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SIGIA-L Mail Archives: Re: [Sigia-l] Open Source Usability -- curable?

Re: [Sigia-l] Open Source Usability -- curable?

From: Bill Bell (
Date: Thu Jul 22 2004 - 12:08:19 EDT

I have no idea how to respond to so many comments. Maybe I can start with this.

Emily Leahy-Thieler <> wrote, in part:

> The topic of usability in open source projects seems to be getting
> quite a bit of attention. A thread on Slashdot (News for Nerds. Stuff
> that Matters) is discussing a usability report about Gnome 2.6.
> It might be interesting to read some opinions from the "nerds"
> themselves.

First of all, although I haven't taken the time to read all of this, I sincerely hope that these
exchanges are not typical of most open source discussions. They are certainly quite unlike
what I experience in the open source community.

I would suggest that most of the discourse I in which I participate on open source lists has to
do with _how_ something can be done or achieved. We want to know what established
patterns might be applicable and which to avoid. I suspect that UI people willing to offer ideas
about _how_ users are known to prefer to approach various tasks would be very welcome on
many open source projects. Senior software people _know_ that UI design is difficult--if only
because we have become accustomed to coping with so many really bad designs ourselves.
We also know that all unifying high-level concepts are extremely valuable if not essential for
making projects progress faster and better.

Related to this, I wonder if some of the people on this list might be able to suggest other lists
on which discussions take place about _how_ to assemble parts of UIs or whole ones, on the
assumption that participants are willing to go away and learn the basics for themselves.

Best regards,


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