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GnomeBaker's Recipe for Cooking Up Discs

By Jack M. Germain
Jun 2, 2010 5:00 AM PT

When it comes to designing Linux apps, one program's look and feel often is too much like others' in a particular category. So app developers often rely on feature sets and ease-of-use tricks to distinguish their programs from others in the field. The GnomeBaker CD/DVD Writer is a good example.

GnomeBaker's Recipe for Cooking Up Discs

(click image to enlarge)

GnomeBaker is a lot like the Brasero Disc Burner (See my review here). Both of these DVD/CD disc writing programs share an endearing style that does not require trial-and-error to use them. Brasero is the resident CD/DVD burning application in numerous Linux distros running the Gnome Desktop system, but GnomeBaker is by no means a second-fiddle candidate.

If you fancy the Gnome desktop environment over KDE and some of the other Linux variants, the GnomeBaker CD/DVD Writer could easily become your program of choice. It is simple to use and has an interface that removes all guesswork that can lead to wasted discs and lost 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 screen from which you choose the file or files to be burned. As good as Brasero is, it lacks this instant access to the file system tree.

The lower portion of the GnomeBaker interface provides three buttons to create new projects. One click initiates the creation of a data DVD, a data CD or an audio CD. A similar display is the only element on the Brasero interface.

Brasero combines on one button the CD/DVD data creation. That program adds choices for disc copy and Video DVD or SVCD creation, along with a button to start an image-burning session. GnomeBaker offers most of these same functions under its drop-down Tools menu.

Super Menu Options

One of GnomeBaker's biggest advantages for me is its extensive menu options. For me, it is worth having to click the Tools menu to refine the task I want. The alternative -- cluttering up the main interface display -- is less attractive. It also gets in the way of quick and easy usage.

GnomeBaker's Tools menu contains options to blank (erase) a CD-RW disc, format a DVD+/- RW disk, copy a data CD, copy an audio CD and copy 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 lets me turn off/on the display options to show the file browser and to show 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 find the file or files I want to burn onto CD or DVD and drag them to the blank medium window on the lower portion of the screen. I have a second option of highlighting the file or files and clicking the Add File(s) button.

Each addition shows the amount of remaining space on the CD/DVD blank disc in a progress bar fashion. A selection button next to this progress 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 and clear the entire list to start over again. When all is ready, the process begins by clicking the Burn Button. This is a similar process to the one used in Brasero, but GnomeBaker's interface is fancier and more direct.

Tabbed Efficiency

A feature that I have not seen in similar applications is tabbed interface. GnomeBaker shows its opening Welcome panel under the file system tree. Once you click on any of the project options, a tabbed panel is visible in the same lower portion of the screen. Much like using a Web browser with a tab feature, you can click on the tab and instantly change views among the Welcome panel and other open projects.

For those who decide to click off the file system panel in the top half of the screen, the tab feature remains active. I do not see much need in closing the file system display -- that makes it difficult to add files to the burn mix. But once the file selections are completed, turning off the file system display gives the full window to the to-be-burned content list.

This eliminates having to scroll through a smaller listing. If nothing else, 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 and feel for my own work style. GnomeBaker has limited preferences under the Edit menu. Brasero does not offer any user configuration options.

With GnomeBaker I can select under the General tab a location for temporary file storage during the burning process. I can also select the type of notifications I want the program to give me. Under the Devices tab I can scan for recording devices and add/remove devices I want GnomeBaker to use. This might be a moot point for a single-optical-drive system. But I use several computers that have multiple CD/DVD drives and external USB writer drives.

Under the Advanced Preferences tab, I can select options to force certain functions. Again, this may not be a feature all users will need, but this type of flexibility is what distinguishes GnomeBaker from other CD/DVD burners.

Limited Tool Bar View

One level of configuration options I wish GnomeBaker had is the ability to add functions to the tool bar row. This amounts to a shortcut; frequent users can work more efficiently by clicking an icon to instantly jump to a task often performed. This would eliminate the need to navigate menus.

Both GnomeBaker and Brasero have limited tool bars. Neither one seems very useful to me.

For example, GnomeBaker shows a Create New Project icon, an icon to open an existing project from a file system tree, and an icon to save the current project. Brasero's tool bar row has icons to add/remove files to the current project, remove all files from the current project and create a new empty folder.

User's Choice

As I noted at the start, choosing a CD/DVD writer application often comes down to features and usability. Linux offers numerous CD/DVD burners. 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's sleak interface offers a bit more than similar writer applications.

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