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Re: dselect user interface

'Kevin Dalley wrote:'
>Can we put together a TODO list for Debian development?  This should
>be in either a developer web page, probably a link from the standard
>Debian web page, or a package.  We have gone around and around on
>dselect improvements.  Many of the suggestions have been implemented,
>but we don't have a new novice interface to dselect.  We also don't
>have a description of what features that should include.  A rough
>design document would be nice.  That might direct our future

After Ian said we need someone with time on their hands to work on
dselect, I downloaded the latest sources.  Unfortunately, it's in C++
-- not my favorite language :(  So I asked my friend John Kirk if he
might help (he's actually an experienced programmer!).  After 2 and a
half hours of work we concluded that dselect seems over-designed for a
simple user interface.  But redesigning it would take even more time
and I think we need to better understand dselects' data flows before it
could be attempted.  We might be able to puzzle out how to plug in a
couple of menus for novices with only several man-days of work.
Provided all our other life circumstances don't come crashing down.

Has anyone else looked at dselect?  Does anyone understand dselects'
classes?  Are they documented?  It seems to be a RTSL project :(

My first cut at a "novice" interface would involve the following:
  Under the '2. [S]elect      Request which packages you want on your system.'
  menu option these choices would be offered:
    1.  Basic Install (Only "standard" packages)
    2.  Workstation-Server (Include "optional" packages -- smail based)
    3.  Workstation-Server (Include "optional" packages -- sendmail based)
    4.  Full Install  (Virtually every package that won't result in conflicts)
    5.  Advanced Package Selection (the current dselect interface)

These options would skip all the dependency/conflict resolution
screens and just set things up for install.  Hopefullly, it will be
easy to let people enter the Advanced Package Selection after choosing
the basic parameters (but only if they dared!).

More ambitious changes would come once we understood dselect enough
to think on that scale.

Christopher J. Fearnley            |    Linux/Internet Consulting
cjf@netaxs.com, cjf@onit.net       |    UNIX SIG Leader at PACS
http://www.netaxs.com/~cjf         |    (Philadelphia Area Computer Society)
ftp://ftp.netaxs.com/people/cjf    |    Design Science Revolutionary
"Dare to be Naive" -- Bucky Fuller |    Explorer in Universe

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