Most know I am an Ubuntu user … one of my daily driver PC uses Ubuntu LTS. And I may switch to Ubuntu HUD LTS when it allegedly becomes available in April.
If you use an iPad you will be familiar with “touch selection experiences” …
Shuttleworth is working on the Ubuntu menu system …
The menu is a core element of the graphical user interface developed by Xerox, and it has been adopted by virtually all popular computing environments ever since. Even in this supposedly post-PC world, the menu is still very much alive and kicking – they may have remarketed them as pop-overs or “touch selection experiences” or whatever, but don’t be fooled by that nonsense. A menu is a menu.
Shuttleworth seems to believe it’s time to retire the concept entirely – or at least offer an alternative. Menus are awesome in that they’re generally in the same place, there’s a fair level of consistency (even cross-platform), and, well, they’re familiar. They have downsides, too, though; it’s hard to find something within menus and nested menus have a tendency to close accidentally.
The HUD does things differently. As complicated as Shuttleworth’s long blog post makes it out to be, it’s just a search field which only searches within menu items of one application. That’s it. In all honesty, it’s actually quite brilliant, and I’d love to have it on my applications right now.
Here is a video of HUD: Introducing the HUD to Ubuntu
We think of it as “beyond interface”, it’s the “intenterface” notes Mark Shuttleworth. “This concept of ‘intent-driven interface’ has been a primary theme of our work in the Unity shell, with dash search as a first class experience pioneered in Unity. Now we are bringing the same vision to the application”, he added.
This new system will be fully compatible with the present apps as well as menus. In fact, the report also confirms that voice input will also be introduced but not when Ubuntu 12.04 LTS arrives in April. To integrate voice into the apps it will take some more time but hopefully it will happen very soon.
The big issue that I see, however, is that it doesn’t look like a replacement just yet. Only when you specifically know what command you want to invoke is the HUD useful; otherwise, it offers no discoverability features. In that sense, it’s the exact opposite of Microsoft’s ribbon. Luckily for us, the HUD will supplement the traditional menu at first, but Shuttleworth does plan to abolish the menu altogether eventually
They’re still working on the HUD, and Shuttleworth acknowledges the discoverability issue – they’re still working on a solution. I’m curious where they’re going to take this idea, but I’m happy they’re trying.