Conversation window redesign

Sean Egan seanegan at
Tue May 22 21:03:21 EDT 2007

On 5/22/07, Ethan Blanton <elb at> wrote:
> To say that I hate it would be too strong, but I don't think it is
> wholly a step forward.

I will add that, like many of the UI changes we've made, this one did
not sit well with me at first, and grew with me over the course of a
half hour or so. Your mileage may vary.

> There are two things that I really like about
> it, which is that the buddy icon is of fixed (and reasonable) size,
> and the buddy's status message is visible.  The buddy's name
> (presumably the alias; although, given that Hylke is an MSN user,
> perhaps it's intended to be the 'friendly name') is redundant with the
> tab title (possibly useful if you have only one, hidden tab, or aren't
> using tabs, but I know that my *own* use typically involves multiple
> open tabs at all times), and I think should be removed.

This is true. Only one level of redundancy is added, though. The tab
title and conversation title are already redundant. And
one-conversation windows are not any more redundant than they are now.
If you consider that each instance of the buddy name has its own
purpose, it's not so bad, and as you and Stu point out, the 'name' on
the buddy icon pane may not necessarily be the same.

Given that, I would not be opposed to removing that one line from the
pane if that's a huge problem for everyone.

> The buddy's
> actual screen name is likewise not particularly noteworthy enough to
> be visible at a glance, or the protocol icon.

I thought we had reached a consensus that the actual buddy you're
speaking with is, while not critical, potentially useful enough to
have in the conversation window without clicking the Send To menu. I
believe someone (Etan) was even working towards putting a protocol
icon in the menu tray.

> How much of the benefit here could we get by fixing the buddy icon's
> size and leaving its location unchanged (adjacent to the input box),
> and inserting the buddy's status message in a single line at the top
> of the conversation?  My intuition is that this would fix the current
> problems, while using much less space and adding less clutter.

We still run into problems with the imhtml entry size: some
conversations have icons and others don't, and so the ones that do can
affect the default size, artificially boosting it on conversations
that don't.

I'm concerned the status message might look a bit out-of-place on its
own. Perhaps protocol icon + status message? Or status-icon (again,
redundancy) + status message?

> Ethan
> --
> The laws that forbid the carrying of arms are laws [that have no remedy
> for evils].  They disarm only those who are neither inclined nor
> determined to commit crimes.
>                 -- Cesare Beccaria, "On Crimes and Punishments", 1764
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