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Summarizing menu wishlist design


Shaleh and others were very helpful in hashing out with me what we want in
a menu system.  Thanks to everyone who contributed. 

The design we'll go with for the Debian Jr. menu is as follows:

- Make a separate hierarchy for Debian Jr. which can be categorized
  into groups that make sense for children.

  - We considered at first just making the Debian Jr. menus a subset
    of the main menus and not restructuring them at all.  This approach
    fell out of favour when we realized that categories such as "Graphics"
    and "System" aren't necessarily sensible for children.  Instead,
    we might want "Coloring" (or "Drawing" or "Art"), "Writing", and
    eliminate meaningless abstractions like "Apps" and "System",
    preferring more concrete, "what can I *do* with this" categories

  - The separate hierarchy requires, we believe, support not presently
    in the "menu" package.  Namely, the automatic generation of multiple
    root menus by update-menus, one per user "class".  Initially, there
    would be two user classes, "full" and "debian-jr".  A user's account
    can be set up to use one or the other.

- Stick with one menu for children age 8 and under rather than creating
  one per subgroup.

  - While one menu per subgroup may make sense in a school computer lab
    stituation, at home siblings interact a fair amount when they are
    learning to use the computer.  It is helpful, therefore, to have
    the same navigational aids present on the older children's accounts
    as well as the younger.  That way, an 8 year old big sister can help
    her 5 year old little brother while he is on his account, as she will
    be familiar with where everything is.  Besides, making materials that
    are beyond a child's level available means she can choose to try them
    out whenever she is ready to and explore them instead of requiring
    the sys admin's intervention to enable that exploring experience.

  - While this may work for children between ages 5 and 8, for the very
    small children, menus are going to be of limited use anyway.  There
    is little point in suppressing the menus, though.  We will simply
    provide a different navigational aid, such as a button bar, wharf,
    or other "geographical" organization of programs for the child.

- Put the menu hierarchy in a debian-jr-menu package instead of tagging
  individual packages.

  - We rejected the "tag the individual packages as 'debian-jr'" approach
    because it involves touching too many packages.

  - Besides, having a separate -menu package opens up the possibility
    for other groups to provide their own menu hierarchies to suit
    the needs of different "classes" of user sharing the same Debian
    system (e.g. a computer lab that has a different "class" of user
    for each age-range or grade, and hence a different menu hierarchy)

- Leave out a rating system for now.  Inclusion in Debian Jr. menus is
  a simple yes/no decision made by the Debian Jr. project.

  - This is simplest from our point of view as developers.  Ratings take
    time to maintain and are subjective (read, prone to lengthy and
    unproductive disputes).  If user groups with specific needs want
    ratings in future and take the initiative, we can look at that point
    at providing technical support for them.  It shouldn't be too
    difficult to implement one or more foo-ratings packages along the
    same lines as the debian-jr-menu package, only including ratings
    on various different scales.

I'll present this design to the "menu" developers as a wishlist for the
"menu" package at the end of the week unless we have other things to add
or amend by that time.

    nSLUG       http://www.nslug.ns.ca      synrg@sanctuary.nslug.ns.ca
    Debian      http://www.debian.org       synrg@debian.org
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