Monday, December 14, 2009

Nautilus Split View and Upstream

Check out that screenshot about the current state of splitting a Nautilus window:

The exciting thing is that this is not a screenshot of my split-view branch, but of Gnome git master.

So after successfully using the split view branch for Nautilus for several months, and (mostly thanks to the PPA) getting some feedback from others, I finally requested a review for it. Turned out that I had a good timing, because with the upcomming Gnome Shell, a debate is currently going on anyways about the future role of Nautilus. With a possible switch away from being a desktop shell and towards more typical file management tasks, split-view fits better into the picture as it used to.

I am very happy that Alex Larsson picked up the task to review and clean up the branch. Even more so as he recently commited a reviewed version to Gnome git master, which can be seen in above screenshot.

The UI is not yet final, and there are a few issues still to be worked out, but I really like the route that it's going. So, if all goes well, there won't be any Nautilus packages for Lucid in my PPA..


  1. Could I hope you PPA for karmik will be updated with the pseudo-official git-master version ?


  2. @paolo: No, I don't plan on doing that. Nautilus git master needs updated versions of other core Gnome projects (e.g. gnome-desktop), and I don't want modifications that heavy in my PPA. Also, there's nothing "pseudo" about git master. It's official, just hasn't seen a stable release yet (which makes sense, as it's currently not considered "stable" anyways).

  3. Well, your ppa version, anyway, it's perfectly workable and useful.

    Thanks again,

  4. Hi, blender 2.50 is very good on splitting windows by just dragging mouse, it can do that both horizontally and vertically. It would be awesome if nautilus could work in the same way.

  5. Thank you for your work, the split view in Nautilus was the only thing I missed in Gnome (played around with gnome-commander, mucommander, tuxcmd, emelfm2 etc.)

  6. First thank you alot for this feature.

    In the video, there was a possibility to copy with key press on F5 and moving with F6, I install it via PPA on jaunty and I haven't this features. How can I activate them?

    Another good feature, would be switching beetwen the panels with pressing tab.

  7. Holger, big kudos to you for your efforts. There is a chance my dreams will come true!

    Long time ago I was debating with Nautilus folks about such proposal but I hit a wall of lack of understanding. I was very disappointed observing GNOME is copying Windows Explorer. I've never been able to understood "why?" it is happening.

    I always dreamed about Nautilus allowing advanced users (i.e. developers) to browse file systems without forcing them to reach mouse and click for every single action. The history of computer hardware proves that mouse is simple to use, but keyboard is the most efficient way to interact with a computer. Files browsing is one of the most common and the most important interaction one can imagine. Nautilus should allow to exploit all possible features of keyboard to enable users with as most efficient as possible file browsing.

    I've upvoted your split view wherever possible on

    [1] Thread "commander"

  8. @anonymous: There is menu items for copying and moving to the other pane. You can setup keybindings like in other GTK+ or Gnome programs too (if in Gnome, gnome-appearance-properties, "Editable shortcut keys"). Tab for switching panes has been rejected because Tab is already in use for moving through the focus chain. The version in the repo has a menu item for that though, so you can also set a keyboard shortcut to that (upstream removed that menu item, and picked F6 for it as shortcut).

    @Mateusz: Alex Larsson explained [1] pretty well why something like split-view was not deemed to be a good idea in the past, and why it has been integrated now. That has little to do with Microsoft's Windows Explorer, but more with a shift in focus (and, of course, with somebody actually sitting down and writing the code, instead of just complaining). Different projects happen to have different development focuses and targets. There's plenty of Total-Commander-like file managers on Linux. And even with split-view, Nautilus is not aiming to become one of them. Not every application wants to become Emacs, for that matter.


  9. @Holger Thank you for the reference to Alex message. I got the point. I agree, perhaps I was misbehaving by arguing and complaining instead of writing code. I intentionally compared Nautilus to Windows Explorer because it feels very similar, not only for me.

    Nevertheless, I'm looking forward to build and try the split view soon and thank you for your great work on that matter.

  10. @Mateusz: Sorry, I didn't mean to attack you personally. I just keep hearing lots of Nautilus bashing (both, the application and the team), and I admittedly get a little annoyed at that, especially as my own experience has been quite different. No offense intended :-)

  11. @Holger I didn't take anything personally. No worries really. Cheers!

  12. Thanks alot for you key binding description.

  13. I got a problem with the "re-installation" from your PPA. I opened a thread at Would be nice if you could help me as I love the Split View-Feature and miss it. ;)

  14. Christopher Roy BratusekFebruary 13, 2010 at 12:46 PM

    I just got the time to try it out... amazing. Any chance for "sloppy focus" say if the mouse-pointer moves into the other pane this one gets auto-selected? The IDE Geany has an option for "sloppy focus" between it's widgets. That would be great.

    Now only splittable sidebar, terminal at the bottom (shouldn't be to hard) are missing. (And the Toolbareditor that's WIP).

    You're work is very much appreciated. :)

  15. Thank you very much for this feature.
    It's already in ubuntu lucid.

  16. This weekend I will install linux and I have been looking for some good programs and thanks for sharing this program. I will give it a try.