Re: Dia's user interface

i just finished reading that article, i like Havoc.

i went on for ages about keybindings but never got around to submitting
all the necessary patches.  I know that you can easily set these yourself
but that is no reason not to have sensible defaults (as i have said
previously on this list and was mentioned in the article).

if you are trying to do a fully coloured diagram in dia it is very
difficult as you have select each item, choose properties then choose the
color.  Ideally there would be a color picker so i could choose simply
"red", "green", etc or use #00000, i dont have time to go into detail, i
will eleaborate later if you like.  Try using dia for drawing artwork
instead of using the more sensible option of Sodipodi (which unlike dia
does not run on both windows and linux).

MDI is great if you have a decent window manager, but frankly win32 does
not and it would be vastly more convenient if i could pin the tools
windows always on top, or that i could have the main window maximised with
enough room left for the tools window (i could do this manually but anyone
who tells me that is missing the point).  This kind of improvement might
be more appropriate to gtk for windows rather than dia, but i have not
talked to anyone further upstream.  Essentially organising the various
windows is a pain for some one who (even when using linux) is still very
used to SDI.

It was ages before i realised i had to use the center button to access
certain features.  Not many laptops come with a 3 button mouse, using a
trackpad can be far less precise than a mouse so i appriecate when a
program is well designed and accesable (but mostly i wait until i have a
desktop computer i can work at).  Sometimes redundancy is bad but i think
it should be possible to do almost anything just using the keyboard
(although this is slightly less practical with a drawing application than
say a word processor).

Labelled toolbar buttons.  When you are just getting started having to
use tooltips is slow and cumbersome.  Also bigger buttons are easier to
hit.  Although i realise this may not be appropriate for Dia, it is
something programs like abiword should make more use of.  (Abiword can
actually do this if you edit a config file and it has the UI for it but no
one actually wired the UI to functionality.  It is an old bug and one of
my pet peeves but i digress).

I found the default selection behaviour very odd.  If i select an obect i
do not expect both the current and previous objects to be selected (unless
i have held down shift or ctrl or something).  This may be what other have
become used to but it is inconsistant with my general usage of other
programs, such as selecting files in Nautilus or on the desktop.

Font sizes are not set using the standard sizes such as 10 point, 12
point, 24 point etc.  It is like forcing an American to use metric.  I can
figure it out but i know roughly what size 12 point is when it is printed
and i dont have the same referenece to reality when the units are changed.

Hope that helps.  I am one of those Usability critics mentioned in the
article who does not submit much code (yet).  I would be happy to give
this more thought and analyse more what things slowed me down when using
dia or did not work as expected.  I hope i can help to make dia even

Alan Horkan

PS SDI single document interface, MDI Multiple document inteface.  I hate
when people just assume you know what an acronym means so i try not to do
it myself.

PPS I strongly suggest comparing and reusing the best ideas from similar
programs like Kivio, Visio, Rational Rose, Sodipodi, Corel Draw etc.

On 21 Apr 2002, Lars Clausen wrote:

Date: 21 Apr 2002 16:43:31 -0500
From: Lars Clausen <lrclause cs uiuc edu>
Reply-To: dia-list gnome org
To: dia-list gnome org
Subject: Dia's user interface

After reading <URL:> about
user interfaces in open-source software, I would like to hear if anybody
on the list knows something about user interfaces (more than just from
having used a bunch).  If there are any, could you point out the worst

Im afraid my only qualification is having used a bunch of interfaces, read
a few things on the internet and though very carefully about exactly
what i am doing and why i am doing it.
The stuff i am learing in University about Human Computer Interaction is a
bit too hight level but their time is limited.

This should be on the required reading list for anyone who develops
Interface Hall of Shame

problems that Dia has in its interface?  I'd like to turn some attention to
that as we work towards a 1.0 release.


Lars Clausen (| Hårdgrim of Numenor
"I do not agree with a word that you say, but I   |----------------------------
will defend to the death your right to say it."   | Where are we going, and
    --Evelyn Beatrice Hall paraphrasing Voltaire  | what's with the handbasket?
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