APR
9
2003

eWeek: Sometimes, More Is More

eWeek's Jason Brooks gives us his take on the discussion about the complexity of KDE and GNOME in his article "Sometimes, More Is More". "I didn't switch from Windows to Linux on my home and work systems because Windows wasn't easy. I switched because as I came into contact with OS alternatives, I became frustrated with lack of flexibility I found in Windows."
Do you agree? Are we (roughly) on the right course, or should we be trimming away options?

Comments

you assume we rely on new users sending us email. some of us know and are around many new KDE users on a daily basis.

secondly, new users do indeed send us emails. i've even seen a handful on kde-devel from Lindows users asking about how to use the Click-n-Run program after they can't figure it out. if users of Lindows, which targets the most average users, can figure that out, others surely can as well.

i'd also point to the number of this sort of email that appears on kde-usability as well.


By Aaron J. Seigo at Wed, 2003/04/09 - 5:00am

You are right, i should have found a better example. However you are aware that for each user that reports their problem there are probably many others that won't...

What i meant to say is that the whole "users never complained about that" argument is flawed. It's not because users never complained about something that this thing is correct. Maybe it is, maybe not. Users could be complaining at another thing when in fact the problem is elsewhere.

For example, users could be complaining and wanting a menu item to be in bold to make it more easy to distinguish... however the problem could be that the menu has too many unrelated options that makes it hard to navigate in the first place. In this case one could say, we should not touch the menu because users never complained about that...


By Louis-Philippe ... at Wed, 2003/04/09 - 5:00am

yes, for every one that says something there are many more who don't. this applies equally to problemetic as well as useful features. but statistically we probably hear about most of the problems, and for those that fall between the cracks we can rely on usability testing.

as for users identifying solutions to problems and not always coming up with the best solution, this is quite true. sometimes a user will suggest something absolutely brilliant, sometimes not. so yes, we need to be careful to think things through and not just wildly implement everything a user requests, while at the same time not ignoring everything users say either.


By Aaron J. Seigo at Wed, 2003/04/09 - 5:00am

a big part of todays discussions come from the gnome world where despite numerous hackers, commercial entities, huge fundings and huge egos, the environment is lagging behind kde.
So dont break what's already working.
Keep on finding simple elegant solutions to the real problems and dont go into theorical NO-problems.


By jay say say at Wed, 2003/04/09 - 5:00am

Aloha.

Can I change the size of image thumbnails displayed in Konq?

I would sift through all the options under all the menu items, but there's too many and it's not obvious enough.


By foobee at Wed, 2003/04/09 - 5:00am

I think it's supposed to (roughly) follow the size of your icons. Try making your icons larger or smaller and see what happens. Also, under the "Previews" tab of the file manager control panel is a checkbox called "Increase size of previews relative to icons".


By AC at Wed, 2003/04/09 - 5:00am

"I would sift through all the options under all the menu items, but there's too many and it's not obvious enough."

Thinly veiled troll, I think. And someone snagged the bait.

Well done, sir. Go back to your GNOME boards and troll elsewhere.


By ac at Wed, 2003/04/09 - 5:00am

Are you joking? There are two large buttons in the toolbar with large plus
and minus signs on them, which change the size of icons (and hence thumbnails).
Or go to view->icon size in the menu. This is in KDE 3.1 (MDK 9.1).
Which version of KDE are you using? Have you removed the toolbar? Or do you
have difficulty associating VIEW menu with changing the size of something
that you view in Konq? Thumbnails are nothing but icons as in Konq you
can preview not only pictures but lots of other things...


By tarelax at Wed, 2003/04/09 - 5:00am

The problem I have with KDE is stupid defaults(IMO, not a big deal), but mostly, options are thrown around EVERYWHERE. Take konqueror for example. First of all, it defies convention and has a "Location" menu instead of "File", but then it's got several separate locations for options. If the defaults were better(I know, that's subjective) it would be less of a problem, but by default the konq toolbars and completely cluttered with junk that is useless to 99% of people.

Then there's annoying things like the mouse wheel changing focus, but not raising, then you click in a window you just scrolled, but it doesn't raise because it's already focused. So then you have to click on the (possibly hidden) titlebar. Also, there's no way to set Alt+Click(default move window combo) to focus/raise the window.

Granted, many settings are not even available in Gnome, but the defaults + the things that ARE configurable create the perfect desktop for me where I am most efficient. Personally, I *really like* things to be configurable, but as it stands now, the less configurable Gnome provides me with a more usable desktop.

Now that said, both KDE and Gnome are far, far more productive desktops for me than Windows or Mac OS X.


By Ryan at Wed, 2003/04/09 - 5:00am

Near exactly what I would have said. I love options to tweak. OK but the options shouldn't clutter the default screen. By default KDE has too many buttons and menu options. Menu options should be catagorised and some thought should be given for their arrangements, such as the one I had pointed out here ( http://dot.kde.org/1047362149/1047397444/ ), in addition to the problems pointed out by Ryan above.

There are two types of first-time joe users, as far as I have noticed with some experiments on friends and family.

The first is the user who wants everything readymade. "Where is the mailer. Where's the browser. Where's the ___. I want to see its icon. Oh Wow! there it is! This is cool!" He wants it readymade, immediately on his desktop. If there are menus to search, he gets frustrated. But in the end he somehow asks/finds out himself how to get a nice icon or launcher for his app on the desktop. Most powerusers and tweakers start out like this. He benefits immediately from a lot of icons by default on the desktop, and such a thing makes a ui his favourite.

The other type is the intimidated type. If the desktop is having too many icons visible, confusion breaks out in the newbie and he won't touch the interface, finding some reason or another to stay away. On the other hand, a clean interface without too many options visible by default is friendly and will encourage him to search for more options and tweak if necessary.

I thought my dad was in the second category, since he had never used a comp before. But I found he is in the first. No wonder he prefers KDE to WinXP and uses it entirely. He just went by the default settings from kpersonalizer and he is very happy with the desktop it presents. Everything he would use is right on kicker with nice icons to help. On the other hand I would assume many users of the older generation particularly, with an ingrained phobia for technology, are in the second catagory (some over-excited elderly gentlemen are strictly in the first tho :-). They wouldn't mind digging through the menu for options if needed, but first impression sticks with them, determining whether they would use or not use the system properly.

I would assume there are many more people in the second category than the first. So I would say, keep the options out of the way. Keep too many buttons out of the way. No Preferences button sitting prominently on kicker by default. This doesn't mean taking off the options. We shouldn't assume newbies are all dumb. Everyone starts out the first time, ace developers included. If the newbie wants to tweak something, he will ask or find out himself. For this the help system should be more verbose than the current one. I started out as a newbie in the first category. I consider WinXP "productive" only if it has XSetup installed and I have tweaked it to my heart's content. People in the first category can help themselves.

One thing though: the help system takes a lot longer to fire up than even konqueror rendering slashdot (it says 'parsing stylesheet' for quite some time). I think this is detrimental to newbies. I wouldn't complain about how sketchy and unhelpful the matter in the help itself is, since I know what answer I would get :). Make the help system more verbose and fast.

As Far as KDE and GNOME are concerned. the current GNOME (2.2) has too few apps for it (many of the good apps are still gnome 1.4). On the other hand KDE apps are moving to keep pace rapidly with the current desktop. With all the integration available KDE is far more powerful, has many more apps and is more usable for me. Many more apps integrate on it. gnome and gtk apps with geramik, and favourite qt apps like lyx and scribus all seem to integrate in look with kde apps. Gnome apps seem to make less fuss running on kde than kde apps on gnome (with the very notable exception of nautilus. Who needs it anyway on kde? Konqueror makes less fuss on gnome than nautilus on kde).


By Rithvik at Wed, 2003/04/09 - 5:00am

"Take konqueror for example. First of all, it defies convention and has a "Location" menu instead of "File", but then it's got several separate locations for options."

Konqueror uses a location menu instead of a file menu because it deals with locations (URLs) instead of files. Perhaps the menu should be named "URL" instead. And I see only one place for settings, in the settings menu. There are other options of course, but they are for the current document, and are not persistant settings.

Admittedly, Konqueror does not have a typical interface. But then again, Konqueror is not a typical application.


By David Johnson at Wed, 2003/04/09 - 5:00am

Ok, so they're all under the "Settings" menu, but the settings aren't organized in a reasonable manner. And there's other annoyances, such as how to set a particular bookmark folder as the bookmark toolbar folder. I figured it out, but I can't remember how to do it right now.

As for the "Location" menu, that's just stupid. Why be different than every other web browser in such a little mundane manner. It's just annoying, and confusing to someone not familiar with KDE, the Internet, or computers. Email programs deal with email, not files, but is the File menu called "Email"?

Those things aside, my other points regarding KDE configurability are more important, to me at least. I am much more efficient with Gnome due to those problems I mentioned. KDE forces me to move between mouse and keyboard, and do more alt-tabbing much more than Gnome.

Like I said, I DO appreciate KDE's configurability, but I find Gnome's defaults better than I can configure KDE to be, unfortunately.

Cheers


By Ryan at Wed, 2003/04/09 - 5:00am

>Why be different than every other web browser in such a little mundane manner.
>It's just annoying, and confusing to someone not familiar with KDE, the Internet,
>or computers

You mean like GNOME reversing the OK and cancel buttons, thereby making the entire desktop annoying and confusing? Funny, when they did that it was because they claimed usability experts said it was better, and that was more important that acting like most other desktops.


By GldnBlls at Thu, 2003/04/10 - 5:00am

What the hell does GNOME have to do with anything? I think that decision was stupid and annoying too, but admittedly not near as stupid and annoying as Konq's "Location" menu.

Don't get me wrong, I like KDE, and Konq. They're absolutely incredible examples of Free Software. I just prefer the GNOME desktop, because I can't configure KDE to use the behavior I require in order to be at my maximum efficiency. Also, please understand that I'm not complaining; I am simply giving my opinion, nothing more nothing less.

For the record... I like KDE's configurability, but am not comfortable with some of KDE's behavior and disorganized options*. I dislike GNOME's lack of configurability, but the defaults + what configurability there is offer me the most efficiency.

* I'll take disorganization if that's the price for configurability...


By Ryan at Thu, 2003/04/10 - 5:00am

I just shutdown my computer by mistake because GDM decided to switch the order of the dialog of the buttons. This is not a joke. This really happened.

That's more than just stupid and annoying.

That's completed *retarded* and: *go to hell GDM, I'll use KDM thank you*. Yes, I removed GDM from my computer.


By ac at Thu, 2003/04/10 - 5:00am

I used to love and use GNOME. I still really like the look and feel -- especially of GNOME2. I just got fed up with the lack of configurability. I know how I like my GUI to act and with KDE I could get closer to that ideal than I could with GNOME2. I still prefer the look and feel of GNOME2, but I'd rather have a GUI that conforms to how I work than having to conform to the way developers think I should work.

-sig


By Sigsegv at Wed, 2003/04/09 - 5:00am

Everytime the less-more debate comes up, there are at least one, but often several *real*, existing and breathing users who say that they left GNOME for KDE because it lost so much configurability.

On the other hand we have zero "KDE is too complicated for me" to GNOME converts but millions of hypothetical users which the self proclaimed usability experts think they can attract.

Flame me for pointing it out, but for me the needs of one single real user is more important than the needs of one million hypothetical, non-existant users living in fairyland.


By Roland at Wed, 2003/04/09 - 5:00am

I would point out that just because they don't come and make a lot of noise on dot.kde.org, does not mean those people do not exist. I am one of them, for instance. Don't get me wrong, I like KDE too, but the clean feel of gnome2 appeals to me. And in fact I haven't found that I lost any configurability, or none that I recall caring about anyway. I think maybe KWin has more features, but it's an older program. Ironically, I find the gnome2 panel more flexible than the KDE one, I'm sure somebody will say you can do everything with kicker that you can with gnome-panel and maybe they are right, but it never felt that way to me.

So, now there is at least 1, does that cancel out the original post? Well, no. You can't judge your userbase by who makes the most noise, in open source that equates to rule by minority, as people who are happy tend not to say anything unless they think of their desktop as a religion or something. You have to go by a mix of usability studies and best guesses.


By Mike Hearn at Wed, 2003/04/09 - 5:00am

Make that 2!

I left KDE for Gnome a couple months ago. I still log into KDE once in a while cause i want to like it... but i always log back into Gnome cause it feels cleaner *to me*. I also find the Gnome panel more configurable than the KDE one. I want a small toolbar and the icons in KDE are too small IMO. Why do i have an up button at the top of Konqueror's context-menu when i'm browsing? Is this configurable? What are in these "more programs" menu entries in Kmenu? Another big thing for me it's the apps, i want consistency but the KDE apps are lagging IMHO to their Gnome counterparts. I much prefer Pan to Knode, Evolution to Kmail, Phoenix/Galeon/Epiphany to Konqueror, Gthumb to PixiePlus/GwenView/whatever. I also doesn't like the direction of KDE for the moment. I would like more original design as opposed to copying Windows features. I don't think Windows have better ergonomics (sp?) than MacOSX, BeOS or other... so i don't like to see a big K menu at the bottom left that almost have the same look, feel and options as the Windows start menu. The file manager being also the web browser, the open/save dialogs, etc.. I'm happy to see projects like Slicker which use new ideas...

I find that very sad because i find KDE much more powerfull than Gnome, KIO-slaves vs gnome-vfs, KParts vs Bonobo, developping with Kdevelop vs Anjuta, C++ vs C, Qt vs GTK, Konqueror vs Nautilus, Klipper and Kget vs nothing!, etc...


By Louis-Philippe ... at Wed, 2003/04/09 - 5:00am

I tend to say that you haven't used KDE at all because of the way you write and what you write.

> but i always log back into Gnome cause it feels cleaner *to me*.

Clean ?

http://www.gnome.org/~chrisime/random/ui/

> I also find the Gnome panel more configurable than the KDE one.

That may be but do you configure your panels all the time ? If so then I call this a serious usability issue for GNOME because people usually configure the panel once - stuff all their apps and applets inside it.

> I want a small toolbar and the icons in KDE are too small IMO. Why do i have an up button at the
> top of Konqueror's context-menu when i'm browsing? Is this configurable?

Yes, ever pressed right mousebutton on the Toolbar or the Settings menu entry. The 'Configure Toolbars' entry can't be written any bigger there.

> Another big thing for me it's the apps, i want consistency but the KDE apps are lagging IMHO to
> their Gnome counterparts.

This is why I said that you never used KDE. When was the last time you ever used KDE ? Because your sentence is quite cut out of nowhere. KDE is probably the most consistent Desktop Environment existing on this Planet.

> I much prefer Pan to Knode, Evolution to Kmail, Phoenix/Galeon/Epiphany to Konqueror, Gthumb
> to PixiePlus/GwenView/whatever.

This is personal taste. No doubt. But KDE offers applications that won't show up on GNOME for the next 1-2 years while KDE offers usable tools for these gaps already and developing new applications that also suits business and coporations needs better are already there on KDE or can easily be developed in a faster time because of OOP.

> I also doesn't like the direction of KDE for the moment.

At least it has a direction. What direction does GNOME have ?

> I would like more original design as opposed to copying Windows features. I don't think Windows
> have better ergonomics (sp?) than MacOSX, BeOS or other... so i don't like to see a big K menu
> at the bottom left that almost have the same look, feel and options as the Windows start menu.
> The file manager being also the web browser, the open/save dialogs, etc.. I'm happy to see
> projects like Slicker which use new ideas...

You should seriously install KDE 3.1 again and stop talking so much crap.

> I find that very sad because i find KDE much more powerfull than Gnome, KIO-slaves vs
> gnome-vfs, KParts vs Bonobo, developping with Kdevelop vs Anjuta, C++ vs C, Qt vs GTK,
> Konqueror vs Nautilus, Klipper and Kget vs nothing!, etc...

And one paragraph earlier you wrote how much you hate Konqueror because of it's Filemanager and Webbrowser capabilities.


By oGALAXYo at Wed, 2003/04/09 - 5:00am

>I tend to say that you haven't used KDE at all because of the way you write and >what you write.

Yes i used KDE 1.x, 2.x, 3.0x and now 3.1.x.

> Clean ?
>
> http://www.gnome.org/~chrisime/random/ui/

This article is right... but what point does it proves? Is KDE cleaner because of this? I want to use the best DE for Linux... be it KDE, Gnome, Rox, Afterstep, some new thing, etc...

Please don't start the KDE vs Gnome war. I use both and i love and hate things in both environment. I could point several things i don't like about Gnome also (this article being one of them). However i feel more comfortable in Gnome for the moment but not by much. I would switch to anything better *for me*...

> That may be but do you configure your panels all the time ? If so then I call > this a serious usability issue for GNOME because people usually configure the > panel once - stuff all their apps and applets inside it.

Good point... but if i cannot make the panels do what i want it's a serious issue for me. The fact that i don't reconfigure my panels all the time isn't really important because the panels never worked for me.

> Yes, ever pressed right mousebutton on the Toolbar or the Settings menu entry. > The 'Configure Toolbars' entry can't be written any bigger there.

I'm sorry, i meant taskbar... i want a small taskbar (like Windows or Gnome 2) but i find the icons too small...

"This is why I said that you never used KDE. When was the last time you ever used KDE ? Because your sentence is quite cut out of nowhere. KDE is probably the most consistent Desktop Environment existing on this Planet."

You took my sentence out of context... and i should have been clearer. I want consistency so i want my apps to look and *behave* the same (no Geramik or Bluecurve won't cut it) as much as possible. I want to use native application, KDE apps in KDE and Gnome apps in Gnome.

"This is personal taste. No doubt. But KDE offers applications that won't show up on GNOME for the next 1-2 years while KDE offers usable tools for these gaps already and developing new applications that also suits business and coporations needs better are already there on KDE or can easily be developed in a faster time because of OOP."

I don't doubt any of this. Yes it's personnal taste, i'm just saying why i don't use KDE. Gnome is better than KDE for the type of applications *i* use IMHO.

> At least it has a direction. What direction does GNOME have ?

Again... what do i care??? You seem to have a personnal issue with Gnome...

> You should seriously install KDE 3.1 again and stop talking so much crap.

I think *you* should stop talking crap and feeling personnaly attacked. I have KDE 3.1.1 in front of me at this very moment. The big K is still there at the bottom left (by default) of the screen. The open/save dialog still look almost exactly like Windows. Konqueror still does both file manager and web browsers. So what is the crap i'm talking so much about???

I think you should definitively go out more and have a look at other OS and DE. There is not just KDE and Gnome you know!

"And one paragraph earlier you wrote how much you hate Konqueror because of it's Filemanager and Webbrowser capabilities."

Yeah and i don't see how i contradict myself at all. I said i don't like KDE imitating Windows by integrating the file manager and the web browser. I don't see anything to do with KDE's cool technology.


By Louis-Philippe ... at Wed, 2003/04/09 - 5:00am

> Please don't start the KDE vs Gnome war. I use both and i love and hate
> things in both environment. I could point several things i don't like about
> Gnome also (this article being one of them). However i feel more comfortable
> in Gnome for the moment but not by much. I would switch to anything
> better *for me*...

Sure It wasn't meant to start a KDE vs GNOME war.

> You took my sentence out of context... and i should have been clearer. I want
> consistency so i want my apps to look and *behave* the same (no Geramik or
> Bluecurve won't cut it) as much as possible. I want to use native application,
> KDE apps in KDE and Gnome apps in Gnome.

No problem. I sometimes trap myself with explainations where I have been not clear and it sometimes tend to be mistunderstood or give other people reason to start some flames. But back to the consistency issue. I think that GNOME is highly inconsistent. All the apps don't behave the same as you say. I brought up some reasons in above UI-Review and there are no serious signs to have these issues (more or less esthetical ones) fixed really soon. Some patches appeared on bugzilla.gnome.org but they usually end in discussions rather than in the CVS module. The argument with native applications I share as well.

Have you ever tried sharing Bookmarks amongst GThumb, Nautilus, Galeon, Epiphany and other apps ? GNOME doesn't even offer a standards bookmark object. Or have you tried to share your Addressbook with other apps ?

> I don't doubt any of this. Yes it's personnal taste, i'm just saying why i don't
> use KDE. Gnome is better than KDE for the type of applications *i* use IMHO.
...
> > At least it has a direction. What direction does GNOME have ?
...
> Again... what do i care??? You seem to have a personnal issue with Gnome...
...
> I think *you* should stop talking crap and feeling personnaly attacked.

Look I don't feel offended at all, but you came up *first* with arguments that are simply not true. I only replied to your previous mail because I found them highly *wrong*. I only replied to the statements that you gave and haven't constructed new ones.

And If you don't care at all, then you shouldn't comment.


By oGALAXYo at Wed, 2003/04/09 - 5:00am

> Sure It wasn't meant to start a KDE vs GNOME war.

Cool cause i don't want it neither...

"No problem. I sometimes trap myself with explainations where I have been not clear and it sometimes tend to be mistunderstood or give other people reason to start some flames. But back to the consistency issue. I think that GNOME is highly inconsistent. All the apps don't behave the same as you say. I brought up some reasons in above UI-Review and there are no serious signs to have these issues (more or less esthetical ones) fixed really soon. Some patches appeared on bugzilla.gnome.org but they usually end in discussions rather than in the CVS module. The argument with native applications I share as well."

Gnome has other problem that bothers me much more than this however...why the copy-paste never works correctly... no equivalent to Krdc, etc... but that is another discussion. ;)

I personnaly think the real "enemy" is Microsoft Windows... KDE and Gnome should both do everything they can to get better. Wouldn't be great to have not one but two great desktop environments on Linux (or should i say, Unix). Each one could have it's own focus, interface, way of doing things, etc... and share between them as much as it's possible without removing their individuality.

"Have you ever tried sharing Bookmarks amongst GThumb, Nautilus, Galeon, Epiphany and other apps ? GNOME doesn't even offer a standards bookmark object. Or have you tried to share your Addressbook with other apps ?"

No but i never wanted to. What i want is fast thumbnailing (Gthumb), better HTML engine for the site i visit (gecko instead of Khtml(Konqueror)). But your examples are clearly the reason i would like to switch to KDE. :) Printing is another neat thing in Konqueror that Galeon and Epiphany are clearly behind.

"Look I don't feel offended at all, but you came up *first* with arguments that are simply not true. I only replied to your previous mail because I found them highly *wrong*. I only replied to the statements that you gave and haven't constructed new ones."

Well i only expressed my opinions on KDE and why i don't use it as much as Gnome. I didn't want to generalize and saying that Gnome is better than KDE. (sorry if i made this impression)

"And If you don't care at all, then you shouldn't comment."

What i didn't care at all is that, IYO Gnome has no direction. As i said i'm not comparing KDE to Gnome. I'm just expressing my opinions about what could be done to KDE to make it even more usable... that i care very much because if i didn't i wouldn't have posted anything.


By Louis-Philippe ... at Wed, 2003/04/09 - 5:00am

Yes, KDE looks great, but the latest stable version its soooo Slow, for my k6-2 450Mhz with 64MB RAM, Gnome its usable, XFCE its great.
The Konqueror fail to login myway email account.. so, i prefer to login my email account to look "nice" Konqueror fail..and fail and fail..
Maybe I miss configure Konqueror, but I dont think so.(I try to use Knoppix for the end user and fail again).Mozilla/Galeon/Epiphany works after install in my favorite Linux Distros.

I try to use Kmail, but its buggy, kword its nice, very nice but toooo far standars..

Congratulations to KDE for windowing, its great, also Quanta is the best free Web development tool, but all other apps, not so good :S ..


By Eliud at Mon, 2003/07/28 - 5:00am

GNOME is better crafted than KDE. Thats true. KDE look good than GNOME, but looking good is not the important point in choosing a desktop.
I've been a KDE fan before, but the moment i tried GNOME, i realize that its much better. The FIND utility of KDE sucks! Too slow compared to GNOME's. I tell you, i can develop a better FIND utility than that of KDE.


By cris at Wed, 2003/11/12 - 6:00am

> I tell you, i can develop a better FIND utility than that of KDE.

I'm looking forward to your patches.


By Anonymous at Wed, 2003/11/12 - 6:00am

GNOME's find utility is only fast because they run this annoying medusa daemon that does file caching at boot time. Great another system daemon we needed to run.


By ac at Wed, 2003/11/12 - 6:00am

I absolutely agree with you here. Success is what people use and people decide and not a little community of people who aim to know it better. Let's wait and see what happens. We know more in 1-2 years.


By oGALAXYo at Wed, 2003/04/09 - 5:00am

"""Are we (roughly) on the right course, or should we be trimming away options?"""

I think this can just be called "trying to get some nice flames".


By Michele at Wed, 2003/04/09 - 5:00am

Not really, but I am interested in stimulating discussion. Besides IIRC it's heading towards winter in the southern hemisphere, and we need to keep the LDE fans there warm. ;-)

Rich.


By Richard Moore at Wed, 2003/04/09 - 5:00am

OK. Discussion. Here is my opinion (Disclaimer: I have not read any comment in this forum other than yours):

I am a GNOME user myself, and I love the road to simplicity they have chosen.
Should KDE do the same? Absolutely not.
KDE and GNOME are and should remain different things with different objectives. If the only difference between them becomes the brand and the toolkit used, there would be no point in having two.
That said, I think that KDE needs to improve a lot in usability. I think that the control center and the default toolbars of most apps are too crowded and not really nicely organized, for example (GNOME has surely other things to improve, I'm not saying it's perfect!).


By Michele at Thu, 2003/04/10 - 5:00am

We had this discussion a few weeks ago. This time I'll cut it short.
Don't make it too abstract like "Too many options are confusing" or
something like that. Everybody in favour of less options just answer
a simple question. Which exact option in KDE do you think is
superflous, confuses the novice user and should be removed completely?


By Martin at Wed, 2003/04/09 - 5:00am

None.

Here is my suggestion.

If the authors of the program think that it would be beneficial to remove options, or even if they just want to give into the pressure, because that is easier for users, they should do something else rather than just remove them...

Insted, they should distribute a seperate "control pannel" interface for newbies, and one for advanced users. People that want a dumbed down version, following the accepted standards of importance for each option, and the other give you everything. Then you could disable or enable the advanced control pannels. This isn't really as hard as it sounds, as only the windows that configure things would need to be replicated. It could be as simple as just using the same pannel they use now, but with widgets for removed options removed from it (and maybe slight re-formatting of the widgets, but depending on the complexity of the application, this could be different).

I'm not saying have an advanced tab in each pannel, or an advanced menu in each application. I'm just saying that there could be 2 different control pannel interfaces. One that has all the bells and whistles, and one that can compete with GNOME's simplified (and sometimes nicer) interface. I don't even want to call it "Advanced' options. They should just be called extra options. Hell, you could even create a hierarchy that managed different levels of options, basic options, medium options, extended options...

Newer applications in beta testing wouldn't have to offer the basic options. Just make it an enhancement to offer basic options. But as the application matures, people could decide to write a simple replacement for the config pannels with the standard basic features that 99% of the people need, and none of the options that .01% of the people use.

In my opinion, I want all the features. But some features are less relevant than others to most users. This is why GNOME has taken the direction they have. They want to make the most relevant options available to the most relevant group of people. KDE may have all the options, but there may be some options that only .01% of the users ever thought to look at, and hardly ever use. Why should they be cluttering Joe User's interface and confuse him and make him do extra work (by reading all the options) each time he wants to configure his desktop.

I'm not saying this is a solution for everyone. But there is no reason to REMOVE a configureation feature. Likewise, there is no reason to clutter an interface that could be much simpler for 99% of the people that don't need, or want that extra stuff to sort through.


By Anonymous at Thu, 2003/04/10 - 5:00am

Many people use Photoshop because it is big and feature-rich. Maybe they don't need all features, maybe they don't understand Photoshop, but they use it: "Maybe I need this in the near future...". From this point of view less is more!
I think, most people haven't the professional know-how to use all functionality in Photoshop - but they could learn it. This is the way of Linux freedom - individuality, flexibility, functionality.


By star-flight at Wed, 2003/04/09 - 5:00am

... my girlfriend use to say ;-)

Trimming away options? Trimming away freedom of choice?

1. Don't underestimate either you existing or your future users

2. KDE has nothing to fear, extra features don't make it unstable or slow.

3. Usability = enjoying working on your computer.


By antialias at Wed, 2003/04/09 - 5:00am

This is a fascinating debate for the community to have.

IMHO, options/preferences fall into three categories:

1) Personal preference - there is no right or wrong here, it's purely a matter of taste. Single click vs double click, mouse pointer acceleration, theme selection, what sounds to make on events etc. These should be configurable of course.

2) What have charmingly been referred to by GNOME as "crack prefs". These are prefs that aren't really to do with personal preference for the majority, they work around bugs, or are configurable because making code to automatically adjust things was too hard/boring. Things like "Merge clipboards together" in Klipper or "Old style tab completion" in Gaim - ie a toggle to duplicate older, often broken behaviour. These prefs should probably not even exist, I don't really buy the argument that "some people are used to the old behaviour, we don't want to break their habits". Well, you know, if the old behaviour was changed that presumably means the new behaviour is thought to be better - asking people to adjust is not a high price IMO. See how many people bitching about the old broken clipboard? Now it's fixed, a few people were used to the old behaviour, most were simply thankful it's more sane now. Having a pref to please people who can't be bothered learning the proper behaviour seems silly.

3) Prefs that are somewhere in between. Things like "Make nautilus draw the desktop", should menus have tearoffs or timings for panel autohiding - there are legitimate reasons why some people would want to change these, but the vast majority probably don't care. In that case, the answer is not to remove these prefs but to put them somewhere out of the way so they don't clutter the UI and confuse newbies who might accidentally toggle an option and now wonder what they did. Both KDE and GNOME have underlying configuration mechanisms - best to put those kind of features into KConfig, GConf. That way the power users who want to tweak the timings of panel autohides (like i do) can, and yet the UI remains clean and efficient to use.

There seems to be a lot of fuss about removing options and configurability - I'm pretty sure that's not what people are asking for. They want a cleaner GUI rather than to deny people choice, because giving every possible option its own GUI element leads to an explosion of tabs, trees, groupboxes and the whole thing becomes hard to navigate and find your way around.

So, trimming options really means (imho) trimming GUIs for options - a subtle but important difference.


By Mike Hearn at Wed, 2003/04/09 - 5:00am

Much of this seems reasonable if I understand it right. I would just like to say that I like this passage:

>There seems to be a lot of fuss about removing options and configurability - I'm >pretty sure that's not what people are asking for. They want a cleaner GUI rather >than to deny people choice, because giving every possible option its own GUI >element leads to an explosion of tabs, trees, groupboxes and the whole thing >becomes hard to navigate and find your way around.

Yes - a cleaner GUI indeed. If it can be combined with configurability (and as long as that isn't an excuse for being slack with the defaults) - then configurability is just great.


By will at Wed, 2003/04/09 - 5:00am

This is totally offtopic, but what's the story of KDE from CVS's glib dependency?

As I understand it, KDE depends on aRts, which now depends on glib. But maybe other parts of KDE were thinking of adding glib too?

I did a lot of searching and reading on lists.kde.org, and I found some discussion/flames about it from a few weeks ago, but I didn't find anything that resembled any sort of consensus being reached.


By AC at Wed, 2003/04/09 - 5:00am

aRts began to depend on glibc because somebody contributed a scheduler that used some glib utility routines. aRts itself isn't really a KDE application at all, and doesn't depend on any KDE libraries. glib is a small (500K) C library, and isn't much different from the STL in C++. From the mailing list:

"And this phobia spreads to glib, which is NOT a GNOME technology
per se, but just a convenience library with lotsa easy functions and an
object system."

It's just like the KDE folks using libxml2 for the back-end of the XML engine. Now, I don't think other parts of KDE will start using glib, because from what I gathered from the mailing lists, they don't want to add another dependency to KDE, especially one that the KDE developers are unfamilier with. In fact, aRts itself is moving towards becoming an optional componenet, so people who only have basic needs (notification messages, etc) can use something else. This goes back to a whole debate earlier in the mailing lists about replacing aRts with something else like Jack (the sound server, most pro audio people are moving too). It's all really interesting stuff -- if you want to learn more, check out the kde-devel list.


By Rayiner Hashem at Wed, 2003/04/09 - 5:00am

So the short version is basically "KDE depends on glib indirectly, just get used to it. Maybe you'll have the option of using a lighter-weight sound server in the future"?

Oh well. Maybe I'll go install glib now...


By AC at Wed, 2003/04/09 - 5:00am

You can use ARTS_1_1_BRANCH without glib!


By ac at Wed, 2003/04/09 - 5:00am

Don't whine, be happy that your desktop works..


By nac at Wed, 2003/04/09 - 5:00am

I'm a big fan of KDE. It's my only desktop, and has been for almost a year. What I see as the major problem is not that KDE has too many options (Windows has lot's of options too) but that the interface is cluttered. Take the right-click menus in Konqueror. It has 18 items in it, and doesn't even have cut/copy/paste! That makes it completely useless. It should have, at most, 5 or 6. A right-click menu is supposed to be a quick, context-sensitive access feature. It's not supposed to be a replacement for the standard menubar. Then take all the icons and toolbars in the default view. Konqueror comes with something like 3 toolbars by default. That's far too many, and each toolbar is far too cluttered. I've got mine narrowed down to one toolbar with 6 buttons and an address bar. I've got the menu set to auto-hide, and I almost never have to bring anything else in. The default desktop and default taskbar is so cluttered with icons that it's almost useless. I hate seeing screenshots of KDE in action, because the inevitably use something like the default look, and present a very different view of what it can look like if you do some customizations to it. If the KDE usability group would just take a weed-trimmer to some of the icons-bars and context menus, without removing a single feature, then the interface situation would be greatly improved. Until then a debate about "features vs ease-of-use" is really non-sensical.


By Rayiner Hashem at Wed, 2003/04/09 - 5:00am

This is where I disagree. I like the way the context menus and toolbars are set up in KDE. In fact, I LOVE KDE the way it is. However, everyone has different tastes. If anyone doesn't think there is "clutter" and "complexity" in Windows, go boot it up and take a good look at MS Office and MS Visual Studio.NET (which, by the way, has an interface I think KDevelop should borrow from). Visual Studio.NET has so many options, they've started putting them in pop-up windows that appear when you hover the mouse over their category buttons.
I've heard this debate too many times lately, complexity or simplicity.

Why don't we just give the users what THEY want. Imagine this:

/************************************************************************/

typedef enum
{
basic = 0,
intermediate,
advanced,
developer // :) the most advanced type of user :D
} options_level;

typedef enum
{
boolean,
numeric,
percent,
text
} option_type; // just off the top of my head...

// Function for adding a configuration option
template
bool AddOption(options_level level, option_type type, T option_default_value, QString option_name, QPicture option_icon, QString option_category);

/****************************************************************************/

Should be pretty self explanatory. The option_category would be for the name of the tab the option falls under in an application with many configuration options. The template is there because of the different data types needed for option_default_value. It could be done with or without a template. The resulting code after compilation should be about equally good either way.
In a nutshell, what I'm trying to say is, make a simple interface for adding configuration options to an application, each of which has a complexity level attached to it. Create a standard dialog to read off the options and display only the options which fall under the system wide complexity level set by the user or lower. In other words, if the user's system is set to basic (which would be the default, beginner setting), only display the options tagged as basic. If the system is set to intermediate, show intermediate and basic options. If set to advanced, show advanced, intermediate, and basic. If set to developer, show everything the advanced level shows, plus show the settings put in for development, debugging and testing of the software.
Toolbars, context menus, and desktop icons can (and should) all be set to conform to the complexity level setting. The API would include all the functionality necessary for adding these items with a complexity level attached.
This way, everyone gets the complexity level they want, plus it has the added bonus of letting people who know how to program contribute more easily to the software, because they have the test harness right there if and when they want it. If people (programers) have access to the pieces which are normally removed before the end user sees them, it can inspire them to work on the project. How? Simple. When you get to play with what's already there, it makes you realize how much fun you could have contributing to the project.
I would be willing to write all the code for this if people would be willing to use it. To me it seems like a good idea. What I fear the most is KDE getting "simplified" to the point it becomes another Windows XP. A lot of people seem to like XP, but I hate it because they replaced practically everything with those stupid, so-called-user-friendly, ****ing wizards. I HATE those. They make setting up my computers on my home network, etc etc, so much harder for me to do, instead of easier. Sure, the 80+ options for networking you had before would usually be too difficult to figure out for someone who's never done it before. However, for someone like me who's done it the old way a million times, I WANT THOSE OPTIONS. I don't trust some "wizard" to set it up the way I want. I want to tweak the settings to make it work exactly the way I want it to work, not the way Microsoft wants it to work. I don't want that to happen to KDE. I don't want to lose the flexibility I have with KDE. That flexibility is a LARGE contributer to why I like KDE so much, just as lack of flexibility has a lot to do with why I do NOT like GNOME.


By Michael Dean at Wed, 2003/04/09 - 5:00am

"This is where I disagree. I like the way the context menus and toolbars are set up in KDE. In fact, I LOVE KDE the way it is. However, everyone has different tastes. If anyone doesn't think there is "clutter" and "complexity" in Windows, go boot it up and take a good look at MS Office and MS Visual Studio.NET (which, by the way, has an interface I think KDevelop should borrow from). Visual Studio.NET has so many options, they've started putting them in pop-up windows that appear when you hover the mouse over their category buttons."

Don't you think that 18 options in a context menu is acceptable? (come on, i mean 18 options!). Why do we need so many options "by default"? I'm not saying that we should remove them forever. Make a default option with a reasonable amount of options and make the other options configurable. The newbie will have a clean interface and the power user just have to go in Kconfig and add the options they want.


By Louis-Philippe ... at Wed, 2003/04/09 - 5:00am

What's wrong with 18 options?

When you open a context menu, you usually only want to choose from that menu - this means that you don't need anything else - which means that in theory the menu could use the full screen.

Actually, the icons right beside the options make the options easy to find too.


By Roland at Wed, 2003/04/09 - 5:00am

"What's wrong with 18 options?"

If you mean, what's wrong with being able to configure the menu with 18 options... well nothing. If you want to make your context menu to fill the entire screen it's good to me.

If you mean, what's wrong with 18 *default* options in the context menu, well IMHO it's very wrong. It looks cluttered, it takes time to find the option you want, it's confusing and slower to display, etc.. By this logic, why stop to 18 options... why not 30, 40... no, just include them all!

It's like saying, instead of cleaning up your desk, putting most used things in easily accessible places and putting stuff you almost never use in drawers... why not just dropping it all on your desk... just in case you need something.

If you include 18 options in your context menu, at least, allow me to do my own cleanup to remove some of them.

"When you open a context menu, you usually only want to choose from that menu - this means that you don't need anything else - which means that in theory the menu could use the full screen."

Well when i open a context menu i want to see options that apply in the context of the object i clicked. If i need other frequently used options i go to the toolbar, if i want rarely used options i go into the menus. Everything is clean and efficient.

"Actually, the icons right beside the options make the options easy to find too."

It helps but this shouldn't be a workaround for a poorly designed menu.


By Louis-Philippe ... at Wed, 2003/04/09 - 5:00am

"It's like saying, instead of cleaning up your desk, putting most used things in easily accessible places and putting stuff you almost never use in drawers... why not just dropping it all on your desk... just in case you need something."

Well I disagree, you don't need anything other than the context menu, so I don't see why some extra options would hurt you.

Imagine a small menu with 6 options, how would a menu with 12 appended options make this menu less usable?


By Roland at Wed, 2003/04/09 - 5:00am

It's exactly like my previous example, a crowded desk. You have so many options
you can't really find the ones you're looking for.

Why don't include 50 options in the menu? Why not 200? You just ignore the one you don't want. Is that it?

IMHO, 200 options is too many, as is 50 options and 18 options. In fact you're telling me why i want to remove options but you didn't tell me, why not? If we give the choice both type of users will be satisfied, the newbies won't have too many options to choose from and the power users will add the options they want. It's even better than the current situation, power users are currently stuck with the predefined choices.


By Louis-Philippe ... at Thu, 2003/04/10 - 5:00am

"In fact you're telling me why i want to remove options but you didn't tell me, why not?"

Because these options are fast accessible - but maybe you should first explain why before we handle why-not?

Anyway. Let me explain a little:

A context menu pops up with the mouse pointer being at the top-left corner.

That means the first option will be right at the mouse pointer, the second a little more farther away, etc. etc.
Also a new user will scan the options from the top, so no matter if there are 5, 10 or 300 options, if his feature is the third, he will find it in an equal time (* exception - see below)

More options don't disturb the first options.

OK, now there is a problem when your menu is too long that it no longer fits between mouse and lower screen edge, KDE draws the menu so that the mouse pointer is at bottom-left. This is bad because your motor-memory fails.

Currently, on my installation, the menu works fine on 3/4 of the screen, which is OK, IMO.
With resolutions getting higher and screens bigger, I don't see a reason not to put more options into context menus.


By Roland at Thu, 2003/04/10 - 5:00am

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