new frame? I'm more textual than graphical (may make me a poor commenter on this :-( but I can't easily see all the things which will be in the frame from these screen shots.

Well, there are four edges: people, places, objects, and devices (CCW from R). People and Objects are pretty straightforward, with the former containing the participants of the current activity, and the latter providing a (soon to be, hopefully) visual clipboard. The places edge contains the fixed zoom level buttons, as well as all running activities, which represent the "places", or views, you can focus on. Invitations, which invite one to come into a new place, also appear here, as placeholders for the activity itself once joined, and for easy access from anywhere. The devices edge is slightly more open-ended, but in general consider it like the tray in the start bar of Windows or the menu bar of OSX. It contains all relevant hardware devices, internal (speakers, camera, battery, etc.) or connected (USB devices, SD cards, etc.), and potentially modular services (for instance, a speech service which can be activated from within any activity to speak the selected text). -Eben

If we have a list of all elements, it would help to know which are only found in the frame and which are also expected to be in activities. e.g. I believe copy and paste is in every activity, right? I'm trying to figure out if there is something which is only found in the frame. If some features are expected to be in activities (e.g. copy and paste) how do they get there? That is activity programmers need to do a lot of work? What if they decide not to include some items?

Basic like copy/paste are recommended for all activities in the guidelines. It's true that these buttons live within the activity, but the Frame clipboard offers a drag'n'drop solution for copy/paste, which is somewhat unique to Sugar (third party add-ons have done this before, of course). It also will provide a way to preview the text and images of the objects on the clipboard, and provide "random access" to any recent clippings, making it possible to copy 5 snippets from the web, switch to Write, and then paste them all in, limiting the number of context switches needed. The rest of the Frame isn't really duplicated. It's the only place to find running activities, the only place to find activity participants, and the only place to see various devices. The zoom buttons are mirrored on the keyboard, of course, but contextualizing them as "places" within the UI is consistent with the model. -Eben

List out what things can be drag and dropped, e.g., can I drag and drop a text string/URL? What does an activity need to do to enable drag and drop and how do you handle MIME type (aka what things launch what applications)?

As much as possible! This, I feel, is a huge benefit to the Frame. I can't speak to the technical issues here, and I think we need an extended API on top of the basics to support previews, naming, icons, etc. It should be possible to drag'n'drop basically anything that's "copyable" (you can't copy a person, or a battery, or the contents a USB drive to the clipboard, but you can certainly copy text, images, objects, URLs, and pretty much anything with a MIME type. The clipboard has an "open with" menu for selecting which activity to open a given clipping in, if that's desired. Of course, the Frame (in the designs, and hopefully in reality in the future) also makes it easy to bypass the Journal and clip an image or text (or anything) directly to the Journal; it lets one drag an XO onto an activity to invite them to it; it lets one copy anything onto an external drive; etc., all via drag'n'drop. -Eben

Do the frame elements change based on what activity you are looking at when it comes up? e.g. if I am in an activity that doesn't support sharing, do I still get the other user icons in the frame?

You'll still get yourself, since you are the only participant! It's not as useful, but then again, that's expected. When there are other people, we may extend the people edge such that it provides a means for a transient activity level chat! -Eben

If the notifications show up in the corners, how will you prevent the frame from coming up when I mouse over or click on a notification?

Nope, We'll detect when a notification exists and prevent the Frame from appearing in that case. Clicking on the notification will reveal its full message and options (hover will too, of course), and once it has been dismissed the Frame will be back to normal. -Eben

Thanks, 10:54, 19 May 2008 (EDT)

Exiting from the Frame

Often the things I do need to have the cursor near the corners of the screen, so I have turned off "autoinvoking" of the Frame -- instead I press the 'Frame' key when I want to check XO status. But perhaps there *is* a simpler way (than moving the cursor out of the corner, or pressing the 'Frame' key again) to get rid of the Frame, once the user has seen what it says:

I'm not familiar with "adult" laptops. But I believe one of the 'gestures' their keypads recognize is the 'tap'. If there is not already a function defined on the XO for the 'tap', let me suggest that when the Frame *is* being displayed, a 'tap' on the keypad would serve to remove it from the display.

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