Fri, 02 Apr 2004

Just read Havoc’s post on usability. I don’t think there is any challenge in building a closed organization that churns out usable code that happens to be GPL, which it sounds like is what RH is planning. I think the challenge (and I hope Ximian and RH’s design teams can work with the community on this problem) is creating an open community where design is similarly top down- or at least where user-centric design is the dominant paradigm. We got a long way- lots and lots of people come to #gnome and say ‘I want to make my program HIG-compliant.’ But we sort of stalled there. The HIG covers only spacing and look and feel- it isn’t a GNOME Usability Design HOWTO, and it seems like the people who could write such a doc are getting hoovered up and into the relevant companies. That’s not bad- I’m happy for them, and I hope both ximian and RH can write great software based on their skills. But we won’t be successful as a community if all our best people are working purely on internal projects- we need some resources working on something better than Havoc on Preferences to educate newcomers about the GNOME design philosophy and the GNOME design process. Obviously documentation can only do so much; it isn’t a replacement for real training. But having something to point people at is really important, IMHO, and it doesn’t sound like the direction anyone in the current usability community is pointed at. And that’s too bad.