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- Poll . 

Your oppinion about settings and usability?

Posted by Frank on Mar 7 2004
remove settings in favor of usability, choose defaults5%5%5% 5%
move settings to advanced dialogs35%35%35% 35%
move settings to an external application3%3%3% 3%
improve usability by reordering/restructuring settings34%34%34% 34%
settings should stay where they are13%13%13% 13%
vi and ~/.kde is all I need10%10%10% 10%
Votes: 770
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 Advanced Dialogs

 by Yaba on: Mar 7 2004
Score 50%

I am against these "Advanced..." sub dialogs. These subdialogs make it very hard to find a specific setting. Almost every time, when I have to search for a setting for a very long time, it's hidden somewhere on a annoying advanced dialog.

The better thing would be a global advanced/beginner mode. If you are in advanced mode, the advanced settings are shown directly on the dialog, if in beginner, these settings can be shown through an "Advanced >>" button, that extends the current dialog and does not open a new subdialog.

To mess up a Linux box, you need to work at it; to mess up your Windows box, you just need to work on it.
- Scott Granneman, Security Focus

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 Re: Advanced Dialogs

 by surfg on: Mar 7 2004
Score 50%

yup on both counts

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 by wvl on: Mar 7 2004
Score 50%

Hiding settings based on how adept a user is at using his computer doesn't work.


Hiding settings in advanced dialogs isn't ideal either. Then again hiding settings at all can be considered a bad idea.

It's all about striking the right balance. Some settings can only be changed at a code level, others in text files and even others in "advanced" dialogs.

As long as KDE doesn't start moving to an extreme (like GNOME) and continues to listen to it's current userbase (unlike GNOME) then there's not much to discuss.

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 Adv and restructure

 by leinir on: Mar 7 2004
Score 50%
KDE/Amarok, KDE/Gluon

If we are to use Advanced settings dialogs (which I voted for), we will also need a restructuring of most of the dialogs, to accomodate it in a proper way. Yabba's comment above about Advanced dialogs being a bit not-so-good is due to the fact that what is put in the Advanced dialogs so far isn't really thought through. The intentions are good, but this is really a job for the Q&A group: Find out what settings users will/do mostly use, and then move the least used settings to the Advanced dialog.

On that note, maybe it would be an idea to, in stead of calling it Advanced, call it Further settings... or somesuch, so as not to scare novice users away from potentially powerful settings, that are simply not used that often? (I am here thinking of a way to remove the clutter, without removing the power). Just a mind-burp there, comments?

..Dan // Leinir

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 Settings and dialogs

 by pivarac on: Mar 7 2004
Score 50%

The idea not to use 'advanced' in favor of other similar word is good, I suggest 'additional' as the most neutral, it carries the meaning both of additional knowledge about the apps' settings and further, not so often used, possibilities for customising the apps' behaviour.

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 context driven

 by elektroschock on: Mar 8 2004
Score 50%

I prefer a "context driven" approach. I like the improvements done by Microsoft in the XP line. Despite the usability mess this was very good improvement.

Make sure that the context menu is not cluttered via plugins.

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 Book analogy

 by dnuntius on: Mar 8 2004
Score 50%

I think books are a good resource when considering user interface issues. If program settings were treated more like entries in a phone book, I think people would find them easier to use.

For example, the phone book is divided into several sections for different purposes. The business pages and residence pages are listed alphabetically for quick reference when you know what you want.

The yellow pages provide a topical interface for when you know the type of thing you are looking for. Multifaceted businesses are often listed in several sections. Sometimes, a section in the yellow pages will refer you to other similar sections. When you are completely lost, there is even an index of topics.

At the front of the book, there is a short introduction with info about the phone company, maps of the town, and government listings.

In addition to the phone book, most people generate custom address books. These books collect info for commonly called people and businesses.


Translating this into a settings interface, several observations are possible:
- Trying to uniquely categorize each option is wrong; common settings could appear in several places.
- At a minimum, there should be categorical and indexed methods of accessing all settings.
- A brief introduction that outlines how settings affect the system might be useful.
- A user customizable "Personal settings" panel might be a good thing.


My personal feeling regarding "simple" and "advanced" interfaces is that they have good intentions but poor results. These categories just feel artificial and disconnected from the options.

When a new user wants to change something and doesn't find it in the "simple" dialog, what should he do?
- Give up, assuming its not available?
- Look through other parts of the "simple" dialog?
- Enable the "advanced" interface, learn how it works, and then march through it to see if their option is available?

This feels to me like a book that puts most of its material into appendices because the author thought they were cool.

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