Re: Word Processors

On Thu, 17 Sep 1998 18:05:31 Quantum Seep wrote:
> I am talking more about live configuration - after the product has been
> installed and run several times.  My configuration system could be used
> while the application is running or while it's down, since it can be
> accessed via an external program.  Of course, experts might want to use it
> to set up their system, but Q&A dialogs (aka wizards) might work better for
> newbies.

We are talking about two diff things. I'm talking about binding cobra objects
to tasks (content creation,markup,page layout,outlining) -- your.... not.
I may have misread your post.
> I happen to be a big detractor of "wizards" or "project templates."  They
> are too linear, and usually not reversible.  They provided an illusion of

OK, but other people will want them.

> power in the product.  When you use one to create a new project or setup a

Not power, ease of use . again two diff things.

> program, you are forced to wade through a series of dialogs, even if you can
> click "Don't care" on each one.  They seem to provide a sort of

Nobodys forced to do any thing, I'm talking about setup. It should be
usable out of the "box".

> "meta-control" over the resulting project.  However, once you're in the
> middle of the project, if you change your mind about one of the wizard
> selections, you'll have to either create a new project, or manually make all
> the miniscule changes yourself, thus defeating the "power" of the wizard. 
> IMHO, it is more challenging for the programmer, but ultimately more
> satisfying for the user if you skip the wizard and give them powerful
> controls over the parameters the wizard would have tried to set.  You can
> even track their usage of these controls to create defaults for new projects
> (prototypes).

again two diff things (and this time your reading things into what I say).
meta-control and quantum-plumbing aside, I'm talking about setup. "Wizards",
"Trained Monkeys", or "templates" just give you a place to start from. They 
excise no "power" (or meta-control or meta-tarsels <grin>) over the finished

> You also argue that a user might screw up their setup using my "under the
> hood" system.  We can ameliorate that possibility in two ways.  First, we
> can make it an "expert mode" and discourage them from using it.  Second, we
> could provide them with an "undo" or "revert" option to take their setup
> back to a resonable state.  If they have created custom modules, they would
> not lose them - they would just be disconnected from the "sockets."

We have a saying at work, everybody thinks their a programmer. A novice is
a novice becuase he/she is unaware of a lot of things, and one of those things
can be the fact the he/she is a novice <grin>. Give'em an expert mode and they
will still screw up, but hey, you can only hold thier hands so far. Undos
have limits. How many things can they screwup before they figure it out that they 
have screwed-up? How many times will they try to fix it before they try "undo"?

> Frankly, I am tired of giving up power in the name of so-called "ease of
> use."  If we followed that rule with shells, we would never have had pipes
> because they are just "too confusing."  Developers should not be creating a
> padded cell for the users - they should be providing them with basic,
> powerful and natural tools to manipulate information.

The OS "has" pipes, the shell provides an interface to them. Shells don't
require the user to know or use pipes. Shells were designed when the people
who use computers were very diff. WPs have to target a diff user.

> When I use software, I want to feel like I'm in the kitchen, not at 
> McDonald's being asked if I would like "to SuperSize that."  Except there's
> more than just knives and sieves in this kitchen - there are pasta makers,
> and burger makers, and some prepackaged tortellini salad, and freeze-drying
> machines.  And they're all right where they should be.  So when Tim Allen
> walks into the kitchen without a scrap of culinary knowledge, he pushes some
> buttons on that burger-maker and he's done.  Then Julia Child walks in and
> fashions some fantastic plate.  The kitchen for everyone.  The key thing is
> that there's no menu, and no dumb waiter asking you if you want a salad, and
> what kind of dressing, and so forth.  You do it yourself, but you don't need
> to know how.

I don't want Tim or Julia in my kitchen, Tim will destory everything and Julia
will drink all my wine <grin>.
Those buttons Tim is pushing can be "trained monkeys" and/or templates.
If Julia doesn't want the menu (metaphoricly speaking) she can turn it off. Julia
would know enough about her kitchen to do that. Tim may not, so he is the one
that needs the help.

The damnable paperclip is a bad idea not because it's there, It's bad idea
b/c it comes back from the dead more times that Jason from Friday the 13th.
No helper UI should do that.

> Recommended reading:
>   About Face: The Elements of User Interface Design by Alan Cooper
>     (I don't always agree with him, but he sure makes you think)
>   Design Patterns by the Gang of Four
>     (can provide many ideas on how to implement configurability)

I suggest you read them more. I'm not trying to be mean or spitful, I just don't
think you're quite thinking this though.

Reklaw - I code therefore I need gin and sprite.
GNOME software projects - Pharmacy * gnome-standalone

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