Unity Sucks (right now)Posted: May 16, 2011
I need to rant. Ubuntu is a great distribution, it allows proprietary software to be installed easily and the USC is the best packaging front-end there is for Linux. But Unity is not ready to be shipped to the masses. Having used it for about two weeks now, I have moved from tolerating its quirks to getting downright angry.
Menu hiding behavior
Probably the worst design decision in Unity. There are two problems with this for me. First, I can’t see where the freakin’ menus are. When I’m using an application, there is a good chance that I want to select a menu and use a function. Usually, I can aim my mouse straight at a menu, and choose an option. But since Unity HIDES the thing, I can’t do that. Instead I must do one of two things. The usual option is I move my mouse cursor up to the global menu, then look at where the options are, and then select the option I want. Otherwise, for commonly used functions, I MEMORIZE where the menu is, so I can select the menu I want in a single move. This is just stupid.
The menu hiding behavior is exacerbated by the global menu. Now personally, even on OS X, the global menu can catch me out. Not only does it go against my logical need to attach an application’s functions to its window so that it is a single unit, but it also means I can’t choose menu options for windows that I am not focused on. However, OS X I can generally live with. Unity takes it to a whole other level. For maximized programs, Unity puts the windows control buttons on the global menu. So now I can’t even min/max/close windows without focusing on that window in particular. It is especially bad on a dual monitor set up when I have a maxed program on each screen. The global menu will be on top of one of the screens and I’ll have no idea which screen, cause its hiding from me!
Unity Scrollbars are a terrible idea. It’s only possible to scroll by clicking on the slider thing, which is again hidden. Disabled is the ability to click on empty parts of the scroll bar to get to the part of the page you want quickly. Now we need to move the mouse to where the scroll bar might be, figure out where the scollbar appears, and then use it. This is far too many steps! Where the scrollbar appears isn’t even intuitive.. its appear beside the orange line instead of centered on it.
Design issues aside, the general bugginess makes it all the worse. Is the global menu not appearing because Unity crashed? Or because its in the wrong screen? Or because I’m not focused on the right window? This was clearly not tested enough upon release.
Unity should not have been shipped by default. Canonical should have put it into the repository for testers to make the application more stable, and they should have engaged in individual user testing so that stupid usability issues like the ones I mentioned are discovered and resolved. It’s impossible for a brand new product to be great on the first try, but that is what testing is for. Being an optimist, I think that 11.10 will feature a greatly improved Unity, but for the next 6 months, the untested crap that is Unity will reflect badly on Ubuntu and Linux in general.