Evolution Evolution 2

This OpenOffice presentation illustrates a few of my suggestions. It isn’t of much interest to those who don’t use Evolution.

I’m glad to hear that there is work in progress on a syndication aggregator EPlugin. It seems a logical next step.

A General Comment Regarding Toolbar Display

The display of toolbars should be controllable in the manner of GEdit, which provides a sub-menu of the View menu that allows the user to pick from the Desktop default (as specified in the Menus and Toolbars window), Icons only, Text for all icons, and Text for important icons only. Here is the relevant section of the GNOME Human Interface Guidelines (version 2). I think titling this sub-menu “Toolbar Display Style” makes more sense than the GEdit title: “Customize Toolbar”. Customize implies (to me) the user modifying the button set or rearranging existing buttons – changing the display style is more descriptive of what the controls actually do.

Mail

  1. An “Ignore Thread” menu option (probably implemented as a menu toggle) would be nice, automatically marking messages in a selected thread as Read. Great for ignoring mailing list flamewars and trolls.
  2. The “Automatically check new mail” interval preference has the same problem (in my opinion) as the Task Status incrementer – it is too fine grained for most users. Make it a drop-down menu of 10 minute intervals and allow advanced/picky users to directly input any numerical value in the box.
  3. The Send button in message composition windows should be dimmed until one or more recipients are chosen or input by the user.
  4. For recipient names, I think it would make more sense to use contacts’ File As name rather than the full name: Mr. Daniel J. Wilson, Esq. vs. Daniel Wilson (kidding about the Esquire!). File As names are generally easier to visually scan.

Contacts

  1. Evolution really needs a “Me” card – a contact card the user creates to be the definitive source for their personal contact and collaboration information. The creation of this card could be a walkthrough shown the first time the application is run. I think I saw somewhere that work on this was underway, but just thought I would highlight this as a big deal.
  2. Drag-and-drop of VCF files into the Contact List area would be a welcomed and logical feature (the GNOME HIG does advocate pervasive direct manipulation, after all). To add a contact to a specific list, VCF files could be dropped on contact list names in the lefthand list. Dropping to LDAP servers would have to be handled based on LDAP authentication.
  3. Support for the importing of group vCards seems problematic. I attempted to import a group vCard (version 3.0) exported from Apple’s Address Book application which imported fine in Kontact 1.0; Evolution produced a single contact with miscellaneous information from different contacts. Individual cards are imported without issues.
  4. The Contact Editor
    1. Immediately after selecting a month and day for a contact’s birthday or anniversary, it might make sense to automatically select just the year portion of the date as it is likely that the current year is not the correct one.
    2. Keyboard navigation of the available text fields is somewhat unpredictable in the Mailing Address tab; Return and tab work like they do in a text editing application when the Address box has focus, but they change field focus and activate the default button when other fields have input focus. The most logical solution would be to force the Address box to use the same key behaviors. The HIG recommendation is for the Return key to move among fields in this kind of data input scenario, but I think using the Tab key makes more sense – it is commonly used in other desktop environments and in web forms for field navigation. Return should activate the default button.
    3. Related to the above: pressing the Tab key while the City field has focus takes you to the Address box, which traps you by capturing subsequent tabs. Keyboard navigation quicksand!
    4. Having the Manager, Assistant, and Spouse text fields autocomplete based on existing contacts would be great. Not a huge problem as this is likely only a one-time input, but still of use.
    5. Zip is an abbreviation for Zoning Improvement Plan, so it should be capitalized as ZIP.
  5. The Contact Preview Pane
    1. In the preview pane, it would be nice if instant messaging names were links that would allow users to open new IM conversations in the protocol’s default handler application. I know AOL Instant Messenger uses the “aim:” protocol, but I don’t know about other IM systems. Online and availability status indicators would also be cool.
    2. IM protocol names (AIM, Yahoo) could also function as links to the web pages of clients for the appropriate service.
    3. Actions for addresses: get map, get driving directions (the user’s address would be drawn from their card), print mailing label. Alternatively, addresses could be formatted as links to open maps at Yahoo! Maps or MapQuest.
    4. The type of e-mail address should be indicated: “joe@smith.com (Work)”.
    5. The contact editor uses the wording “File under”, but the contact list view column uses “File As”. A very minor difference, but a difference nonetheless. Yes, I’m that anal retentive.

Calendars

  1. It would be great if the view switching toolbar buttons more clearly indicated the active mode. This could be done by coloring the active icon and/or adding a frame around it. See Slide #2.
  2. The red text coloring of the current day in the month view is deficient in several ways. First, red is one color that some people with colorblindness cannot see well. Second, it just doesn’t stand out, even with normal spectrum vision. I suggest adding a differently colored one or two pixel thicker frame around the current day and perhaps bolding the day number (which might be better displayed in INSERT COLOR HERE). See Slide #3.
  3. For birthday reminders, it might be nice to automatically insert a note stating the age of the person.

Tasks

  1. The Task Editor
    1. Why a 1% incrementer for task completion status? Why not intervals of 10% in a drop-down menu? Allow the user to directly input single percentage increments using the numerical input box.
    2. How about a “Choose Bookmark” button that opens Epiphany’s bookmark manager so the user can pick an existing bookmark? Alternately, a disclosable section (like that used for the new file picker’s “Browse for other folders” widget) that could reveal the user’s bookmarks.
    3. Drag-and-drop of bookmarks from browsers (bookmarks or address field) to the Web Page field should be possible.
    4. The “Group” label within the new task creation window should use the assigned task group color. See Slide #4.
    5. Putting the Start date above the Due date seems more logical to me, but that might just be my way of thinking.
    6. For task group coloring, wrap the task group’s label in the chosen color, which would have the effect of forming a more easily identifiable relationship between color and grouping.
  2. The contextual menu that appears when right-clicking on an existing task list should include a “New Task” command that creates a new task with the group set to that which was clicked on.
  3. When creating a new task by selecting the New Task command from the contextual menu displayed when clicking on a specific day, automatically set the start date to that day, with the time set as the default beginning of the work day as specified in the preferences.
  4. Provide at least one or two other columns by default in the Task view, particularly since the width of the creation window’s Summary field is unlikely to lead the user to write a summary of such length that it requires the entire width of the main window’s task list view to be fully displayed. Priority and Due Date would be my suggestions.

Published by

Daniel J. Wilson

I am a designer, drummer, and photographer in Brooklyn, NY.