The New Desktop Initiative

About this document

This document presents an initiative for a new type of user interface which incrementally builds on existing interfaces. The initiative attempts to provide a foundation for a new level of user interaction which would be part of an OS. The goal of the initiative is to provide a sense of direction and a foundation for all programming projects involved in similar developments. The result of the work here will be in form of principles, bibliography, recommendations and possibly an emerging standard.

Building on working models

The notion of files and operations on them is a central thing in Unix/Linux. It offers great flexibility and even greater potential. However, many first-time users do not even know the possibilities and/or are not willing to learn the commands to use them. We want to bring Unix/Linux power to the unsuspecting user.

Unfolding the potential

We propose to combine and extend two existing pillars: the desktop metaphor and the file-centric philosophy. Extending the desktop into another informational dimension requires that file formats become transparent to the user and requires provision of a data metaphor, just as on a previous iteration the disk access was made transparent via the file metaphor. The idea is to present the user with an indexed data repository, a uniform and extensible representation of data, plus visual navigation and manipulation of that data in a graphic way. The key here is data-centric focus, just like Unix/Linux is file-centric.


NDI overview
Principles and bibliography