Dealing with files (images, video clips, text documents, etc) and folders is performed (under Ubuntu) via Nautilus, the default file manager.
Across the latest months, Nautilus has received a solid amount of attention, attention divided in two main user directions: to be improved and refreshed (approach incarnated by the GNOME developers who brought a refined Nautilus 3.6 file manager with monochrome icons, full toolbar, eyecandy elements, etc) or changed (by the developers or third-party developers) with a file manager that is to bear a more up-to-date approach while retaining key (according to various users, removed from Nautilus 3.6) features and an overall multitude of configuration options, to-be-tweaked preferences, etc, essentially, the latter concept to mix eyecandy visuals with a serious no-compromise set of features.
Athena is a new file manager that (presently at a mockup level) aims at materializing an interesting design approach featuring a modern-yet-traditional look and feel.
Athena's mockups have been released, presenting users a ground for discussions, ideas, should-bes, shouldn't-bes, while being prepared for a potential real code-oriented implementation.
One's files, drives and bookmarks are properly categorized and exposed on the left sidebar where minor yet relevant (like for instance the drives' progressbar indicating the fullness of the drives) details are to enhance the user's dealing-with-files experience.
The statusbar is expressed via a short dark-ish tooltip, bearing a size sufficient to get the job done, while retaining a minimalist not-interfering-with-space look and feel.
A definitely interesting aspect of Athena is its manner of dealing with file searches, meaning, it seems that the search process is expressed via a built-in panel and a clear clean intuitive attitude.
Clarity has been considered also by file properties.
Creative and exciting ideas can be observed on multiple parts of Athena, like for instance on its built-in internal
Transfers action, action that removes the need for external/extra dialogs (as presently seen in Nautilus), furthermore, being rendered in big-sized areas with relevant details.
Opening a file is conducted via a similar-to-Athena yet vividless dialog, featuring readable thumbnails and useful buttons.
The full set of Athena pictures are available on Picasa.