Logical Desktop - introduction with screenshots

Table of contents

Initial screen

In order to explain how Logical Desktop works, it is better to consider a situation where all the panels are open at the same time.

In this screenshot of Logical Desktop, you are presented with four panels: the verb panel, the file panel, the program panel and the device panel:


The idea: narrowing

Suppose now you select a picture (a PNG for example). See what happens:

selected picture

What happened?

The program automatically hides the things that don't make sense with the current selection. We say that the lists have been narrowed to show only the useful things.

Hiding (narrowing) is not the innovation of Logical Desktop; the concept of information hiding is very old, even in the field of user interfaces: for example, it is common for an application to hide the files it cannot manage. The real innovation of Logical Desktop is

The actual technique used by Logical Desktop to treat files, verbs, devices and programs in a uniform way is called "reciprocal incremental list narrowing", or simply "narrowing".

First let me explain the "incremental" part. Logical Desktop's list narrowing is "incremental" because it acts on the cumulative selection. What does it mean? Select the program "the gimp", leaving the PNG selected, and see what happens:

selected picture and gimp

This explains the use of the word "incremental".

What about the "reciprocal"? This is the most important part. Logical Desktop's lists are reciprocal because selecting an item from any list triggers narrowing of that list and all the other lists. We have just seen this: selecting Gimp hides some programs but also some files, some verbs, some devices. So, where is the reciprocity? In this case, here:

But keep in mind the reciprocity is not only between files and devices: devices, files, programs and verbs all narrow each other.

You are beginning to see the potential of this idea now? ;-) But wait, this is just the beginning.

So far we have been following the traditional "file-oriented" style, where you select a file for first, and then the rest (a verb, a program, a device...).

Now we shall see that Logical Desktop allows many other styles: task oriented, device oriented, program oriented. We shall also see how an action can be executed.

Verb-oriented style

A big innovation of Logical Desktop is that verbs too can be selected, thus narrowing the visible files, programs and devices.

Suppose you want to view a picture, but you are new to Linux and don't know how to do it. Deselect all, and select the verb "view picture".

selected view picture

What happened?

The little sentence that reminds you

Notice the blinking sentence on the grey bar, which reminds you what is missing in order for the action to be complete. In this case, the program and the file are missing. This is an invaluable aid to understand what's going on. Futhermore, the user has a feeling that the computer is really understanding what he wants to do.

Of course, if you had selected "Edit pictures" instead, you would only have seen the program "Gimp":

selected edit picture

Using Logical Desktop the smart way: selecting files LAST

Traditionally, we are accustomed to selecting the file first, and then the action/program. Suppose you want to print a PNG picture. In traditional systems, you select the picture first, then choose "print", or a program capable of printing.

Yes, but how did you find the picture? You had to scan all the files in the folder with your eyes. This is why traditional systems use folders: to organize your files, in order to scan them more quickly with your eyes. Sadly, newbies don't organize their data. They tend to put everything in their home folder. Furthermore, even if you are NOT a newbie, and use many well-arranged, hierarchical folders, reaching the folder takes much time, and many clicks. Also, organizing data takes time. Finally, you have to remember where you put your data.

With Logical Desktop, if you don't organize your data, there is a trick that that greatly reduces the list of files you must scan: selecting the files last. It is better to select the most "meaningful" thing first---that is, the one that "cuts" the most files. For example, if you want to print, it is better to select the printer first. Or the verb. This will hide many files, thus making easier to find the right file.

Example: We want to print a PNG. Since we are smart, we decide to select the device first:

selected printer

See how the files have been narrowed to only those files that can be printed? Wait: don't select the file yet. Select the verb "print picture" instead:

selected printer and print

Now you only see the pictures in the current directory, therefore it is much easier to find the right one to print.

Please notice how important it is to be able to select verbs, devices, programs and files IN ANY ORDER.

Many people have objected that "devices are useless". Nothing could be farther from the truth: selecting the device FIRST makes you spare time LATER, when you must select the file. That's the beauty of narrowing. :-)

Now we shall see how to actually execute an action.

Executing a simple action: turning off the computer

In general, when you have selected enough things, a button labelled "Execute" appears. You click it, and the action is executed. Let's see an example of this. So far we only have seen a file-oriented style and a verb-oriented style. Suppose you want to turn off your computer. This is where the device-oriented style becomes useful.

First of all, locate the computer. Click "important locations", then "all", then select the computer:

selected computer

Once again, all the things which don't make sense with this device have disappeared. In particular, all files and programs have disappeared, and only three verbs remain.

Of course you will select the verb "shutdown":

selected computer and shutdown

The execute button appears, and you click it. The action is executed.

Where are my files? How do I change directory?

Short answer: usually, you enter locations by using the door-shaped icon besides a location. If you don't see any location, use the "important locations" and "recent locations" buttons on the toolbar to open a location.

Long answer: you may have noticed there are two toplevel lists of locations: "important locations" and "recent locations". You open those lists by clicking the big buttons on the toolbar.

At first, the "recent" list is empty, and the "important" list contains a single location: "all". "all" is similar to "Desktop" in Windows: it is the toplevel root location of a virtual hierarchy.

Click the location "all" in the important list. Then the location will be opened in a panel, besides the verbs. You will then see the items contained in "all", which are two sublocations: "programs" and "computer". Then enter "computer", by clicking the small door-shaped icon, and you will see two other sublocations: "devices" and "files". Again, enter "files", by using the door-shaped icon, and you can see the filesystem (starting from /). Then you navigate in the directories as usual.

Notice that you have to traverse the path /all/computer/files/ only once; later, you just pick the location you want from the recent list.

You can also add a frequently used location to the bookmarks, with the verb "Add to important locations".

Sorting everything based on recent-usage time

Logical Desktop keeps statistics about the number of times you use a file/device/verb/program, and the latest time you used it. So it can sort any list by recent usage, frequent usage, name. This gives a surprisingly good result, which, honestly, I didn't expect! The fact turns out that many directories are very long, but you only use a couple of files in them. This way, by grouping recently used files on top, you spare much time. Try it. :-)