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Month: January 2012

Re: Re: [trinity-devel] Centered or "Smart" Default Window Placement

From: Darrell Anderson <humanreadable@...>
Date: Sun, 15 Jan 2012 13:06:09 -0800 (PST)
> ok. I cannot give you usability studies, because they don't
> exist. But you can 
> try it yourself. Just use it! Just try this setting for a
> day or two. Give it 
> to a non-experienced user.

I have tried Smart placement. I don't like the placement scheme. :)

I have been using computers since 1977. I'm not a newbie. :) Old fashioned? Sometimes. Older than most users today? For sure. Cranky? Sometimes. But newbie? Not even close. :)

Having been around computers for so long, and usually being the local "go to" computer person where ever I go, I have learned a thing or two about usability. I won't claim to be a subject matter expert, but I have observed more than most people using computers today. I know that for each option provided, in any interface, for any tool, some people will like one option and some will like another. That is the way humans are wired. Some people like Smart placement. Some people like Centered. Some like the other options. That does not make one option "right" or "wrong." Only different. Good software design provides options. Good developers provide options and let the users decide.

Most of my usability observations have taken place where the other users are not computer savvy. These people are intelligent and wonderful but are not close to being classic computer "geeks." I have observed that among software developers their observations about usability more often than not are limited to fellow geeks and not every day users.

I can say with confidence that quite often what is "cool" to a "geek" is not cool to every day users. I have observed this often.

Computer savvy users --- geeks in common parlance, are wired differently than every day computer users. Much like "motorheads" are wired differently than every day users of automobiles.

That you offer no usability studies related to this specific topic means we are limited to opinions. I can live with that.

> Of course it has to do with technical aspects of the window
> manager. You can 
> only choose a default if you understand it. If you
> understand every detail of 
> it. If you know and understand the underlying code and the
> history behind it.

The original poll question has nothing to do with the technical aspects of each placement option. The poll question is about usability, of which you provide no related studies.

As I mentioned in the bugzilla, I can see from the code (I can read C++ but am not a C++ hacker --- I'm teaching myself as we speak) that a lot of sweat equity went into the thought and design of Smart placement. Having hacked lots of code myself, I appreciate the effort behind the work.

With that said, for you to tell me I can choose a default only if I understand the technical aspects is condescending. I need only to use the options to decide what I like or don't like.

I never argued that Smart placement should be removed. More than once I emphasized that this discussion is not about the merits of each option, but only about which option should be the default for the initial installation. Users can change the option after the initial installation, but what should the default be? As you offer no usability studies about the topic, then as I said, we all are limited to opinions only. Fair enough. Just don't "talk down" to people about their choices.

> If you just had looked into the code, if you had tracked
> down why it is the 
> default, you would not even have come up with the
> proposal.

Condescending opinion.

> Just to give you an idea. The placement policy centered was
> not always called 
> centered. It was committed as "StupidlyCentered". It did
> not even had a GUI 
> option, because it is so stupid. It is from 2002 and has
> not changed at all, 
> the code is still the same (except an internal
> adjustment).

I never have been impressed with these types of developers' attitudes.

I don't care that the Centered option has remain unchanged since 2002. I have tools, appliances, and furniture in my house that are --- I'm guessing here --- older than you. My pickup truck is 23 years old and runs like a top. Does that make any of those objects "stupid"?

A hammer is a tool that is simple in design and has remained unchanged since its invention. Is the hammer stupid because the design is simple?

To name a window placement option "StupidlyCentered" is an indication of a condescending "we know better than you" attitude.

An example of this "we know better" attitude is the work I did a while ago to restore some options to the Konqueror web link context menu. Despite user requests years ago not to change the menu, the menu options never were restored because the developer "knew what was best." I restored those options.

Another example of this condescending attitude are some usability options I restored to Kate. The original options were called "useless crap" by the developer and removed. Those comments remain in the original patch commit. I restored that "useless crap."

My point with these examples is for you to claim you know what is best for me or other users is like holding water with a sieve. You have no standing to decide what is best for me or anybody other user.

> Seriously? Do you want to use that as the default?

Yes I do. You haven't figured that out yet?

Tim and I started this discussion in the bugzilla. As much as I want Centered, er, StupidlyCentered, I am not so arrogant to think others want that option as the default. I wrote a patch to change the default. So I have sweat equity involved in this discussion. Perhaps a little pride too because I am not a full fledged C++ coder.

I might get out-voted and Smart will remain the default option for new installations. Therefore in the bugzilla I proposed an alternate method to change the global default for new installations without patching code. That is one of the attractive elements I like about the Trinity project. We don't see things here as "my way or the highway" or "either or." We don't pretend to "know better." We see all options as being viable and we try to work with everybody.

> The usability study for placement policy smart might be
> that it was used in 
> KWM and based on code from an even older window manager.
> Maybe 15 years of 
> experience in good window placement are an argument, maybe
> not.

Okay. Opinion, not facts.

> You can spend your time on discussing each config option of
> KDE which have not 
> changed in the last 12 years. All is fine with that. But I
> can only recommend 
> you to concentrate on what is important. The KDE devs are
> not all stupid and 
> for most of the defaults there are good reasons.

I never intimated that the KDE developers were stupid. I always thought they were incredibly smart and talented. Yet as I mentioned previously, what a geek thinks is usable often contradicts what every day users think is usable.

> And even if you come up with a new default I can only
> suggest that you go 
> afterwards to the maintainers of the specific KDE
> application and ask why they 
> had the default and not the one you use. There might be
> very good reasons to 
> not use your default. Remember: you did not develop the
> applications, you 
> don't know the limitations!

There might be some usability reasons, but as you have not provided any related studies, I am left to think the underlying reason is ego and what some geeks thought was cool.