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Re: Ignore patterns should not be case sensitive (usability)

From: Jared Hardy <jaredhardy_at_gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 24 Mar 2008 13:05:39 -0700

On Mon, Mar 24, 2008 at 12:44 PM, Les Mikesell <lesmikesell_at_gmail.com> wrote:
> Jared Hardy wrote:
> > While I like the amusing subtlety of the suggestion here, I think a
> > lot of this discussion is ignoring the basics of good interface
> > design.
> Err... you mean repeatable, reusable, consistent patterns instead of a
> gazillion special case exceptions?

No, I mean starting with the basic reasonable assumptions in the
defaults (like case insensitivity), and adding options for the more
rare exceptions from there.

> > Useful defaults are very important to all interfaces, even
> > command-line tools -- especially when appealing to a broad user base.
> > Most (if not all) users try to avoid files having the same name with
> > mixed case, and by the same token don't think about case when writing
> > comparison rules.
> I think you mean users who only have experience on only one platform here.

No, I mean humans. I could care less about what platforms those humans
are using at any given time. Most people I talk to do NOT think these
files would be likely to have any different content or meaning, no
matter what their technical background is:


That is regardless of platform.

> > In Windows, they don't even really have a choice in
> > the matter, so all features that favor case-insensitivity there should
> > be enabled at all times, regardless of user preference. Even in my
> > C/++ programming, I tend towards case-insensitive string comparison
> > routines by default. Forcing humans to be that consistent, about
> > something as subtle as case, is just a fool's errand.
> But absolutely necessary if you ever have any hope of escaping your
> single-platform trap.

Again, my admittedly biased views are regardless of platform. I
actually think allowing the confusion of matching mixed case, in
something that is expected to be interpreted by humans, like file
names and paths, is a huge mistake on ANY platform. It's one of the
few problems I have left with POSIX environments in general. Even in
something as technical as programming, if I saw any code labeling
separate functions (or worse, classes) with the same name but
different case, I would strongly suspect the author of intentional
obfuscation. There is no valid technical reason to require such
confusing labels.

> > So, I'm obviously biased here, maybe in part from dealing with
> > artists as my primary users. I just tend to think case-insensitivity
> > should be the default for ALL user facing string operations,
> > especially with something as arbitrary as file names.
> Yes, you are biased. It is absolutely wrong to not be aware of the
> difference, especially in filenames and the problems it causes in a
> mixed-platform world.

You seem to be very biased as well, just with less admission. I'm not
arguing that it's right not to be *aware* of the difference, at least
not in all cases. I just think it's a valid assumption, that the
interface should by default take into account the perceptions of the
average user -- label case does not provide a sufficient difference in
object definition to be noteworthy.


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Received on 2008-03-24 21:06:04 CET

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