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Re: Usability: Technical details in package descriptions?

Hi all,

Debtags shows great promise in covering the technical aspect of describing Debian packages. Debtags do a better job than Package Descriptions when it comes to precisely describing a package in a highly-technical, highly-searchable format (that is fully geek compliant).

Wouldn't it make sense that debtags and Package Descriptions not do redundant work of each other?

I propose that by a simple split in the use of the Package Description and debtags between the "internal world" (ie. relative to the computer) and "external world" (ie. relative to the end user's real life apart from their computer), respectively, I think we can make the best use of volunteer effort as they review the Package Descriptions and create debtags.

I think that the Package Description should be (re)written using language intended at your grandma. This way she can intuitively find packages also without needing to learn about the debtags system. Learning how to use the search button in Synaptic is work enough for her, let alone learn and play with debtags to do wild and crazy searching (with logical operators no less).

As debtags cater to the geek, I think the Package Description should cater to grandma. I think the package desription should state the purpose of the software as it relates to the real world, whenever possible: eg. "helps you easily keep lists of contact information on people along with details like their birthdays". A description like this is useful to grandma. Anything more technical and you lose her to the likes of Ubuntu or Linspire. Come on, throw grandma a (less than 80 character) bone! Grandma can give back some day by helping to file a bug report or something.

I therefore propose that ***the package description should explain how a package could be used for real-world usefulness for the end user***, giving an example or two for those with dimmer imaginations than hard core geeks. In my example above, mentioning tracking birthdays helps users start imagining the potential usefulness of the software. Note how mozilla.org has a screenshot of the craiglist website on the front page to help users *imagine* visiting a website like craigslist using the browser (albeit visually, not textually). Same idea. Imagining how some piece of software could be useful is hard work for most people, and you can help them tremendously by providing a simple and obvious-to-you example in the package description.

Debtags will much better handle all the fine-grained, geeky details, like the language it was written in, and to which suite it belongs. Therefore ***I think debtags should aim to exclusively describe a package's relationship to the internal system it lives in, ie. relative to Debian.***

And on a related tangent, wouldn't it also make sense that all the volunteers who are going to examine all the package descriptions one at a time also create the appropriate debtags while they are at it? This could further help eliminate redundancy in what debtags and package descriptions explain.

At the very least, wouldn't it make sense for there to be more coordination between the debtags effort, and the Packages Descriptions review campaign? Maybe the gui tool "debtags-editor" should/could be extended to *also* allow editing of package descriptions?

Dustin Harriman

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