When it comes to designing Linux apps, one program’s look and feeloften is too much like others’ in a particular category. So app developersoften rely on feature sets and ease-of-use tricks to distinguish theirprograms from others in the field. The GnomeBaker CD/DVD Writer is a good example.
GnomeBaker is a lot like the Brasero Disc Burner (See my review here). Both of these DVD/CD discwriting programs share an endearing style that does not requiretrial-and-error to use them. Brasero is the resident CD/DVD burningapplication in numerous Linux distros running the Gnome Desktopsystem, but GnomeBaker is by no means a second-fiddle candidate.
If you fancy the Gnome desktop environment over KDE and some of theother Linux variants, the GnomeBaker CD/DVD Writer could easily becomeyour program of choice. It is simple to use and has an interface thatremoves all guesswork that can lead to wasted discs andlost time.
What You See
GnomeBaker’s interface provides an instant view of a file system tree.Most writer programs make you click several times to display a screenfrom which you choose the file or files to be burned. As good asBrasero is, it lacks this instant access to the file system tree.
The lower portion of the GnomeBaker interface provides three buttonsto create new projects. One click initiates the creation of a dataDVD, a data CD or an audio CD. A similar display is the only elementon the Brasero interface.
Brasero combines on one button the CD/DVD data creation. That programadds choices for disc copy and Video DVD or SVCD creation, along witha button to start an image-burning session. GnomeBaker offers most ofthese same functions under its drop-down Tools menu.
Super Menu Options
One of GnomeBaker’s biggest advantages for me is its extensive menuoptions. For me, it is worth having to click the Tools menu to refinethe task I want. The alternative — cluttering up the main interfacedisplay — is less attractive. It also gets in the way of quick and easyusage.
GnomeBaker’s Tools menu contains options to blank (erase) a CD-RWdisc, format a DVD+/- RW disk, copy a data CD, copy an audio CD andcopy a DVD. The Tools menu also has options to burn CD and DVD images.
I also like the window menu (which Brasero does not have). This letsme turn off/on the display options to show the file browser and toshow human-readable file sizes.
Guessing Be Gone
Another big plus for GnomeBaker’s design is its drag-and-drop file-selection feature. With the file browser on top, I can quickly findthe file or files I want to burn onto CD or DVD and drag them to theblank medium window on the lower portion of the screen. I have asecond option of highlighting the file or files and clicking the AddFile(s) button.
Each addition shows the amount of remaining space on the CD/DVD blankdisc in a progress bar fashion. A selection button next to thisprogress bar lets me choose the storage capacity of the targeted CD.Those choices are 200, 650, 700 and 800 MB.
Two other buttons let me remove entries from the to-be-burned list andclear the entire list to start over again. When all is ready, theprocess begins by clicking the Burn Button. This is a similar process to the one used in Brasero, but GnomeBaker’sinterface is fancier and more direct.
A feature that I have not seen in similar applications is tabbedinterface. GnomeBaker shows its opening Welcome panel under the filesystem tree. Once you click on any of the project options, a tabbedpanel is visible in the same lower portion of the screen. Much likeusing a Web browser with a tab feature, you can click on the tab andinstantly change views among the Welcome panel and other openprojects.
For those who decide to click off the file system panel in the tophalf of the screen, the tab feature remains active. I do not see muchneed in closing the file system display — that makes it difficult toadd files to the burn mix. But once the file selections are completed,turning off the file system display gives the full window to theto-be-burned content list.
This eliminates having to scroll through a smaller listing. If nothingelse, this design element adds another usability option to GnomeBaker.
Some Configuration Options
I tend to be partial to programs that let me configure the look andfeel for my own work style. GnomeBaker has limited preferencesunder the Edit menu. Brasero does not offer any userconfiguration options.
With GnomeBaker I can select under the General tab a location fortemporary file storage during the burning process. I can also selectthe type of notifications I want the program to give me. Under theDevices tab I can scan for recording devices and add/remove devices Iwant GnomeBaker to use. This might be a moot point for a single-optical-drive system. But I use several computers that have multipleCD/DVD drives and external USB writer drives.
Under the Advanced Preferences tab, I can select options to forcecertain functions. Again, this may not be a feature all users willneed, but this type of flexibility is what distinguishes GnomeBakerfrom other CD/DVD burners.
Limited Tool Bar View
One level of configuration options I wish GnomeBaker had is the ability toadd functions to the tool bar row. This amounts to a shortcut;frequent users can work more efficiently by clicking an icon toinstantly jump to a task often performed. This would eliminate theneed to navigate menus.
Both GnomeBaker and Brasero have limited tool bars. Neither one seemsvery useful to me.
For example, GnomeBaker shows a Create New Project icon, an icon toopen an existing project from a file system tree, and an icon to savethe current project. Brasero’s tool bar row has icons to add/removefiles to the current project, remove all files from the currentproject and create a new empty folder.
As I noted at the start, choosing a CD/DVD writer application oftencomes down to features and usability. Linux offers numerous CD/DVDburners. GnomeBaker and Brasero stand out for their straightforward,easy-to-use, design.
GnomeBaker has a few design tweaks that give it a usability edge. It’ssleak interface offers a bit more than similar writer applications.