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The Grumpy Editor's diagram editor followup

The Grumpy Editor's diagram editor followup

Posted May 10, 2004 22:52 UTC (Mon) by alspnost (guest, #2763)
Parent article: The Grumpy Editor's diagram editor followup

Thanks Jon - once again, LWN proves its worth beyond any doubt. Not only are the articles useful in themselves, but it's really nice for the readers to request a feature and to watch it just happen. It's a small thing, but if only all organisations listened to their "customers" like that ;-)

Keep up the excellent work, though you seem to require little encouragement!

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The Grumpy Editor's diagram editor followup

Posted May 11, 2004 1:24 UTC (Tue) by miallen (guest, #10195) [Link]

I agree with alspnost. I think the Grumpy Editor is on to something interesting. It's virtually unheard of to get an objective review of anything in the tech world.

Here's an idea; devise a list of office related software tasks and use that as a sort of benchmark. There should be 5 or 10 tasks like:

user B receives email form user A with specs for wheel
create diagram of wheel including text from body of email
create table in spreadsheet of wheel test results
insert diagram into document
insert table into document
email document to user C
user C formats and prints document

It makes me nervous to hear the Linux crowd talk about how great the Linux desktop is. The Linux desktop is good for simple things but there are serious holes.

Linux hard to use?

Posted May 11, 2004 3:33 UTC (Tue) by hathawsh (guest, #11289) [Link]

This is drifting offtopic, but after battling Windows XP for a week, I'm now surprised when people say Linux is hard to use. I spent days trying to figure out how to do the following on a new Thinkpad:

- Configure wireless networking. It simply refused to work.

- Disable all listening ports (to avoid viruses)

- Resize partitions

- Map the function keys to virtual desktops

I could buy extra software to do these things, but that means Windows is incomplete. With Linux, these core tasks are only keystrokes away once you have some guidance or experience, and there's so much guidance out there on the net. Once I finally gave up on Windows, I returned to the friendly world of Linux. Nearly all of the drivers for the hardware come with the distribution (including Intel Gigabit, an Atheros wireless card, USB device drivers, etc), along with simple tools to manage everything (iwconfig, netstat, ntfs/reiserfsprogs, KDE, and so on.)

Unlike five years ago when I did a similar comparison, I found Linux significantly more usable than Windows. I think Linux is now ahead of Windows in ease of use, and that adoption is held up only by momentum. Linux has problems too, but I'm convinced that time spent learning how to solve a Linux problem is quicker and more fruitful than time spent learning proprietary solutions.

Linux hard to use?

Posted May 11, 2004 14:17 UTC (Tue) by rjamestaylor (guest, #339) [Link]

Solution: use Linux (etc) for networking and Internetworking. Use Windows, unplugged when possible, physically firewalled when not, to do other things.

Continue this task separation until
(1) Linux (etc) has features matching Windows or
(2) Windows gets a screen.

Linux hard to use?

Posted May 11, 2004 23:32 UTC (Tue) by miallen (guest, #10195) [Link]

Map the function keys to virtual desktops

Wow! I thought I invented that. I use F3 to go "left" and F5 to go "right".

But it could still be better

Posted May 11, 2004 23:31 UTC (Tue) by bryn (guest, #1482) [Link]

I am wary of getting critical of LWN, since the crew do such a good job and I wouldn't want them to stop. However, I still think there is some room for improvement. In this case I would be very pleased to see that the Editor has communicated with the developers of a package to make sure he has the full story. One of the great things about Free Software is that developers are quite easy to contact, so undocumented/hidden/upcoming features could also be reported on with a little extra checking.

I dunno Jon, maybe you already do this, but given some of the feedback I see here there still seems to be scope for something more.

not really

Posted May 13, 2004 2:41 UTC (Thu) by vblum (guest, #1151) [Link]

Actually, it is highly instructive to hear how a tool will work _before_ you actually know all
the workarounds because you spoke to the High Master of Said Tool Himself. There are a
million workarounds in the world, but the key to a usable program is to get a specific job
done within reasonable amounts of time.

For instance, one of the previous posters' comments on screenshots to convert images -
that will work once, but if I had to do that every single time that I convert an image, I would
go nuts. Fortunately, there is convert out there, and the relevant information is actually
accessible in the man page, hear hear.

Not that _that_ was so easy to find out, though - from display's menus alone, I had no idea
how quick the access to standard features was in convert, and spent a lot of fruitless time
trying to wrestle gs ...

LWN Modality

Posted May 13, 2004 17:32 UTC (Thu) by JLCdjinn (guest, #1905) [Link]

Yeah, we definitely get different kinds of news from LWN, and these different types serve different and (in my estimation) still valuable purposes. On one hand we have "The Grumpy Editor" series, which does try to do an on-the-surface evaluation of many tools in parallel. This is very useful for users of a given feature set who want an initial impression of the various tools in the field.

On the other hand we have "Jon Corbet, Investigative Reporter", particularly with respect to the Kernel section. I think LWN does an excellent job of balancing its energies into news of interest to its readers. It would be a great deal of work to do an in-depth evaluation of these tools. A user-focused overview is news; an in-depth tool feature discussion is a HOWTO or other tool documentation, unless it concerns something new or of particular critical interest to the community.

But it could still be better

Posted May 15, 2004 16:41 UTC (Sat) by bronson (subscriber, #4806) [Link]

I totally disagree. For desktop-oriented software like this, reasonably experienced users should be able to immediately use a program to do basic tasks. If they have to resort to reading the manual or asking the mailing list to get even simple tasks done, the program has failed.

There are always exceptions, but drawing programs are not one of them. :)

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