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Re: Too many options

From: Stefan Küng <tortoisesvn_at_gmail.com>
Date: Fri, 16 Jan 2009 16:20:03 +0100

Greg Hudson wrote:
> On Fri, 2009-01-16 at 10:53 +0100, Greg Stein wrote:
> [quoting someone else, I think:]
>> The number, obscurity, and triviality of such preferences
>> ends up confusing ordinary users, while everyone is penalized by the
>> resulting bloat and reduced thoroughness of testing.
>
> To some extent the first argument is specious. Firefox has a zillion
> options underneath its about:config interface, and they don't get in the
> way of ordinary users. Likewise, GNOME programs often contain options
> configured only via gconf (say, using gconf-editor). Such options
> require some wizardry to enable and so are of limited value, but they
> are of no UI cost to ordinary users.

If I may add some more arguments:

In TortoiseSVN, my 'rule' has been for a long time now that if someone
wants to add another option/configuration, he/she has to name another
option which to remove. I have this rule to avoid adding more and more
options to our settings dialog, which would become way too crowded for
the average user to grasp.

But: I also add options which are not visible in the settings dialog.
These are options which I consider either still important (even if
they're only used by *very* few users), options which could otherwise
make TSVN unusable for very special setups or options for making TSVN
work again because of some incompatibility with other tools.

Also, adding such a 'hidden' option is sometimes the only way to 'get
rid' of some users. We had some users who would post repeatedly
insisting on a new option, and all that with different email accounts so
that it looks as if even more users would want that feature (something I
discovered only after some time). Such users can distract the developers
a lot, and the only way to 'silence' those is to just add the option -
they won't stop 'spamming' the mailing list until it's done.

So, adding options is not per-se a bad thing. The only bad thing is
adding options and make the UI for those too complicated/crowded.

Stefan

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Received on 2009-01-16 16:20:54 CET

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