Currently FreeCAD heavily uses toolbar for displaying each workbench tools. Thanks to this, depending on the screen size and the active workbench, we could end up with multi layered toolbar. For example, here is Arch workbench in 1366x768 screen with 16px icon, arranged so there are no collapsed button:
It's perfectly usable and I actually dig the classic look. However, in my opinion there are several issues with the toolbar based UI:
- It's pretty intimidating, especially for newbie.
- Depending on workbench, it could be hard to identify the icon. For example is the Fastener workbench where every nuts and bolts look kinda similar.
- Most screen are wide, not tall. Thanks to this, the vertical screen estate is more precious than the horizontal, especially in smaller screen.
My daily job is programmer. While looking at my past works, I realize that various app designers are quite similar with FreeCAD. For example, here is one from Visual Code:
And here is another one, from QtCreator:
Those app designers are used worldwide with almost zero complain, so I thought it could work for FreeCAD UI as well. Since QtCreator and FreeCAD both use Qt, I decided to copy QtCreator layout and here is the result in 1920x1080 screen:
And here is how it looks like in 1366x768 screen:
- Each tools are easily identifiable since each icon now accompanied with its name.
- Now the UI use more of the horizontal screen estate than the vertical.
- For workbench with many tools (e.g. Fastener), we can use filter in the bottom of the toolbox to reach the correct tool faster.
- It (might be?) easy to implement since this UI only use native QTreeView.
- It (might be?) able to exist alongside the current toolbar based UI since we only need to create an additional panel.
- My background is programmer so this UI layout feels familiar to me. However most of CAD programs that I know are using toolbar or ribbon based UI, so this UI layout might feel strange to the professional CAD users.
- You might notice that the Draft Tray is missing from the Arch workbench. This is because Draft Tray afaik is the only toolbar in FreeCAD with text and can't be disabled, so I'm not sure where to put it.
- While every tools now easily identified, you might need several scrolls to reach it.
- Since the tools icon are now small, it might be eye-straining for some people.
So what do you think? Does it looks weird? Once again I'm just a hobbyist, so feel free to tell me if I've made some wrong assumptions.