Re: [Usability] Special Open Source Issue of Interactions Magazine

Hi Allan,

Alan Horkan wrote:
On Tue, 16 Jan 2007, Lennart Borgman wrote:
One of the biggest tricks in open source development is breaking down the
problem into smaller pieces.  The Human Interface Guidelines have been
essential in allowing users to express to developers how much they really
do care about usability, and consistency in particular. The buzzword here
might be heuristic analysis, because with a few general rules you can get
a lot done.

That is a useful view of it.

Understanding accessibility (a11y) helps you justify a lot decisions and
things to avoid like the careful use of colour and texture.

Yes, but there are so many parts of it. It is hard for me to understand how any software can still be released where not every feature is easily accessible from the keyboard for example.

If you care about accessibility it often helps if you can turn it back
around into a techincal discussion which developers will be more
interested in hearing.

My concern is that unfortunately accessibility seems to have low priority. I have for example contacted the developers of a very good GPL software and tried to make them fix bugs that makes the keyboard unusable in certain cases. Important usecases actually. After several month I still have not got any reply.

Still, technically to fix the problem you just have to add one or two lines to the code.

Antoher of my favorites when it comes to usability is my frustration
about the continous wheel inventing. One time when I installed GNU/Linux
everything went very, very fine -- until I should login and start using
it. I had no mouse on that system. I tried Ctrl-Esc, the Window Keys,
Ctrl-Alt-Del and everything else I learned from my MS Windows
experience. Nothing of it worked.

Funny you should mention that because if I recall correctly one of the
stated reasons for not copying those keybindings is *accessibility* or
more specifically predictability. [1]

It is a bit funny of course. There is no reason excluding a familiar key like Ctrl-Esc. If you use something like "StickyKeys" you can first type Ctrl and then Esc. If you still think it is bad from an accessibility point then do not exclude it. Add something that is better instead. (Of course you can not always add and add keys but in such a central case like this I think you can do it.)

Gnome uses
Alt+F1 for the main menu
Alt+F2 for the run dialog

Makes me think of myself sitting there and trying different key combinations before giving up ...

Given the majority of existing users are familiar with Microsoft
technologies I certainly favour an embrace and extend approach but that is
easier siad than done.  Ideally though it is projects like OLPC targetting
the even bigger audience of totally new users which have the potential to
make revolutionary changes.

I am glad to hear you like favour this.

Thanks for your thoughts,

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