Re: A Proposal For The Addition Of Color-Reactiveness To The GNOME Desktop

On 20 May 1998, Rob Browning wrote:

> Bowie Poag <> writes:
> > I see your point, tho -- I just dont see the need to give the user that
> > degree of freedom when choosing Lamp and Beacon color. Sure, it would be
> > nice. :) But with freedom comes responsibility. Lets suppose 3 years from
> > now, color-reactiveness has caught on, and everyone uses it.. And just by
> > virtue of public opinion, Blue always means sleeping, and Aqua always
> > means running. What happens if someone comes along and tries to make a
> > Lamp which is halfway between Blue, and Aqua? Which is it doing, sleeping
> > or running? Denying the user the ability to arbitrarrily choose the color
> > of color-reactive elements from a pallete of 16.7 million would open a
> > Pandora's Box of sorts. Its one of the rare occasions you'll see where
> > giving the user ultimate freedom is a bad idea.
> I don't believe in *dictating* to the user.  I think there should be
> reasonable defaults, and perhaps it shouldn't be *easy* to change some
> things, but if the user really can't stand something, they should be
> allowed to change it.  Note that we're talking about unix here.  Each
> user will log in to the machine as themselves, so if some user wants a
> completely wacky scheme, no-one will have to deal with it but
> themselves.

Perhaps I wasn't clear in the original statement -- I'm not advocating
that we forcefully impose *anything* on the user, when it comes to the
flexibility in appearance of color reactive elements. I agree with
you, totally. I'm simply suggesting that a core group of 8 colors be
established, and no more -- Because the more basic colors you make
available, the more difficult they are to discern from one another.
Allowing the user to have like 512 different lamps would only serve to
confuse matters, and defeat the purpose of having color-reactiveness to
begin with. I.E. , there should be ONE "blue" , not 96 different shades of
blue. There are better ways to express the different states.

The expression of different states should be handled by the Color
Transition table. With just two different colors, you can express a whole
multitude of different lamp behaviors:

C = Clear, G = Green

Connecting..         CCGGCCGGCCGGCCGGCCGGCCGGCCGGCCGG (Normal blinking)
Downloading..        CGGCGCGCGCCCGGGCGCCGCCCGCGGGGCCG (Random blinks)

See? With only two different colors, we're already able to depect five
different operational states, just by making them blink in different ways.
This demonstrates the flexibility I was talking about earlier. 

> And there are other issues here.  What about color-blind people?  For
> them, color choices are crucial, and physical indications are often
> superior to color changes.  I'm just making the point that thinking
> that you can anticipate *everyone's* needs and then imposing decisions
> on them when you don't have to is a form of pointless controlling.
> With UIs I'd say encourage a standard rather than enforcing it.

I agree. Only when its absolutely necessary should standards be enforced
outright. Any standard needs to be flexible enough to allow everyone who
uses it to be comfortable with it. 

> > Its like dealing with crayons. You're never going to need more than that
> > big box of 64, most kids are happy with 48, and nearly everybody can get
> > by with just a small pack of 16 :) The same applies to color-reactiveness,
> > in my opinion. 8 different static color states are enough to convey the
> > total number of possible states expressable by any paticular program.
> Hmm.  Without solid proof, this sounds a little like one of those "no
> one will ever need more than 256K RAM" statements...
> Note I'm not completely knocking any of this.  I think it's
> interesting, but I'm urging the consideration of more flexibility.
> Although I'm no longer worried if the Enlightenment author's getting
> involved :>

Don't worry. :) Thats the whole point of writing proposals -- to open the
forum up to questions, and test the viability of the idea.

I see your point, but I think you might not be looking at the situation
from the right angle. I agree, there are two ways to be flexible. One is
to have just a ton of colors to play with--The other, is to have an
equally large number of WAYS to display those colors. The pitfall of
having a ton of colors, versus a ton of ways of depicting them, is that as
the number of colors you use grows larger, the more difficult it is to
differentiate between them.

*My* point is, the best method of flexibility lies within HOW you  
represent the colors, not with the NUMBER of colors to work with. 

Bowie J. Poag

> -- 
> Rob Browning <>
> PGP fingerprint = E8 0E 0D 04 F5 21 A0 94  53 2B 97 F5 D6 4E 39 30

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