[CS-FSLUG] We have met the enemy...

Greg Slade camsoc at vfemail.net
Wed May 6 10:05:59 CDT 2009

> Xiphos (my Bible study software) has a reasonably complete manual.
> But time and time again, I keep being told that "Xiphos' operation
> x-y-z is not intuitive enough".  When I repeatedly respond, "That's
> documented in the manual in §a.b.c," because I'm fastidious about
> updates in the manual for new capability, the response is of the
> form, "But users don't want to have read any manual!  Users *won't*
> read manuals!  It has to be OBVIOUS!"

Sorry, Karl. I didn't mean to impugn the documentation for Xiphos. I
haven't actually installed it yet. The documentation which has been
sticking in my craw is for gOS, Ubuntu, Xubuntu, and Thunderbird, all of
which share various degrees of being incomplete, outdated, and impenetrable.

But yeah, people have gotten so used to having graphical user interfaces
make complicated operations easy to learn that they've come to regard
being able to use an application without have to read the docs as a
civil right. The more powerful your app is, the more likely users are to
bang their heads into that reality, and they blame you for their own
unjustifiable assumption.

On user interface generally, while there is benefit in putting thought
into logical menus, toolbars, etc., user interface is an extremely
personal thing, and what works well for one person doesn't work at all
for another. Many people adore Eudora, not because it has features no
other client has, but just because of the interface. Personally, I find
it quite clunky. The same goes for Thunderbird, Pegasus,
Outlook/Express, etc. People have their preferences, which are based --
when it comes down to it -- on the interface. (My personal favourite is
Claris eMailer, which was never ported to OS X. I love that interface. I
can't say why, specifically, but it just works the way I think.)

Thus, however great you make Xiphos, some subset of users are never
going to like it. One thing we really need in the Linux world is more
Bible software: not because Xiphos is no good, but just to give people
the freedom to go with an interface which works for them.

Greg Slade
Catapultam habeo. Nisi pecuniam omnem mihi dabis, ad caput tuum saxum
immane mittam.

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