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Mena-Quintero: A Friday rant on Gnome 3, journalists, and power users

Mena-Quintero: A Friday rant on Gnome 3, journalists, and power users

Posted Nov 11, 2012 3:40 UTC (Sun) by luya (subscriber, #50741)
In reply to: Mena-Quintero: A Friday rant on Gnome 3, journalists, and power users by rleigh
Parent article: Mena-Quintero: A Friday rant on Gnome 3, journalists, and power users

> The old GNOME2 HIG was mostly based upon quality work by the Sun Microsystems usability engineers. While it might not have been "exciting", it was mostly good stuff, and played an important role in GNOME2 becoming the refined, usable desktop environment that it was, including all its applications. I'm unconvinced that there were any "paradigms" that needed "breaking" here. All that happened was that GNOME got broken.

Can those ex-Sun usability engineers give their views so posters can hear them? What are those broken functionalities? Gnome Shell is designed to be minimal as possible so users can add extra functionality themselves similar to Mozilla Firefox as an example. While several posters wasted their time complaining how their holy functionalities are missing, other decided to work on extensions. I kept insisting on that point.

> No, you can't. Having a "broken by default" setup, which can be made "slightly more usable" by downloading untrusted code from a random website (rather than being an integrated part of your distribution) is just insane.

Hence the creation of extensions.gnome.org where quality of codes can be improved based on feedback unless Extensions from gnome.org based is random website by itself.

Having myself let regular users (who don't visit technical website and such) play with Gnome Shell running laptop, neither of them complaining about usability, majority of them already familiar with cellphone interface and few of them never touched a computer in their lifetime. Reading some posts, it appears the complains are from those who heavily optimized their desktop environments.


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Mena-Quintero: A Friday rant on Gnome 3, journalists, and power users

Posted Nov 11, 2012 7:48 UTC (Sun) by bojan (subscriber, #14302) [Link]

> Having myself let regular users (who don't visit technical website and such) play with Gnome Shell running laptop, neither of them complaining about usability, majority of them already familiar with cellphone interface and few of them never touched a computer in their lifetime. Reading some posts, it appears the complains are from those who heavily optimized their desktop environments.

Of course these users are not complaining about usability - they have no reference for comparison. All of us technical users do: many other systems, including Gnome 2 (against which all those usability problems are actually regressions). Duh!

How can someone that just touched Gnome know more about it than someone that used that stuff for over a decade, north of eight hours every day and to make a living? On which planet is that? Ridiculous.

Mena-Quintero: A Friday rant on Gnome 3, journalists, and power users

Posted Nov 11, 2012 23:54 UTC (Sun) by luya (subscriber, #50741) [Link]

> Of course these users are not complaining about usability - they have no reference for comparison. All of us technical users do: many other systems, including Gnome 2 (against which all those usability problems are actually regressions). Duh!

Then can we address the regressions instead of wasting time arguing that x DE don't care and actually talk to these DE designers and software developers?

Mena-Quintero: A Friday rant on Gnome 3, journalists, and power users

Posted Nov 12, 2012 0:59 UTC (Mon) by bojan (subscriber, #14302) [Link]

There are Gnome designers and developers reading LWN. The issues have been raised, repeatedly. I almost annoy myself these days by constantly trying to point out real usability regressions, many of which one can actually measure.

Maybe you did not read the blog post that this LWN article is about in great detail. It is clear from it that people that point out such technical issues (i.e. the technical people, to which the blog post sarcastically refers to as "regular people") are being systematically ignored.

That actually is the real problem - not the software itself. It almost like a "cultural revolution", where everyone that does something even remotely different with the system than what the designers had in mind needs to be re-educated.

Mena-Quintero: A Friday rant on Gnome 3, journalists, and power users

Posted Nov 12, 2012 1:37 UTC (Mon) by bojan (subscriber, #14302) [Link]

BTW, I have also raised many of these points on gnome-shell-list, as far back as Feb 2011.

It started by my watching of Gnome Shell screencasts on YouTube, which looked rather nice. Unfortunately, watching a film about something and actually doing that something are two completely different things. So, when I attempted to _use_ the system, I noticed usability regressions.

Here is almost the end of that thread (i.e. one of my last e-mails to gnome-shell-list):
---------------------------
If you go back to the beginning of this whole thread, you will notice a few things:

- I liked what I saw on YouTube
- I didn't like what I experienced when I used it
- I was _asked_ to explain why

It triggered this whole thread.

In the meantime, I went to read as to why Gnome Shell introduced overview.
Something about users having their focus taken away and having more space
available (I have just about the same space available in my Gnome 2 and
have taskbar and workplace switcher). I wasn't sure whether I should laugh
or cry.

In order for me not to be distracted when I want to do one of the
following:

- start an app
- find a hidden window
- switch workspace

I get the busiest interface known to man, which contains at least 2/3 of
stuff I don't want. To avoid distraction.

Seriously, who writes that stuff?

I'm wondering how are all the users of Windows and OS X surviving at all.
They must all be sufferring from ADD by now. :-)
---------------------------

So, yes. It's an attitude problem, really.

Mena-Quintero: A Friday rant on Gnome 3, journalists, and power users

Posted Nov 12, 2012 1:39 UTC (Mon) by bojan (subscriber, #14302) [Link]

> Feb 2011

Sorry, Apr 2011.

Mena-Quintero: A Friday rant on Gnome 3, journalists, and power users

Posted Nov 12, 2012 4:31 UTC (Mon) by luya (subscriber, #50741) [Link]

Let see:
> Something about users having their focus taken away and having more space
> available (I have just about the same space available in my Gnome 2 and
> have taskbar and workplace switcher).

What are those users really focused into? Overview is virtually your task bar including a dynamic workspace switcher(gnome-tweak-took allows setting a fixed amount), notification and dock.

> In order for me not to be distracted when I want to do one of the
> following:

> - start an app

- Meta key to go to Overview mode -> Type application of choice or click Application (on gnome 3.6, Application is located at the dock)
- Assign your favourite application to the dock
- Alt+F2 to access a command tool where you can type application
As extra, pick up the extensions suiting your need

> - find a hidden window
Either overview mode, alt+tab or alt+`

- switch workspace
Ctrl+Alt+Up or Down key

> I get the busiest interface known to man, which contains at least 2/3 of
> stuff I don't want. To avoid distraction.

Care to list those distracting stuff? See how the complains are not fully detailed yet wondering why there is no response? By using your own comment, visible taskbar on Gnome 2 is a distraction. Does that mean a technical user is that challenged unable to figure out way or seeking help about the use?

Mena-Quintero: A Friday rant on Gnome 3, journalists, and power users

Posted Nov 12, 2012 6:20 UTC (Mon) by bojan (subscriber, #14302) [Link]

I won't respond to your keyboard shortcut suggestions as solutions to GUI problems. Completely orthogonal.

> Care to list those distracting stuff?

Sure. When I want to start an app, all other elements contained in overview are just distractions. I never asked for expose. I never asked for dash. Never asked for (placed too far to be useful) workspace switcher.

In summary, please see RFC 1925 (6a) for what overview really is.

> Does that mean a technical user is that challenged unable to figure out way or seeking help about the use?

If you cannot parse what I wrote properly, please do not comment. I was not asking for help.

Mena-Quintero: A Friday rant on Gnome 3, journalists, and power users

Posted Nov 12, 2012 7:05 UTC (Mon) by bojan (subscriber, #14302) [Link]

> When I want to start an app, all other elements contained in overview are just distractions.

And just to be clear, that would be on Gnome design documentation criteria, not my own. If people can focus on just one thing at one time, how could they possibly handle the kitchen sink of the overview?

Mena-Quintero: A Friday rant on Gnome 3, journalists, and power users

Posted Nov 12, 2012 15:02 UTC (Mon) by davidescott (guest, #58580) [Link]

> Sure. When I want to start an app, all other elements contained in overview are just distractions. I never asked for expose. I never asked for dash. Never asked for (placed too far to be useful) workspace switcher.

Those are perfectly reasonable things for you to think for yourself, but those features are things that many others have come to expect from modern operating systems. To say that Gnome should not have expose on Alt-Tab makes it harder for everyone else who likes and expects expose, and doesn't want to have to hunt around for a menu option to enable it and set a hot-corner keystroke. Gnome3 "just works" for users like myself. Sure I was happy with gnome2 once I got the correct combination of gnome2+compiz+ccsm+awn+X+Y+Z but it took months to find the correct combination and hours to replicate on new systems. With Gnome3 I can sit down in front of a brand new install and just start working.

It seems to be me the compromise they made with a fixed set of commonly desired features + the ability to customize further with javascript is a good one. The biggest mistake they made was to start shipping 3.0 prior to getting a good stable infrastructure (extensions.gnome.org) in place. Had they been able to have both perhaps the frustration with the gui might have been directed at plugins to change the behavior instead of forking. That said its understandably hard to get a .0 release out the door and enable customization.

Mena-Quintero: A Friday rant on Gnome 3, journalists, and power users

Posted Nov 12, 2012 15:15 UTC (Mon) by Otus (subscriber, #67685) [Link]

> Those are perfectly reasonable things for you to think for yourself, but
> those features are things that many others have come to expect from modern
> operating systems.

I think you are missing the point. bojan didn't complain about Gnome3 having
expose or dash, but about all of those features jumping at your face when
you use Activities overview, regardless of what you are trying to do.

I.e. if you want to start a new app, why should most of the screen first
be taken over by your currently open apps and workspaces?

Mena-Quintero: A Friday rant on Gnome 3, journalists, and power users

Posted Nov 12, 2012 17:26 UTC (Mon) by bronson (subscriber, #4806) [Link]

> if you want to start a new app, why should most of the screen first be taken over by your currently open apps and workspaces?

Wow, I never noticed. That's a really good question.

Especially on my Thinkpad X120e where it takes two seconds to show all that stuff that I don't need.

Mena-Quintero: A Friday rant on Gnome 3, journalists, and power users

Posted Nov 13, 2012 15:42 UTC (Tue) by davidescott (guest, #58580) [Link]

> if you want to start a new app, why should most of the screen first
be taken over by your currently open apps and workspaces?

I understood his point. I'm saying its easier (and makes more sense) to put the expose in the start applications functionality over forcing the user to setup the hot corners.

I also think you are using some (unintentional) rhetorical devices to make your point. When I go to "start a new app" that doesn't literally mean "I want to start a new app" it means "I want to start an application AND SWITCH TO IT." You almost never seen anyone start a gui application and want it to be immediately backgrounded (exceptions being things like chat or file-sharing).

So its perfectly natural to show the application switching at the point of starting an application, because it IS application switching to start an application. I might have started the application I needed already; I might want to start the application on a new workspace, and having the switcher appear at that point means it appears at the exact moment I need it.

The moment you start typing in the name of an application, the overlay of other windows is replaced with the full screen display of relevant applications, because that indicates to the shell that you know you need to start a new application and not switch to a running one.

Compared to the GNOME2 model where:
1. You start applications in the (not a hot-corner) upper left (unless you move it)
2. Expose is not enabled until you configure it (and you cannot put it in the same place as starting application without risking overlaying a hot/non-hot corner)
3. If you start searching for an application and then remember its already running (or vice-versa) you have to start over from the beginning
4. If you want to start a new application on a different workspace you have to wait until it is running and then move it.

GNOME3 has all that functionality in a single hot-corner/hot-key, and there is no configuration step. It just works... so I'm extremely pleased with GNOME3 it finally makes sense.

Mena-Quintero: A Friday rant on Gnome 3, journalists, and power users

Posted Nov 13, 2012 17:01 UTC (Tue) by Otus (subscriber, #67685) [Link]

> I'm saying its easier (and makes more sense) to put the expose in the
> start applications functionality over forcing the user to setup the hot
> corners.

What does "setup the hot corners" mean? In Unity I have one button for
launching apps (opening the dash) and one button for changing workspaces. *
I didn't need to do any hot corner setup.

I don't disagree that having better defaults than in Gnome 2 is a good
idea. However, you don't need to push all of them under one button.

> So its perfectly natural to show the application switching at the point
> of starting an application, because it IS application switching to start
> an application.

Sure, you can consider "opening the app" a common action regardless of
whether it's currently running. This is why I used to use a dock (dockbarx)
even with Gnome 2.

However, the expose shown seems IMHO counter to that point: You scan the
open windows and don't find what you were looking, so you use *another* way
to launch the app. It doesn't help you launch the app faster if you don't
know whether it is open, and can in fact introduce a delay.

> Compared to the GNOME2 model where:

Again, I don't think the Gnome 2 defaults were very good. However, I find
the Gnome 3 setup worse that my customized setup was - and worse than my
current non-customized Unity setup is.

* There isn't a button (only keyboard shortcut) for expose on all apps, but
clicking the active app in the launcher opens expose on its windows.

Mena-Quintero: A Friday rant on Gnome 3, journalists, and power users

Posted Nov 13, 2012 21:36 UTC (Tue) by bojan (subscriber, #14302) [Link]

> Compared to the GNOME2 model where:
> 1. You start applications in the (not a hot-corner) upper left (unless you move it)

Just because the corner is not hot is no justification for overview. In fact, compiz could do hot corners just fine.

> 2. Expose is not enabled until you configure it (and you cannot put it in the same place as starting application without risking overlaying a hot/non-hot corner)

Nobody asked for expose.

> 3. If you start searching for an application and then remember its already running (or vice-versa) you have to start over from the beginning

You don't have to remember anything. You can see the darn things in the workspace switcher or the taskbar. Or you can use expose directly, if you so desire (it used to be upper right hot corner in compiz).

> 4. If you want to start a new application on a different workspace you have to wait until it is running and then move it.

Rubbish. First, you can actually _see_ which workspaces are available and without lifting a finger. Then you can switch to one with just one click and without your screen being repainted and your mouse travelling all the way to the left, followed by all the way to the right. And you can start the app there. So, it takes _less_ actions to do this in Gnome 2 or Gnome3 fallback than it does in Gnome 3. In fact, I do this a hundred times a day.

Nobody is saying that improvements to the way applications are started in Gnome 2 or Gnome 3 fallback are not welcome. Of course they are. Search is very useful, menu could signal that the application is already started somewhere etc. But overview is unnecessary and really just another indirection.

Overview also causes the desktop to be managed half here and half there. Why can windows be moved in normal view? Isn't that a distraction and "difficult" (according to Gnome developers/designers)? Shouldn't that be done in overview? Etc.

Mena-Quintero: A Friday rant on Gnome 3, journalists, and power users

Posted Nov 11, 2012 21:07 UTC (Sun) by Thanatopsis (guest, #14019) [Link]

Hmmm........
You say:
>Hence the creation of extensions.gnome.org where quality of codes can be improved based on feedback unless Extensions from gnome.org based is random website by itself.

Yet the Gnome designers say:

>Facilitating the unrestricted use of extensions and themes by end users seems contrary to the central tenets of the GNOME 3 design

and

>I agree with Allan. I am really concerned about this effort to encourage and sanction themes and extensions.

Mena-Quintero: A Friday rant on Gnome 3, journalists, and power users

Posted Nov 11, 2012 23:45 UTC (Sun) by luya (subscriber, #50741) [Link]

>Facilitating the unrestricted use of extensions and themes by end users seems contrary to the central tenets of the GNOME 3 design.
>I agree with Allan. I am really concerned about this effort to encourage and sanction themes and extensions.

Who is that designer and when was that quoted coming? Has anyone here gone reading and consulting what those group mean? It is very easy to take what was written on mail list out of context.
The person who wrote that quote could change his/her mind.

Mena-Quintero: A Friday rant on Gnome 3, journalists, and power users

Posted Nov 12, 2012 1:41 UTC (Mon) by Thanatopsis (guest, #14019) [Link]

Allan Day and William Jon McCann in a discussion on whether or not to set up extensions.gnome.org.

Mena-Quintero: A Friday rant on Gnome 3, journalists, and power users

Posted Nov 12, 2012 3:39 UTC (Mon) by luya (subscriber, #50741) [Link]

If you did a research about Allan Day (https://live.gnome.org/AllanDay), you would realize he is a designer, not GTK+ developer/maintainer (Ben Otte is)specializing in theme. Now that extensions.gnome.org is reality, his quote and McCann's you posted are irrelevant.

Mena-Quintero: A Friday rant on Gnome 3, journalists, and power users

Posted Nov 12, 2012 4:52 UTC (Mon) by Thanatopsis (guest, #14019) [Link]

If you could read You would see that I called him a designer. I'll leave this be as you are obviously incapable of discussing any of the issues with Gnome 3 whether it be regressions or the attitudes of the design and development team.

Mena-Quintero: A Friday rant on Gnome 3, journalists, and power users

Posted Nov 12, 2012 18:50 UTC (Mon) by ovitters (subscriber, #27950) [Link]

A designer still has to convince a maintainer. They don't have free reign. They didn't like the whole extension idea from the start. They didn't like that the extensions module existed, they didn't like the creation of extensions.gnome.org, etc.

Btw: Please leave out personal insults from this site.

Mena-Quintero: A Friday rant on Gnome 3, journalists, and power users

Posted Nov 12, 2012 8:01 UTC (Mon) by jond (subscriber, #37669) [Link]

> Having myself let regular users (who don't visit technical website and such) play with Gnome Shell running laptop, neither of them complaining about usability, majority of them already familiar with cellphone interface and few of them never touched a computer in their lifetime. Reading some posts, it appears the complains are from those who heavily optimized their desktop environments.

And indeed I've read many times how the desktop UI people are trying to make something that works for the users they *don't have yet* rather than the ones they *do*.

Mena-Quintero: A Friday rant on Gnome 3, journalists, and power users

Posted Nov 12, 2012 21:04 UTC (Mon) by tao (subscriber, #17563) [Link]

Personally I've managed to restore order to gnome-shell itself by use of extensions (basically just by using an extension that provides a 2-dimensional desktop), but there are plenty of other GNOME-components that have gotten completely butchered. I cannot think of any simple way to restore the functionality that was removed from Nautilus, for instance, nor for that matter finding much used for the crippled remains of the once awesome browser Epiphany.

Mena-Quintero: A Friday rant on Gnome 3, journalists, and power users

Posted Nov 13, 2012 2:23 UTC (Tue) by luya (subscriber, #50741) [Link]

A possibility could be extras functionality could not be rewritten on time due to either broken codes and incompatibilities. Somebody will need to step up and wrote one with assistance of the very gtk+ maintainer if needed.

Mena-Quintero: A Friday rant on Gnome 3, journalists, and power users

Posted Nov 13, 2012 8:53 UTC (Tue) by fb (subscriber, #53265) [Link]

> Having myself let regular users (who don't visit technical website and such) play with Gnome Shell running laptop, neither of them complaining about usability, majority of them already familiar with cellphone interface and few of them never touched a computer in their lifetime. Reading some posts, it appears the complains are from those who heavily optimized their desktop environments.

IMHO It seems like you are fooling yourself. Honestly.

You should try:
1. handling a "vanilla Gnome install" laptop to someone else,
2. have that person give the laptop to this 'test user' of yours and *leave*
3. while you are far and away from the scene (hopefully monitoring through camera feedback).

Seriously.

1. Just the fact that a "knowledgeable user" is sitting next already improves the experience as it calms people down. Anything goes wrong, the life-guard is right next to you.

2. I assume that once a user doubts about something, it will look at you. Say, if the mouse is going to the right direction, you'll confirm it before you know it. If its the wrong direction, you will guide them (perhaps by just glancing into the right direction, or frowning to indicate that the user should stop and reevaluate).

[...]

My experience is that teaching older family members 'new tricks' (how to deal with new interfaces, or solve new problems) while sitting next to them is trivial. I could almost say, "they figure it out by themselves". Remove me from the room and place me on the phone trying to guide them, and we have nothing but frustration.

Mena-Quintero: A Friday rant on Gnome 3, journalists, and power users

Posted Nov 13, 2012 15:54 UTC (Tue) by apoelstra (subscriber, #75205) [Link]

In my experience, "ordinary users" have either poor eyesight or poor literacy, because they read impossibly slow and are unable to process an entire screen full of data. If they have a dialog open and you ask them to click a specific checkbox, they will be unable to find it, taking a minute or two of moving the mouse in random directions while I tell them whether they are hot or cold.

I've never met a user who (a) would need help discovering a new interface, and (b) could read the entire screen, while (c) simultaneously reading my facial cues for hints.

For this reason, I'd expect Gnome 3 to be more discoverable, since it clears away everything except the stuff relevant to what you're trying to do.

This is certainly how I feel about it -- I have used a tiling WM for years, so most all user interfaces feel foreign and confusing to me. But when I use others' computers, I find Gnome 3 to be very "intuitive". It's comparable to Win7 and beats the pants off of XP, OSX or Unity.


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