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Thoughts on how to improve the sidebar and projects

Re: Thoughts on how to improve the sidebar and projects

Postby sandover on Mon Sep 12, 2011 4:55 pm

I've been thinking about this a lot as well.

While I do appreciate a few of the design ideas behind ST2's approach to projects, I still believe that the project system is overall quite complex, and that the complexity isn't adding value, from a user's perspective. And from a development perspective, I can see that the current scheme has a lot of moving parts, which could probably be jettisoned with no real loss.

The obvious comparison point is, yes, TextMate. The TextMate project system offers 3(ish) levels of complexity:

1. Instant "project-lite" is the simplest. Just run 'mate .' in some directory and work with that directory's files in a new window. This is what people want at least 75% of the time. No project file is created. No state is saved. There is no extra menu option (no menu at all) required to support this. Note that it's very easy to open as many of these windows as you want. ST2 is always trying to save a bunch of state and can't be used in this simple way.

2. Next rung up the ladder: the ability to turn that view into a project file, by doing "save project as", under the File menu. This is where the power users get started. Once a project exists, it's easy to get back to, because "open" a folder, "open" a file, or "open" a project file in TextMate are all mapped to the same "open" in the file menu; again, no new menu items have been created, and so there is little cognitive load for the user. Any number of projects can be open at a time. They don't try to share state.

3. Developer level. Now we begin (for example) setting up file & folder pattern for a project, to do filtering. Power users are now fairly happy. There are little UI commands to learn (like right-clicking the right way in the projects drawer), but they don't clutter up the general experience, and power users are happy to learn them.

With these (roughly) 3 levels of engagement, the system of setting up and accessing projects is simple, understandable, robust, and it pleases most folks.

I would seriously consider adopting something much more like TextMate's project approach _at least as a starting point_, and then seeing if there are ways to improve it, or seeing what feature requests roll in.

Having said all that: fantastic software so far and thanks for your efforts! This is turning into a great editor that could really have a huge user base.

(Aside about searching: the 2 kinds of search scope in Textmate (search in file & search in project) are probably all that's really needed. I'm not sure that ST2's extra scopes ("search in open files" & "search in open folders") add value that outweighs the clutter of their presence.)
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Re: Thoughts on how to improve the sidebar and projects

Postby wbond on Mon Sep 12, 2011 6:19 pm

sandover wrote:I've been thinking about this a lot as well.

While I do appreciate a few of the design ideas behind ST2's approach to projects, I still believe that the project system is overall quite complex, and that the complexity isn't adding value, from a user's perspective. And from a development perspective, I can see that the current scheme has a lot of moving parts, which could probably be jettisoned with no real loss.


I think this is a matter of opinion. Once you learn about the features of the project management, it is hard to go back to browsing around a terminal to open a project. Once you save a new project it gets added to your recent projects list. Now you can use ctrl+alt+p/cmd+alt+p to instantly jump to any project. Yes, it takes 30 seconds each time you first set up a project, but after that it is insanely fast and allows you to be nimble jumping from project to project.

sandover wrote:The obvious comparison point is, yes, TextMate. The TextMate project system offers 3(ish) levels of complexity:

1. Instant "project-lite" is the simplest. Just run 'mate .' in some directory and work with that directory's files in a new window. This is what people want at least 75% of the time. No project file is created. No state is saved. There is no extra menu option (no menu at all) required to support this. Note that it's very easy to open as many of these windows as you want. ST2 is always trying to save a bunch of state and can't be used in this simple way.


I agree that it would be nice if you could always reliably open a folder in a clean session. The bug is that using the -n flag when sublime isn't open does not create a new window. Other than that, this functionality already exists.

sandover wrote:2. Next rung up the ladder: the ability to turn that view into a project file, by doing "save project as", under the File menu. This is where the power users get started. Once a project exists, it's easy to get back to, because "open" a folder, "open" a file, or "open" a project file in TextMate are all mapped to the same "open" in the file menu; again, no new menu items have been created, and so there is little cognitive load for the user. Any number of projects can be open at a time. They don't try to share state.


This exists, it just seems you would prefer this to be in the file menu instead of the project menu. I personally find it pretty natural to be in a project menu, but I could see how users who are familiar with Textmate might expect differently.

sandover wrote:3. Developer level. Now we begin (for example) setting up file & folder pattern for a project, to do filtering. Power users are now fairly happy. There are little UI commands to learn (like right-clicking the right way in the projects drawer), but they don't clutter up the general experience, and power users are happy to learn them.


It seems like there is some definitely power-user functionality available, though I will admit I have never ended up using any of it.

sandover wrote:With these (roughly) 3 levels of engagement, the system of setting up and accessing projects is simple, understandable, robust, and it pleases most folks.

I would seriously consider adopting something much more like TextMate's project approach _at least as a starting point_, and then seeing if there are ways to improve it, or seeing what feature requests roll in.


It seems around 95% of the functionality you want is there, it is just presented slightly differently than Textmate. I won't try and argue against you that Textmate has a simpler model, but from my experience the project switcher (ctrl+alt+p) and saved state is extremely useful, and I would be disappointed if it was removed.

sandover wrote:(Aside about searching: the 2 kinds of search scope in Textmate (search in file & search in project) are probably all that's really needed. I'm not sure that ST2's extra scopes ("search in open files" & "search in open folders") add value that outweighs the clutter of their presence.)


In Sublime, "find in project" is <open folders>, unless I am missing something. The only extra clutter I am seeing from "find in open files" in a single entry in the Find menu. Is this what you are referring to?
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Re: Thoughts on how to improve the sidebar and projects

Postby natebeaty on Tue Sep 13, 2011 2:32 am

The only thing that consistently frustrates me with the sidebar is the lack of highlighting of the currently open file in the FOLDERS area. It would be fantastic if the open file was highlighted in some way in the directory tree, either a different text color, or a dot, or dimmed -- anything at all to say "hey, this is where the file is in the file system."

The lack of the highlight leads to a confusing UI experience: when you click on the open file's entry in the directory tree, nothing happens (since the file is highlighted above in OPEN FILES).

Perhaps this is just a theme issue? I'm not sure, in the myriad of wonderful ways you can tweak ST2, if that's already a hidden setting waiting to be taken advantage of.
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Re: Thoughts on how to improve the sidebar and projects

Postby jbrooksuk on Tue Sep 13, 2011 9:38 am

I'd really, really appreciate icons in the folder tree.

I can have three files all named "buccamentbay.*" in the same folder, and it's a PITA to then have to read the extension when an icon would be so much clearer and, if done correctly, I wouldn't have to read the filename at all because the image would denote which item to click.
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Re: Thoughts on how to improve the sidebar and projects

Postby iamntz on Wed Sep 14, 2011 3:14 pm

Here is another idea for sidebar: when i change projects all files are opening again BUT the sidebar folders are not opened like they was before. Is pretty annoying on big projects (with nested files).
There is a setting for that?
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Re: Thoughts on how to improve the sidebar and projects

Postby kakubei on Sun Sep 25, 2011 2:58 pm

The features I would really like to see are:

1. Ability to add files from anywhere to a project, not just whole folders that you then have to exclude a bunch of files. Kinda like Textmate currently does.

2. Highlight the file you are currently working on (already mentioned here)

3. Ability to drag files to the project and organize into folders without ST2 opening the file. Again, like Textmate or Espresso.

Please, Please, Please. Then my conversion from Textmate can be almost complete. And keep up the good work!
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Re: Thoughts on how to improve the sidebar and projects

Postby chuim on Wed Nov 02, 2011 6:41 pm

Why was the ability to have multiple windows opened with the same project removed? This was something really useful when working with multiple monitors.

The only workaround I can think of now is to copy/paste the project file you want to have in multiple windows and from that point on always mirror changes in both files. There would be some waste of resources in terms of search indexing and the like being duplicated but I have no clue on how important that is. Not the best situation though...

Could that be brought back?
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Re: Thoughts on how to improve the sidebar and projects

Postby iamntz on Wed Nov 02, 2011 6:51 pm

How can i remove a certain project from the switch project window (ctrl+alt+p) ?

My project list is pretty long now and i want to remove some old stuff :)
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Re: Thoughts on how to improve the sidebar and projects

Postby Wikorask on Wed Mar 07, 2012 10:51 am

It would nice if it behaved like NerdTree in Vim.
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