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Remove small application tiles on the homepage?
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Just throwing this out there for discussion --

Currently, applications on the homepage either get a large tile (full-width) or a small square tile. Some advantages of this approach are:

  • By rendering most applications with a small tile, we can fit all of the applications on to the homepage without the page being 9,000 pages long.
  • Organizing applications into groups (like "Communication") is at least somewhat helpful in finding applications.

However, I don't think either of these advantages are all that advantageous:

  • We now have so many applications that I find it faster to search for rarely-used apps than find them in navigation. This will only get worse over time. (We probably have 50% more applications than we did when we built this element?)
  • The groups aren't great fits and are all kind of vague, so they don't really help you find things most of the time, especially if you aren't familiar with everything.
  • Overall, I'm not sure getting all the apps onto the homepage is very useful, since I very rarely click any of the tiles after the first few.
  • (I use the first few large tiles, and navigate to other applications by typing in URLs or using the "Search" typeahead.)

This approach also has some costs:

  • The settings screen is complex, overwhelming, and hard to use.
  • Particularly for new users, the small tiles are even less useful because they don't know what the applications do yet, and we don't have room to put explanatory text on them.
  • The groups are pretty arbitrary and probably won't scale well once we have third-party applications.

The complexity of configuring this stuff gets worse after T4103, where administrators will have to configure applications for new users.

A possible approach here is:

  • All tiles are always large.
  • Not all applications appear on the homepage.
  • The "Applications" application gets updates to be a more user-friendly application directory (3-up on desktops, icons).
  • Configuration is just show / don't show, plus drag-to-reorder. Show / don't show probably move into Applications? As "Pin to home" or something.
  • By default, we show only a few applications, and pin the "Applications" application at the bottom.

(@chad, I think you'd mentioned some more dramatic redesign ideas. Not sure if this is in line with them or not.)

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epriestley raised the priority of this task from to Normal.
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epriestley added a project: Dashboards.
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I would make 'apps' a dashboard panel, it would be a special item, since it sits only in one spot, but could have the following options:

  • Icon
  • Icon + Name
  • Icon + Name + Description

Then we'd render accordingly. This gives a good NUX for first time users, installs could build per organization navs, and pro users could reduce the size by removing name and description.

Besides how it's displayed, you can set the order of apps and which ones are hidden behind (see all).

Would you want to remove the name and description? I don't think I would, offhand, and I generally assume I'm at the very high end of power users. I don't think I've ever seen users, e.g., complaining that there aren't enough apps on the homepage, either. Is this something you'd want, or is there a kind of user you imagine would want to do this?

Honestly just being able to remove the description (optionally) is likely enough, it'd fit more apps on the screen. Removing the Name just offers up a wider dashboard, which I could see appealing, but am fine waiting for that request to come in first.

The other thing is if we're removing the small square tiles, we can make the nav as wide as all the other navs on Phabricator, so you'll pick up width regardless.

How many apps do you want onscreen in your ideal app menu? I probably want about 5, and I think every customized menu I've seen from users has about this many. For example, Blender has customized theirs to have 9. I don't think users are running out of space right now -- do you? Do you use the small tiles regularly?

Essentially, every complaint/request I've seen from users is "there is too much stuff". I've never seen any positive feedback about having access to 45 apps being convenient or anything like that.

Obviously, there needs to be a way to get to this stuff, but I'd guess that almost no users feel pressed for space here or use the small tiles regularly.

The description-less ones do look cleaner, but I think using just full-width tiles would help make the element look cleaner too. I'm not opposed to an option to turn off descriptions if it's motivated by purely aesthetic concerns, but I think we might be chasing a phantom problem by trying to motivate it as giving users more space to add dozens of apps.

Ok, what if we thought about this more abstractly - I'd want a sidebar of things (apps, projects, searches) that is docked on my dashboard. There are about 12-20 things I'd probably put there. If we make it a thingdock, would you put more stuff there?

I'm not sure if I'd use it personally, but I think that's a reasonable v2. I could imagine workboards and dashboards being useful there, too.

Another attack on that would be to create a "dock" panel type, where you just add a bunch of links and can pick icons/labels/colors for them. That would probably solve the issue in the most general way.

Right now I have two navigation pain points, Workboards and Saved Queries. It's minor but it does end up eating time getting to them each time.

For saved queries, I'm going to move some of them to dashboard panels. It should resolve the ones I visit the most.

Workboards is a bit trickier, since we have many projects. I tend to use the typeahead, grumble that projects appear last, and then navigate to the board itself.

Being able to list these either in panels seems cumbersome, possible, but also odd since they'll be randomly on the page somewhere. With some sort of 'dock on my homepage' action, I could set things up a little better.

Anyways, it should like that's more a later thing. Do you feel there is value in as a v1, making the apps list part of dashboards (which solves some other outstanding tickets)?

I tend to use the typeahead, grumble that projects appear last

Yeah, this is just a bug. I'll fix this.

Do you feel there is value in as a v1, making the apps list part of dashboards (which solves some other outstanding tickets)?

I'm really hesitant to pursue this because I think the app list has a lot of special rules, and building it into dashboards will create a lot of complexity to accommodate all the special rules without giving us any other benefits. For example, it renders in a special way (no margins or header). It doesn't fit into the dashboard layouts. It always needs to be visible (i.e., ignore policies). It doesn't look like a panel, so I worry it will be confusing if editing it requires you to "Create a copy of this panel" and then end up somewhere deep in Dashboards. It will be hard to integrate with an action like "Pin this to my homepage" inside the Applications application, since Applications can't know where to pin it. It needs to exist on fresh installs which have no data yet.

This stuff is all solvable, but I think most of it would involve adding special cases which would only be useful for this element.

I also don't think it solves any problems that can't be solved more simply in other ways -- I don't see many uses for different application lists on other non-home dashboards, or 0 or 2+ app lists on the home page, for example. These are things that building the app list as panels would enable that we don't get by leaving it as a one-off, but they don't seem very useful to me.

You can also already approximately create your own launch panel:


But there's a big gap between this and the application menu, most of which is custom behaviors unique to that menu.

Yeah, I'd still personally prefer some launchbar/dock type item for a dashboard in the long run. It's a bit forced visually to live in a panel, or we'd build some 'tabbar' thing like I had mocked previously - though that also seems like a bit of work. I think if planned out properly, it would be pretty sick, but it's probably just as much work to get right as all of Dashboards. Though if you don't think it'd ever be useful, then that is a different discussion overall.

Visually my 'redesign' for apps / nav will solve most/all of your concerns above. It'll also save some space horizontally.

A link to the new launcher would be handy from the sidebar, I was confused for a few moments how to access the other apps before I remembered that they're in search.

"Applications" is always the final item on the sidebar, and should take you to the new launcher.

I assume that change hasn't rolled out here yet? This is what I see (I unpinned audit and added feed):

Screenshot_2014-05-29_23.18.42.png (538×830 px, 80 KB)

Yeah, it seems a bit easy to miss that's a launcher. Might think about other options there.

Oh! It's pinned for admins. D9334 should fix it.

okay it should be properly sticky now

epriestley claimed this task.

We can continue to tweak this, but this seems not-bad. I'm definitely not missing all the old tiles, at least, and I haven't heard user complaining either.