[Patch] #29984 Change file permission using octal numbers

Aaron J. Seigo aseigo at olympusproject.org
Fri May 16 17:14:59 BST 2003

Hash: SHA1

CC'ing usability, where this is also ontopic...

On Friday 16 May 2003 08:13, Chris Lee wrote:
> Well, what I think it boils down to is, changing file permissions is
> not a beginning-user-level feature. And if adding octal editing makes
> it easier to use for advanced users, I'm all for it.

> As this is already a feature which most of the end-user types won't
> touch anyway, I see no reason to limit its potential power, and
> shooting down an octal input mode for modifying file permissions
> because it's too difficult to learn is like changing your shirt because
> you dropped a hammer on your toe.

i have to agree with scott here and say that this is IMO a poor idea.

 o Scott is correct in thinking that most who do not already know octal 
permission values will see it as line noise. no, the majority of people will 
not notice that clicking write adds 2 to a certain digit in the pattern.

 o It's poor UI design in that it connects one widget (The line edit) with a 
set of other widgets with no visible corelation. sure, changing values of one 
set of widgets affects the value of another, but since this is done by an 
internal mathematical transformation, it doesn't provide a stronger linkage.

 o It doesn't provide any new information or even a substantially better way 
to access the information that is there. Since it *mirrors* information, 
rather than presents unique information, the odds are high that it will be 
confusing for some, innexplicable for others, a novelty for others and useful 
for remarkably few.

the argument that people will now be able to change permissions faster because 
there are fewer click is somewhat absurd. it's already been settled that this 
is a rare activity, so the total time saved would be small, if any. given 
that to access those widgets requires menu accesses and then clicking on a 
tab (or pressing the accelerator) saving a few seconds at the end of it is 
largely immaterial.

if one wants to change the permissions of several files at once, one can 
already do that, so it isn't like the action needs to be repetitive and 
therefore is in need of a shortcut.

if anything, the dialog should be simplified. using terms like "Show Entries", 
"Write Entries" and "Enter" is sort of ludicrous: they make no sense when 
applied to a file, and aren't the UNIX terms so any previous learning someone 
will have done about UNIX file permissions will require translation to be 
useful. while this attempt to make it easier for the user was made, in the 
far column there is "Set UID", "Set GID" and "Sticky". if we expect the user 
to understand UID and GID, we can safely assume they can understand "Read", 
"Write" and "Execute".

it would also be nice to offer a clear set of keyboard shortcuts for the 

- -- 
Aaron J. Seigo
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