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Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

On the Canonical design team blog, John Lea gives an overview of the Unity design process and describes various ways that users can help out. "Once the problem that we are trying to solve is clearly defined, the next step is to assemble the previous thinking that has gone into the problem area. Understanding what has gone before and the current state of the art is the starting point from which new connections can be made, concepts built upon and extended, and new ideas created. Mailing lists, bug reports, and forums are scoured for pertinent information and products relevant to the problem space are examined. In addition to the collation of previous thinking, fresh research can also be conducted to generate new insights. This solid understanding of the existing problem space is a elemental ingredient of the design process."
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Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 17, 2012 3:24 UTC (Fri) by richo123 (guest, #24309) [Link]

From the log of M. "Bling" Shuttleworth

Unity Workflow Diagram

Problem: Users hate the Unity interface and are migrating in large numbers to cinnamon and other desktops.

Case Studies: Jim hates having to navigate though "lenses" and "HUDS" surrounded by blaring bling. He dislikes the desktop being configurable only as much as developers deem appropriate. Kate loves the simple intuitive and attractive new cinnamon interface that works a lot like Gnome 2 used to and is already very configurable.

Potential Solution: Concede users have a point and abandon ship.

SABDFL Solution: Write another blog entry spinning Unity some more. Disregard disgruntled "overly conservative" users on the theory the sheep will come home sooner or later because I have so much money.

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 17, 2012 8:18 UTC (Fri) by Rehdon (guest, #45440) [Link]

I was going to write "too little, too late", but your diagram is way better than that ;)

Rehdon

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 17, 2012 9:53 UTC (Fri) by Cyberax (✭ supporter ✭, #52523) [Link]

Unity has done quite a lot of cool things recently. For example, HUD interface.

Their main problem, IMO, is their attitude: "My way or the highway". Maybe they need to actually listen more to actual users, not only to interface designers.

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 17, 2012 10:39 UTC (Fri) by pboddie (guest, #50784) [Link]

I recently read an interesting review which covered Unity quite favourably. However, the author was coming from the Mac, and I suspect that many of the user interface mavens focus too much on the latest Mac OS and Windows releases, fretting that "everybody will think we're dated" when the majority of computer users are probably either oblivious to those products (for example, Mac OS) or are actively trying to avoid them (for example, Vista and other discomforting Windows releases).

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 17, 2012 11:28 UTC (Fri) by slashdot (guest, #22014) [Link]

Well, Gnome 3 is also well known for not listening to users.

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 17, 2012 13:06 UTC (Fri) by drago01 (subscriber, #50715) [Link]

Repeating that 1000000 times won't make it any more true.

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 17, 2012 16:16 UTC (Fri) by cwillu (guest, #67268) [Link]

No, it's just as true as it always was. However, perhaps after the 100000-and-first repetition, the responsible parties will pay attention...

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 18, 2012 3:45 UTC (Sat) by ovitters (subscriber, #27950) [Link]

You almost get no complains outside of a few internet sites; meaning if you try it out on people, conferences, etc.

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 18, 2012 10:37 UTC (Sat) by Pawlerson (guest, #74136) [Link]

Yeah, gnome developers seems to be happy with it... Such post like yours reminds me apple's syndrome.

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 20, 2012 21:32 UTC (Mon) by ovitters (subscriber, #27950) [Link]

I already stated that I've talked to non-GNOME related people (so people not related to GNOME in any way; not just non-developers).

I think you should reflect on what you're saying to me (limited view) and check if it doesn't apply to you as well.

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 17, 2012 16:26 UTC (Fri) by flacoste (guest, #62513) [Link]

> Maybe they need to actually listen more to actual users,
> not only to interface designers.

Unity is probably the Linux user interface that takes input the most from users. Except that it doesn't do it by taking into account what people comments on blogs or bug reports, but by doing actual user testing. That's taking people in, putting them in front of the computer and asking them to complete regular tasks. And then observing what they do and what they say. That's how you actually build good user interface.

For those interested in how that works, I suggest reading Charline's posts like http://design.canonical.com/2011/04/unity-benchmark-usabi... or http://design.canonical.com/2010/11/usability-testing-of-...

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 17, 2012 19:15 UTC (Fri) by slashdot (guest, #22014) [Link]

"Of the 15 participants recruited, 13 were Windows users, 1 was a Mac user, and 1 used both Windows and Mac. None of the participants was familiar with Ubuntu."

15 participants is far too little to be used as the only source of feedback, and no Linux users were invited, which is a huge problem considering that most users of the next version of Ubuntu are likely to be simply users of the last one who upgrade.

Plus, it seems they also didn't specifically invite programmers, which are also a core group of people to please (since they help you write the software and advertise it).

"During one-on-one sessions, Unity was presented on a netbook"

Uh?
Surely they should test an interface on a proper desktop computer as well, no?

And perhaps also a tablet and a mobile phone.

However doing this is a good idea, and they did get interesting feedback, albeit only from the perspective of mostly clueless users.

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 17, 2012 20:54 UTC (Fri) by mpr22 (subscriber, #60784) [Link]

The Linux human-computer interfaces I have met (even the ones I like) have a nasty tendency to feel like they are created by people who have zero-or-negative concern for whether the systems they create are usable by anyone who isn't already-clueful or actively clueseeking.

Clueful and clueless

Posted Feb 18, 2012 10:18 UTC (Sat) by man_ls (guest, #15091) [Link]

But, is that a bad thing? You might say that this kind of attitude encourages clueseeking and empowers users. I do dislike interfaces which are not friendly to users who are already clueful (or actively clueseeking, as you eloquently put it). Interfaces friendly to the clueful are also better in the long run, since all users tends to be familiar with the software: everyone wins.

Another classic question is whether an interface good for clueful users can also be adapted to welcome clueless users without dumbing it down. That is what Apple supposedly does well -- some commenters on LWN don't seem to agree, but Mac OS X users are quite happy with it. I am not sure how it fares with newcomers these days, though at least we know that at some remote point in the past Apple engineers cared about that.

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 20, 2012 12:13 UTC (Mon) by niner (subscriber, #26151) [Link]

Canonical is not the first to conduct usability studies. There are initiatives like http://www.openusability.org who did such tests as far back as 2003. Or Novell's Better Desktop initiative.

So I would be a bit more careful with such statements.

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 20, 2012 20:22 UTC (Mon) by louie (subscriber, #3285) [Link]

Sun did their first usability tests of GNOME in 1999, I believe, though those results are now missing from the web.

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 21, 2012 6:30 UTC (Tue) by blujay (guest, #39961) [Link]

That depends on your definition of a "good" UI. What's suitable and "intuitive" (that word...) for someone who's never used a computer before, or who's only used one UI in his whole life, will not be the most suitable for a veteran user who doesn't need his hand held all along the way. "Wizards" are great for people who don't know how to use a computer--but they're absolutely detestable to other users.

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 21, 2012 10:41 UTC (Tue) by mpr22 (subscriber, #60784) [Link]

Today, there are too many software systems for anyone to be an expert in all of them. If learning to manually configure a given software system to do what I want takes an hour, manually configuring it to do that thing takes 20 seconds, and it comes with a wizard that lets me create a configuration that does what I want in 15 seconds, it will never pay off for me to learn how to manually configure it until I want to do something outside the scope of the wizard - and even then it might be saner to take the output of the wizard and tweak it rather than hand-rolling a configuration from scratch.

Thus, as long as it is feasible to manually configure the system, having "wizards" to automate configuration for common use cases is actively beneficial; it allows me to concentrate on learning the intricacies of the software systems I do want to do exotic things with, rather than having to learn the intricacies of every software system I use.

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 23, 2012 16:10 UTC (Thu) by vonbrand (guest, #4458) [Link]

I beg to differ. That is the way to design an interface that an user will learn to use in the short while that the test takes, it won't necessarily lead to an interface that is efficient to use by a knowledgeable user.

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 23, 2012 18:39 UTC (Thu) by dlang (subscriber, #313) [Link]

Exactly

When learning to ride a bicycle, having training wheels really helps.

However if you then conclude that training wheels are so useful that they should be formed into the frame of the bike instead of as a bolt-on option (after all, adults can get hacksaws and other tools to cut the frame if they _really_ think they are expert enough to not need them), it ends up crippling the long-term use of the bike.

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 17, 2012 12:22 UTC (Fri) by sorpigal (subscriber, #36106) [Link]

"Helping" is the wrong word here. When they say "Help" they mean "Come be a cog in the machine that is driving our vision." When I hear "Helping" I think of being actualyl involved in the process, with the power to influence direction that comes with that. They seem to be soliciting you to help them, not proposing that we help each other.

Example:

"How you can participate in ideation: At a small scale you can make piecemeal contributions to ideation by participating in bug report discussions and offering different ideas for solving the problem. As a larger scale you can get involved in ideation by joining or starting a community project team that is focused on delivering a feature. Propose an idea, gather some developers and designers together, and start your design process!"

You don't get to be involved in deciding which features there will be, but you can implement them or report bugs. This is helpful.

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 20, 2012 16:37 UTC (Mon) by jospoortvliet (subscriber, #33164) [Link]

I might not be the biggest supporter of Canonicals' way of working, but I think it's unfair to complain about this: they are quite clear that they set the goals and targets and you can help or stay out of the way. Quite a valid way of working, even though you might not like it much. You can choose to contribute to a project where YOU can set the goals... That leaves plenty of distro's like openSUSE, Debian and other community-led projects.

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 17, 2012 15:22 UTC (Fri) by cmorgan (guest, #71980) [Link]

What are the chances all of the posts here will be complaining about software that people aren't being forced to use and where several good alternatives exist.

I don't know what triggers people to complain so much. Design decisions are made by people every day. Not everyone is going to be entirely satisfied, that's why there are several alternatives. Do we really need to hear it on EVERY story about Unity?

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 17, 2012 16:28 UTC (Fri) by ean5533 (guest, #69480) [Link]

And now several more people will respond to you with "justifications" for their chronic rants. Popular arguments will include:

-Unity is being forced upon us by Canonical and it's not fair.
-KDE/Gnome/XFCE/LXDE/awesome/WindowMaker is way better than Unity and Unity is stealing attention from it/them.
-Unity is just fragmenting the user space and confusing users with too much choice.
-Unity's poor design will (somehow) infect other existing DE's.
-Canonical is ruining the spirit of the Linux community.
-I see other people ranting about Unity in comments so obviously no one likes Unity, and since no one likes it then it shouldn't exist.

Some of the responses will have valid points, but they will be lost in the flood of irrational hatred.

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 17, 2012 21:30 UTC (Fri) by rahvin (subscriber, #16953) [Link]

Irrational? When I loaded Unity for the first time I couldn't figure out how to open a terminal window. Do you have any idea how frustrating that was? The second version (I'm not good at tracking the version number but I think the first was 11.04 and the second was 11.10) fixed some problems so that it was actually possible to find the terminal icon and click it. I've been using computers since I was 8 years old, my first PC that I purchased myself was a top of the line 386 with 4 megs of memory and an 80meg hard drive so that should give you a clue how old I am.

Unity was so anti-intuitive for a regular computer user that it wasn't even funny. I like that they are experimenting but Christ, they need a button that says "Flip back to regular interface" on the toolbar so people that want to get actual work done can do so. This is why people are complaining. People are upgrading and can't even open a program anymore, it's like turning advanced users into first time users and it's VERY frustrating. Particularly given the lack of any type of help when you first run it.

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 18, 2012 8:08 UTC (Sat) by Rehdon (guest, #45440) [Link]

I have 'converted' quite a number of people to Ubuntu, I even gave away CDs to my students, and guess what? when Unity came out all of them gave up on Ubuntu. All of them. Gnome Shell got a similar reaction, no way people could feel comfortable with the new UI Paradigm.

And what was Gnome/Unity devs' reaction to people complaining and explaining why they wouldn't use a desktop that they considered a major regression? Utter denial:

- if you were lucky, you were encouraged to "embrace change", to give it time, to give up to your "old" ways because change is good, and there are billions of people already loving GS/Unity; your friends stopping using Ubuntu or Linux altogether? just anecdotal evidence, don't worry about that (as if a UI study conducted on a total of 15 people might be considered something different than 'anecdotal evidence' ... at best);

- when they saw that many users just didn't buy the party line, the "irrational hatred" straw man popped up: some devs singled out the most offensive and inflammatory reactions as "hatred" and brushed off all criticism.

So we've got our own "reality distortion field" in the Linux world, and it ain't pretty. Me, I'm using Linux Mint and Cinnamon at the moment, and following GS/Unity development all the same, just in case they realize that they've really alienated a good part of their existing user base (not holding my breath there), but my Linux evangelizing is done for good, I've had enough of "WTF" reactions.

There you go, file this under "irrational hatred of a previous Gnome/Ubuntu user and fan" if you want.

Rehdon

Opening a terminal

Posted Feb 18, 2012 17:17 UTC (Sat) by boog (subscriber, #30882) [Link]

A friend who is a programmer but a first-time user of linux made exactly this complaint - unable to launch a terminal in ubuntu. As a KDE user, I couldn't even help him. Possibly not quite discoverable enough for the chosen target group of people who don't know what ubuntu is?

What is the answer?

Opening a terminal

Posted Feb 18, 2012 18:20 UTC (Sat) by sladen (subscriber, #27402) [Link]

  • Ctrl+Alt+t
The hot key is the fastest way for a power-user; an intermediate speed method is <super> t e r m <enter>. Once running, one can right-click on the Launcher Terminal icon and tick "Keep in Launcher" to make it omni-present. Note that both Ubuntu and Mac OS X do not show a Terminal by default, but one can find it by searching.

Opening a terminal

Posted Feb 18, 2012 18:29 UTC (Sat) by boog (subscriber, #30882) [Link]

Thank you.

"Note that both Ubuntu and Mac OS X do not show a Terminal by default, but one can find it by searching."

This does seem to say something about the ubuntu attitude to *existing* (and loyal) users, who presumably have grown used to the command line. Current users of linux are probably not pining for the "hidden terminal" feature.

Opening a terminal

Posted Feb 20, 2012 11:30 UTC (Mon) by etienne (guest, #25256) [Link]

In my experience, the intermediate is more:
<super> term
then look at the screen to note that the first three letters have been missed and only thing starting with "m" are displayed, then backspace and retype "t e r m" and then check that the first found application is "terminal" and not "terminal - supervisor" so that either you press <enter> or get the mouse and click on the second icon...

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 17, 2012 22:29 UTC (Fri) by tshow (subscriber, #6411) [Link]

Personally, my complaints are:

1) My tech support burden with my dad went through the roof when he upgraded his ubuntu box and wound up running unity. He cut his teeth on windows (well, actually he cut his teeth on an IBM 1620, but that's another story), and was doing fine in xfce, but unity threw him completely. He's getting the hang of it now, but he's no more productive than he was in xfce, and the switch has cost the two of us a lot of time.

2) There seems to be a general trend in UI design towards netbook/tablet optimized UI with a distinctly Mac flavor, which I think is a bone stupid idea for a whole host of reasons, and for which Unity and Gnome 3 are the standard bearers.

3) Nobody designing these things seems to give a fig about anyone who's been using computers for more than a year.

I've posted in some detail about my problems with macish UI before, so I won't go into it too deeply, but:

- window-docked menus suck for:
-- large screens
-- multihead
-- floating focus
-- programs (ie: gimp) that have lots of windows
-- use cases (ie: programming, monitoring, art) that use lots of windows

- maximize by default sucks for anyone trying to use a computer as a general purpose machine, rather than a word processing or web browsing appliance

I do like some of the things I'm hearing about quicksilver-style menus and the like; text is a far more rich form of interaction, and I'd like to see what a modern command-line aided interface would look like. It's one of the few places where it seems like some effort is being spent on long-term users and the technically competent, rather than people who have never used a computer before.

What I'd really like to see is an interface that grows with the user, and that is something the mainstream desktops (all of them, including the commercial ones) fail at horribly.

Apple (well, NeXT, really) had some interesting plumbing ideas with services, which Microsoft seems to be sort of building on with the pluggable pipeline apps for win8, but this is the sort of thing that we ought to have already in Linux. DBus + something quicksilver-esque, perhaps. Something that lets us move beyond the point and cry interface.

I call it the "point and cry" interface because your vocabulary is reduced to that of a baby. You point the mouse at things, hit the cry button, and hope mommy (the machine) knows what you want. Ok, we have right click for context now, but that ups the number of verbs to something you can still count on one hand most of the time. So you have the vocabulary of a two year old at the best of times.

And I guess ultimately that's the problem; I think the innovation effort is being spent at the wrong end, in the wrong direction. For new users, xfce or KDE or Gnome2 are just fine; the user is effectively a baby in a new world, learning how to survive. I've yet to see a windows user who couldn't sit down with any of those and start getting useful work done immediately. What we should be working on is places for those users to go once they get experienced. We should be providing the force-multiplying tools for experts that the other systems haven't even thought of, or don't care enough to implement. For all UI people curse the command line, you can do things in a few tens of characters that would take weeks to do in the file manager with a mouse.

Children grow up. We need to cater to the adults too. Nobody else is.

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 17, 2012 22:46 UTC (Fri) by dlang (subscriber, #313) [Link]

something I heard a long time ago

a GUI interface is like training wheels, the nice thing about Unix compared to Windows is that Unix lets you take the training wheels off (use the command line)

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 18, 2012 2:04 UTC (Sat) by tshow (subscriber, #6411) [Link]

I agree with that, but I think we've got complacent. We can do better than bash, and when I say that I don't just mean some other direct descendent of sh. There have been some tentative steps in the right direction, but the command line has been largely stagnant for decades.

I've got a boil-the-ocean project to fix this, but I haven't had the time to get it to the point where it's worth putting out there.

To give you a sense of the sort of thing I'm thinking of, consider a standard terminal session. You type a command, it executes, produces some output, you get control back. Standard REP loop stuff.

Now, imagine each cycle of the REP loop is in a bubble. A bubble you can tear off and put somewhere else on the screen. Or name, and pipe things to/from. Imagine if when you launch a command, it "backgrounds" immediately, but to its bubble, so it can keep outputting to the bubble without messing up the current command, or intermixing destructively with other commands.

Imagine if you could hook up DBus services trivially as pipeline stages.

And the terminal has a richer vocabulary, so it's capable of generating (and later updating) things like progress bars, or other simple widgets. Or can say "make this mouse-active and launch this program with that as an argument" so filenames and urls and the like can be mouse-active. Or "this bit is block text, so typeset it nicely in a proportional serif font", while having monospace text for all the interactive stuff. Or nesting levels, so you can navigate program output hierarchically.

If programs using the shell had some standard calling convention (like, say, --describe-args) that would output a machine parseable argument tree, so the shell autocomplete would know that -f expects the name of an existing file. And which would provide data the shell could typeset into proper, modern manual pages.

Imagine a robust scripting language and support for interactive function editing, so you can build up a library of useful functions and tweak them as you need. Being able to type simple math on the command line and have it evaluate without having to jump through syntactic hoops.

Imagine being able to highlight something and run a command on it which substitutes the result for the highlighted area; like interactive backquotes.

And have the shell backed by a daemon, so you can attach/detach as with screen, even if the session is on a different system.

That's just a fraction of the plan, really. The whole idea takes pages. The idea isn't to replace the existing desktop, it's to provide a powerful tool for controlling whatever desktop you choose to use.

Ultimately, if I can build it, it replaces bash, man, info, xterm, screen, emacs and a whole host of other stuff. So it's a boil-the-ocean project in every sense. But I think it's worth building.

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 18, 2012 3:44 UTC (Sat) by ovitters (subscriber, #27950) [Link]

Sounds like PowerShell.

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 18, 2012 5:58 UTC (Sat) by raven667 (subscriber, #5198) [Link]

As far as the mouse interactivity, sounds like a LISP machine

http://www.cliki.net/Lisp%20Machine%20Videos

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 18, 2012 20:31 UTC (Sat) by tshow (subscriber, #6411) [Link]

I admit to being one of those people who wishes lisp was more prominent than it is. It's a good language family.

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 18, 2012 5:54 UTC (Sat) by Cyberax (✭ supporter ✭, #52523) [Link]

Congratulations, you've just described PowerShell. Oh, there are differences from you description, but the end result is mostly the same.

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 18, 2012 20:42 UTC (Sat) by tshow (subscriber, #6411) [Link]

Not really. There are some similarities with PowerShell, but (to me, at least) PowerShell doesn't go nearly far enough. From what I can see, it's just a REP loop front-end for the .Net framework, with some shell functionality worked in.

Which is better than cmd.exe was, but it's not nearly enough.

I should write the whole thing up properly and put it on a web page.

As an example, I don't believe you can use PowerShell to create widgets that sit inline in the terminal. It's .Net, so you can presumably create windows with things in them, but you can't (for example) create a scrollable list or a progress bar inline in the terminal text.

I don't believe PowerShell has screen-like functionality, though I could be wrong.

As far as I know, PowerShell has no equivalent to the named buffers scheme I'm proposing, beyond possibly being able to hamfist it through global variables.

As far as I've seen, PowerShell is still expecting to run on a terminal running a monospaced font, and has no way of breaking out of that mode.

I could go on. And I'm not saying PowerShell isn't a step forward in some ways. But I think we can do way better.

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 18, 2012 21:40 UTC (Sat) by Cyberax (✭ supporter ✭, #52523) [Link]

>Not really. There are some similarities with PowerShell, but (to me, at least) PowerShell doesn't go nearly far enough. From what I can see, it's just a REP loop front-end for the .Net framework, with some shell functionality worked in.

And very powerful introspection capabilities.

>As an example, I don't believe you can use PowerShell to create widgets that sit inline in the terminal. It's .Net, so you can presumably create windows with things in them, but you can't (for example) create a scrollable list or a progress bar inline in the terminal text.

You can, by working with the terminal directly. But it'll be more like ncurses programs.

>I don't believe PowerShell has screen-like functionality, though I could be wrong.

I've seen utility which allows to detach and attach to a running PowerShell server. Essentially, the 'screen' utility but with some missing functionality.

>As far as I know, PowerShell has no equivalent to the named buffers scheme I'm proposing, beyond possibly being able to hamfist it through global variables.
?

>As far as I've seen, PowerShell is still expecting to run on a terminal running a monospaced font, and has no way of breaking out of that mode.
Not really, posh can be run just fine in complex GUI. It's mostly output-agnostic.

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 20, 2012 6:15 UTC (Mon) by alecs1 (guest, #46699) [Link]

Please do create that page. I would expect that companies that try to make money out of Linux should pay for the kind of work that could advance Linux to new grounds. Ubuntu has finally come up with something very interesting, HUD; but I'm expecting more from them :) (maybe something like you describe).

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 23, 2012 5:21 UTC (Thu) by blujay (guest, #39961) [Link]

That sounds neat. Reminds me of TermKit (google it if you haven't seen it--maybe you guys should collaborate).

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 24, 2012 16:45 UTC (Fri) by pspinler (subscriber, #2922) [Link]

This inspired me to start checking out what one can do with dbus from the command line. Kinda interesting. Thanks for the clue!

For anyone else interested, the tool 'qdbus' seems like a nifty and useful tool. It introspects objects by default, but also allows you to send messages via method calls and reports results.

-- Pat

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 23, 2012 19:12 UTC (Thu) by sorpigal (subscriber, #36106) [Link]

I'm a mostly-neutral observer. I don't use Ubuntu, GNOME, KDE or Unity and haven't for years. I left when GNOME 2.2 made it clear that 1.4's features weren't coming back.

I dislike what GNOME Shell and Unity are doing because I do not feel that these things will appeal to the masses and I want the masses to want to use Linux because I want Linux to be the dominant operating system.

Spirit, fragmentation and superiority do not matter, just market success, and I don't care who has that success. I bought the argument that GNOME 2.x improved in GNOME 1.4 for the average user, even though not for me, and I believe I saw GNOME 2 succeeding, even from the first release. I do not buy in to the argument that says GNOME 3 is a further improvement on GNOME 2 and I do not believe I see it succeeding so far.

With Unity it's the same story with the difference that some of the things that I see as broken are not broken by design but, apparently, due to inattention. The case for mass appeal *now* is a little better and the case for improved mass appeal *over time* is better. Even so I do not believe that Unity improves on GNOME 2 and I do not believe it is succeeding in appealing to the masses, but I believe that eventually it may.

Given the above it's quite dismaying to see GNOME 2, once a bastion of making Linux work for the masses, be replaced by two competing and incompatible successors that do not appear to be capable of appealing even as broadly as their predecessors appealed.

I know my opinions don't count. I don't exist and I wasn't even an existing user, so no one is going to listen to me. I hope, however, that this post comes off as criticism free of irrational hatred.

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 17, 2012 16:33 UTC (Fri) by richo123 (guest, #24309) [Link]

You are correct. There are a large number of complaints on many fora about both Unity and gnome shell. No doubt some of that is simply people being "overly conservative" about their desktop interface.

On the other hand the sheer number of complaints; the vitriol attending it as well as the big change in stats on distrowatch suggest that something is up here. Developers can take the view that this is free software where everyone has an option to go elsewhere however in the end they *are* developing for the end user so in my view they need to take this feedback to heart more rather than getting huffy and retreating to their bunker.

Perhaps it could be wise for the Gnome Foundation in particular to look very seriously into engaging the user community prior to making future major changes in the interface. Just a constructively meant suggestion......

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 17, 2012 22:21 UTC (Fri) by zlynx (subscriber, #2285) [Link]

I suppose the many people who like the new things just don't register because we don't make as much noise.

I, for one, quite like the new Gnome 3 Shell.

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 17, 2012 22:47 UTC (Fri) by drago01 (subscriber, #50715) [Link]

> I suppose the many people who like the new things just don't register because we don't make as much noise.

Yeah the ranting people are always those which generate the noise.
You won't get tons of blog posts of people saying "I like xyz" because its "boring" ranting on the other hand ...

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 18, 2012 3:42 UTC (Sat) by ovitters (subscriber, #27950) [Link]

You don't provide any reliable data to be honest. If you check the press release for (I think) GNOME 3.2, you'll see that just in some region of Spain, we have 600.000 users.

Furthermore, we did engage the community. However, people don't notice and certain complain anyway.. saying they weren't personally consulted. Whatever.

FWIW, I've stood behind the GNOME stand at FOSDEM, and the general feedback is really positive. FOSDEM is not a GNOME conference.

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 18, 2012 17:28 UTC (Sat) by boog (subscriber, #30882) [Link]

"just in some region of Spain, we have 600.000 users"

The quote concerns an official distribution imposed throughout much of the administration of Andalucia. Those users have no choice.

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 20, 2012 8:44 UTC (Mon) by ovitters (subscriber, #27950) [Link]

Unless hey signed an NDA regarding their dislike of GNOME, your point makes no sense.

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 20, 2012 19:50 UTC (Mon) by boog (subscriber, #30882) [Link]

My comment was meant to address the implicit suggestion that 600000 users can't be wrong and they chose that desktop. Turns out that they had no say in the matter. Moreover Andalucian Regional Council administrative staff are very unlikely to have accounts on LWN or to hang out on whatever gnome IRC channel. Even the manager would have to be quite brave not to go with the default desktop environment. So, yes, it is great that linux and gnome are seeing such huge installs. But I think my comment did make some sense: this was no argument that many users are happy with the specific direction that gnome is taking.

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 20, 2012 21:38 UTC (Mon) by ovitters (subscriber, #27950) [Link]

Ah, but that is not what I wanted to suggest or imply.

What I meant with the 600000 users is that it is *very* difficult to get reliable data on what is good for existing GNOME users. I see for instance in these replies that some were concerned that their needs weren't asked. But if you have so many users just in some region of Spain, it is going to be really easy to miss out on a large chunk of them.

Again, I didn't want to suggest they made some concious decision for GNOME. IMO, a lot of people don't choose their Operating System conciously.

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 18, 2012 23:07 UTC (Sat) by richo123 (guest, #24309) [Link]

This forum and Lxer have been absolutely deluged with anti Unity and gnome 3 posts. Check the archives for yourself.

If you don't think there has been a backlash you are in some serious denial.

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 19, 2012 10:34 UTC (Sun) by Rehdon (guest, #45440) [Link]

Even Ubuntu-friendly sites like OMG Ubuntu and Webupdate have been deluged by critiques when Unity/GS came out, and the few polls that have been put online show quite a problem in acceptance for Unity and GS. Of course it's much easier to think that since people attending conferences show enthusiasm (doh) everything is going well, and it's just a few naysayers that are trying to ruin the celebration parties with their "irrational hatred".

Rehdon

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 20, 2012 8:37 UTC (Mon) by ovitters (subscriber, #27950) [Link]

I was talking about GNOME 3, not Unity. As said, I mentioned FOSDEM, a conference attended by 5000 people. People who care enough about the software to actually travel. A bit more involved than posting on LWN. As I also mentioned, that conference is not about GNOME, it is about free software in general.

You've also side-stepped my point that I talk to people about GNOME 3 and the feedback is really positive.

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 20, 2012 8:42 UTC (Mon) by ovitters (subscriber, #27950) [Link]

The only negativity is by a few people on a few selected sites. If you check gnome.org, you'll see that GNOME 3 got a product of the year award. Some other site, now suddenly the most popular desktop. Furthermore, when talking to people in person, they're also really positive.

I do agree that some sites are really negative. It seems that some sites just attracts such people. Topics also include move to /usr, systemd, pulseaudio, etc.

What my point is that outside of a few selected sites, feedback is hugely positive.

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 18, 2012 12:13 UTC (Sat) by slashdot (guest, #22014) [Link]

The problem is a fundamental attitude issue.

Many times I see posts saying "Unity/GNOME 3 will have this", "Unity/GNOME 3 will not have that", etc.

The problem is... who the fuck do they think they are to decide what my UI will look like?!?

The language needs to be "We will introduce this...", "You will have the option to...", "You will be able to choose between...", because ultimately the user must be the final ruler on how his UI looks like, and must be empowered to EASILY make it look however he wishes (no "you can always change the source" arguments, that's not easy).

Of course you also need excellent defaults, but they must be DEFAULTS, not dictates, and it must be as easy as possible to change them.

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 18, 2012 12:57 UTC (Sat) by drago01 (subscriber, #50715) [Link]

> The problem is... who the fuck do they think they are to decide what my UI will look like?!?

The people that are actually creating the UI have to decide what they want to do. Why should the UI look the way *you* want it to look like? It is not like GNOME3 (or Unity) is being developed only for *you* ... if you really want that you have to pay developer to write software for you that looks and behaves exactly like you want (or do it yourself).

> Of course you also need excellent defaults, but they must be DEFAULTS, not dictates, and it must be as easy as possible to change them.

In GNOME3 you can change pretty much *everything* using the flexible extension system. Installing an extension is as easy as clicking a link in a webbrowser.

And people usually use computers to get work done, watch a movie, listen to music, chat, play games, surf the web ...

Configuring the system is not really a common use ... most people don't (and should not) bother to fiddle with config knobs. If they have to something else is wrong. I for one don't spend my day in config dialogs.

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 18, 2012 13:16 UTC (Sat) by slashdot (guest, #22014) [Link]

> Configuring the system is not really a common use ... most people don't
> (and should not) bother to fiddle with config knobs. If they have to
> something else is wrong. I for one don't spend my day in config dialogs.

Users have incompatible backgrounds and preferences, so some amount of configuration is necessary.

For example, a Windows 7 or GNOME 2 user will want font hinting on and Alt-Tab switching between all windows, while a Mac OS X user will want font hinting off and Alt-Tab switching between applications, and Alt-` between application windows.

If those settings are not readily available, either of these users will most likely rightfully think that the desktop is crap.
In fact, they'll initially think that even if the setting is present, and will then add "well at least I can change the idiotic setting" once they find it, so it's very important to make sure they can find it as soon as possible before they throw your software out of the window.

Of course if the user is just upgrading to a newer version, those feelings will be magnified, as he doesn't expect the new version to break his assumptions.

Oh, and for a good percentage of the users, there is NO WAY that you'll convince them that their opinion about font hinting, alt-tab behavior or a lot of other options is "wrong".

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 18, 2012 15:33 UTC (Sat) by khim (subscriber, #9252) [Link]

Oh, and for a good percentage of the users, there is NO WAY that you'll convince them that their opinion about font hinting, alt-tab behavior or a lot of other options is "wrong".

Citation needed™.

I don't have statistic for desktop UI, but I have access to the statistic of UI for web sites. Most users accept (or reject) UI "as is". Few change some trivial setting. And even users who are firmly convinced that some aspect of UI is "wrong" stay if the rest of the package looks good.

In fact, they'll initially think that even if the setting is present, and will then add "well at least I can change the idiotic setting" once they find it, so it's very important to make sure they can find it as soon as possible before they throw your software out of the window.

Surprisingly enough it's absolutely not important. Knobs create "I'm in control" felling, but that's it. Joel writes about it:

Vary the placement of some things, change the look and feel and fonts, move the logo and make it bigger or smaller. Let them feel important by giving them non-crucial lipstick-on-a-chicken stuff to muck around with. They can't do much damage to your schedule here. A good interior decorator is constantly bringing their client swatches and samples and stuff to choose from. But they would never discuss dishwasher placement with the client. It goes next to the sink, no matter what the client wants. There's no sense wasting time arguing about where the dishwasher goes, it has to go next to the sink, don't even bring it up; let the clients get their design kicks doing some harmless thing like changing their mind 200 times about whether to use Italian Granite or Mexican Tiles or Norwegian wood butcher-block for the countertops.

It's the same with UI (and this is where KDE4 fails utterly): you need a lot of options in "Preferences" dialog or else a lot of people will feel that they don't have enough control over situation. But these must be harmless, easy to implement options (distance between icons, color of elements, etc). What you should not do is to add options which are hard to implement and can destabilize the codebase.

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 19, 2012 8:27 UTC (Sun) by slashdot (guest, #22014) [Link]

Well, some people might indeed not care or even like any change.

However, there are certainly groups who will care:
1. Programmers and power users are very likely to care
2. People who are just routinely upgrading to the Fedora/Ubuntu/etc. current release, and thus get new desktop environments as a byproduct, and aren't looking for any change in the UI

It goes without saying, but those are two extremely important classes of users.

> But these must be harmless, easy to implement options (distance between icons, color of elements, etc). What you should not do is to add options which are hard to implement and can destabilize the codebase.

No, what you should do is including useful options and features, especially the ones that everyone else expects to be there because GNOME 2, Windows 7 or Mac OS X have them.

Of course, it all needs to be presented intelligently, and in a way that doesn't force a casual users to configure anything.

In general, simply asking users whether they are power users or not, and which desktop environment they are familiar with should cover a huge amount of ground already.

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 19, 2012 9:36 UTC (Sun) by drago01 (subscriber, #50715) [Link]

> 1. Programmers

Those has the power to change pretty much everything by writing an extension they don't even have to download and change the code itself.

> power users

There is no such thing. We had this discussion in the other gnome3 article nobody that was talking about "power user" could describe what a "power user" is other than a buzz word being used to say "I am special".

> 2. People who are just routinely upgrading to the Fedora/Ubuntu/etc. current release, and thus get new desktop environments as a byproduct, and aren't looking for any change in the UI

Conservative people shouldn't be using fast moving distros because change is part of the game here. There some distros that change less often and let you some time to adapt to said changes.

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 19, 2012 10:16 UTC (Sun) by cmm (guest, #81305) [Link]

> Those has the power to change pretty much everything by writing an extension they don't even have to download and change the code itself.

So you are saying that the fact that a programmer has an ability to program, together with a fact that the new shiny desktop can be customized by programming, means that the desktop can be regarded as sufficiently configurable?

I see three possibilities here: 1. I completely misunderstand your point, in which case do please clarify; 2. you are on drugs; 3. you are severely underage.

> Conservative people shouldn't be using fast moving distros because change is part of the game here.

Here, waitaminute. So for how long will Gnome 2 be continued to be supported? Or are you saying that by the time Gnome 3 is considered "production-quality" (I thought it already is considered so, but what do I know) it will have feature parity with Gnome 2 and won't require Gnome 2 users to perform any extra configuration?

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 19, 2012 10:41 UTC (Sun) by drago01 (subscriber, #50715) [Link]

> So you are saying that the fact that a programmer has an ability to program, together with a fact that the new shiny desktop can be customized by programming, means that the desktop can be regarded as sufficiently configurable?

Yes, but you do not have to be a programmer to take advantage of that i.e you might as well just go to extension.gnome.org and install the customization that you want to have.

> Here, waitaminute. So for how long will Gnome 2 be continued to be supported?

Red Hat have said to support older RHEL releases for a longer period of time which implies gnome2 support (same for CentOS etc. if you don't want to pay for a subscription).

> Or are you saying that by the time Gnome 3 is considered "production-quality" (I thought it already is considered so, but what do I know) it will have feature parity with Gnome 2 and won't require Gnome 2 users to perform any extra configuration?

Just go back a bit in time and remember the flames the GNOME2 release brought up. With the increasing developed time and subsequent releases the "gnome2 suxxs give me back 1.x" flames comes to halt. There is no reason to think gnome3 will be any different.

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 19, 2012 12:34 UTC (Sun) by cmm (guest, #81305) [Link]

> you do not have to be a programmer to take advantage of that i.e you might as well just go to extension.gnome.org and install the customization that you want to have.

Surely you must be joking? Let's take an example: In Gnome 2, I can position the panel vertically by tweaking an obviously-placed knob in the preferences dialog that is predictably available by right-clicking on the panel. How do I do that in Gnome 3? Do you idiots realize that this is not such as esoteric thing to want? Why did you introduce this obvious UX regression? Also, what is that bottom space-wasting black bar for and how do I make it go away? Will you only be satisfied after reducing my usable vertical space to one row? I realize there may be "extensions" that do those things (not exactly holding my breath here, though), but how exactly am I supposed to locate them? Are you seriously expecting me to sift through the list of all the junk on that site to find out?

> Red Hat have said to support older RHEL

Why thank you, but I use Debian, and I don't want to condemn myself to running a whole hopelessly obsolete userland just because the desktop interface has become unusable.

The whole brouhaha stems from the basic fact that you fuckers don't even *pretend* to care about your existing users, see. You think we have infinite time. You think we don't have anything more interesting to do than working around your regressions. If you idiots wouldn't call your newfangled abortion "Gnome" and wouldn't subvert the existing package namespace and libraries (yes, I know about MATE and will absolutely try it if/when it is officially packaged by Debian), that alone would avoid *all* the backlash, but you imbeciles haven't even considered the possibility, have you? Oh, and did I mention that spit in the face called "compatibility mode"? What exactly is it supposed to be compatible with? Why not call it "degraded mode"? You cannot even get the basic terminology straight.

But hey, good luck with basking in the positive reviews by habitual Linux conference-goers.

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 19, 2012 13:04 UTC (Sun) by slashdot (guest, #22014) [Link]

BTW, to expand on this specific issue, all versions of Windows (the market leading OS) allow users to move the panel to any edge of the screen, by simply unlocking it and then dragging it, and apparently in OS X you can do the same, although you need to use the command line.

How one can even IMAGINE of not having a feature which used to be available on ALL previous desktop environments (GNOME 2, Windows, OS X) and that has obvious use cases (such as maximizing the number of lines of a document that are visible, or just liking it another way) boggles the mind.

Language warning...

Posted Feb 19, 2012 15:20 UTC (Sun) by boog (subscriber, #30882) [Link]

While our editor takes a well deserved Sunday off, lets just point out that such strong language is certain to be unwelcome on LWN. Especially for something as banal as a nice desktop flame-fest.

(I share your frustration with the disruption that existing users have been put through by all the major desktop environments.)

Enough

Posted Feb 19, 2012 15:32 UTC (Sun) by corbet (editor, #1) [Link]

This kind of hostility toward people who give you their software for free is misplaced and not welcome here. Disagreeing with their direction is fine; profane ad hominem attacks are not.

Enough

Posted Feb 19, 2012 17:39 UTC (Sun) by cmm (guest, #81305) [Link]

Your point about profanity is duly noted.  Sorry, got carried away.

Also let me apologize about the last bit concerning 'compatibility mode' -- I misremembered, it's actually 'fallback mode', and that name is indeed apt (even if somewhat prone to misunderstanding).

I don't, in this case, buy the usual rhetoric about tiptoeing around people who 'give their software for free'.  It's not applicable here, because the issue here is not labor.  It's about policy.  There must be a specific person out there, or several specific people, who have specifically decided to replace the existing and perfectly working desktop environment with something radically different.  They obviously did not have to do that, and the arguments about it being a cost-saving measure are not particularly convincing.  I resent that decision, and I do indeed resent those people, personally, whoever they are, for making that decision.

Also, 'ad hominem' does not mean what you seem to think it means.

Enough

Posted Feb 19, 2012 18:30 UTC (Sun) by corbet (editor, #1) [Link]

"You fuckers".

"You imbiciles".

That is very much attacking the person; if you think ad hominem means something else, so be it.

As for the rest, nobody held a gun to your head and forced you to switch to their new stuff. But, likewise, you cannot hold a gun to their heads and force them to maintain something that does not match their idea of where the desktop should go. Those who have read these pages know that I have not always agreed with their ideas, but I still do not think this sort of talk is appropriate.

Enough

Posted Feb 19, 2012 18:58 UTC (Sun) by cmm (guest, #81305) [Link]

> That is very much attacking the person; if you think ad hominem means something else, so be it.

Indeed it was attacking people (not the specific person I was technically replying to, though, I thought that was obvious enough what with the unfortunate expletives being plural), and 'ad hominem' does mean something else (specifically, it names a debating strategy where attacking a person is used as a (fallacious) means to undermine the idea that person stands for. There's no idea to undermine here, however, as the attacks are purely for their own sake). My sincere apologies for this tedious pedantry!

> nobody held a gun to your head and forced you to switch to their new stuff

Of course, but the mainstream distros don't really give you the choice to stay with the old stuff, now do they? That's as close to the proverbial gun to user's head as those things ever get.

> you cannot hold a gun to their heads and force them to maintain something that does not match their idea of where the desktop should go

Yeah, just providing some lightly-filtered feedback here. In my experience, honest people tend to appreciate honest feedback.

Enough

Posted Feb 19, 2012 19:35 UTC (Sun) by rahulsundaram (subscriber, #21946) [Link]

You are using pedantry to deviate from the fact that you were swearing rudely. That's not merely being honest. If you can't be polite, your points are not worth making.

Enough

Posted Feb 19, 2012 19:57 UTC (Sun) by cmm (guest, #81305) [Link]

> You are using pedantry to deviate from the fact that you were swearing rudely.

How does one "deviate from a fact" and what does that even mean? (If you are trying to imply that I'm using pedantry to divert attention from the swearing, then that's not true. I've apologized for the swearing already -- hey, it *was* overboard, although intentionally so. I definitely stand by the underlying resentment, though). The pedantry is there because the rampant misuse of the term 'ad hominem' happens to be a pet peave of mine, is all.

> If you can't be polite, your points are not worth making.

As for this statement, I'm afraid I've utterly failed to discern any meaning whatsoever. Do elaborate.

Enough

Posted Feb 19, 2012 20:40 UTC (Sun) by rahulsundaram (subscriber, #21946) [Link]

If you want to be taken seriously, you need to be polite and not play word games which you seem to be insisting on doing. Nothing further to elaborate.

Enough

Posted Feb 19, 2012 20:44 UTC (Sun) by cmm (guest, #81305) [Link]

I've already made my point and have nothing to add, so I'm not sure what do you want from me now.

Enough

Posted Feb 19, 2012 21:07 UTC (Sun) by rahulsundaram (subscriber, #21946) [Link]

You asked me to elaborate and I have clarified what I said. What you can do is ack that and hopefully be a better netizen. Good luck!

Enough

Posted Feb 19, 2012 21:12 UTC (Sun) by cmm (guest, #81305) [Link]

Sure. Thanks, sheriff!

Enough

Posted Feb 22, 2012 11:32 UTC (Wed) by nye (guest, #51576) [Link]

>If you want to be taken seriously, you need to be polite and not play word games which you seem to be insisting on doing. Nothing further to elaborate

The funny thing is, you (rahulsundarum) are currently engaging in a *textbook* example of an ad-hominem argument.

If you want to be taken seriously, try making sensible logical points rather than derailing the discussion by attacking the manner in which your opponent's points are *presented*.

Enough

Posted Feb 20, 2012 12:17 UTC (Mon) by drago01 (subscriber, #50715) [Link]

> Of course, but the mainstream distros don't really give you the choice to stay with the old stuff, now do they? That's as close to the proverbial gun to user's head as those things ever get.

Not really the distros are as well free to do what they think is right. You must just accept that nobody has any obligation to provide you with the software you want for free.

You can either work on it yourself or convince others to do it, the later does not work by trowing around insults.

Enough

Posted Feb 20, 2012 13:22 UTC (Mon) by cmm (guest, #81305) [Link]

I'm actually quite open to an idea of paying money to someone who'd maintain a reasonably up-to-date Debian-based rolling distribution, for the service of providing me a sane, modern and non-disrupting desktop experience. Can't see anyone offering such a service, though. My guess would be this is because Linux users who care about sane (i.e. CATD-free, i.e. not Gnome- or KDE-based) desktop experience either end up rolling their own (suboptimal, but free) based on something conservative (I've gone with XFCE4 & Awesome, for instance) or just give up and buy a Mac, so there's no market. And the free distributions don't really have the resources to seriously maintain DE forks (no, the commendable heroics of Mint don't inspire much confidence in yours truly).

Bottom line is, there appear to be strong socio-economic reasons for platitudes like "the distros are as well free to do what they think is right" to remain just that, empty platitudes. But I guess such rhetoric passes the same rigorous standard as "but the conference-goers love this!" and "that's OK, just find an extension to do what you want!", so all is well.

Enough

Posted Feb 20, 2012 14:01 UTC (Mon) by drago01 (subscriber, #50715) [Link]

> Bottom line is, there appear to be strong socio-economic reasons for platitudes like "the distros are as well free to do what they think is right" to remain just that, empty platitudes

No this is a plain *fact*. Nothing more nothing less. You can twist words all you want but that is how it is.

Enough

Posted Feb 20, 2012 14:10 UTC (Mon) by cmm (guest, #81305) [Link]

It is also a plain *fact* that you are free to resign from your job (or quit your studies, more likely), to stop paying rent (if you do) and to go live under a bridge. There's a meaningful difference between possibility and probability, perhaps you should look it up.

(And please kindly show me which words did I "twist" and how exactly).

Enough

Posted Feb 20, 2012 14:31 UTC (Mon) by drago01 (subscriber, #50715) [Link]

> It is also a plain *fact* that you are free to resign from your job (or quit your studies, more likely), to stop paying rent (if you do) and to go live under a bridge.

Yes that's true. So? I fail to see what your point is.

> There's a meaningful difference between possibility and probability, perhaps you should look it up.

Yes there is but again this has nothing to do with the topic here. Again not sure what your point is.

Enough

Posted Feb 20, 2012 14:37 UTC (Mon) by cmm (guest, #81305) [Link]

> Yes that's true. So? I fail to see what your point is.

That's because you are being deliberately obtuse, which is exactly as expected judging from your earlier participation in this so called discussion.

Enough

Posted Feb 20, 2012 14:42 UTC (Mon) by drago01 (subscriber, #50715) [Link]

> That's because you are being deliberately obtuse, which is exactly as expected judging from your earlier participation in this so called discussion.

I suggest you should take a course or red a book about how to argue with people because seriously your attitude leaves a lot to be desired.

Anyway that's pointless so I am done talking to you.

Enough

Posted Feb 20, 2012 15:13 UTC (Mon) by niner (subscriber, #26151) [Link]

> (i.e. CATD-free, i.e. not Gnome- or KDE-based)

Cooperative Association of Tractor Dealers?

Enough

Posted Feb 20, 2012 15:17 UTC (Mon) by cmm (guest, #81305) [Link]

Sorry, typo. I meant this.

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 19, 2012 10:49 UTC (Sun) by Rehdon (guest, #45440) [Link]

> There is no such thing. We had this discussion in the other gnome3 article
> nobody that was talking about "power user" could describe what a "power
> user" is other than a buzz word being used to say "I am special".

Now that's a nice variant on the "I won't listen to you" attitude: I guess you mean that all the people complaining just have big, inflated egos (possibly suffering from "irrational hatred", as well) and nobody should be listening to their whining. And all of this has been ascertained beyond doubt "in the other gnome3 article". Yeah, sure.

What you don't understand is that the whole Unity/GS debacle has created a disconnect between the dev community and quite a part of the user community, and it's not a surprise that they are the "power users" ("inflated ego whiners" for you) who've been loving and using and spreading Gnome for a long time. The sooner you guys will put down such arrogant attitudes and exit the denial mode you're bathing in, the better for all of us: I've not given up on the idea of running GS some day (although I must say I'm reasonably happy with Cinnamon right today).

Rehdon

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 19, 2012 10:59 UTC (Sun) by drago01 (subscriber, #50715) [Link]

> Now that's a nice variant on the "I won't listen to you" attitude:

That's not what I said please don't put words in my mouth.

> I guess you mean that all the people complaining just have big, inflated egos (possibly suffering from "irrational hatred", as well) and nobody should be listening to their whining.

No I am just saying that "power user" does not describe any specific use case(s) to me. "I am a programmer." "I am a graphics designer." "I am using my computer do x, y and z." All of them describe a particular type of a user. Which you can design software for. But what is a "power user" ? I don't know there does not seem to be any conses in what that is. Hence it is meaningless.

As for the other article here you go: http://lwn.net/Articles/480887/ and http://lwn.net/Articles/480991/

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 19, 2012 11:29 UTC (Sun) by slashdot (guest, #22014) [Link]

The use case is investing a lot of time in learning about and tweaking a system to their desires, either because they simply enjoy doing that, or to improve later user experience.

The non-power user instead wants to be able to use their computer with minimal initial time investment (and thus minimal learning and minimal configuration), and doesn't mind the inevitably less efficient and less customized user experience he is limited to due to that.

For example, a power user will tend to purchase a new computer by researching and separately ordering each component, and often assembling it himself, while the non-power user will just quickly choose a pre-assembled machine from the site of a major oEM.

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 19, 2012 13:23 UTC (Sun) by drago01 (subscriber, #50715) [Link]

> The use case is investing a lot of time in learning about and tweaking a system to their desires, either because they simply enjoy doing that, or to improve later user experience.

OK, so how does the extension system does not fit that use case? It provides a level of customization no other desktop ever provided. It allows editing everything the UI, the behavior of the UI, add new UI elements ... in 3.4 we now support sub classing gobjects / implementing them in JS which mean extensions can even do more stuff. The have almost the complete control of the UI.

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 19, 2012 19:27 UTC (Sun) by Rehdon (guest, #45440) [Link]

Do you understand that to take advantage of the extension system you have to know how to program in Javascript and/or other languages? If you fail to grasp this simple notion continuing this discussion is pointless.

Rehdon

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 19, 2012 19:38 UTC (Sun) by rahulsundaram (subscriber, #21946) [Link]

Only one person has to know javascript enough to write a extension. Everyone else doesn't have to. In most cases, you already have a extension available to tweak what you want.

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 19, 2012 21:26 UTC (Sun) by drago01 (subscriber, #50715) [Link]

> Do you understand that to take advantage of the extension system you have to know how to program in Javascript and/or other languages?

That's simply untrue. You need to learn Javascript in order to write your own extension but you don't need any programming skills to install one (it just two three clicks can't be that hard really).

> and/or other languages

FWIW JS is enough.

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 21, 2012 6:31 UTC (Tue) by Rehdon (guest, #45440) [Link]

I meant "take advantage of the extension system" to modify or add configuration options to a Gnome Shell environment, I'm not talking about installing an extension. I guess an advanced user (or power user) would know how to do that. Are you just playing with words?

To sum it up:

- what in Gnome 2.x was available as configuration options to all users as part of the standard environment, now is not there and you have to know about extensions;
- extensions can conflict with each other;
- extensions will have to be re-installed for each Gnome Shell version;
- if you can't find an extension doing what you want, you have to program it yourself.

Now tell me that's not a REGRESSION with respect to what we had before. To gain what? Bling and big buttons? Thanks but no, thanks.

Rehdon

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 21, 2012 10:50 UTC (Tue) by cmm (guest, #81305) [Link]

> extensions will have to be re-installed for each Gnome Shell version

Tell me this is not true! I'm having a hard time keeping my palm off my face as it is!

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 21, 2012 13:25 UTC (Tue) by Rehdon (guest, #45440) [Link]

I'm using Linux Mint and had to carefully choose extensions to have a stable system, some of them were only working for a different Gnome 3 version. Support for automatic update will only be available starting from Gnome 3.4 iirc, so if you're patient enough you won't have to re-install updated versions by hand.

Frankly, I switched to Cinnamon and forgot about all that.

Rehdon

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 20, 2012 10:07 UTC (Mon) by niko (guest, #80138) [Link]

>No I am just saying that "power user" does not describe any specific use case(s) to me. "I am a programmer." "I am a graphics designer." "I am using my computer do x, y and z."
>All of them describe a particular type of a user. Which you can design software for. But what is a "power user" ? I don't know there does not seem to be any conses in what that is. Hence it is meaningless.

The point here is that for people upgrading from previous Ubuntu releases (which you might call power users) it is hugely inconvenient to use Unity.

I manage to find out how to run terminal but now in my big screen with lots of windows application menu went to status line. WTF??? And this is not configurable. I found the easy way - removing appmenu indicator packages but is this right way to do such a thing.

After using Unity for a while I do completely understand feeling of cmm.

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 19, 2012 11:16 UTC (Sun) by oldtomas (guest, #72579) [Link]

A good interior decorator is constantly bringing their client swatches and samples [...]. But they would never discuss dishwasher placement with the client.

This may be a "good interior decorator" according to Joel (who's this guy, anyway?), but not according to me.

And accordingly, he won't get my business. As won't Joel, Or Gnome. Or Unity.

I don't exist? No, in your world I don't.

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 20, 2012 8:54 UTC (Mon) by ovitters (subscriber, #27950) [Link]

You seriously want to discuss a dishwasher with a decorator?

I dislike such analogies, but that I'd find it terribly odd. I'd like a decorator to focus on what they're good at. Not something boring like which dishwasher. I don't get why you'd talk to a decorator about a dishwasher.

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 20, 2012 11:38 UTC (Mon) by dgm (subscriber, #49227) [Link]

I think he meant that someone forcing this kind of decision on their customers, and worse yet, refusing to hear their complains, makes him a very bad professional indeed.

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 21, 2012 14:02 UTC (Tue) by alankila (guest, #47141) [Link]

Yes, programming is often all about managing expectations. Customers are like elephants in your china store, architecture-wise: they can demand to change things that completely wreck everything and cause costs to balloon and delays to be missed. So you manage what they *can* want by keeping them suitably happy with nondestructive changes, while making sure that they have no input with the critical parts.

This way customers are happy, you are happy, things get done, and the results are good.

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 22, 2012 16:46 UTC (Wed) by knico (guest, #67323) [Link]

Except in the rare case where the customer actually has a good idea.

You see the risk to your carefully crafted system and dismiss the idea without analyzing its potential. This is how your results are good (but not great).

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 23, 2012 10:15 UTC (Thu) by mpr22 (subscriber, #60784) [Link]

Even if the customer's idea is good, if it didn't find its way into the requirements reasonably early then implementing it is likely to cause project-management problems.

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 23, 2012 18:48 UTC (Thu) by sorpigal (subscriber, #36106) [Link]

Except that Joel was not talking about the same thing. To quote from a just before your quote:

When politics demands that various nontechnical managers or customers "sign off" on a project, give them several versions of the graphic design to choose from.

We're not talking about getting a PHB to put his stamp of approval on something so you can start working on it, we're talking about feedback from users (who are often, remember, *programmers*, and non non-technical people!)

Want to keep quoting Joel? I know you'll like this bit:

If there's one thing every junior consultant needs to have injected into their head with a heavy duty 2500 RPM DeWalt Drill, it's this: Customers Don't Know What They Want. Stop Expecting Customers to Know What They Want. It's just never going to happen. Get over it.

Ahh, vindication! GNOME users don't know what they want so their complaints are irrelevant anyway. Joel continues:

Instead, assume that you're going to have to build something anyway, and the customer is going to have to like it, but they're going to be a little bit surprised. YOU have to do the research. YOU have to figure out a design that solves the problem that the customer has in a pleasing way.

Oh wait... did you figure out how to solve the user's problems in a pleasing way? Apparently not if, after the software is 'finished', they begin screaming at you that it's not solving their problems.

Joel's often an insightful fellow but using some out of context quotes of his is wrong, especially when they say almost the opposite of what you want them to say.

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 23, 2012 20:10 UTC (Thu) by khim (subscriber, #9252) [Link]

We're not talking about getting a PHB to put his stamp of approval on something so you can start working on it, we're talking about feedback from users (who are often, remember, *programmers*, and non non-technical people!)

It basically the same thing. Joel even says so directly in other place:

Every time you provide an option, you're asking the user to make a decision. That means they will have to think about something and decide about it. It's not necessarily a bad thing, but, in general, you should always try to minimize the number of decisions that people have to make.

This doesn't mean eliminate all choice. There are enough choices that users will have to make anyway: the way their document will look, the way their web site will behave, or anything else that is integral to the work that the user is doing. In these areas, go crazy: it's great to give people choices: by all means, the more the merrier. And there's another category of choice that people like: the ability to change the visual look of things, without really changing the behavior. Everybody loves WinAmp skins; everybody sets their desktop background to a picture. Since the choice affects the visual look without affecting the way anything functions, and since users are completely free to ignore the choice and get their work done anyway, this is a good use of options.
Oh wait... did you figure out how to solve the user's problems in a pleasing way? Apparently not if, after the software is 'finished', they begin screaming at you that it's not solving their problems.

No objections from me. GNOME people completely blew up a lot of UI decisions (or at least their approach to the introduction of said UI decisions), but that's completely separate question from the question of the amount of configuration allowed.

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 23, 2012 20:26 UTC (Thu) by dlang (subscriber, #313) [Link]

There's a big difference between forcing a user to make a decision and allowing the user to make a decision.

I agree that having a desktop environment that put the user through a long Q&A session to have them select the options for their desktop would be a disaster.

but removing the option for the user to change something that bugs them is just as bad.

People can easily ignore options. firefox about:config has hundreds, if not thousands of options (plus there are other things you can tweak in config files), most firefox users aren't even aware that about:config even exists, so those options don't hurt the user.

remember that every plugin/extension is an option, so by allowing them to exist you are creating a huge number of additional 'options' or 'decisions' for the user, probably far more options (and harder decisions) than if the features were included to begin with.

Provide the best defaults that you can, but provide the options to allow people to override the defaults.

Even better, if you can gather information about what defaults get overriden frequently, look into what is getting changed and why, and either make it easier to change that sort of thing, figure a way to guess the right setting for a user, or consider changing your default.

Lea: The Unity design process (and how you can play a part in it)

Posted Feb 28, 2012 15:06 UTC (Tue) by sorpigal (subscriber, #36106) [Link]

I still cannot agree that Joel is saying what you think he's saying

Every time you provide an option, you're asking the user to make a decision. That means they will have to think about something and decide about it. It's not necessarily a bad thing, but, in general, you should always try to minimize the number of decisions that people have to make.

Note my emphasis. In cases where the user has to make a decision, he's right. In cases where you ask the user to make a decision, he's right. Here we have a case where the user is asking to make a decision.

[snip]but that's completely separate question from the question of the amount of configuration allowed.

As GNOME3 fans will tell you, absolutely any configuration is allowed (via extensions). The question is what level of customization to support by the inclusion of knobs and how easy it is to find those knobs. I say more knobs is better, and put them somewhere a curious and determined user will be able to discover them. If they'd done that the UI decisions may not have been so hard to cope with.


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