Re: [dev] Interesting post about X11

From: Anselm R Garbe <>
Date: Wed, 16 Jun 2010 08:42:45 +0100

On 16 June 2010 05:02, Connor Lane Smith <> wrote:
> On 16 June 2010 02:32, Kurt H Maier <> wrote:
>> Using the term 'user experience' at all, much less abbreviating it
>> 'UX,' is every bit as snotty.  A lot of programmers don't give a shit
>> about 'user experience' because they are competent users of a
>> complicated machine, and they expect other people to be able to
>> maintain respiration while remembering which button to press next.
> I think one of the problems you're having is that when you read "user
> experience" you think "graphical design", which means you sort of miss
> the point. (Apologies if the term is snotty, but we don't really have
> any others. If the term "these days means" something else, that's
> unfortunate - a lot of terms we use around here these days mean
> something new. "Unix", for instance.) Think of it more as how the user
> interacts with the software, not on a graphical level but a
> psychological one.
> The Unix philosophy, creating simple tools which can be easily
> combined in new ways, isn't an engineering improvement, it's an
> interactive one. It's about allowing the user to more efficiently use
> their software. That's why we have stderr (hey old thread), why we
> prefer fewer flags, and why "silence is golden". It's more about usage
> than machinery.
>> Try to keep that in mind while we all ignore your glowing buttons and
>> dynamic menus with pastel gradients.
> Talking of pastel, have you ever used Acme? You should read the paper
> on it [1]. The "nuances and heuristics" section is all about is how
> Pike tried to make the user interface simple and efficient. But- but-
> that's a user interface for Plan 9 programmers! Could it be that we
> too need well-designed user interaction?
> This may shock you, but we are mortal. Programmers cannot understand
> the entire machine down to the last transistor, and computers are
> becoming ever more complex. Some software we use may assume that it
> has the undivided attention of some infallible user (*cough* vi), but
> generally we try to use simple software which just lets us do whatever
> it is we want to do.
> However, you are right about one thing: a lot of programmers don't
> give a shit about "user experience". That's a huge shame. That sort of
> thinking will get us closer to vi and emacs and further from acme and
> sam. None of the editors I've mentioned are perfect (please no holy
> war), but the latter two are designed to be simple both internally and
> externally. (If only internal simplicity mattered we would have stuck
> with ed.)
> I hope that someday more programmers will care about user experience.
> I also hope that they realise programmers are users too, and aren't
> perfect either.
> [1]

I wouldn't say that careful user interface consideration results in
sam or acme necessarily. I tried to adapt acme for quite a long time
some years ago; and always felt uncomfortable. This doesn't mean that
they don't work for others though.

My general perception is that the IT trend is the believe that there
is a user interface that works for everyone, but apart from the power
switch button I pretty much disagree. Having said that suckless' focus
has always been the experienced computer user, hence I don't really
think we should follow the trend and design an interface that works
for granny. The point is we should design user interfaces for
ourselves, not for Apple users ;)

Received on Wed Jun 16 2010 - 07:42:45 UTC

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