On 2007-January-30 , at 20:59 , Bryce Harrington wrote:
On Tue, Jan 30, 2007 at 06:06:49PM +0100, Thorsten Wilms wrote:
>> this started because the status bar messages were unclear and
>> You'd think people are only beginners once but unfortunately many
>> stay there, I for example dont use Blender often enough to retain
>> little I have learnt and I'm effectively a beginner everytime.
>> If you
>> have worked in technical support you find many more users are
>> like this
>> when it comes to their computer. without really trying inkscape
>> has been
>> successful in attracting artistic users who want inkscape for their
>> various kidns of crafts work it will help if things can be kept
>> with one right way to do things and not too many assumptions made
>> inkscape users being experts at technical drawing and wanting many
>> different possibilities to achieve the same end results, as it is
>> results that matter.
But this makes me wonder if the status bar could benefit from some
of adaptive ui behavior or perhaps just a configuration setting? For
new users, the layer dropdown (among other things) could initially
be scary clutter, so clearing off the status bar in favor of status
messages could make the application >look< a lot more approachable.
Then, later once they've gotten more comfortable, they could graduate
into expert mode and have these extra accessories turned on.
This may also fit in with a more mode-oriented usage model that we've
discussed previously in the context of technical drawing vs. artistic
drawing needs, which shows up in areas like snapping and so forth.
layer dropdown is not a good example here since both technical and
artistic drawers need that, but a better example might be a symbol
pallete (very important for tech drawing, but not so much for
vs. the color pallete (important for art, less so for tech). A
framework that allowed the UI to adapt to different user modes could
prove handy for a lot of different purposes. Another example would
"child-oriented mode" where the UI is simplified to basic drawing
I have been thinking about exactly this for a while but did not know
how to suggest it. I think that application profiles/modes could be a
good answer to some usability issues. They already exists in other
(quite different for sure) software: in text editors for example you
don't want your editor to behave the same depending on which language
you work in (C, Java, TeX...). I don't know if many users here know
TextMate, a text editor on Mac OS X, but everything in this editor is
about switching profiles when you switch to a different file: in
addition to a basic invariable set (copy, paste, tab management etc)
there is a specific set of commands associated with each language,
with its specific set of keyboard shortcuts. And this editor is very
popular in part because of this flexibility. I think Emacs behaves
this way too.
Inkscape could benefit from a similar approach, but it surely needs a
lot of thinking first. My humble opinion is that beginner vs.
advanced profiles won't work because one can be quite advanced in
some areas (eg node editing) and beginning in others (eg. color
management). Furthermore, a beginner and an advanced users
essentially have the same goals, it's just that the beginner does not
know how to achieve them and restraining them in a limited or a less
accessible functionality mode won't help them. In addition, as
someone already mentioned: how can one know when he is ready to
switch to advanced mode?
On the contrary, CAD/technical, diagramming, GIS, artistic, child
modes could be very efficient in exposing only the "right" features
to the user or exposing the same features differently. Indeed,
depending on which kind of work you do, your _goal_ is different and
the application can help you achieve it.
For example, in CAD you probably want a grid in cm, which always
snaps, you probably want your tools to retain a specific style (eg.
black outline, no fill), you may find a "placement" tool handy (eg. a
window in which you can specify coordinates and size of a new object
and then add it), you may want to position your guides numerically
too and so on.
In diagramming mode you want the connector tool to be central, you
want objects to have magnets on their border too, you want some
automatic layout feature. It is likely you do not need the
calligraphy tool but may want some additional shapes or a symbol
palette as Bryce mentioned.
In artistic mode you may not need the rulers, a symbol palette, the
connector tool or the coordinate inspector on the bottom right. You
want the colors to be easily accessible and conspicuous (larger
And so on and so forth. As you may have noticed, there are not many
things I mention here which do not already exist in Inkscape.
Application profiles is just about exposing them or not, or exposing
them differently, not having to crawl down to the preferences each
time you change your use of Inskcape. On a longer term, if Inkscape
acquires some bitmap editing functionality, a "bitmap" mode will be
necessary (eg. Xara has kind of this: bitmap editing is done in a
different window with different tools) and it would just fit within
the pre-existing modes.
Ideally, we would be able to come up with a single design that
needs (e.g. moving it into the canvas), and it is very wise to always
make that the top goal, since the fewer configuration options, the
easier the software will be to test and maintain. In practice,
as Inkscape's usage grows and fills in more and more niches, the need
for usage-mode-specific UI layouts is going to grow.
And I think this is true for many applications, not only for Inkscape
(I whish Thunderbird could hide my mail when I read news and hide my
news when I read mail, I wish there was a video encoding tool in
which options change depending on wether you encode from DVD or a
live stream, wether you want high or low quality, I wish there was
only one music handling application in Gnome which plays mp3s, cds
and encodes/converts music but in which the UI adapts to these needs
I hope this will help. What about starting a wiki page for ideas
collection and UI mockups?