[Date Prev][Date Next] [Thread Prev][Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

Re: dselect survey

On Fri, 10 Dec 2004 12:13:29 +0100, Florent Rougon <f.rougon@free.fr> wrote:

> I'm just trying to understand
> people who bash dselect on the first occasion. If you don't like dselect
> and don't fall in one of the cases I have mentioned, then we have a
> problem. Simply preferring aptitude is *not* a valid reason to say
> dselect is ugly, difficult to use, <insert typical dselect bashing crap
> here>.

Question: does awkward, non-intuitive user interface for a text-based
utility constitute a "problem"? I don't care for dselect primarily
because, for whatever reason, the user interface constantly rubs me
the wrong way. Although I have read the documentation, I almost always
remember it wrongly, hit the wrong keys, etc. etc. After working with
it for half an hour or so, I regain my proficiency... but after 6
months of not using it all that minutia is lost to my active memory,
and -- once again -- my intuition about how a text-based application
SHOULD work fails me.

Do I consider this a problem? Not particularly. It is my problem, as
much as anyone's. This is a sophisticated sysadmin tool, and I am only
an occasional sysadmin, by no means sophisticated.

> (f) bash dselect 'cause someone else said it was crap

However, if you believe that user interface is important, it might
behoove you to listen to your users: people don't usually grow to
"hate" a system administration utility simply because it's the hip
thing to do. Of course there may be some unreasonable, or even
plain-stupid users: but if you believe that user interface is
important, you even have to think about how to make *them* happy. An
owner, interested in user interface, might take it upon him- or
herself to start a thread asking for interface suggestions, in a place
where users congregate. Ask questions like: "What text-based
applications do you consider to be examples of good design?" Focus on
the distinction between navigation and data-altering events. Consider
on-screen cheatsheets that advanced users can disable. Ensure that
there are sufficient and obvious undo paths with multiple roll-back

I am a software developer too -- I know the temptation to mock users
who just don't get it when "it" is perfectly obvious. (I recently
rolled out some web software in which a table interface had graphical
links: up and down arrows at the top of each column, right below the
column label. The number one complaint was: "This is useless. There's
no way to sort!" Are my users dumb as dirt? Apparently they are. Is it
their problem? No, it's mine.)

Anyway, something to think about. 



Reply to: