Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 27th Jan 2009 13:46 UTC
Editorial With Windows 7 having made its grand debut, and with KDE4's vision making leaps and bounds forward with every release, we have two major software projects that have decided to implement some fairly drastic interface changes. Such changes are bound to receive some harsh criticisms - but the funny thing is, these criticisms usually come from people you least expect it from.
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Aack!!
by cjcox on Tue 27th Jan 2009 15:56 UTC
cjcox
Member since:
2006-12-21

In all fairness, the main reason for criticism is that the KDE developers PROMOTED 4 as the end all of end alls. So 4.0, which was a radical departure missing at least (AT LEAST) 75% of the features of KDE3, when it came out, it wasn't well received (with good reason).

4.1 supposedly made life better. Why? Because it slowly started looking more like 3.x. Huh? Well.. so much for radical change. I hear that 4.2 is even close to adding back all of the missing usefulness that 3.5 had... but perhaps coming up with a NEW UI design isn't something for amateurs.

Sometimes, not even the so called "professionals". I hear a lot of people discussing how bad SUSE's "start" panel change they made to Gnome is... and how bad the YaST and Compiz setting manager panels are... BUT supposedly, these were designed based on countless trials with ACTUAL USERS.... so the UI is "good" because of that, right?

Anyhow... I find it all very interesting. I'm looking forward to KDE 4.3, where we might finally have an adequate 3.5 replacement.... of course, it will look and feel and behave more like 3.5 naturally (it might actually take many, many more versions to get there though).

Reply Score: -3

RE: Aack!!
by Thom_Holwerda on Tue 27th Jan 2009 16:17 in reply to "Aack!!"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

In all fairness, the main reason for criticism is that the KDE developers PROMOTED 4 as the end all of end alls


I think you should go back and read the article again, because the point went *wooooosh* above your head.

Reply Parent Score: 6

RE: Aack!!
by Soulbender on Tue 27th Jan 2009 16:32 in reply to "Aack!!"
Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

So 4.0, which was a radical departure missing at least (AT LEAST) 75% of the features of KDE3, when it came out, it wasn't well received (with good reason).


Sure, being a moron is a reason, just not a very acceptable one. Seriously, how could anyone have missed that 4.0 was not for the end-user? It was said goddamn everywhere.
If you, as an end-user, is disappointed bring it up with your distro. This whole "the end-users were disappointed" is nonsense.
End-users don't go to kde.org, download the sources and build it themselves. End-users were not disappointed, people (often so-called "power users") who expected too much and ignored the warnings were disappointed.
If distros used it as their main desktop prematurely is not KDE's problem.

Reply Parent Score: 8

RE: Aack!!
by setec_astronomy on Tue 27th Jan 2009 16:51 in reply to "Aack!!"
setec_astronomy Member since:
2007-11-17

It is this negative feedback cycle that worries me most. Not that KDE 4.0 was not ready for end-user consumption and nevertheless included as default in some distros (serious question to those who say that the KDE devs did not tell the distro maintainers what to expect from KDE 4.0: When did testing releases prior to including them in feature plans went out of style? Low and behold, even if I was only a mere XFCE user with a passing interest in KDE4 back in November 2007, I knew what to expect of KDE 4.0 and what not to expect prior to 4.2, because I build the damn thing from SVN and tested it.), not that after years and years of development, the KDE4 devs went a bit over the top and wrote an overly enthusiastic release note without warnings. And certainly not that a group of developers chose to
increase the competetiveness of their framework by some quite fundamental rewritings in certain parts.

No, what worries me is that several people seemingly ignore the repeated "we will add most features of 3.x once the new framework is in shape" messages from the developers (exhibit A: The "no more icons on the desktop" tempest in a teapot), and once the features arrive claim that this is because finally the programmers have come to senses, seen the point of the users (and their failings, respectively) and implemented what always should have been done in the first place.

It worries me, because we as recipients of the F/OSS ecosystem seemingly have learned nothing of past experiences (e.g. GNOME gained most of their features back after the foundations of the desktop was sound, even though I'm confident that it will not take as long in the case of KDE4). And it worries me, because the line between a passionate user base and one that reaches for their lynch mob gear and makes the job of the devs none the easier seems to be a rather fine one.

The current UI of KDE4 is implemented using libplasma, with the very-same basic building-block functionality that any revolutionary, UI-from-outer-space may use now or in the future (e.g. logic for sorting/grouping of tasks in a taskbar, menus, the concept of runners and activities, data-engines, etc. ).

There are many valid reasons not to use KDE4 over KDE3, because (for example) multi-monitor setup seems to be still a sore point as has been mentioned above, not all graphic setups offer statisfactionary performance, etc. . But this "if it weren't for the peer pressure, those crazy KDE4 devs would have completly screwed up" is a bit frightening.

And yes, the distress a lot of KDE users vented during the 4.0 and 4.1 cycle led to a different appoach in the roadmap, especially for plasma (so that reimplementing the missing parts of the "old school" desktop was given a higher priority compared to implementing the promised, revolutionary stuff on top of the very same framework).

Yet I fail to see how the "Come and see the violence inherent in the system. Help! Help! I'm being repressed!" bashings/lamentings of KDE4 in the past year have helped anybody, safe for those who did it to lower their blood pressure, which may be acceptable as a measure of emergency medical relief.

Reply Parent Score: 9

RE[2]: Aack!!
by Kokopelli on Tue 27th Jan 2009 18:46 in reply to "RE: Aack!!"
Kokopelli Member since:
2005-07-06

The corollary is let's not heap praise and make excuses where there is not merit. KDE 4.X has potential and the code is pretty darn clean. But if it has issues then criticism is warranted. Too often advocates (usually not the developers) try and hide behind the shield of "it is free software either take it as is or fix it yourself." This flew 8 years ago but we hold released products to a higher standard now. The KDE team themselves are not completely to blame, the distros and users share some of the blame. But they are not with clean hands either.

I am glad to be patient and minimize my comments on KDE 4 as long as something vaguely close to reality is kept involving the past and current releases. About the only time I comment about 4.X is when the apology brigade comes out. Similarly I am troubled by comments that dwell on 4.0 without giving credit to progress made. 4.2 is not all wine and roses and I am not sure I can come up with polite terms for 4.0. To try and sweep problems under the rug by blaming "aversion to change" is quite simply a load of crap.

4.X is a branch with a lot of potential. Say what you like about it. Say what you dislike about it too. But do not lessen the value of valid criticisms by blaming the user. Not all the criticisms of 4.X are valid but if Thom can make sweeping statements then so can I. ;)

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE: Aack!!
by Moochman on Tue 27th Jan 2009 21:41 in reply to "Aack!!"
Moochman Member since:
2005-07-06

I hear a lot of people discussing how bad SUSE's "start" panel change they made to Gnome is... and how bad the YaST and Compiz setting manager panels are... BUT supposedly, these were designed based on countless trials with ACTUAL USERS.... so the UI is "good" because of that, right?


This is the interesting thing about usability testing... it doesn't always lead to the optimal solution. Usually this is because in order to do said testing, the implementation must already be in place. If the said implementation isn't especially optimal to begin with, then no amount of usability testing will fix it.

I don't know the details of the SUSE testing, but my guess is that they pitted the old start panel against the new one and tested to see how fast users performed various actions and what kinds of feedback they got. They thereby found that the new menu outperformed the old, and maybe made a few tweaks based on feedback.

Whether the new menu is truly optimal, however, is still unproven--and is in fact impossible to prove via quantitative methods. The best measure, though, is probably the response of the actual users once it's released into the wild.

Of course then if it turns out no one likes it, it's too late....

Which is, suffice it to say, the reason why design *prior to implementation* is so important.

Disclaimer: I'm not saying SUSE didn't design prior to implementation; I have no idea how their process worked. I just felt like going off on a tangent about the pitfalls of relying purely on usability engineering.

Edited 2009-01-27 21:44 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2