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Re: I miss tags

From: Gary Feldman <g1list_1a_at_marsdome.com>
Date: 2004-09-28 03:02:36 CEST

Brad Appleton wrote:

> The conflict is of course that everyone's "mental model" of the
> problem domain in this case is a little different. Some are
> strongly biased by experience from one or more tools, some
> are more biased by what they believe are fundamental principles
> and concepts behind their own mental model of the "theory of
> operation" behind the concepts and their implementation.

Thank you for bringing this up, and focusing the discussion on the human
side. I suspect that many usability experts, if asked to read through
this thread, would conclude that it shows why software engineers
shouldn't be building user interfaces.

People use mappings (what you're calling mental models and others have
called metaphors) to help understand things around them. Donald Normal
discusses this concept well in The Design of Everyday Things. Issues
such as architecture and function set, while important to API designs,
take a back seat to human factors when dealing with the piece of
software that people have use directly. They come along for the ride,
but they don't get to drive. WIMP systems need complex APIs, but I
don't think anyone would argue that the UNIX curses package and GNU
readline are the way to build the most usable interfaces.

So instead of worrying about the implications for the subversion API, or
using arguments like "that function is already there, if you do things
in this way that you find hard to learn or remember," the focus should
be on identifying a set of mappings or mental models that match the
mappings people create for themselves. If the API needs to be more
complex in order to make it easier to learn (with no new functionality),
that's still a good trade.

Gary

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Received on Tue Sep 28 03:03:09 2004

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