Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 14th Mar 2007 22:10 UTC
Gnome "Today, the GNOME Project celebrates the release of GNOME 2.18, the latest version of the popular, multi-platform Free desktop environment." The GNOME 2.18 start page has all the details, such as release notes, download locations, and screenshots.
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RE[7]: release
by sbergman27 on Thu 15th Mar 2007 12:19 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: release"
sbergman27
Member since:
2005-07-24

"""
and according to usability experts, they are one of the worst ideas imaginable
"""


Maybe I'm just wrong.

But I'd be interested in who these mysterious "usability experts" are, and why they think that dumping all the overflow into gconf-editor is superior to presenting various levels of options in a more organized fashion.

Are they licensed, and members of some accredited "Usability Experts' Association" or something?

Or do they just show up calling themselves usability experts?

Edited 2007-03-15 12:23

Reply Parent Score: 5

RE[8]: release
by robertknight on Thu 15th Mar 2007 13:53 in reply to "RE[7]: release"
robertknight Member since:
2007-01-28

> Are they licensed, and members of
> some accredited "Usability Experts' Association"
> or something?

Firstly, the reasons why the concept of 'user levels' is not as clever an idea as it might seem at first sight are documented. An FAQ has been written up here:

http://rudd-o.com/archives/2006/02/16/faq-user-levels/

As for who is involved with usability in KDE, I can point you to the "People Involved" page on KDE's usability website:

http://usability.kde.org/information/people.php/

If you would like to know more about those involved, some interviews can be found on http://www.behindkde.org/

As someone who reads the gnome development mailing lists from time to time, it frustrates me somewhat to see their developers portrayed as satanic minions whose goal in life is to frustrate their users. It is evident from reading those lists that, on balance, gnomies really do care about the user experience. My personal experience with the gnome desktop has been good for the most part in terms of the user interface. I personally use KDE because it caters better to my power-user needs, but I would recommend gnome to my friends who have different requirements from myself.

Reply Parent Score: 5

RE[8]: release
by unoengborg on Thu 15th Mar 2007 14:09 in reply to "RE[7]: release"
unoengborg Member since:
2005-07-06

Or do they just show up calling themselves usability experts?

I think you have the problem of people calling themselves experts without actually being experts in all professions that doesn't actually require some sort of license to practice.

Just like Computer Science, Usability is a field for academic research. Lots and lots of papers are written on usability each year.

The reason for newbie/expert modes are bad is that it is so difficult to decide what functions that should be in each mode. You also have the problem that once expert mode is entered nobody is going to turn it off.

Switching between modes are usually not part of the mental process to reach a certain goal. E.g. the first thing a user that want to save an image to some obscure file format only available in expert mode is not to look for the expert mode checkbox, he will look in the file menu. If its not there he might assume it is not possible.

In other words people may not find the functions they need, just for the simple reason that they haven't found the expert mode checkbox. Another thing, when you turn on expert mode, all your landmarks on how to navigate gets messed up. All of a sudden the menu item that you used to find half way down a certain menu have moved.

Another problem is that an expert mode could be an excuse for not designing proper easy to use user interfaces that are easy to understand.

Modes in software have been tested on real users in a countless number of project and as far as I know it have never proved to be a good idea, so there is little reason to believe it would work well for Gnome.

Reply Parent Score: 5

RE[9]: release
by sbergman27 on Thu 15th Mar 2007 14:50 in reply to "RE[8]: release"
sbergman27 Member since:
2005-07-24

Thank you for the responses, Robert and Uno. I appreciate them.

I've read the FAQ. And I've studied the reasons presented.

And while I don't claim to be a usability expert... it all looks like a load of tripe to me.

It looks like someone started with the objective of showing that user levels are bad and proceeded to contrive some reasons why it must be true.

If the user selects the wrong user level for himself, that's his own freaking problem. Why subject *everyone* to a one size fits all user level that is guaranteed to disappoint everyone at some point in their development as a user?

I also don't buy the idea that a reasonable set of options for each level cannot be chosen. It doesn't have to be perfect, and it *won't* be perfect.

But I have yet to see a shred of evidence that stuffing everything that is not in the "one size fits all" interface into gconf-editor is a superior solution.

And I see loads of evidence that many are unhappy with the limitations of the current Gnome UI.

Don't get me wrong. I very much *like* the simplicity of the current Gnome UI.

But it is obviously not to the taste of many.

I should say that the one point made that I can kind of connect with is that user levels might offer an "easy way out", allowing developers to avoid the hard decisions about what makes it into the interface at all. But the Gnome project has already made most of those hard decisions and has a very consistent and well designed interface to start from.

KDE users, I have a question for you. If Gnome provided you with more options and configurability by simply setting your interface mode to "Power User" or whatever, would it be a more attractive desktop to you?

Or conversely, Gnome users, if KDE organized their menus better and provided user levels, would you consider it more seriously?

This is not an invitation to flame the respective, opposing camps. :-)

But, as a user and observer of community goings on, I honestly think that there is merit in the idea.

And I also understand that without patches it's just so much hot air. But that's a different thread. ;-)

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[8]: release
by velko on Thu 15th Mar 2007 21:40 in reply to "RE[7]: release"
velko Member since:
2006-06-19

Well I don't know who these experts are and if they are really experts. But since I also thought that level separation is the way to go I was interested in hearing the opposite argument. It is basically that users have trouble to rank their experience level before they are actually confronted with the options presented by that particular level. So everybody ended up working as an "expert" which kind of defeats the purpose. HTH

Reply Parent Score: 1