Re: [As-users] AfterStep 2.0 beta4 release

Steve Cooke (stephen.cooke@dpiwe.tas.gov.au)
Thu, 25 Mar 2004 10:04:53 +1100


Hi all,

This is my first post to this list. I have been reading the current
thread with much interest, mainly because I can see a parallel with
something I have been thinking about recently - the human-computer
interface.

It seems to me that the discussion about file extensions, while
obviously important to some, really is a technical issue - it should not
be a concern to users.

I am going to make an assumption here. I assume that those developers
working on Afterstep (and those working on other Open Source projects
also) want to see their product used. Preferably extensively used, given
the time that is spent on the project, often voluntarily I might add.
With the Linux OS gaining ground, both in the server market and with
home users (traditional consumers of MS products), it is important that
the Linux community see the value in making the products as friendly as
possible to those converts from MS platforms. This may aid the turn of
the MS tide. (The reasons for the turn to Linux is a whole other
discussion.)

One of the areas that MS has done well in is in making the installation
of applications a no-brainer. Whether they work, or not, is an area best
left alone. The other area that MS has done remarkably well in is that
of UI design. I am not alone in this view; have a look at:
http://www.firstmonday.dk/issues/issue8_1/nichols/
It seems to me that the "feel" of the interface is the important point
here. A threatening interface, or one that assumes the users to know
something about the machine they are using, will not make any new
friends. I feel that whatever technical wizardary is performed to make
the app work, and whatever the ideological/political stance of the team,
this one point should be kept in mind - it's the (new) users that will
determine whether a product sinks or swims. So, it had better have as
non-threatening an interface as is possible.

That a "[bashing Microsoft] folly has crept into various linux apps" is
not only regrettable, it is decidely unhelpful to other developers
working on Open Source projects. Many of them harbour the hope that
their applications might entice traditional Windows users to take the
Linux plunge.

I really hope that Afterstep avoids such pitfalls. It deserves a decent
go; and to have it fail because of some "folly" would be unconscionable.

On the other hand, if my initial assumption was incorrect then please
ignore this rant!

Steve Cooke
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