FEB
4
2003

KDE/GNOME To Cooperate On Interface Guidelines

As recently announced, an effort has been started for closer cooperation between the KDE and GNOME usability teams. The effort was announced in a message sent to the
open-hci@freedesktop.org
mailinglist that was created for this purpose.

Original announcement by Aaron J. Seigo:

Seth Nickell (GNOME Usability Project), Havoc Pennington (Free Desktop, GNOME), and JP Schnapper-Casteras (Free Desktop Accessibility Working Group) and myself have been discussing the possibility of co-locating the KDE and GNOME Human Interface Guides (HIGs).

The plan as discussed thus far is to have the two documents co-inhabit one XML
document. Within this document, each HIG will have its own sections as
appropriate and will remain available for separate viewing. The goal is to
have one URL (on www.FreeDesktop.org) and one document for developers to go
to for KDE and GNOME Human Interface Guidelines. We hope this site can
eventually house guidelines for multiple desktops and graphical toolkits.

The easier we can make it for developers to discover and follow such
guidelines the better it will be for Open Source desktops in general. Since
KDE apps are often run on GNOME and vice versa, developers should be able to
easily reference the guidelines for all the desktops they expect their app to
be run on.

Having a shared document will also allow us to start looking at commonalities
between the documents and perhaps create common chapters or sections on basic
guidelines and lessons that are desktop and toolkit-independent (e.g.,
accessibility and internationalization tips, general usability principles).

It will take some work to merge the documents, create a web site, and raise
awareness about the site for developers and people working on other non-KDE
non-GNOME HIGs. If you wish to join us in these efforts, please subscribe to
the open-hci@freedesktop.org email list via the web interface at:

https://listman.redhat.com/mailman/listinfo/open-hci/

Best wishes to everyone!

Comments

Do you realize how unituitive this is? How many beginners would ever think of this concept on their own? I'd wager it's pretty close to zero.

Konqy is set by default to hover links in pseudo-selection fashion. It should do the same w/icons.


By antiphon at Mon, 2003/02/10 - 6:00am

Uh... about as many as would think on their own that double-click launches things?

Please read the message in context. I simply mentioned ANOTHER way the users can select icons. The important part, of course was "why would a user want to select ONE icon?", which apparently noone has an answer for.

I don't understand what "hover links in pseudo-selection fashion" means at all, so I will abstain from commenting on it.


By Roberto Alsina at Mon, 2003/02/10 - 6:00am

Have we not heard this before ?.....past attempts at co-operation haven't lead to anything significant for the end-user what'll make this one any different ?


By Anonymous at Tue, 2003/02/04 - 6:00am

have led to anything significant? you mean like the .desktop standard? or XDND? or the systray standard? or icon themes? or NETWM? or X clipboard standardization? or......

that said, what will make open-hci a success (rather than simply different) are the concerted efforts of those involved, awareness of reality and a general level of competence coupled with realistic expectations.

don't expect GNOME and KDE to share a single 100% identical HIG. that's unrealistic and not the goal. our ambitions for colocation, documentation and collberation are, IMO, realistic and achievable.

please don't sell open-hci short before we even get a chance to start. thank you.


By Aaron J. Seigo at Tue, 2003/02/04 - 6:00am

Speacking of the .desktop standard. Is there anyway to have relitive paths for the Icon part. I keep images of the covers of my cds in the same dir as the oggs. When I move the album it gets messed up as to where the image is. It would be much easier if I could do something like Icon=cover.png instead of Icon=/path/to/album/cover.png


By theorz at Wed, 2003/02/05 - 6:00am

The File Chooser Dialog is my favorite part of KDE, silly as
that sounds. So my hope is that GNOME will do something
about their awful dialog and learn from KDE what a user friendly
dialog looks like.


By TomL at Tue, 2003/02/04 - 6:00am

Yup .. another thing KDE stole from Windows .. albeit they have made it better


By Ho hum at Tue, 2003/02/04 - 6:00am

Actually, when I wrote the first version I based it more on the Motif dialog. I fixed the obvious flaws, then made the various views optional. It is true though, that the default configuration these days is very similar to the windows dialog.

Rich.


By Richard Moore at Tue, 2003/02/04 - 6:00am

Actually we had a submission here a while ago about all the things Microsoft's newer interfaces are stealing from KDE/GNOME... it's more two-way than you think.


By Navindra Umanee at Tue, 2003/02/04 - 6:00am

I'm with you in this point. One can't even found a HOME button on certain Gnome apps.


By honor at Tue, 2003/02/04 - 6:00am

As I seem to recall (I'm using RH7.3 KDE, but I'm almost sure this hasn't been changed) the KDE file dialogs use folder icons yet for actions that manipulate folders they use the word "directory". You want to create a new folder, but there is no "new folder" button, there is only a "new directory" button. I want to create a folder, but dammit, all I can find is a button to create a new phone book. And if I want to create a new phone book in a file dialog and hit the "new directory" button, no dice. All I get is a new folder.

Keep terminology and metaphor consistant. Avoid jargon. It's stuff any HCI student is taught within the first several weeks of class. It's something apple has done since 1984, using the word "Folder" in their earliest file dialogs on a machine with a 9" black and white screen and several thousand times less processor cycles and ram than we have today. Yet to this day KDE is still blowing it on this simple thing that is so easy to change. Sure, most geeky people have no problem using the word "Directory", but then you have to ask yourself what a design for geeks is doing in a desktop environment targeted at end-users.

I even approached the KDE usability group about this lack of consistancy and adherence to the most basic of UI design principles. They considered this not very important and blew me off. If the people entrusted with making KDE usable can't even grasp basic usability principles, then the KDE usability project is more or less worthless.

I'm no fan of what GNOME has done, and they've made some really big missteps with their usability program. But at least they have the common sense to match the folder metaphor with the folder terminology by calling things represented by folder icons "folder". If KDE won't get their act together by fixing stupid, simple stuff like this, GNOME is probably better off not adopting any KDE designs.


By Ilan Volow at Tue, 2003/02/04 - 6:00am

you were not "blown off". you asked for a fork to take place, while less radical and more effective methods were suggested. you talked about folders vs directories, and you were pointed in the direction of the definitions that are used for each which. this was not "blowing off" but discussion.

http://lists.kde.org/?l=kde-usability&m=102650798104375&w=2
http://lists.kde.org/?l=kde-usability&m=102589236801573&w=2

btw, the challenge we face w/directories and folders is the conflict between commonly accepted icons (usually of a folder) and the underlying system (which refers to "folders" in the filesystem as directories). this has been discussed quite a bit by the documentation team it seems...

that said, there are much bigger issues in KDE that need addressing that will result in bigger strides forward than quibbling over when to use folder vs directory, UI vs system consistency, etc... we (or least I) have limited time to deal with all of these things. so i have to prioritize where to spend the few hours a week i have on these things (right now i'm posting between writing code at work). if i had all week to spend on usability coding i might just take the time to grep the code for every use of the word Directory and replace it with the word Folders, including the documentation. this is not a trivial task, and would result in only marginal improvement.

in other words, i need to try and obsess about the right things.


By Aaron J. Seigo at Tue, 2003/02/04 - 6:00am

I did not ask for a fork to take place. I asked for a bug to be fixed. And here I was thinking that open source was about quick bug fixes. I mean, I keep hearing about linux kernel security holes getting patched in hours, but for some reason I keep seeing really simple-to-fix usability problems on both major linux desktops taking years to get corrected, if ever.

The challenge you (and by "you" I don't personally mean you; I mean the entire group of people developing linux desktop stuff, KDE, GNOME, etc) are facing is that you are still carrying around 30 years of command-line unix geek baggage that you refuse to get rid of, and this is polluting efforts to produce decent user interfaces for people who think graphically and don't want to twiddle about with their computers for 16 hours a day.

Follow the link below. Pay extremely careful attention to #2. I suggest the KDE documentation department put down their Neil Stevenson essays for just a moment and read it.

http://www.useit.com/papers/heuristic/heuristic_list.html

If the issue about the terminology correction is mainly time, I have no problem downloading the entire KDE source tree from cvs and doing the purging of "Directory" and the replaceing with "Folder" for you. I've been doing a lot of grepping and replacing as of lately. Yes, I am being serious about this.


By Ilan Volow at Wed, 2003/02/05 - 6:00am

> are facing is that you are still carrying around 30 years of command-line unix geek
> baggage that you refuse to get rid of, and this is polluting efforts to produce decent
> user interfaces for people who think graphically and don't want to twiddle about with
> their computers for 16 hours a day.

KDE has little say in the matter of what resides beneath the UI. this is not an excuse, it is a reality. that said, UNIX geek "baggage" isn't all bad although some of it is. people just tend to notice the bad before the good, and there are no blanket statements. ;-)

> http://www.useit.com/papers/heuristic/heuristic_list.html

yes, this is a good list...

> If the issue about the terminology correction is mainly time, I have no problem
> downloading the entire KDE source tree from cvs and doing the purging of
> "Directory" and the replaceing with "Folder" for you. I've been doing a lot of
> grepping and replacing as of lately. Yes, I am being serious about this.

cool.. of course, be sure not to change it where it should be "Directory" (yes, i like to state the obvious ;) ... perhaps if you started w/kdelibs and kdebase so we can see what it looks like and how well it works and elicit comment and testing before moving on to the rest of the code base?


By Aaron J. Seigo at Wed, 2003/02/05 - 6:00am

well, here is my suggestion:
append the generic name to apps in the menus.
Xandros and the noob distros just rename it with
the generic name, ie pan would become newsreader.
Why not have both, ie Pan Newsreader.
Trivial , I know but evey little bit helps.


By kannon at Wed, 2003/02/05 - 6:00am

We do that already, since 3.0
Bu default too, IIRC


By Sad Eagle at Wed, 2003/02/05 - 6:00am

> this has been discussed quite a bit by the documentation team it seems...

Yes. And the consensus was about as described in the postings you quoted. Problem was: Nothing ever came of it. The proof reading team somehow couldn't bring itself to take the thing to core-devel and then finally start to make the use of the terms consistent in the existing files.

Regards,

Thomas


By Thomas Diehl at Wed, 2003/02/05 - 6:00am

I think its awfull.. but much more functional than gnomes at the moment.
The problem with it is that there are too many things a user can click on and it just looks clothered (hope its the right term in english).

I dont understand some of the design decisions. Sometimes reading through the mailing lists it looks like the user in mind is the "secretary" in the office or grandma or whatever kind of "newbie" then things like the File Chooser show up. This dialog is Ok for me and people at these forums but d'ont forget that we are power users.
Newbies- /ordianry people dont even know how to right-click an understand the context menu. They dont even know how to minimize/maximize or even move a window. Some of these people have been using computers for years. I experience these people daily doint Windows support.. so please dont make a copy of Windows dialogs.. get inspired by the Mac.. it's easyer to understand for everybody


By J And at Tue, 2003/02/04 - 6:00am

firstly... have you had a chance to look at the file dialog in 3.1? eugenia from osopinion.com did quite a bit of nitpicking on the dialog in 3.0 and much of her work translated into changes being made for 3.1. it's still probably far from perfect, but hopefully closer.

secondly... can you offer specific examples of what real problems real users run into? not knowing how to bring up a context menu is irrelevant in the file dialog if it isn't something they need to do to use it, for example. real use cases are *very* valuable, however, and can result in corresponding action.

note the use of the word "real". guessing, hand waving and assuming are things i can do all by myself quite well ;-) actually knowing what real users do is not as easy. i observe real life usage fairly often and that helps me notice problems; if others can do the same (even if it is self-observation) and provide feedback based on that it is always welcome as a treasured resource. =)


By Aaron J. Seigo at Tue, 2003/02/04 - 6:00am

Firstly:
Yes i doubledchecked right now on both 3.1RC6 and 3.1. I find it very good for my needs but I remenber that i was confused when i first saw it. My main point is that there are too many things you can click on thus making it confusing for a newbie. Its all Ok for people like us but would be overwealming for the kind of people i have to deal with daily. Unfortunattely i don't have i better solution i can present :-) - i know this stuff is pretty hard to do.

Second:
The file dialog is just one example of a complex action/dialog that can confuse certain kinds of users. My experience is that people run into problems doing stuff that we find ordinary. Examples could the previous mentioned simple actions like righcliking or moving Windows or just clicking on the "+" sign in Device Manager (I support users on different Windows platforms). This stuff that we take for granted can be very difficult for an ordinary user. Sometimes even doublecliking is a problem for some. Imagine that these users have a more or less cluthered interface in front of them and they become compeltely confused.. there is simply to much information around for them to grasp.

My sugestion would be to keep the interfaces as simple as possible. An example could be kmail.. there are 14 icons and 9 menu entries in the default configuration - too many for "grandma" to handle. I think icons for "check mail" , "new message" and "reply" would do it - a power user could easily add the remaining icons/options later.

BTW..Knode is not version 1 yet.. but why is the font dialog in properties not equal the one in Kmail? I feel it is equally important to be consistent.. maybe programs that do not stricly follow KDE standards should not be distributed with the official KDE. Maybe there should be a usability team that could - developers should be forbidden there - veto a release or inclusion of a program if it didnt follow standards. Yeah.. i need to be spanked for writting that ;-)


By J And at Wed, 2003/02/05 - 6:00am

> The file dialog is just one example of a complex action/dialog that can confuse
> certain kinds of users. My experience is that people run into problems doing stuff
> that we find ordinary

i understand that as i get to regularly interface with sales people and management as part of my day-to-day work. it's the specifics that are needed: WHAT is an obstacle and HOW can it be made easier. not in the abstract, but in the specific.

> An example could be kmail.. there are 14 icons and 9 menu entries in the default
> configuration - too many for "grandma" to handle.

we also want it to be fun for the user somewhere between you and grandman, too, but you are right that kmail's auxilary interface (everything outside the central widget area) is overly and unecessarily complex. it isn't the only app like that, though. we have a LOT of usability work to do ...

> Maybe there should be a usability team that could - developers should be forbidden
> there - veto a release or inclusion of a program if it didnt follow standards.

applications have been disallowed from KDE due to non-standards compliance. removing an app that has a large following is not an easy thing, though. better is to fix it. that is one of the aims of kde-usability. of course that requires developers; so banning them is probably counterproductive. =)


By Aaron J. Seigo at Wed, 2003/02/05 - 6:00am

Remember that now, in the present, most users aren't complete newbies.
So, you must do something for the majoritie of users, which are not developers, but can deal with somewhat complex file dialog IF they are well documented.
The newbies are not going to use a computer without going to an introduction curse, because most (if not all) of them are not technically-minded people, and tend to be "afraid" of complex technology. I think that you can't sacrifice the "medium user" capabilities to help them, because you will create a greater problem (e.g.: you have an e-mail app which has only the buttons "new mail", "reply", and "check mail", you will end helping the people who have trainers, but confusing the most of user because they can't found a way to view the contact list, and they wont configure their toolbars because this is a difficult task. Perhaps, the most important example is the very frequent question "where is my hard disk, my c:?!!", with a scared face, because most users know that a pc has a hard disk, it's one of the most valuable assets in their offices and they can't found it. Most users came with a cultural background in computers, and you must accept this).


By andrea at Wed, 2003/02/05 - 6:00am

When faced with KDE for the first time, no matter how much people say it's a Windows clone, it is intimidating because everything is new. However experienced you are at this point it is much easier to learn an application where by default it is simple and usable and by configuration can be made more powerful.

The usability team sure do accept that many people have a background in computers, but this doesn't mean much. I know plenty about cars, but I would rather sit in a new vehicle faced by a simple set of controls than something that allows me to adjust the oil pressure, tyre pressure, spoiler height etc. Maybe this is an excessive example but the point is sound. Simplicity and usability are important to everyone.

If kmail only had three toolbar buttons I'd be pleased. I only use check, new and reply, and it would be simple enough for even "grandma" to understand and use.

It's not about sacrificing power anyway, it's about creating defaults that are a happy settlement between usability and usefulness. I tend towards usability since power users are usually happy to muck about in settings dialogs.


By mxcl at Wed, 2003/02/05 - 6:00am

The personalization wizard should offer the user to tell what type of experience he/she has with computers. A beginner would be given a simplified box.

Intermediate to advanced should get the one that we have now.


By antiphon at Wed, 2003/02/05 - 6:00am

This is the best suggestion so far.

Even as a power user, I still only use a small subset of ALL of the features in any given application, so even I would want a grandma simple interface where I can add the few icons that I would need to extend the interface.

Konqueror has far too many buttons that can be clicked on. Look at the Safari interface .. damn it looks good, clean and usable :)

Please consider this suggestion.


By Agreed at Fri, 2003/02/07 - 6:00am

All I know is that I can do what I need to do faster
and more easily with the KDE file dialog than with
any other that I've ever seen - and I like the looks
of it, too.

My goodness, the Open Office file dialog makes me ill.
And the gnome one isn't much better, if at all.
I don't hate gnome, but a file dialog is one of
my hot points. I know it's silly.


By TomL at Tue, 2003/02/04 - 6:00am

it's not silly at all. the file dialog is likely the most visible link between an application and the file system. users probably see it more often than any other single interactive dialog on the desktop. it's very important.


By Aaron J. Seigo at Tue, 2003/02/04 - 6:00am

I too also like it and its far better than Gnomes current one..
The problem is that if we want KDE to be used by complete newbies or non-power-users then we have to think about their needs and problems. Trying to look at it from these users perspective then the dialog is far to complex and powerfull. Maybe i can come up with a better idea some day :-)


By J And at Wed, 2003/02/05 - 6:00am

I hope that the guidelines and the code will say the same
thing, and that the guidelines will not degrade any further.

For example, the Apple UI guidelines make it very clear that
dialog box buttons should not say "yes" and "no", if
possible, but should instead contain descriptive verbs,
e.g. "save", "discard".

When last I checked the Gnome guidelines, it was hard to get
that interpretation. Some Gnome developers have claimed that
the guidelines actually forbid descriptive verbs on buttons,
while others say that any conflicts between the Apple and Gnome
guidelines are bugs in the Gnome document. I haven't read the
KDE guidelines.

This isn't academic; in the version of Evolution I use,
you have to read carefully to figure out whether a message
being composed will be discarded or saved. Gnumeric behaves
similarly. Did the KDE guidelines get this right?


By Nathan Myers at Tue, 2003/02/04 - 6:00am

Apropos simpe dialogs example. In windows 9x when a user reinstalled their network then a user was presented with a dialog something like this " Windows has discovered that there is a newer file installed than the one youre trying to install. Should Windows keep the current file -- YES _ NO". Most people - including me - didnt read this long boring text so we just cliked yes when the proper answer should be no in order to get a working system. Specially problematic when the user clicked NO to the next file etc. So a better dialog could be "Overwrite file"..."Keep file"... and of course a shorter text .


By J And at Wed, 2003/02/05 - 6:00am

Wonder of wonders, KDE got it right (at least in the guidelines).
Furthermore, the guidelines are wondrously clear, unambiguous,
and prescriptive. I hope the programs actually do what the
guidelines say.

In any case, judging by this sample, the Gnome guidelines document
could benefit by wholesale cut-and-pasting from the corresponding
KDE text. Presumably the license to that text is less restrictive
than for Apple's similarly clear text.


By Nathan Myers at Wed, 2003/02/05 - 6:00am

Cut the FUD please:

From the GNOME HIG:

# Label all buttons with imperative verbs, using header capitalization. For example, Save, Sort or Update Now. Provide an access key in the label that allows the user to directly activate the button from the keyboard.

Sorry, but the KDE style guide is nowhere near as complete or useful as the GNOME one. I'm hoping this effort will help unify them so we all benefit, especially KDE. Last time I checked, the style guide (guides?) weren't even linked to from usability.kde.org, or if they are I couldn't find them, only a list of "issues" with it.


By Mike Hearn at Wed, 2003/02/05 - 6:00am

It's a fact that I got responses from Gnome developers claiming
that descriptive verbs were forbidden. It's a fact that in the last
version of the Gnome UI guidelines I looked at (last summer, most
likely) I couldn't find the text you quote. It's a fact that some
of the most heavily-used Gnome programs (including Evolution and
Gnumeric) ignore the guideline you quote.

Nothing improves without problems being identified. Identifying
specific problems is nearly the opposite of FUD. FUD depends on
vague descriptions of supposedly unfixable problems. Gnome's
(and KDE's) UI problems are both real and eminently fixable.


By Nathan Myers at Wed, 2003/02/05 - 6:00am

It's a fact that "gnome developers" is far too vague a group to be useful. Do you class the developers of GnomeMeeting as gnome developers? GStreamer? Gimp?

It's also a fact that both Evo and Gnumeric stable were released before the HIG was finalized. In fact, the next versions of both of these (i have tried gnumeric and seen screenies of evo) are being brought into compliance with the HIG at the same time as being ported to GNOME2. This isn't "ignoring" the HIG - the changes the HIG gives aren't simply a matter of flipping a few bits, stuff like instant apply, borderless frames, and usable icons need to be designed into the app.

In general, if you decide to criticize a document, go ahead, but please make sure you've actually read the latest version before pointing out flaws in it. What I've read is version 1, so if you read a previous version by definition it wasn't considered finished.


By Mike Hearn at Wed, 2003/02/05 - 6:00am

Funny, the guy who spent all his free time bashing Konqueror/KHTML/Safari speaks of FUD.


By ac at Thu, 2003/02/06 - 6:00am

Jeez. I didn't bash Konqueror, nor KHTML, nor Safari. I was bashing peoples attitude towards the whole affair. It was purely personal opinion, with some economic arguments thrown in to justify that opinion. It could hardly be called FUD. This was pointing out some inaccuracies in the post.


By Mike Hearn at Thu, 2003/02/06 - 6:00am

You produced a tremendous amount of FUD to bash Apple, khtml and kde to further your own agenda: Apple should have chosen gecko over khtml. Yes, I especially liked the way you said here that Apple shouldn't have chosen khtml because they write proprietary software, not to be trusted etc, but over at osnews you said they should have chosen gecko because khtml sucked. What a two faced hypocrite; but then this is the expected behaviour of rabid gnome zealots.


By ac at Thu, 2003/02/06 - 6:00am

Not to mention the FUD you have been spreading on slashdot.org about startup notification, when GNOME 2.2 simply implemented a spec largely created by a major KDE developer.

DIE, YOU TROLL.


By ac at Thu, 2003/02/06 - 6:00am

This behavior is really sad and inappropriate. It is quite frankly humiliating for the human race to hear such juvenile pettiness, "Startup Notification FUD", "Your not human like me, your a Witc^H^H^H^HTroll! Burn!". Unbelievable. I thank god that mindless biggots like yourself arent the ones who any power of any sort. I cannot think of words to describe how disappointed I am with people like yourself right now.

Cheers,
Ryan


By Ryan at Thu, 2003/02/06 - 6:00am

I agree. Here is the full link to his pettiness, forever archived for all to see: http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=52921&cid=5234195

He is refuted by RedHat/GNOME hacker hp in same thread.


By ac at Thu, 2003/02/06 - 6:00am

Leave Mike alone, he's a very decent guy. You on the other hand seem like a complete fool.

I have the utmost respect for Mike, he knows what he's talking about. I haven't read these threads you speal of but I've no doubt you're blowing them out of proportion.

Also you have nothing to say in all the posts in which you bash him in this thread, why don't you just say nothing at all? What a waste of space you've created.

Fool.


By mxcl at Mon, 2003/02/10 - 6:00am

Hi, I have been using KDE for a couple weeks now from the introduction of my nerdular boyfriend so I think I can offer a fresh perspective. I normally use windows, so I chose the windows settings from the "Desktop Settings Wizard."

First impression: KDE looks pretty. I especially like the long round circular things at the top of every program that says what it is.

Second impression: Icons and menus are confusing to me.

Very few of the icons make sense to me. I clicked on the little pencil/paper icon that looks like its on a book, and it minimizes everything and shows the background. Doh!, that's the "show desktop" operation, says a little tooltip later. (Great, now I can move the mouse over the other ones to see what they are.)

The icon for a "shell" doesn't convey to much to me. Actually, I thought the shell might be some french fries at first. :) The weirdly tilted E for email seems odd to me. The web browser button looked like some kinda gear on a planet to me also -- was later told that maybe its some ship steering-wheel thingy to mean "navigation." Maybe I'm just strange and my brain is trained for windows, but I'd think these could be better.

The help button as a life-preserver is OK though. But the actual help is a bit..overwhelming. And the start menu or whatever you guys call it.. oh my god! There is so much stuff in there, and everything is named Kthis and Kthat, Kblahblahblah. The only thing I like is that whatever I ran last it gets put up at the top, so I can start it right away when logging in next time.

Also, cut/copy/paste does not always work between all KDE programs. Sometimes only CTRL+C will work and other times CTRL+INS will work and not the other. Argh! (I checked that they were set in Control Center too.) My windows key also does not do anything, or any of my internet buttons and this keyboard is like 3-4 years old.

I see some people arguing about button order and dialog stuff. Whats the big deal? I'm not a programmer, but can't you just make that a setting in the Desktop Wizard Settings program?

One thing that bugs me with dialogs is that when they give you the choice between, say, "Yes," "No," "Cancel," you cannot just press one of the keys they underline as you can in windows. In windows I could just press Y or N or C to do any of the above. I also think when the application asks me "Do you want to save it?" The answer that comes to me is Yes or No. I don't think Discard. Discard what? Discard this dialog? Discard my typing? Huh? The same thing goes for Cancel, which is in windows too but it never made sense to me either.


By anon at Wed, 2003/02/05 - 6:00am

I forgot to mention. When trying to adjust the size of a window, it seems hard as hell to get your mouse cursor in just the right spot so that you can drag it. That one really bugs me.


By anon at Wed, 2003/02/05 - 6:00am

Try pressing ALT and right mouse button while moving the mouse. It's pretty convinient to resize windows that way.


By j at Wed, 2003/02/05 - 6:00am

first, welcome to kde =)

i agree with some of your icon observations; some are not as obvious as they should be. as for the web browser icon, does a lower case "e" with a swoosh on it convey "web browser" any better? probably not, but you learned what that icon meant.

the kmenu (start menu) is very big because KDE comes with so much software. not all of the application names are very helpful, to be certain. the 'k' prefix is there to make sure that the names are unique on your system. there are a few people working on various solutions to these challenges.

as for the cut/copy/paste issues, which version of KDE are you using? these issues were supposed to have been worked out with the KDE3 series; outstanding problems should be considered bugs. which apps weren't working properly with cut 'n paste?

regarding making things like button ordering configurable, yes we can do that. the question is should we. things get too configurable quickly, which has implications for general usability, learnability and tech support. this isn't to say "no, we should not make widget option X configurable", but that there are a lot of issues to weigh.

to use the keyboard to "press" buttons in dialogs, use Alt and the letter than is underlined in the button. e.g. Alt-o will select "Ok" and Alt-c will select cancel.

it's interesting that you said "Discard what? .. Discard my typing?" because that's exactly what it means. you wondered if it means to discard the dialog as well, but just as you applied "yes" and "no" to the question in the dialog the button names apply to the question as well. usability studies have shown this to be generally more effective than generic "yes" and "no".

thanks for the observations ... you raised some interesting and valid points. i'd be interested in more such information from newer users such as yourself as they provide useful data points.

"nerdular". heh.


By Aaron J. Seigo at Wed, 2003/02/05 - 6:00am

I'm with her about the yes-no question. I started to use every day OpenOffice, and I found their way to ask what to do with my document so confusing that I have to experiment with a "trash document".
It ask me "The document x.swd has been modified. What do you want to do? Save-Reject-CAncel". I didn't understand the difference between reject and cancel. I would prefer the easier version "Do you want to save the changes to x.swd? yes-no-cancel". This is more familiar, shorter, and easier.
I don't agree about using specific verbs, not always.


By andrea at Wed, 2003/02/05 - 6:00am

Hey, thanks for the welcome.

About the e-swoosh thing.. I don't find that one intuitive either. With the tool tips I didn't find it a big deal, just thought I'd point it out.

I'm using KDE 3.1 and often when I try to copy something in Konqueror and paste it somewhere else, it does not work. Sometimes none of the keyboard shortcuts work and I have to highlight what I want to copy and then go to the pull-down menu and select "copy" with the mouse (and the "copy" selection will even say "CTRL+C" next to it and not work). Sorry I don't remember exactly what I was doing when it happened.

About the button ordering thing.. the way things are now, I always have to read what they say because of a lack in consistency in the questions they ask or in what the default pre-selected button is.

For pressing dialogs when they are right out at you, it seems kind of weird to have to press ALT to me. It asks you a question, and there are only a limited number of things you can do -- why bother needing to press ALT?

As for the usability studies, I am suspicious of that. Whatever the case, in the context I mentioned it I still think it's confusing.

Also with the "nerdular" thing, I was just being silly; no offense intended.

Another thing I also forgot ot mention.. It took me awhile to get the fonts to look just right. I had to go look at what the settings were on a windows computer and copy them over into konqueror and then fiddle with the sizes. I think people who use their computer more casually would have probably have given up right there.


By anon at Wed, 2003/02/05 - 6:00am

About the copy and paste thing - yeah that one got me too. You see that little clipboard icon in the bottom corner ? That's KClipboard, the clipboard manager. It's purpose is so you can have numerous things "copied" at once. Click on it, and you'll probally see the last 5 or so things you copied. However, if that is not to your liking, you can always disable it, and KDE will copy and paste just as any other OS would (i.e. Windows).

As far as button order or fonts, well what exactly is "just right" ? I think people all too often confuse being 'right' with the Microsoft stardard pratice or way of doing something :)

Anyways, Happy computing, and welcome to Linux...


By chillin at Thu, 2003/02/06 - 6:00am

Um well I guess it's hard to explain, but basically some fonts looked really crummy. Not because of the font themselves mind you, just how they looked in KDE. And things seemed to be sized wrong all the time. I have also just tried the Opera browser and it has its fonts/sizes "just right."

Right now I have them all looking quite nice, except when courrier new is italicized, some letters are deformed. I have no idea why, and of course don't have the technical expertise to figure it out.

I searched the web a bit and lots of people recommended anti-aliasing your fonts.. so I tried that.. but they looked worse! Maybe thats just my opinion though, I don't know, but I think that only fonts that are really big looked better with that option turned on. Seems that getting your fonts looking great is some kind of black art.


By anon at Thu, 2003/02/06 - 6:00am

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