Re: Draining the Swamp: A Technical User's Experience

On Tue, 2002-05-07 at 22:39, Linas Vepstas wrote:
> Occasionally, I want to tweak some parameter or another in my window
> manager (such as 'focus-follows-mouse' or 'click-to-focus') and it
> can take quite a while to figure out where this is hidden.   I'm never
> quite sure which path through the menu tree will get me to this option,
> thus, exploring the menus leads to a lot of dead ends before I find it.
> Similarly: making the gnome panel auto-hide.  I know its configurable,
> somewhere.  But I configure this so infrequently, I forget where it is. 
> Every user has some infrequent (bi-annual) configuration that they do,
> and those of us who are memory-crippled can't remember how, and must 
> search. 

I have to confess I find this situation a little too forced to be
believable when it comes from people who know best...

Speaking for me, I never had any trouble finding this kinds of options
just as I have absolutely no problem trying to find some option on
xchat, a supposedly prodigal example.

But maybe that can be because when I install a new program I explore
it... I see all options in the setting dialog and try them out, to see
whether they'll make my experience with the app better or not.

Getting the gist of the settings this way, may have made me more capable
of finding an option... or else, there's probably some exaggeration

> The "MacIntosh" solution is "make nothing configurable".  That makes
> configuration real easy: you can't, and you don't.   Unfortunately,
> this philosphy is contradicted by the common knowledge of application
> developers: its the sum total of obscure, rarely used features that
> make  an application popular.   That is, if you remove 1% of the
> features, you loose 10% of the users.  It doesn't take much to loose all
> of your users. 


> Unfortuantely, I do not know how to strike the right balance between
> making more things configurable and making any given configuration item
> easier to locate.

There are two ways, I think, to do that:
 * a Power TO YourSelf (Power TOYS) tool that is a little like the
gnome1 controlcenter, concentrating all advanced options
 * just leave it in gconf

> Maybe  searchable, hyper-linked help that will take you instantly to
> that configuration item?  A 'search engine' for things that can be
> configured?

I think this is a little too hard... maybe gconf-editor will do, if the
options have readable names, and showup, either set or unset.


+ No matter how much you do, you never do enough -- unknown
+ Whatever you do will be insignificant,
| but it is very important that you do it -- Gandhi
+ So let's do it...?

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