NOV
17
2006

when developers think they know what the users want

Lately on the kde-core-devel there is a [http://lists.kde.org/?t=116336735900002&r=1&w=2|thread] which started innocently by asking the permission to move an application back to kdegraphics, degenerated into a small my app is better than yours type of crap and now it's getting to the a nice discussion on what users want or expect from an application. I will post my comment here since I don't have write access to this mailing list and I also don't want to keep adding to the traffic of the mailing list (and mostly I want to save precious time to the moderators :) )

From what I'm seeing in the thread we have 2 clans: the minimalistics and those "who want more powerful applications". At one point someone said if you want to edit a pdf file (probably produced by TeX or something else) you simply use kword or scribus. This doesn't work for a lot of users because I'm case (by example) I know and use LaTeX for all my documents, why because I know I can have a more professional looking document without having to learn typesetting (TeX does it for me).
I have nothing against kword, it's a nice application, or scribus and I believe they are adequate for their target audience but why I
should learn or use another applications to do simple edition or annotate a pdf. I don't mean rewriting the document by simply fixing typos and things like this? I believe there is different "level" of edition.

From what I understand from this [http://lists.kde.org/?t=116336735900002&r=1&w=2|thread] some people want to go the gnome way, by simplifying KDE to the extreme, if so simply tell it right now so the KDE power user base can find something else.
Or maybe it's time to have 2 editions of KDE: the KDE Standard Edition for "normal users", notice I didn't say the light version, were most of the most advanced (or power user) features are disabled by default, shouldn't be hard to do with the kiosk mode and the
KDE Power User Edition, where the features that doesn't fit the needs for "normal user" are enabled. If you are a power user and you find yourself that you will never need a feature, let say the pdf edition or something like this, you will be able to disable it, and then get your pdf viewer load faster.

My points here is never assume what the user might want to do either he is a power user or an idiot. It also the reason why I don't use GNOME, they are arrogant enough to say I will never need this ... and this pissing me off.

And before I end this blog I want to say this: we all know there is a race between software developers and the universe, our job is to produce better idiotproof software and the Universe job is to produce better idiots... and in my humble opinion the Universe is currently winning it :D and those are my opinions on this.

Thank you for reading

Comments

I sincerely hate Adobe for crippling the ways I can use pdf in the viewer. For a long time, I couldn't annotate, rearrange pages, add/remove pages, save form data. I spit from high heavens on their bait-n-switch PDF toolchain marketing model...

And now the same artificial insanity migrates into KDE?!

"Powerfull" is the only, the best common denominator. It is so easy to disable functionality, rather than to put it in.

I am so seriously pissed looking at the meager state of KPDF's (lack of) editing features, seeing how pdftk is just a step away.

I have to use Xournal (GTK) to do PDF annotations and marking, Arcoreader (GTK) to fillout forms, pdftk (a ball of scripts) to assemble multi-document content PDFs.

PDF workflow on KDE stinks, and if oKular people persist, it will stink for a long time to come.

It is interesting to see points like the one raised by Thomas Zander miss the whole Idea of "workflow"

Overloading a concept like a viewer with editing functionality just distorts
the mental model of the way things work and it doesn't help the huge
percentage of those users that has no need to edit and _just_ want to view
the page.

After all, what would KMail look like if we'd add adding images, and cropping
and color adjustment etc. Very hard to use, thats what.

My father would love to see a crop and resize image dialog in an email client - he has a megapixel camera and has no clue why putting 3-4 of pictures in an email gets him a long upload and bounced emails.
If crop/resize would intelligently pop up when sensing a large image, that would actually be very cool.

Zander, and other "I know users, they are only allowed to play with toasters" aficionados are degrading to a "false dichotomy" logic. Between "overbearing interface" and "keep it stupifiably simple" there is the "view mode" of OpenOffice.

Concentrate on "hiding" power features, not "removing" them.


By suslikreal at Fri, 11/17/2006 - 18:47

I really dont know how they came up with that shit about not wanting basic editing features in a viewer. Look at all the most popular image viewers existing: IrfanView, ACDSee, XnView, Picasa come to my mind first. ALL of them support resizing, cropping, conversion, etc. Its just because it really fastens your workflow. Why wouldnt you want that in a multiformat document viewer?


By [email protected] at Sat, 11/18/2006 - 04:55

What is missing entirely (AFAIK) from the Linux DTP stack is a tool that lets you take a bunch of PDF:s, put them together and then do simple editing like cropping, scaling and translating (subsets of) the pages. In the professional, commercial world there is Xerox FreeFlow Makeready, but in the free world you have to manually fiddle with pdftex.

Now, I'm not sure if adding this kind of functionality is going too far for Ligature or Okular, but it would sure be nice to have available.


By martin at Sat, 11/18/2006 - 12:06