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Re: User is always right (was Re: Merger not Merging -- What I would like a merge process to do.)

From: Ryan Schmidt <subversion-2004_at_ryandesign.com>
Date: 2005-01-26 12:20:18 CET

On 26.01.2005, at 09:31, matthew ford wrote:

> What I am trying to convey is that the software is ment to serve the
> user (not the other way round).
> [...]
> Good software tries to maintian the dignity of the user, not pull them
> down or show them up.

I think there are different kinds of software -- software designed for
regular people, and software designed for geeks and developers. Unix is
an operating system catering to geeks and developers, and consequently
the tools available on it (such as the Subversion command-line
programs) assume a high level of knowledge and feature a minimum or
total nonexistence of assistance. The user is assumed to know what
she's doing.

Regular users, however, want assistance, want a pretty GUI that has all
the options laid out logically with checkboxes and buttons and menu
commands, that prevents the user from making mistakes, that makes it
easy for the user to do what she wants. The creation of such an
interface is something best left to other developers, those with
experience in interaction design. TortoiseSVN is such a project, and
while I've never used it so I can't say whether it succeeds in meeting
this goal, it is at least an attempt.

An example of where such a model has succeeded is Mac OS X, which puts
a consumer-friendly wrapper over a Unix-like foundation of utilities.
The Apache web server, for example, has a zillion options to configure
which takes time and knowledge, but in the consumer operating system
Mac OS X, Apple has provided a reasonable set of defaults and a single
button to turn "web sharing" on and off. Joe home user can understand
and use that. And in its server operating system Mac OS X Server,
there's a much more comprehensive configuration application with which
virtual hosts can be added and deleted and configured in an intuitive
way. Joe server administrator still needs to understand what vhosts and
document roots are, but thanks to Apple's simplified user-friendly
documentation, this is easy too.

So, I guess the point is, let's let the Subversion developers
concentrate on creating the base functionality necessary to do the job,
regardless of whether the commands are completely intuitive or not,
because one day someone will make a fantastic easy-to-understand GUI
with just the right amount of consumer-friendly documentation.

\r

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Received on Wed Jan 26 12:23:38 2005

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