"Documents" path usability issues.

James Richard Tyrer tyrerj at acm.org
Tue Aug 2 06:18:45 CEST 2005

I ask for help with this since it appears that some of the code
developers simply do not understand this.

As I hope everyone knows, you can set the "Documents path" in the
Control Center under "System Administration -> Paths".  The 'what's
this' for this is quite clear:

"This folder is used by default to load or save documents from or to"

The problem appears to be the choice of the word "Documents".  With
perfect equivocation, some say that users only consider some of their
documents to be documents.  Various specious arguments and useless
discussions have occurred all based on the questionable idea that this
should be decided based on what they take the word "documents" to mean.

What this setting actually does (as opposed to what it is misnamed) is
that it is the default folder for KDE applications to load or save ALL
data files from or to -- it is the default working directory for all KDE
applications.  Whether the files are text, wordprocessing, images, or
any user produced data files, this is the default working directory to
load or save files.  That is what it is.

A side issue is that I think that this should be the default working
directory for all apps called from KDE.  I filed bug #108510 for this.
It is possible that not everyone would want this feature.  But, that
should be no problem as we could add the box: "apply to non-kde apps"
after it.  And as everyone should know, you can override the default in
the Menu Editor for individual apps.

The first usability issues appear to be:

	What it (documents folder) should be called.

	What icon should be used for it.

I am asserting that it should not be called Documents (although the code
will have to continue to use that name for compatibility reasons), and
it should have a suitable icon which should be "folder_<something>".

I should interject here that this all applies only in you have set
Documents to something other than HOME.  If you don't do this, you have
everything thrown in together and it doesn't really matter does it? :-)
I have Documents set to $HOME/Files.

On my system, I have called it "User Files".  I chose this over:
"Personal Files" for the reason that it means about the same thing and
it is shorter.  I have also made icons "folder_personal":


and my personal style:


This is the icon in the upper left corner of my desktop with Home
directly below it.

In "system:/", I have: "User Files" & "Home Folder".

I have made the change to the Control Center.  It is now called: "User
Files path" and the 'what's this' is now:

"This folder will be used by default to load or save personal files".

I have made the change to the KFIle dialog SpeedBar.

And, somewhat controversial, I also made the change to the first page of
the "Konqueror Introduction".  If you set the "Documents" path, "User
Files" replaces the "Home Folder" as the location of "Your personal Files".

I have also noticed that there are some Attention to Detail issues here 
and in closely related places.  Similar items appear several places and 
they should have the same names and capitalization everywhere they 
appear.  This is currently not the case.

I have posted two patches that implement all of this except for the 
DeskTop icon if you would like to try it:


These are against the 3.4 branch.  NOTE: You will probably need to make 
a new test user to see the new defaults.

Naturally, I think that my changes are what we should do, but I expect 
that others will have other ideas -- maybe even better ones.  I also 
think that we should have Documents=$HOME/Files as the default to 
correspond to "My Files" on Windows and what I understand is something 
similar on OS/X.


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