Re: Role of IxD in Open Source [was: good interface examples for web basedapplications]

9 Mar 2004 - 9:06am
10 years ago
5 replies
988 reads
Todd Warfel
2003

Now that's a topic worth discussing.

I've often thought about putting in some time on one of the Open Source
(OS) CMS products, as I believe there is a great deal of functional
value there. With few exceptions, there are significant ID problems
with the OS products (CMS in particular). The main reason CMS comes to
mind is two-fold: 1) there are a lot of OS CMS products on the market
and 2) CMS is something that is valued by our clients.

I think there are two reasons that have prevented us (being my company
and others) from doing this to date : 1) cost (our time is money) and
2) there are so many to choose from.

But then again, the people developing OS software have valuable time as
well. We could argue that their time is less expensive than ours, but
then isn't it relative? It's still valuable to them...

What are your thoughts on why IxD hasn't taken up a space in OS yet?

On Mar 9, 2004, at 7:33 AM, David Heller wrote:

> That's an interestig subject ... The role of IxD in open source
> movements????

Cheers!

Todd R. Warfel
User Experience Architect
MessageFirst | making products easier to use
--------------------------------------
Contact Info
voice: (607) 339-9640
email: twarfel at messagefirst.com
web: www.messagefirst.com
aim: twarfel at mac.com
--------------------------------------
In theory, theory and practice are the same.
In practice, they are not.
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Comments

9 Mar 2004 - 9:53am
Alain D. M. G. ...
2003

Open source is all about the code. All about software developers
interacting with the code. Not about users interacting with an
application.

Alain V.

>
> What are your thoughts on why IxD hasn't taken up a space in OS yet?
>
>
> On Mar 9, 2004, at 7:33 AM, David Heller wrote:
>
> > That's an interestig subject ... The role of IxD in open source
> > movements????
>
> Cheers!
>
> Todd R. Warfel
> User Experience Architect
> MessageFirst | making products easier to use
> --------------------------------------
> Contact Info
> voice: (607) 339-9640
> email: twarfel at messagefirst.com
> web: www.messagefirst.com
> aim: twarfel at mac.com
> --------------------------------------
> In theory, theory and practice are the same.
> In practice, they are not.
> > _______________________________________________
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__________________________________________________________
Lèche-vitrine ou lèche-écran ?
magasinage.yahoo.ca

9 Mar 2004 - 11:59am
Jenifer Tidwell
2003

On Tue, 9 Mar 2004, Todd R.Warfel wrote:
>
> What are your thoughts on why IxD hasn't taken up a space in OS yet?

[takes deep breath]

I believe there are several reasons. One is that many developers
still don't see IxD as a critical competency: they're not taught
it in schools, their peers don't consider it important, and it's
not a skillset that's easily picked up "along the way" by someone
focusing on writing good code. OSS developers tend not to do IxD
well. Even when they try to.

The answer to that, of course, is to bring in professional IxD
practitioners as colleagues on OSS projects. Well, the problem
there is cultural. Here's how it often works:

--> If you don't code, you can't play. <--

You can go into an OSS project with the best of intentions -- do
a usability analysis, or pick out a few design problems that are
easily fixed, or propose a new layout -- and be pushed right back
out again. "File a bug report." Or, "You think it's bad? Okay,
you fix it. I'm not gonna code your design."

I don't know too many designers who are willing to spend time
coding all the design changes themselves, even if they could!

There are many other issues I won't analyze in depth here: the
quality of available UI toolkits, the mismatch between common
application architectures and what's needed for good UIs, the
lack of well-orchestrated interactions between apps, the lack
of a unified design language for Linux, and the emphasis
on skins and fancy visual design over task-based interaction
design (less sexy, ya know). I want to talk about a bigger
problem...

I think there are two deep-running attitudes in the OSS movement
that collide at the interface. First, freely-written software
is a gift to the world, and users shouldn't hold the code writers
to a higher standard because, well, it's free! Second, OSS is
the greatest thing since sliced bread, and it should be at least
as good as Windows and MacOS, because the process is so wonderful.
Well... if you want Linux to be on everyone's desktop, you gotta
hold the UI design (not just the code) to a much higher standard
than it has been so far. I don't think this has really sunk in
culturally yet.

Eric Raymond, a well-known figure in the OSS community, wrote an
interesting article about design in OSS software. Slashdot picked
it up; the discussion there is even more enlightening (so to speak):

http://www.catb.org/~esr/writings/cups-horror.html
http://developers.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=04/02/27/0043250

What could we tell him?

How could we help out, especially if he gives his support?

- Jenifer

--------------------------------------------
Jenifer Tidwell
w: jtidwell at mathworks.com
h: jtidwell at alum.mit.edu
http://jtidwell.net

9 Mar 2004 - 5:44pm
Alain D. M. G. ...
2003

Hello!

--- Jenifer Tidwell <jtidwell at animato.arlington.ma.us> a écrit > Eric
Raymond, a well-known figure in the OSS community, wrote an
> interesting article about design in OSS software. Slashdot picked
> it up; the discussion there is even more enlightening (so to speak):
>
> http://www.catb.org/~esr/writings/cups-horror.html
> http://developers.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=04/02/27/0043250
>
> What could we tell him?
>
> How could we help out, especially if he gives his support?
>
> - Jenifer

I don't think we can help him, because while he does have the right
attitude (and knowledge, as his explanations show) as to the importance
of thinking like a user when setting things up, he still has not
reached the point of realizing that developers, working alone, cannot
think like users. He is still on the "lone rider" way of thinking.

Alain V.

__________________________________________________________
Lèche-vitrine ou lèche-écran ?
magasinage.yahoo.ca

10 Mar 2004 - 6:58am
Jason Moore
2004

On 9-Mar-04, at 11:44 PM, Alain D. M. G. Vaillancourt wrote:

> he still has not
> reached the point of realizing that developers, working alone, cannot
> think like users. He is still on the "lone rider" way of thinking.

I just wanted to jump in here with a qualification. I think we have to
accept that there is no way to test and validate every single decision
that we make when building something. It just isn't practical. So when
designing/building anything we have to make guesses -- the hope is that
these are at least educated guesses.

With the pieces of software that I use, most of what annoys me and the
problems I have to fight with are not because the software designers
don't understand the subtleties of my workflow, but they don't seem to
have the faintest idea of what my goals are. For example, photoshop is
an amazing tool, and i think that the way they have organized and
packed so many features in there is impressive, but if i want to use
photoshop to shrink photos from a 4-megapixel digital camera to size
suitable for emailing, well, it's painful. The whole rotating,
resizing, saving with the image size in the filename, is a lot of work.
(yes, i know i can script it, but since i can't figure out how to edit
the details of the scripts (e.g. what directory to save the images in
or how to change the filename) i always have to create a new script
which usually voids the time saved from using a script.)

This problem is not because the designers don't know me well enough. It
seems like my problem is something anyone with a digital camera who
wants to email pictures to friends would run into. I think that if
designers did just pretended to be the users, and adopt their goals
they can go a long way to making better software. (of course,
identifying the goals might require talking to some real people,
outside the project!)

btw, i did try to help out on an open source project a few years back.
I was a heavy user of Mysql and a few things with the command-line
tools and the database language syntax annoyed me, so i wrote some
recommendations.

http://www.sober.dk/content/ui/mysql.html

I identified "issues", and provided "suggestions". I tried to be
diplomatic and rational. My first response was from a developer who
basically said that "these aren't problems". I was about to start to go
in and try to make the changes myself, when I received another mail
from a much mellower developer who said that he had made these changes
in the (then new) 4.0 version.

I think the key strategy is not to sound like you want to be the guy
who doesn't code but has lots of great ideas. (I think most
programmers' nemesis are all those business/marketing people with great
ideas who can't code. see dilbert.) The requirement to be a "coder" is
really a requirement to "thinking logically and rationally" and being
able to get things done. e.g. If you can make amazing flash demos that
demonstrate how a widget or feature will work, I think an interaction
designer could easily join and contribute to any open source project.

:jason

10 Mar 2004 - 11:15am
CD Evans
2004

Hi there,

What exactly is open source design? I think that's what we're trying to
establish.

Is it adding 'design' to open source software projects? Or is it
creating a model of design that is 'open source'?

I'm in favor of the second. But I'm also in support of the first.

Should we start two threads? One on OSD and one on OS Integration?

I'm keen to see this blossom, and I think we need to establish two
threads, it's getting messy anyhow.

So, all for OSD raise your left hand.... just kidding. I'll send
another post.

CD

On 10 Mar 2004, at 11:58, Jason Moore wrote:

> I think the key strategy is not to sound like you want to be the guy
> who doesn't code but has lots of great ideas. (I think most
> programmers' nemesis are all those business/marketing people with
> great ideas who can't code. see dilbert.) The requirement to be a
> "coder" is really a requirement to "thinking logically and rationally"
> and being able to get things done. e.g. If you can make amazing flash
> demos that demonstrate how a widget or feature will work, I think an
> interaction designer could easily join and contribute to any open
> source project.

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