BumpTop and Real Desktop are a start, but a true 3D interface would be more than just a skin

FROM JASON’S 3DESKTOP — The word “beta” in my Gmail inbox made my eyebrows take a happy-go-lucky jump, but once installed I found the BumpTop beta was just a piece of elaborately done-up nagware.

The eyebrows came back down and settled in a scowl.

There is a Prime Directive for my computers: There shalt be no shareware. Everything must be freeware, open source, or purchased. No adware, trials, or postcardware. No promotions. No commercials.

I took perhaps three minutes to sate my curiosity about BumpTop, then scoured it from my PC.

I love the idea of a 3D desktop, a virtual space using a physics engine to toss around files, pile them up, to basically treat your computer like a living space. It would make your desktop as comfortable as your bedroom.

But the options right now are limited, and severely flawed.

BumpTop isn’t the only name in the game, though it was the one to get early branding for its product last year. Real Desktop is a robust competitor, offering a crippleware version that has its own issues though it’s stable and completely free.

Real Desktop’s light version (I refuse to spell it “lite”) is decent but extremely limited. It doesn’t mask out RocketDock like BumpTop does, which is a plus, but both suites have their problems: The camera angles can be quite awkward. Dragging into a folder can be quite a pain. Both are susceptible to the “Show Desktop” widget.

BumpTop’s a bit laggy, even through my NVIDIA 9800 GT. Real Desktop doesn’t let you place anything on the walls, and doesn’t come with any neat-o widgets like Bump does, which means you are effectively wasting at least a third of your desktop at any given time.

And both affect only your desktop — no other folders at all.

The ideal Explorer replacement would convert my entire hard drive into a virtual world straight out of Hackers, allowing me to navigate the entire file structure in a true space environment. Let’s be honest here — the conventional Explorer interface is 20 years old now, and hasn’t changed all that much since the ol’ DOSHELL days.

MicroSoft’s file manager is functional, but not fun, and it’s organized but not necessarily intuitive. It needs an update. I’m just waiting for the right program… or maybe the right OS… to be ushered in. Imagine what kind of functionality we could eke out of a multidimensional interface instead of a flat one.

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2 Responses to BumpTop and Real Desktop are a start, but a true 3D interface would be more than just a skin

  1. Nine says:

    Ah, a person’s desktop, the first thing anyone will see when starting the computer, after logging in of course. Many people put all kinds of things on their desktop, shortcuts, files, folders. I did the same, till I finally got sick of my cluttered desktops and cleaned them. After all, it takes a keyboard shortcut to get to the desktop, but also a single keyboard shortcut to open explorer.

    While I was also, initially, interested in Bumptop, or 3D desktops in general, I too realized the same thing, they only work for one folder. The one folder you see when you log in, not to mention, you need to have something on your desktop to actually use the fancy disorganizing features of these various programs. They don’t really add anything useful other than stacks, or on-the-fly-folders as I see them. Not to mention, they’re just gimmicks at the moment, they look cool, but they don’t advance.

    I agree that an update to explorer, and file managers in general, would be great, but what would such an update be? The virtual 3D world in Hackers is awesome yes, but how usable would it be? And would it not be like Bumptop? Just a visual gimmick that is interesting for a short while?

    Yes to improvement, but I don’t think 3D is necessary for such. File hierarchies only split up and go down after all.

  2. Isaac says:

    I think programs like BumpTop need to have it where if you double click on a folder, then you “Jump into it” as if it was another room. I totally agree with both people. I just downloaded it for the first time, and was disappointed that it’s just a desktop. I never keep any files on my desktop. They are all organized in respective folders within the computer. useless to me. :(

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