Those pesky buttons

Many of you have been asking for some correspondence regarding the button position in the window manager.

Here it is.

At Ubuntu we have a golden opportunity not only to make our OS as good as the competition but to make it better. The button position discussion and analysis started with:

– Why do Mac OS and Windows have the buttons where they do?

– What was the functional reason behind the Mac OS choice (or the Windows position for that matter)?

– Why, when most application menus are top left should the window controls go top right?

– Why, when we read left to right is the most destructive action first?

– Are we smoking crack to think that the learning curve for getting used to a new position is ever going to be worth any real or perceived benefit of new positions?

As part of a major theme update it felt appropriate to ask these questions.

After the internal debate and analysis (which went something like the picture below) we decided to put this version in the theme and to use it. I have had it running on my machine with the buttons in this order since before the Portland sprint (first week of February?) and I am quite used to it.

Is it better or worse?

It is quite hard to tell. The theme has been in the alpha since Friday.  Now that you have had a chance to use it what do you think?

Personally, I would have the max and min on the left and close on the right.

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23 Comments

  1. Erik Nilsson
    Posted 1 May, 2010 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

    My mother and father, who have quite a problem keeping track of obscure concepts as windows, applications, files and folders will suddenly get some of the few concepts they learnt (how to close a window for instance) removed for them and they’ll have to relearn it.

    That’s just not user friendliness.

    All of the reasons for this change seems whimsical at best.

    The picture doesn’t answer most of the questions at all. I’ll give you some possible answers for some of them.

    – Why, when most application menus are top left should the window controls go top right?

    Well, there could be a lot of reasons for it. I’ll give some suggestions: You cram to much functionality into too little space, you can utilize that it’s easy to find the corners of the screen with a mouse. Of cource the main reason is: That’s how the last version of Ubuntu worked, it’s _consistent_.

    – Why, when we read left to right is the most destructive action first?

    It isn’t, now is it? The close window goes to the farthest right… Also I think that suggesting that’s very important is to read to much into it.

    – Are we smoking crack to think that the learning curve for getting used to a new position is ever going to be worth any real or perceived benefit of new positions?

    Yes. Sorry. I’ve understand that you’re experimenting with putting other stuff there. Fine! When that functionality is available, please do whatever you want, if the new functionality is good and we like it, the relearning might be worth it. But as it stands, you’re making people relearn the way their computer works twice. Once now and once again when that new functionality gets there.

    Why, o why did you sacrifice the sound principle of consistency for no apparant benefit?

  2. Posted 9 May, 2010 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    I’d have to disagree with one of the comments. User friendly doesn’t always just mean familiar. There’s a lot more to it than that.

  3. Tommy
    Posted 9 May, 2010 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

    The moving of the button positions was a bad move. I don’t think you guys really thought this one through and it was just a move to be “more like a mac.”

    I’m a UI and UXE designer, so user experience is my forte. I also use a mac for 99% of my computing both professional and personal, so I really like macs and the platform.

    Anyways, the problem with moving the buttons to the left is the fact that your menu items are also to the left and under neath it. I know you cite the menus as the reason for moving the buttons over, that is precisely why that is a bad idea in terms of usability.

    The menus on the mac are not contained in the windows, but on the OS’s menu bar. This makes it so that the app windows are separate from the App itself. YOu can close a window without exiting an app.

    Apps in Ubuntu follows a more MS Windows method in that the windows themselves are the apps and closing the window is what exits you out of the app. Having the buttons over the menu items makes it more prone to accidents, increases app bar height (which affects design) , and you basically just alienated a bunch of users who may have just not gotten used to how to minimize a window vs closing an app the old way.

  4. Alvaro Coronel
    Posted 10 May, 2010 at 1:51 am | Permalink

    Please put the buttons back where almost every person on the planet expects them to be.

    It is a nuisance, a no-no with end users who already are quite hard to sell on the whole “Linux” thing.

    Thanks in advance.

  5. Posted 10 May, 2010 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

    I think the ubuntu windows looks very good, i will go with it.

  6. Martin Eriksson
    Posted 11 May, 2010 at 5:15 am | Permalink

    There is no what so ever good explaination for the buttonchange. Yes, having the buttons to the left is probaly more logical and”smarter” but how do i explain for my mother why the buttons changed? Also have you no clue about where from the ubuntu-users come? Do they replace their mac for ubuntu or do they dualbbot windows and ubuntu and also try their best to get their widowsfriends to try ubuntu? If one had the buttons to the right for years does it feel natural to have them a the left? This buttonchange is so damn stupid i have no words for it! You call the buttonchange “pesky”, thats you not understandig i think. The buttonchange is a very serious business indeed. im so dissaponted you dont GET it.

  7. Martin Eriksson
    Posted 11 May, 2010 at 5:27 am | Permalink

    I agree with Brad and Stephen Thomas and anyone else that think this is madness and jchange for the sake of change. Is so silly and done with youthfull (or maby old neardness) sake with no clue about the rest of the word. I love my ubuntu and sure, having the buttons to the left is theoreticaly a good idea but it sucks in real life.

  8. Joop deBruin
    Posted 11 May, 2010 at 11:58 pm | Permalink

    I found this move quite annoying. I tend to use the keyboard and only use the mouse while in a mouse intensive situation (think GIMP). Here’s a change that demands a change by a right click on the desktop and a one or two click into a window customization app. I won’t obsess about it, but wish that the Canonical crew would think about making changes without informing users how to revert back. A start up notes page on first boot after upgrading and only with HIGH LEVEL changes that only affect the end user!! I don’t care if the wallaby IP stack in the hootchy gootchy plonk now has better error control. I DO want to know that a major UI changed occurred and how to change it back if I don’t like the change.

  9. Posted 12 May, 2010 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    Here is my hotfix:
    Add repository -> ppa:bisigi/ppa
    There are a few cool themes there – I prefer the balanzan
    http://www.bisigi-project.org/?page_id=8&lang=en

  10. Walter
    Posted 12 May, 2010 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    I’ve been using Lucid for few weeks now.
    Adapting to the new button placement is taking some time but it’s hardly an inconvenience. I cannot understand all these negative comments, really.
    The buttons can be easily switched back to how/where they were, if for whatever reason, they’re a serious inconvenience, so I don’t see the problem.
    Also, the reasoning behind this is now very clear (see Mark Shuttleworth’s post on Windicators) which is a positive change that should be welcomed by everybody.

  11. Posted 12 May, 2010 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    @Walter: To make it short: For me at least mouse kilometers increased a lot.
    Apart from that I often need to support Windows PCs so it is annoying that such frequently used features have not the same style in both OS.

  12. Posted 14 May, 2010 at 5:19 am | Permalink

    The theme is absolutly cool!!!

  13. mircea
    Posted 14 May, 2010 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    I think the wisest move will be to have the Preferences-Appearance dialog offer a simple way of changing the default button position. Ubuntu Tweak already offers a lot of easy customization on many issues. I think Ubuntu and Linux in general may appeal more to users of concurrent OS-es if it will be easy to customize the LAF as close as possible to their current platforms.

  14. Posted 17 May, 2010 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    The problem is that the buttons can’t so simply be changed in position (look at some of the optional themes. Due to change of the close button position the fluent graphic is destroyed (because of the rounded engraving around the buttons – hope you understand what I mean).

  15. Posted 18 May, 2010 at 2:33 am | Permalink

    Again i feel like i need to point out this -like 99% of ubuntu-users come from windows and atleast 90% of us still dualboot windows. I myself are old enough to have used amiga-os and had my buttons to the left from mid 80’s to mid 90’s and it was great so i understand where the idea comes from. But in the late 90’s i was forced into windows for various reasons and even if im in ubuntu 80% of my computertime still 15 years of windows use put the buttons to the right. I think this button move to the left is a very naive move full of youthfull stupidness.
    Where the buttons is at is not up for discussion about what is the “logical” placement of them. What is important is what os the new and old ubuntu user comes from primary. Do they come from Amiga os or osX or do they come from windows? Should we alienate the windowsusers from our os by making a natural relex something complicated. I dont really know whatyou do at the designteam but i think you should have better things to do the changing the placement of buttons. Grow up damnit!

  16. Posted 18 May, 2010 at 2:43 am | Permalink

    This is by far the hugest bug in the history of ubuntu i think

  17. Posted 18 May, 2010 at 3:00 am | Permalink

    You guys/gals have a problem of what was not a problem.

  18. Joop deBruin
    Posted 29 May, 2010 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

    @Walter, So Mark Shuttleworth is now Steve Jobs – he knows all and the “masses are just asses”? Perhaps he could consider taking this UI change and shoving it up his mASS.

  19. Posted 30 May, 2010 at 1:09 am | Permalink

    Here i am again. I tried to have the buttons at the left for weeks now but i cant stand it. Aneasy way to change them back is ubuntu tweak. This chaning of the buttons is pure naivety and ignorance. as an earlier poster says “you act like this is the first version of ubuntu.

  20. Posted 30 May, 2010 at 1:26 am | Permalink

    Im so very dissapointed becouse i love my ubuntu and the last release is better then ever but its so ignorantly f**ked up by the same people who made it generaly looking better. What the f**k was you thinking? I men in the f u t u r e there should be no need for those buttons and the future will come soon i hope and all you accompished in the short meantime is to make all linux users and possible pre-windowsusers confused and allienated only becouse of your ignorant bright thought of whats logical. Its your fault i and maby a milion others spent minutes looking for the buttons. I cant imagine the naivety of the minds that sat dicussing this and thought they had a briliant idea. Im so upset about this you probably cant imagine. You f**ked up a GOOD thing with childishness.

  21. nospam
    Posted 30 May, 2010 at 2:42 am | Permalink

    Martin Eriksson,
    you browser has probably an add-on to spell check your garbage-post.
    spare everyone’s sanity not using using the f*** world in every sentence.
    Thank you.

  22. yogesh
    Posted 23 July, 2010 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    Im so very dissapointed becouse i love my ubuntu and the last release is better then ever but its so ignorantly f**ked up by the same people who made it generaly looking better. What the f**k was you thinking? I men in the f u t u r e there should be no need for those buttons and the future will come soon i hope and all you accompished in the short meantime is to make all linux users and

  23. Frederico Araujo Men
    Posted 18 March, 2011 at 12:58 am | Permalink

    Canonical should follow a new strategy for the launch of Unity.
    Below is a link to view the model of the idea.
    Community participation and a greater period of development is important.

    http://i.imgur.com/pce7m.jpg

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