Launchy vs Gnome Do: usability vs geniality

After a deadend hackintosh adventure of 3 days, I finally made the jump to Ubuntu 8.04 LTS 64b (and Linux for an OS that is) a couple of days ago. WOW! My Dell XPS 1710 seems to be at least 3 times as fast and stable. Pfff, I should have guessed 😛 The love for my über apps made me wait and wait, but the increasing instability of my Windows XP setup had me crying. So when I found a good replacement for my ‘first in command’ app Launchy, I was sold. The latest 0.5 version of Gnome Do was the Quicksilver lookalike I was looking for. So I thought.

I don’t understand why hardly anybody complains about this, but I found that Launchy has much more UI friendliness than GnomeDo for most of my day to day uses (which mainly involve the Launchy plugin ‘Weby’):

  1. I am doing searches on the web (info, torrents, anything), so I CTRL+C something, ALT+TAB, enter action shortcut, TAB, CTRL+V, maybe edit, ENTER…
    Here’s where Gnome Do fails me, for two reasons:

    • I am not able to paste quickly with CTRL+V, which has become second nature. I find it very counter intuitive to have to use the applet itself for a simple ‘paste’ action.
    • Secondly, I cannot edit my entered text. Why? This leads to redundant type actions.
  2. Again, I am doing searches on the web, and I didn’t find anything with my last query, so I want to redo/edit my last action.
    Hoorah! Launchy keeps state and preselects everything! :) But Gnome Do just loses everything. Why?
  3. For all of these searches I’m doing, I created shortcuts. So I start my launcher, type ‘g’+TAB and whatever I want to search for in  Google. Or ‘ct’+TAB and search for a torrent on completorrent.com.
    How do I create shortcuts for url’s in Gnome Do? Like I can with Weby? Even Quicksilver has that possibility! I know about the ‘alias’ functionality in Do, but it cannot be applied to urls. And even if it could, it wouldn’t work the same, because there are no placeholders in aliases.

So handling these use cases alone in GnomeDo cost me a lot of time and agony, and therefore made me install Launchy on Ubuntu. It never hurts to have them side by side.

And now for some reverse psychology:

I have read that GnomeDo was built in Mono, which is some *nix port of dot net, so I’ve heard. And I start to wonder. Maybe the developers are Micros**t developers, and these never seemed to have much of an eye for Interaction Design. Hmmm… Also, most of the geniality behind Gnome Do can be found in Quicksilver (doh!). But why did they leave out the shortcut functionality? And why not improve instead of just imitate?

Well, at the end of the day, I am still a pragmatic, and hopefully awaiting the necessary improvements from the Do team. Since Do is an integrated approach, it promises to become the defacto ‘Action Handler’ for Gnome. And in case you wonder about it’s ‘geniality’ part…go check it out! And do switch to Linux if you have to for that :p

Oh darn, now that I completely switched to unix, I have to rewrite my favorite apps section :p

Author: Maurice Faber

Just another idiot that wants to be heard...

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