Navigator design tweak

I am one of the people having some adjustment pains with the new navigator control on the IDE. Like a lot of others I liked the project tab and the functionality of the old way. The project tab contained the objects and double clicking them took you to a tab with the contents of that object. This, of course, led to situations with too many tabs open but it was much easier to navigate and manage.

I was wondering what people thought of the following tweak to the new IDE design. I apologize if someone else has suggested this and I missed it.

Split the navigator into two navigators.

The top one would contain the top level stuff like windows, methods and build settings. Basically like the project tab in the previous IDE.

The bottom one would contain the properties, controls, methods etc of the object selected in the top navigator. This would be like the new tab that would open when you double clicked on an object in the project tab in the old IDE.

My pain comes from having a lot of controls and properties in a window and a good set of methods in modules, several classes etc. In the course of working everything gets opened up and stays that way. In order to jump to another window or module to work I have to scroll past all the stuff I not longer care about in the current context to get to the new place to work. I know I could use the filter and open tabs and such but why? That’s more work, more distraction from design/coding.

The Apple Mail style navigator has been suggested independently several times. It gives back some horizontal space to reduce vertical space usage. I don’t think it would feel like much of an improvement to you if you’re unwilling to incorporate tabs into your workflow, though. The main “problem” that you have to solve as a user is how to group things you’re working on at one particular time together so that the navigation distance between those things is minimized.

Eaxactly! I usually only want to focus on a few parts of a few classes and they get lost in so much more that’s expanded. There needs to be a way to condense the tree like in this experiment…

As in, the default would be the high level objects and then clicking show would slide out the hidden tree? That seems like a good compromise. I hadn’t heard that being suggested. Is there a feedback we can sign onto? Or shall we debate it for five days across three different threads?

My thoughts were to try and not mix navigation modes, the project and all of its contents stays on the left side of the screen and having the bottom navigator switch contexts depending on the object selected on the upper pane that would reduce the distance between things.

Brad: I was against that kind of idea at first, thinking it would confuse two paradigms. But it sounds more like having the Project Tab always visible so you can open a new tab easily and it does have the advantage of being able to keep a section of code in focus on one tab and open another section of code or a window layout on another tab. It does sound like a good compromise. I’m not against tabs, the only complaint I had about the previous IDE was having to watch the “Run” tab slide all the way across the screen every time I ran my project.

Doofus: Interesting experiment. But it sounds like I (the user) would then have to take time to mark and unmark items I want to work on. Sounds time consuming.

Thom was gracious enough to discuss the Apple Mail idea with me earlier in the year. I think they’re trying to preserve horizontal space, because it’s at a real premium. I’m also pretty sure that a two column approach would break all the search/filter UI. Might be worth a feature request. In my book, it’s probably a little too much design by committee to have any chance of working well. Just from a practical “how to influence” perspective, they have a lot invested (money, time, blood) in the navigator as it is now. Throwing out ideas might help them see some light. Telling them what to do isn’t going to be productive.

Ah, I hadn’t thought of that. Your right it would break the searching/filtering capability.

Oh well, just wanted to get opinion.

It’d be just a click, a quick toggle for when you want to condense. Instead of double clicking to open tabs then clicking to switch between them and having a context change; just flag what you want to see, bring it all in view, work away, then clear all flags. Or open the tree back up, it’s always expandable, you’re just marking what shouldn’t disappear. Be it project folder, class, method folder, method, etc.

For me the main benefit of the Navigator is that it’s a singular view. Tabs have a context switch, meaning I have to remember unseen structures instead of always seeing them there on the left. To remedy the unwanted vertical space a single tree introduces remove the unwanted stuff.

Ideal is to have all 3 view options: Tabs, split-pane tree, condensable navigator : )

Its possible to design. Click a result and 2 listboxes are updated. no?