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User interface guru!

Joel claims to be a user interface guru, he even wrote a book about it. I have only taken CityDesk for a few test runs, but my first impressions is that the user interface is quite mediocre, and is even at times quite silly. Like for example if you right click on a picture and select properties you do not get a property dialog for that picture, but a insert picture dialog with the defaults set to the picture defaults. This results in some unexpected behaviour, like if you select the same picture again from the drop down list the width and height fields are reset.

Dan Olsen
Saturday, March 23, 2002

Good User interface = Lots of time

Delivering on time = Lots of shortcuts

Mark W
Saturday, March 23, 2002

Although many people call Joel a GUI guru, I don't recall he ever claimed he's a guru. And specifically about CityDesk -

I downloaded it, and played with it a little. And I wouldn't use it, but then I'm not the target audience - I disagree with most of the world on the idea of what WYSIWYG should be like, and generally prefer WYWIWYG (what-you-want) tools like LaTeX, SDF and troff to WYSIATI (what-you-see-is-all-there-is) tools like Microsoft Word is in practice.

On the other hand, the interface is exactly what's needed for just everyone non-technical I know - it's simple, straightforward and just works, exactly like it should, and so rarely does.

Additional comment - when I loaded the GUI my first reaction to seeing the "Font" button was "Heaven Forbid, Joel has done the unforgivable and put a font selection button". I was relieved to see that it only changed font SIZE, and that it wasn't even point size, just a number. This "censorship" is part of what makes it so good - for the target audience (as I perceive it anyway), simple font selection would have caused significant more harm than good. And eventually, the sophisticated users aren't locked out - they can always use the HTML mode. (Paul Graham's "Beating the Averages" contains an interesting perspective on advanced users vs. average users - see )

Ori Berger
Saturday, March 23, 2002 does lead with usability guru: "Usability guru Joel Spolsky and the team at Fog Creek Software"...

I think Joel's most important skill in this is's not like he's inventing this stuff, for the most part - my take is he's presenting a few favorite memes he's picked up, in a common-sense and entertaining way. Plus he's not afraid to debunk BS methodology/instant-fix thinking, and be many "real" (non-blogger) journalists have real-world experience to say when the emperor has no clothes?

Jeff Winkler
Sunday, March 24, 2002

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