Raymond on poor usability of CUPS

Thomas Zander zander at kde.org
Sun Feb 29 17:07:50 CET 2004

Hash: SHA1

On Friday 27 February 2004 10:24, Jan Muehlig wrote:
> There is a very interesting article from Eric Raymond about the poor
> usability of CUPS (and OSS in general):
> http://www.catb.org/~esr/writings/cups-horror.html

This piece touches on (at least one) very central issue in 
computer-usability. It advocates that, if at all possible, the computer 
should choose what to do and not the user.

His rant on selecting queue type where he had to choose from 
'LPD'/'SMB'/'NCP' etc is a valid one; the user really does not want to 
know what kind of networking is used to connect the printer.
This is the same kind of problem as when a dialog comes up asking you to 
make a selection out of a list of 1 item. (after detecting installer media 
for instance).

So a good solution would be to search for all possible scenarios the user 
is likely to take and present that to him.  In the case of the printers; 
search for printers on all those networking-types and show the ones that 
are detected.

The mindset problem we are fighting here is that a programmer tries to do 
_everything_ in one logical way. He would never think that 2 routes could 
be used. One where 80% of the cases are caught by auto-detection etc, and 
the other 20% with the simple, but abstract 'advanced' dialog.

Any programmer will try to generalize a solution to make even more 
solutions fit his algorithm (the best programmers are the laziest). For 
usability that is rarely what you want.

- -- 
Thomas Zander
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