IM, Contacts & Social hackfest: Shell: Design: Work out the design for Shell's new contacts app

  • Owner: MortenMjelva

  • Gather feedback
  • Brainstorm features
  • Sketch design


Morten discussed the current plan:

  • Search from the Shell
    • Provider that searches folks.
    • Travis is adding search to folks
    • This is the least controversial part of the
  • Launch Alex contact app.
  • View conversations.
  • Contact information.


  • Question whether we actually want a search for contacts in the shell?
    • Talk of removing applications.
  • Nick and Allan: Contact card is a key concept.
    • Consistent visual representation of users across the desktop.
    • This is called the "Contact Card" == "That's a user"
    • Design work needs to be done here.
      • Often a picture, main meta data (name) and other important meta data.
    • Question whether this should be a shared library?
      • Probably the sharedness should be in the design.
      • We have a consistent design for a 'person' or 'contact' and then multiple implementations.


  • Searching is about quick response.
  • Travis says: Don't have to worry about too many results, since once the user types a few characters results are pretty limited.
  • Nick: Squares aren't a good fit for contacts, since names are long, and they get cut off.
  • Rectangles, like business cards end up being a good representation.
  • Don't necessarily need lost of data in the contact representation.
    • Button to see more info.
    • Discussion took place of what needs to be in the contact card.
    • As additional secondary metadata might choose to show the field that matched what you typed. Perhaps different secondary metadata fields for different contacts. Matches bolded.
  • Start with a simple implementation of brute searching folks, and once Travis has finished folks support for advanced searching then move to that.
  • Bastien ideas, could the search of contacts be implemented as an extension first of all?
  • Nick suggest pausing after each key stroke 300ms, so that things don't flickr so much.
  • Nick asks if there's asynchronous updating of searches. Travis says it's unlikely that they'll do 'deep searches'.
  • Phillip is working on caching contacts in folks, so they don't disappear when the contact goes offline.

Use of search results:

  • Nick says the action for clicking on a contact will be either:
    • Loading always in the contact view.
    • Or something fancier: If you type a search like 'email stef' then it would fine 'stef' and when you clicked on it then it would go and start an email.
    • Or perhaps you could do like 'chat travis facebook' which searches for travis, and then start a facebook chat?
    • There may translation issues, but might be solveable.
    • Might be issues with people named the same as actions.
  • Alex suggested having buttons for various actions in the shell results contact cards. These buttons would do various things, like email, chat etc...
    • Nick brought up that this doesn't scale well.
    • Hovering to expand and show various actions... But this doesn't work on touch screens.
  • Right click on a contact card in the search results might get a set of things you can do with that contact.
    • Probably won't be enough to make submenus. People like scrolling better than submenus.
    • Maybe only have one email item, and one chat item, that would keep things short.
    • First item in the menu, is the same thing as clicking on it. So in this case, view in contacts.
  • Morten asks (in the above menu): How do we deal with two ways to chat someone from different accounts.
    • This is a common thing because you would choose to chat via Facebook or work account.
    • Perhaps making calls to the same people via phone or SIP.
    • People can get fired for talking about work things on the wrong account, or through the wrong server.
    • Established that this is an important use case.
    • The empathy UI for which account to contact someone through is ugly.
    • Alex: The contact app is a standard UI for exposing all these different ways to do X.
    • Alex: How do you know that there are more than one possible ways to do X with a contact?
  • There might need to be an icon in empathy dialogs (and similar UIs) that show you which account you're on, so that you can change it before you start chatting.
  • General principle of once you start composing a message, or before you start chatting you can these choose your account, and then the recipients account. This wouldn't be exposed beforehand.

Hackfests/IMContacts Social2011/Tasks/ShellDesignContacts (last edited 2011-06-16 16:18:41 by StefWalter)