Re: roadmap status update/update request

On Mon, 2005-03-07 at 11:14 -0800, Eugenia Loli-Queru wrote:

Hi, Eugenia,

> The idea was that this would be a Gnome-sponsored poll and it would attract 
> people from many sites, not just osnews or this mailing list. The idea would 
> be to get at least 300,000 people vote (I can get you 50-60,000 voters out 
> of the 250,000 daily osnews readers, the rest must be done via ml, slashdot, 
> gnomedesktop etc).

What would be really valuable is to go out there and do some field
research.  Ask end users, not enthusiasts, what their top-5 annoyances
are.  Find a list of big deployments of GNOME (City of Largo, various
cities in Germany and Spain, Brazilian Telecentros...), get ahold of the
people in charge of the technical side of the deployments, and *ask*
them what their users have told them they need.

I'm afraid that a big poll among enthusiasts will list translucent
animated menus as a top priority.

Let me give you a quick example.  My wife teaches English at a local
high school; she is definitely not a technical person.  She uses
whatever software I install on her laptop, which is basically OpenOffice
on top of <some-linux-distribution>.  Her main requirements are to share
documents in MS-Office formats with her teacher coworkers; also, the
more mundane requirements are there (mail, web).

As a teacher, she often resorts to various net resources to find
teaching materials.  The thing that pisses her off the most is when she
clicks a link in her browser, to download some file, and that file is
not in a format that is supported out-of-the-box on her machine:

- While looking for Thanksgiving music for a little play by students,
she came across a huge pile of MIDI files.  When she clicked on one, the
browser told her that no viewer was installed for that file format, and
would she like to download the file instead --- which is useless.  Is
this a distribution issue (should distros just install a sequencer and
everything by default)?  Maybe; but the visible effect is that common
things still don't work out of the box.

- Video in various formats.  Enough said.

Assorted, everyday annoyances:

- Her coworkers of course use MS Office.  Whenever she creates a
document in OpenOffice, she has to remember to check whether she's
saving it in an MS format.  I know it's a configuration option so you
don't have to set it every time --- then you get this scary dialog that
some of the things she did may not be supported in those MS formats.

- Dismal user interface for creating tables in documents.


In general, field research would be more beneficial in the long run.
Real users --- random people who go to Brazilian Telecentros, office
clerks in European cities --- don't know where to report their
annoyances with free software.  They don't have time to find out about
it as they just want to get things done.  You have to go to them, ask
them, and watch them use the software.


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