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more great open source ui

" And then the bad news, Scribus is ugly and loading it up for the first time is a real shock to the system. I was presented with a grey background, white document and some pretty unintuitive menus and buttons. Everything seemed very clunky and strange, functions weren't where you would expect to find them. For example I instinctively went to find a print preview function under the "File" menu, but it wasn't there. It was only later when I was stumbling around the menus that I discovered that Print Preview was under the Extras menu."

http://madpenguin.org/Article1284.html

Uncle Jesse
Friday, April 30, 2004

Print and Print Preview were placed in the File menu because nobody could think of where else to put them. It is anythng but intuitive but it has become the tradition and should not be messed with.

The fact that Scribus was written by "an unusually small team" is a clue to the problem.

A well-designed program starts by working out the end-users requirements, then goes on to design a UI based on that, and then starts coding the innards. A commerical company can do that because it can always get the developers; it puts an ad in the paper and ups the salary if necessary.

But most Open Source software starts with the developer coder. Sure I could think of typical users, and then design a UI around their needs, but there is no guarantee, or indeed likelihood, that I would get developers to then follow up on my design, and even less that they would do what I say - particulary considering the opinion most developers have of UI desingners.

Stephen Jones
Friday, April 30, 2004

This critiscim of opern source UI irks me a little. Where are the graphic designers or user interface experts willing to give their work away for free like programmers will?

Matthew Lock
Friday, April 30, 2004

"Once you've spent time with Scribus and learnt its nuances you'll really come to appreciate the power of Scribus. After following the tutorial and reading around the documentation < http://www.linuxdoc.org> a bit, I really started to get the hang of Scribus. There's so many little features in there which will save you time and effort and will make you sit up and take notice
...
It's stable, I haven't encountered any bugs in it and it flys along. I mean the thing is amazingly fast even on an old Pentium 3 450mhz computer, that is a great achievement for an application so heavily dependent on graphics that it really should be demanding more from your system"

Much of Open Source is experimenting and learning. The developers don't have to be lemmings, following today's "standard". Sometimes they come up with a brilliant new idea, sometimes they come up with a butt ugly interface. In this case it seems there are good and bad things about the program.

Tom H
Friday, April 30, 2004

But... Scribus is for *n*x and the File/Print thing is a Windows convention.


Friday, April 30, 2004

File / Print has never made any sense to me.

When I first encountered this "standard" many years ago,  my first thought was "I don't want to print a file.  I want to print the letter I just wrote."

My Cousin Vinniwashtharam
Friday, April 30, 2004

yeah and I don't want to save a file, I want to save the letter I just wrote.

I think ultimately the fact that the common functions showed up in the first menu was helpful.

name withheld out of cowardice
Friday, April 30, 2004

"A well-designed program starts by working out the end-users requirements"

Users? What are they?

Open Source developer
Friday, April 30, 2004

> Where are the graphic designers or
> user interface experts willing to give
> their work away for free like
> programmers will?

Well, you see, UI experts and graphic designers have not been bitten by the stupidity bug yet.

They are SMART - they protect their jobs, and their professions!

John
Friday, April 30, 2004

The thing that cracks me up about the program, and the time saving features is the example that the review uses.

1) The unaligned columns
2) One quick dialogue box..
3) ...and we're done. Columns aligned easily and its saved me the time and hassle.

Hilarious!  Or, I simply pull down a grid line off the ruler, and snap the boxes to the line.  I mean a dialogue box for this "problem" is a complete waste of time.  Talk about features for the sake of features.  Anyone doing page layout hates trapsing through the menus.  As others have stated, I don't think the developers looked at what end users want very much.

Elephant
Friday, April 30, 2004

More amusing is how much credit you to a person still in college with less than 2 years of experience.  He does have valid points, but as a software reviewer, it is like asking a Word user to review Outlook.  You just type letters into right?

Anon
Friday, April 30, 2004

> File / Print has never made any sense to me.

Can you please tell what is your favourite OS and what
dev tools (lang + IDE) do you prefer?

When I started with PCs TurboC was all I knew about UI
and all my apps had F2 for Open end Alt-X for Quit.

Then I went on to Mac & THINK C and since then that
was my standard for measuring UIs.

Today, if something doesn't look like CodeWarrior then
it has poor UI - OK, just kidding, but this is not too far
from the truth.

Somehow I suspect that you are one of the programmers
that still love command line and prompt more than GUI. And
I don't see how someone can understand GUI if he's not
using it every day for 99% of all he does. All differnt
applications that you can stumble upon. Every stupid utility
has at least one cool feature that can teach you something.

Am I wrong?

VPC
Friday, April 30, 2004

"This criticism of open source UI irks me a little. Where are the graphic designers or user interface experts willing to give their work away for free like programmers will?"

First of all, the vast majority of uses are going to use the program they like best.  Open source programs might have an initial advantage because they can be gotten for free, but in the end if they look crappy or are hard to use most users are going to prefer to shell out for some software that looks better. 

Sorry, but open source software doesn't get to avoid UI criticism just because it's open source.  Maybe it's understandable that open source UI's are often crappy, and maybe crappy open source UI's result because graphic designers and UI experts aren't as philanthropic with their time as the magnanimous open-source programmers are.  But all of that makes absolutely no difference to the end-user.  End-users want good programs and they aren't going to cut open-source any slack just because open-source projects have difficulty finding qualified people to donate time to making a good UI.

Second, regarding the File/Print Preview issue:  at this point in time it's not even an issue regarding whether it's somehow "intuitive" for the Print Preview function to be found on the file menu.  The fact of the matter is that, whether it initially made any sense or not, the Print Preview function is found on the File menu of Microsoft software, and on 99% of all other software.  It's a standard.  Aren't the open-source people all about standards?  This is one you ignore at your own peril.  The time has gone when it would have been possible to think up a better spot to place "Print Preview" in the menu system.  It goes under the File menu.  Period.  That's where users will look for it, whether it makes sense or not.

Herbert Sitz
Friday, April 30, 2004

I think plenty of young graphic designers would be willing to work for free (there are lots of wanna-be graphic designers out there, let me tell you). But once they finished the design, they would have a hell of a time trying to convince the open source developers to code to it.

The currency in the open source world is ego. If the software engineer is just implementing a spec written by a designer, there's much less ego satisfaction, and it's more like a regular "job".

Open source development is simply incompatible with industry best practices for design (where you have one person design the user experience and another implement the product that provides that experience).

Jonathan Boutelle
Friday, April 30, 2004

Johnathan,

Very well said.

Me too.

What you said.

Joe
Friday, April 30, 2004

File / Print has never made any sense to me.

Maybe if you think about the old computers that had no screen or hard drive or floppies. Saving something would maybe be printing it.

Or like in BASIC, print means to screen or in C and C++ writing anything needs to be told explicit if it's to screen or file.


You can still pretty much "print" anything to any device (at least on linux).

someone
Friday, April 30, 2004

"plenty of young graphic designers would be willing to work for free"

I know quite a few of them.  They all have portfolios of their work, they all are suffering from starving artist syndrome, and they all need cash like there is no tomorrow.  The last thing any of them want to do is sell their work for free.  They've already have a portfolio.  They don't need anything else to go in it, especially when it's pro-bono.

Let me paint the picture of one of my good friends.  He lives with two of my non-starving-artist friends and he is in charge of the bills.  The water bill hasn't been paid in the past 10 months.  His license was suspended 2 months ago for failure to pay a $40 ticket and then failure to appear in court for it.  He still drives his car, but he can only go for 30 mile stints without having to put air in his leaking front left tire.  He is presently employed as a graphic artist but the pay isn't great.  He works weekends as a photographer doing proms and corporate events, and occasionally shoots a wedding. 

This is your typical young starving graphic artist.  He has some talent, but isn't making any money.  I know he has absolutely zero desire to give anything away for free.  I can't even convince him to do my wedding (or have some of his friends in similiar situations) do it on the cheap (not that I blame him).

Now your weekend warrior graphic artists, that's a different story, but your full time young graphic artists are definately not looking to give anything away for free.

In fact, there is much contention over this problem in the Wedding photography community (take a peek around photo.net for examples).  With an influx of weekend warrior wedding photographers, both demand and cost for full time wedding photographers has diminished.  This is exacerbated by the fact that your weekend warrior looks at it as a way to make some spare change, and charges a fraction of what a professional charges.  Thus these weekend warrior types are really spoiling many professionals careers.  There is a lot of effort to get the amateurs to maintain the professional traditions both in cost and etiquite (like not giving away the negatives for free).

Anyhow, point being, any full time graphic artist wants to be paid.  The only people that would be willing to contribute to an open source UI project are the amateurs, and therein lies the problem. . .

Elephant
Friday, April 30, 2004

Dear Elephant, you are repeating the old myth that GUIs are the preserve of the graphical artist.

This is like saying that the designing builidngs is the preserve of the painter and decorator.

Stephen Jones
Friday, April 30, 2004

Sorry.

Was just trying to address the quote that "graphic designers" would work for free.  Point being, rarely do graphic designers work for free.  I have no evidence or data to support any opinion that GUI designers and HCI experts would work for free.

Elephant
Friday, April 30, 2004

"This is like saying that the designing builidngs [sic] is the preserve of the painter and decorator. "

And that's a bit like calling a professional programmer a "keyboard operator". Not a great slogan for encouraging professional visual communicators to participate in OSS.

(And yes, I have seen OSS programmers dispense such attitude in the past - with, unfortunately, wholly predictable results.)

has
Friday, April 30, 2004

""The time has gone when it would have been possible to think up a better spot to place "Print Preview" in the menu system.  It goes under the File menu.  Period.  That's where users will look for it, whether it makes sense or not.""

Great post Herb

And also Johnathon's entire post

Mike
Friday, April 30, 2004

My kitchen needs to be remodeled.

This could be an excellent 'opportunity' for a young kitchen designer looking to add some top notch projects to his portfolio.

I'm even willing to pay for a few sodas for the guy who does this job.

Dennis Atkins
Saturday, May 01, 2004

What licence would we release under?

Keen and dumb
Saturday, May 01, 2004

If you were willing to have people walking through your kitchen every day, so the guy could use it to showcase his work, I'm sure you'd find someone to it for you Dennis.


Monday, May 03, 2004

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