Today, we might see multi-tasking as a given, but 50 years ago, early computers could only solve one problem at a time. “Want to solve more problems? Get more computers”, one might argue, but computers used to cost between 300 and 600 dollars per hour to run and filled an entire warehouse [1 at 3:13], I think it is easy to see how this might not be the best solution.
Accessibility has become an increasing concern as the World Wide Web gathers more and more attention. Increasing accessibility is sometimes problematic (to the extent that even the European Commission wants only a single set of rules), and, could be the subject of an entire book in iself.
What is interesting is that there seems to be a “blaming” game that the general public, web developers and specification editors seem to play: the public has been blaming developers for not enhancing their websites, the developers have been blaming the specification editors for their incomprehensible documents, but the specification editors are not blaming anyone. The editors know that concepts that seem promising can go wrong really easily.
While the Open Source ecosystem is thriving in development, it is getting closer to the end-user, promising interesting interfaces, but does the ecosystem really have what it takes to provide them?
The article I am attempting to write today is a constructive critique, the beginning of a series of a few blog posts that discuss designs in open source. I want to help the community by writing things that annoy me and I am sure there are alot more people out there that share them. It may not be the highest quality UI, UX and HCI paper you’ve seen, but I am doing my best. I tried to view the problem from my point of view (a somewhat superuser) and from the point of view of a newcomer. In the days following the publishing of this article, I will talk to a few developers of the project and seek their opinions on this, and, quite possibly submit them as bugs in the respective bug trackers.
Ubuntu, Unity and Dash
Unity has been quite a controversial desktop environment. Based on Gnome and Compiz (yes, it has 3d cube!), it was first released as Ubuntu’s main desktop environment in October 2010. At that time, many people complained about how bad it’s usability was. It was clearly an unpolished interface, maybe released a bit too early, but the good ideas were there: the Dash, the HUD, the Launcher and the Indicators. Everything combined in interesting, clutter-free ways. Through the years, Unity has developed into a slick (and, with Ubuntu 13.04, very fluid) user experience. While Canonical (the Ubuntu developers) certainly does not lack designers, and Mark Shuttleworth has done a great job ignoring the negative feedback of the community, it still has it’s shortcomings.
Very interesting times we live in. People are starting to stand up for themselves, voicing louder and louder about their rights and freedoms. It might be that we are witnessing an interesting turning point in history.
As things settle down, all the “fights” that have been fought during the Industrial Revolution started showing some interesting consequences as we enter the next phase, the Information Era.