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Re: Info sucks?

On Tue, Sep 15, 1998 at 11:09:57PM -0500, Philip Thiem wrote:

> > Despite many jokes to the contrary, there _do_ exist computer interfaces
> > that people can just use without (significant?) training.  Even most
> > brain-dead first-time newbies can figure out by themselves that the
> > "arrow keys" are used to "move the cursor" when they are in a text
> > editor.
> I supposer your version of brain-dead excludes those people that have to
> called tech support to ask where the start button is.  Or those that argue
> with tech support over going to the start button to shutdown.

Hey, I said "most" :)

And actually, pressing the start button to shutdown _isn't_ intuitive, in my
opinion.  You may be able to justify it as "consistency", but I can't
imagine a new user thinking "Oh, I want to shut down my machine, I'll just
press Start."

As for questions like "what's a button" and "where did my taskbar go"...
well, every interface requires people to learn a few basic concepts.  My
"arrow key" example assumes that a new user knows what a keyboard is and
that pressing keys has an effect.  Windows is a bit harder -- it assumes you
know what a mouse is, and what that can do.

But once you know a few basic concepts, Windows has an interface that mostly
"holds together." You learn about menu bars right away -- and surprise,
completely distinct programs like Netscape and Help have similar menu bar
options to aid in navigation.

"Info" reader hugely lacks in intuitive interface design.  Like I said,
until a year or two ago even the arrow keys didn't do anything.  Well,
actually I think pressing them sent you off to a random page because the
escape codes got misinterpreted.

Even a person who's used to emacs will need to read the info tutorial,
because the 'n' key in emacs doesn't go to the next link, and you don't use
'l' to go to the last page you were on.  Did you need to use the WinHelp
tutorial when you first used Windows?

I don't mean to insult only info, of course... my main point when I got into
this thread was that there _is_ no good Unix documentation reader.  I should
also mention that most Windows ones are rotten too, though much better than

Anyone want to bring up Acrobat Reader?  I have some _great_ complaints
about that one.

Have fun,


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