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A Close(r) Look At OLPC Human Interface Guidelines 152

Posted by Hemos
from the making-the-audience-understand dept.
feranick writes "There have been a lot of articles on Slashdot about the OLPC project, most of them regarding the hardware, the social impact or the cost of the operation itself. However the software development, specifically in the GUI didn't get so far much attention. This blog summarizes some of the OLPC global interface guidelines. You will see that what is really new in the laptop is not the laptop itself, but the completely new idea behind the design, where instead of applications you have activities, documents are now journals, 'application bundles can be signed by whoever works on them — because there is a view source key on the keyboard, anybody can modify an app and distribute it'. It really looks like if this is successfully, we could see a new breakthrough in GUI design also in mainstream PCs: "This UI is quite simply one of the deepest and most interesting redesigns of the desktop user interface ever produced. It makes MacOS look like what it is — boring and unoriginal.""
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A Close(r) Look At OLPC Human Interface Guidelines

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  • Endless Submenus (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jrwr00 (1035020) <jrwr00.gmail@com> on Monday December 11, 2006 @09:50AM (#17194140) Homepage
    The most annoying thing i can thing of in a UI and i find it every where, is the endless menus!
    there should be some way to work this out
    • you could just use a command line interface instead and memorize all the commands ;-p

      the other options are (in a convenient menu format, that is easy to read and available without extra training):

      a) get rid of options
      b) use a programmable input device, like a keyboard
      c) use voice command
      d) add other options here ;-p
      • d1) Use most typical but limited options

        Note: This is what the Mac UI often does, so the submitter would have to stop whining about it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Microsoft would agree with you. That's one reason why they've adopted the "ribbons" interface for Office 2007 [microsoft.com]

      Now, personally, I see this as a minor evolutionary improvement on the 'tool palette' interface [adobe.com] made popular by Adobe Systems' Photoshop and Illustrator appliations, but that's just me.
    • I'd rather have a well organized tree structure than a single flat menu with everything in it any day.
  • by Toby The Economist (811138) on Monday December 11, 2006 @09:52AM (#17194158)
    > "This UI is quite simply one of the deepest and most interesting redesigns of the desktop
    > user interface ever produced. It makes MacOS look like what it is -- boring and unoriginal."

    Wrong answer.

    If something is good, it *is*, of its own accord. There is no need to assert *something else is bad* - unless you're feeling insecure.

    • by King_TJ (85913) on Monday December 11, 2006 @09:56AM (#17194202) Journal
      Yeah... not to mention, anyone making something brand new can easily "shoot fish in a barrel" by pointing at a design that's years older, complaining it's "boring" or "unoriginal" by comparison.

      Are the latest changes coming out for OS X Leopard "boring and unoriginal"? Heck, we don't even know about half of them yet!

      Nonetheless, many of these "unoriginal" ideas are actually "conventions" adopted by all major OS's because there was some agreement that they were "best of breed" ways to illustrate or accomplish something. That's not always a "bad" thing!
    • by DrLex (811382)
      You could also read that phrase as "This thing must IMHO be incredibly cool because it's even cooler than MacOS". Which makes it a compliment instead of an attack.
      • by node 3 (115640)
        You could, but you'd be making stuff up since that's not what was said, nor is it even what was meant.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      I made that (throwaway) comment because I had recently written about a few parts of the Mac GUI that annoyed me, and because the Mac is usually touted as being innovative in the UI space. I disagree, I don't think it's all that innovative compared to the OLPC, hence the comparison. Of course, the one sentence that mentioned the Mac got picked for the Slashdot front page and now the article itself is Slashdotted, nobody will read the full thing. C'est la vie ;)
    • by mdwh2 (535323)
      True, but to be fair, many articles/posts promoting MacOS do so by saying something else (usually Windows) is bad ;) ("Windows crashes, therefore MacOS is better!")
    • But Mac OS X's GUI IS bad -- at least compared to Mac OS 9. UI design has never been the same at Apple since jobs fired practically the entire HCI research department back in 1997 around when Mac OS X was first being designed.

      Initial Alpha builds of Rhapsody kept the Mac OS 9 user experience intact. Soon after the firing came the introduction of the Dock, the changes to erase stability of spatial reference, and the dumping of many of Mac OS 9's nicer UI features. It also allowed the company to release th
      • by SimHacker (180785)

        Absolutely right! Apple used to have some great and serious people working on HCI, and made a lot of important advances (like HyperCard), which they have totally abandoned. Today, their user interfaces look and feel like they were designed by a bunch of cocaine-addled advertising executives.

        Case in point: Why didn't the QuickTime team clean up their act after being inducted into the User Interface Hall of Shame [mac.com]? They have had 7 years to clean up that mess, but it's just gotten worse and worse!!!

        It's

    • MacOS (and OS/X) most certainly IS boring and unoriginal. Mac OS/X is based on the ancient NeXT Step window system, which was design a long long time ago. Apple has totally stagnated, and has been resting on their laurels for many years now. All their focus is on meaningless fluff and window dressing, instead of usability and empowering users.

      For example, take the QuickTime player, which has only gotten worse and more obnoxious in the service of marketing iTunes and upgrades and advertisements, since it

  • So? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ral315 (741081) on Monday December 11, 2006 @09:54AM (#17194176)
    Applications are activities, documents are journals...hell, why don't we call the laptop a leg-sittin' typing machine? To call the renaming of anything a major GUI change is absurd.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Agreed, but this seems a bit more than JUST renaming. On the other hand its also not exactly new. There are many OS GUI interfaces which have tried similar things. Even MS had something that at least sounds similar from a high level (Microsoft Bob [wikipedia.org]). Since OLPC is aimed at children around the world who may not even know what a "folder" is and not businesses, this "more friendly metaphores" could work well.

      Anyway, seems a bit more than just renaming but certainly not new.
      • by a.d.trick (894813)

        "more friendly metaphores"

        I doubt this was intentional, but you should be more careful because you are begging the question with your loaded words. The critics of the OLPC gui design are claiming that it is not "more friendly". There is a constant confusion between a GUI that appears friendly and a GUI that is friendly. The difference is subtle, but important. (note: Gnome is my favourite desktop so I'm going to pick on them just to be fair)

        It is easy to make a GUI appear friendly:

        1. Draw metaphores from c
      • by smoker2 (750216)
        Since OLPC is aimed at children around the world who may not even know what a "folder" is and not businesses, this "more friendly metaphores" could work well.
        Considering "Folders" are a totally Windows metaphor, why should they know (or care) ?

        As far as I'm concerned, they are called directories, and always will be.

        • Re:So? (Score:4, Informative)

          by node 3 (115640) on Monday December 11, 2006 @08:21PM (#17202676)
          Considering "Folders" are a totally Windows metaphor, why should they know (or care) ?
          Folders is a real-world desktop metaphor.

          As far as I'm concerned, they are called directories, and always will be.
          Directories is a real-world text-based metaphor. Interestingly enough, the term is used primarily for text-based interfaces (such as CLI's). Call them what you want, but folder is the better metaphor for more people. Additionally, the fact that the icon is an image of a folder certainly helps the metaphor. What would a directory icon look like? A phone book? A mall directory?
    • Filesystems are journals, and primarily keep track of the things a child has done.

      That fact that documents get saved, and can be access via the journal is almost secondary.

      It's a shift in emphasis, and a restructuring of the storage metaphor in order to make the system more accessible to young minds.

      Of course, it may turn out to be cosmetic - almost certainly will unless they're using something really exotic for the file system - but if the result is a better way to think about computer tasks it could

    • OpenDoc & Lifebooks (Score:3, Informative)

      by Valdrax (32670)
      Because there's a difference, and it's very familiar to any old Mac hand as OpenDoc. [wikipedia.org] Read up on OpenDoc and Publish and Subscribe and then go back and read the OLPC design requirements until you see what I'm thinking. Also, look up the UI concept of Lifebooks. Activities are identical to OpenDoc components, and the Journal is a Lifebook.

      The OLPC isn't doing anything new, per se, but it's bringing together a lot of old UI design concepts that have been sitting on the shelf untried for years and years.

      Pers
  • You do realize that your criticism of the Mac will start a flame war...?

    We didn't really need this as part of the discussion.

    • by feranick (858651)
      I do. I am just quoting from a blog. And if that was really a flame bait, the editors would have never published the story....
  • New (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Hijacked Public (999535) * on Monday December 11, 2006 @09:56AM (#17194204)

    the completely new idea behind the design, where instead of applications you have activities, documents


    This is new? The people from Xerox Parc are going to disagree.

    • Re:New (Score:4, Insightful)

      by radtea (464814) on Monday December 11, 2006 @10:45AM (#17194968)
      This is new?

      Not only is the idea of "activities, not applications" old, it is not even a good idea. It puts a very important kind of choice in the hands of the person with the least information about what the user wants to do, which is extremely bad design.

      People have heirarchies of goals. For example, I want to pass some course so I need to edit some document so I need to start ... What I want to do at each level and how it relates to the other levels is entirely up to me, and no one else is going to be able to figure out what the appropriate choices are for me because they lack almost all of the relevant information about my heirarchy of goals. The "activities not applications" idea ties these levels together in a way that cannot be generally appropriate because the person doing the tying is perfectly ignorant of what the user actually wants to do.

      To take a hardware example, a nail gun is not a replacement for a hammer, as it is almost completely useless for many of the functions that hammers are routinely used for, like smashing things. Frequently, I want to use a hammer for something other than driving nails, and if some idiot developer handed me a nail gun because they presumed they knew what I was going to do with the hammer it would be annoying to say the least. Why should a developer be choosing what tool I use? And what business does a developer have in deciding what "activities" are legitimate? I want a toolbox that I can do with what I please, not a finite, static list of "activities" that are tied to a bunch of tools that are unrelated to those activities except in some developer's imagination.

      There is a role for guidance in UI design--a system that suggests a tool for a given job--but to design the whole UI around the notion that the UI designer personally knows what activities a user will want to perform and that the UI designer personally knows how the user will want to perform them is simply a mistake. There are some tasks where the association is sort of clear, but the fact that "some A are B" does not imply that "all A are B", now does it? To defend this kind of design one needs to be able to prove that in the majority of cases the UI desiger, who has no clue about the user's actual goals, is more likely to make appropriate judgments about how to achieve them than the user ever will. This is a tall order.

      The fact is that a lot of what users do is ill-defined and amorphous and not easily subject to classification. For example: what "activity" am I engaged in right now? Posting to /.? Editing a text field in a form? Editing a document? Maybe I type all my posts off-line and then paste them to the form so I maintain a local copy, and thankfully I am not limited in my choices by the bounds of someone else's imagination.
      • Re:New (Score:5, Interesting)

        by ronanbear (924575) on Monday December 11, 2006 @11:37AM (#17195780)
        But it could also be seen as a way of grouping things. Put your nail gun and your hammer together in your toolbox so that you can either easily when you want to put a nail in something. Keep them with your nails In fact have a whole section for fasteners where your rivot gun and ball hammer are grouped together with your rivets.

        The metaphor isn't about using less tools it's about using them together. MacOS has an applications folder where everything goes. People might have 4 or 5 programs that can view/edit photos depending on their needs. Why not keep them separate (at a UI level) from your compilers.
        • You do realize that one can put Mac OS applications wherever one wants, don't you? E.g., an "Applications/Photos" subfolder.
        • And how exactly is this a new concept? My Windows start menu is already organized in to folders like "Graphics", "Audio", "Programming", "Internet". I've had the ability to do this ever since I started using Windows 3.1. I can easily do the same thing with any desktop environment in Linux, and presumably on OSX as well.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by nasch (598556)

        To take a hardware example, a nail gun is not a replacement for a hammer...

        I don't think your example is great. You're suggesting that in your analogy you would say "I want a hammer" and the developer would give you a nail gun. Well you didn't ask for an activity, you asked for a tool. If you're asking to start an activity, you would say "I want to drive nails" and then you would get an appropriate tool. If you just want to smash something and not drive nails, then you should have said "I want to smash

        • If you're asking to start an activity, you would say "I want to drive nails" and then you would get an appropriate tool. If you just want to smash something and not drive nails, then you should have said "I want to smash something".

          I believe you're overlooking the problem here: the maker of the tool (the hammer) has a particular set of uses in mind, and those uses do not necessarily correlate with the ways you want to use the tool. In other words, the UI "language" may not even include a way to specify

          • by nasch (598556)

            Note that I'm not just referring to internal architecture here; I'm saying that it should be possible for the user to replace or supplement the supplied user-interface component with a completely separate, from-scratch implementation, if necessary, while retaining the same underlying model. It would be best if the supplied UI component were open-source (whatever the model's license might be), to maximize reuse and to capitalize on the flexibility of the design. It should, furthermore, be possible to access

            • That all sounds great for a general-purpose computer, but is it necessary for OLPC? Don't get me wrong, if they can do that without sacrificing their others goals obviously they should. But if they cannot, then it's more important to have a system that the users can understand than one that they can alter.

              First off, they're already planning to include one or more programming environments, so I don't think meeting this goal would add any additional development software dependencies. (I am assuming that t

  • OLPC Hardware (Score:3, Informative)

    by bestinshow (985111) on Monday December 11, 2006 @09:56AM (#17194214)
    The OLPC hardware is very nice actually. I've held it in my hands, and it is sturdy and looks nice. The worst part is the keyboard, which is dire - hopefully this is something they will work on in the future to improve. Sadly it had run out of battery when I got my mitts on it, so I cannot comment on the user interface, and the operation thereof.

    However there are some interesting points in the blog post - it just depends on whether they are valid for the OLPC.

    Fitts Law in corners for example works well when you have a mouse you can fling into the corner. But the OLPC has a trackpad, and we all know they're not so good for flinging the cursor into the corner. Something localised would be far better, for example a double-tap + pop-up directional menu for actions. Also Mac OS X lets you assign the corners to actions, contrary to his post. Many people disable these because they're annoying!
    • Re:OLPC Hardware (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Bastian (66383) on Monday December 11, 2006 @10:24AM (#17194600)
      Fitts Law in corners for example works well when you have a mouse you can fling into the corner. But the OLPC has a trackpad, and we all know they're not so good for flinging the cursor into the corner. Something localised would be far better, for example a double-tap + pop-up directional menu for actions. Also Mac OS X lets you assign the corners to actions, contrary to his post. Many people disable these because they're annoying!

      (sneaking off topic. mod me down!)

      And because they violate everything a reasonable UI person holds dear. I'll grant that OS X didn't originally make great use of the corners. One is for the Apple menu, which is rarely needed, and the other is for the clock's menu, which is almost never needed. However, keeping those in the corners and then adding an option to have the corner respond to other actions is a bit annoying - now there's no easy way to know exactly what the corner will do until you try it. That, or discover it automagically because none of the Exposé actions require a click.

      Which gets to the next problem. These corner actions are generally things that radically rearrange the screen, start a screen saver, etc. Without a click. This is extremely undesirable when you consider that Fitts Law cuts both ways - the corners are such easy targets that most users will frequently hit them even when they don't intend to. For example, it's common for me to fling the cursor off toward a corner when I want to get it out of my way so I can read a document more easily or whatever. With hot corners enabled, I'll often end up hitting one of those corners, which ironically massively re-arranges the screen, usually in a way that makes it completely impossible for me to continue my reading. Just about the exact opposite of what I was intending to do. Similar problems for when I'm trying to use a UI element that's close to a corner (window resizing controls, Apple menu, etc.)

      The only hot corner I like and use is the one which keeps the screen saver from activating. It's also the only one that doesn't have a nasty habit of mucking with the screen when I don't want it to.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by mcdermd (901583)
        I actually use the lower left and right corners to trigger Expose actions all the time. It's become second nature for me to use it to drag files, text, etc. between different apps and between the desktop and apps. You can't very well drag to the corner, then click and expect the object to stay "dragged". The only thing that I don't like about it is there is no company-approved software to allow me to do this on the Windows XP box I use at work.
        • by Bastian (66383)
          You can't very well drag to the corner, then click and expect the object to stay "dragged".

          You can't, but you can use splat-tab and all the Exposé hotkeys while dragging.

          From a UI perspective, it'd be nice if Apple added Exposé silkstreens to the F9-F12 keys the way they have done for the volume and brightness controls. Though I suppose that wouldn't work so well if a user wants to reassign those keys. Of course, I'm not sure reassigning the Exposé hotkeys is any more useful than reassigni
    • But the OLPC has a trackpad, and we all know they're not so good for flinging the cursor into the corner.


      Actually, it depends on the touchpad's drivers and how they handle acceleration, etc. I've found that the some drivers work very well in this regard, in particular the Synaptics Windows drivers. The drivers that come with X.org (at least on Xubuntu) aren't bad, either, but they're not nearly as configurable.
      • by Eideewt (603267)
        Assuming you're using the Synaptics driver in X.org, it's much more configurable than the Windows version. Try "man synaptics" to see everything it does. Hardware permitting, it supports multi-finger taps (so you can click with up to three user-configurable buttons just by tapping with a different number of fingers), corner taps (triggering a button of your choice for each corner), vertical and horizontal scrolling (only one of which is supported under Windows, not that it works properly), and also circular
  • by jamesl (106902) on Monday December 11, 2006 @10:01AM (#17194296)
    A View Source Key -- now there's a top level UI component that hundreds of millions of computer users have been begging for.
    • by ghjm (8918)
      You have no idea how many secretaries have asked me when they're going to get a "Reveal Codes" option in Word, like they had in WordPerfect. Some of them are now too young to remember WordPerfect, so the concept of "Reveal Codes" has passed into legend and oral tradition, with the older secretaries passing it on to the younger ones.

      If you tell them: "View Source" is the new "Reveal Codes" they will be all over it in a heartbeat.

      -Graham
      • Sorry, those secretaries can hope all they want, but barring a major reengineering of the Word format, Reveal Codes will never happen in Word, ever. The best explanation of why is here [mvps.org]; in summary, WordPerfect uses inline marking (think HTML), where Word uses nested containers with formatting info in binary blobs at beginning and end of the document. So Reveal Codes implemented literally in Word would just mark off the containers and parse the leading and trailing data for you; you'd still have to mentall
  • OG: Original GUI (Score:4, Informative)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Monday December 11, 2006 @10:23AM (#17194576) Homepage Journal
    "It makes MacOS look like what it is -- boring and unoriginal."

    The new GUI might be revolutionary, and useful, and create the new paradigm. Just like MacOS did.

    OLPC might make the now mature MacOS look boring. But if it makes MacOS look "unoriginal", just because so many have copied it, then the audience must be a world of children with the first laptop they've ever seen. Because MacOS originated the features that MacOS still keeps the cutting edge - until something like OLPC maybe replaces it. Even if so many others have copied it, MacOS is the original.

    Unless you want to dig into MacOS's roots, like the Apple Lisa, or the Xerox Star. Which were prototypes, even the failed release Lisa. All PC design has been evolutionary, however big a leap one subsystem (like a GUI, or a LAN, or a laser printer on it, or an input peripheral like a mouse) makes. But those seminal roots just show how original was the MacOS, which made it work with its original improvements and integrations.

    We should replace the ancient Mac GUI paradigm. It was revolutionary in the home and office, because it finally put the home and office on the screen, replacing the algebra classroom and typesetter formes. The original. Now it's over two decades old, and we're all more familiar with PCs than with file cabinets and document scrolls. So when we improve the paradigm, it's good to target the original. Pretending that MacOS isn't original makes it harder to beat it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by BigBuckHunter (722855)
      The new GUI might be revolutionary, and useful, and create the new paradigm. We should replace the ancient Mac GUI paradigm. So when we improve the paradigm

      You don't happen to be in management, do you? I believe you now hold the slashdot record for number of reoccurring uses of the word "paradigm" in a single non-Babylon-5 related post.

      BBH
      • by Doc Ruby (173196)
        We're talking about a paradigm. So the name of the subject pops up a lot. Are you charging by the word you read? You don't happen to be in accounting, do you?
        • We're talking about a paradigm. So the name of the subject pops up a lot. Are you charging by the word you read? You don't happen to be in accounting, do you?

          Worse, I'm a tax collector. I charge "cliche" tax. Every time someone uses a globe in their corporate logo, I get a buck. A bridge is 50 cents. Two joining hands are 25 cents. Use a bridge embossed over a globe, it's $1.50. I trademarked all the popular logo cliches before the bubble and made a fortune.

          BBH
          • by Doc Ruby (173196)
            I hope you kept all your receipts, because that post demonstrates that "recognizable symbols" are different from cliches when the word is the closest accurate name for the phenomenon. While triggering the cliche charge for the "I trademarked it before the Bubble" joke.

            What words for "paradigm" are tax exempt, anyway?
  • I've played with it (Score:5, Informative)

    by wandazulu (265281) on Monday December 11, 2006 @10:53AM (#17195090)
    There's a VMWare image of the OLPC system (forget where...found the link on OSNews.com) and I downloaded it and played with it a bit. The "Sugar" interface is one those things that presumably works better on the intended hardware, because moving the mouse around to get to the "desktop" or whatever it was got old really fast.

    The other issue, which I can appreciate is a very non-trivial task because it has to work with non-computer savvy kids (and presumably adults) in a variety of languages, is that the icons didn't make any sense to me, nor did most of the interface. I got that the globe icon was a browser, but that was pretty much it. A couple of apps I still don't understand what they do.

    Being that it's Linux underneath, the standard ctrl-alt-backspace killed the interface and I was able to log in as root (no password) and poke around. The one programming language they include is Perl, and that got me thinking about why not give the kids an interface or some capability to develop their own software too? The next killer app could be written by a kid on a OLPC machine. It looked like they also included a version of Squeak (Smalltalk) as well, but I only saw the interface come up once and wasn't able to get back to it again. Would they ship the docs in all languages as well?
    • by pembo13 (770295)
      There should also be Python and Logo on the machine.
    • The other issue... is that the icons didn't make any sense to me, nor did most of the interface. I got that the globe icon was a browser, but that was pretty much it.

      I've always wondered about this. Why does a globe represent the WWW? This goes right back to the days of Mosaic, with the globe superimposed on the S (for Supercomputing?) Of course in 1992-1994 it was more commonly known as "the World Wide Web" or the "WWW" rather than just "the Web" or "the Internet", so a globe (world) was obvious. B

      • by wandazulu (265281)
        Welllllll.....it's a stretch, but I could imagine that the globe represents, well, everything. At least, everything that is physical to our lives. Yes space this, other planets, stars, that, but all the things that affect us either directly or indirectly can for the most part be confined to the one big spinning blue and white beach ball.

        Other than that, I got nothin'. :)
        • Well, I've always thought of the Internet in terms of information flow, but a string of ones and zeros doesn't really do anything for people who don't know what binary is. The first thing I can come up with myself is a whole bunch of arrows pointing to a little stick-person, representing abstractly the idea that "things flow to you when you use this application", but you still have to represent "information" in some way or it just looks like you're being blown around by the wind.

          About the best solution I

      • by miro f (944325)
        well to be honest, for most users, "The Web" is represented by a blue e.
    • There's a VMWare image of the OLPC system

      There's a torrent available, on torrentspy.com (search for OLPC). Alternatively, the magnet URI is magnet:?xt=urn:btih:U5CXHOLLT5ZGRGSVSGYRBCDJJRKN6X KD

      Note that slashcode puts a space in that URI. Delete it.

      Right now, I'm the only one seeding, and my connection isn't all that fast, but if a few others jump on board it should speed up in a hurry. It's not all that big (135MB).

  • by mjeffers (61490) on Monday December 11, 2006 @11:28AM (#17195638) Homepage
    is the one that hasn't been usability tested yet.

    from http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Ask_OLPC_a_Question [laptop.org]
    "There is very little public information about requirements gathering, usability and user testing. In other words, how do you know whether the OLPC (i) will meet your users' needs and (ii) is easy enough for them to use? Have the target user groups been characterized? What ongoing plans do you have for this? I`d Like test the OLPC in Argentina, Please contct with me to know how. Thanks.

            As far as I know, there are two local groups in Argentina with test boards (don't know if anybody has the 2B1/XO prototypes though). They are Ututo and Tuquito. I know Ututo had some explicit arrangements to let other people use/test the boards. If anybody knows about other groups (or about any local XOs) please let me know (or post in the OLPC Argentina pages. --Xavi 07:23, 6 December 2006 (EST)"

    Before you go off spouting that you've designed a radical new UI that's better than anything else you might want to usability test it. Now I couldn't find anything on the link to Ututo and the link to Tuquito doesn't seem to have any English content but from the answer to the question it doesn't sound like there's a real plan for user testing a radical new UI that will be given to people who, according to the HIG are young and inexperienced.

    To the designer's credit both of those criteria (young and inexperienced) give you the best possible scenario for introducing a new UI since children are more willing to play around and experiment and inexperienced computer users don't have the legacy of using an OS that worked any different from what you're giving them. Even with those advantages I'd hope that a project that is intended for a global audience would have more substantial usability testing plans than "lets give a couple to some people in Argentina and see what they think". I'm certainly not going to go all gaga over an untested UI that starts by throwing out decades of learning about how people interact with software.
    • I think pie menus would work well in the OLCP user interface.

      Pie menus [donhopkins.com] aren't radical or new, however they're a radial but non-standard menu UI that's been empirically tested [donhopkins.com] and shown to be faster and less error prone than linear menus.

      Since the OLPC interface runs on a small screen, and uses the screen edges to frame and control the user interface, one issue that needs to be properly addressed is the screen edge problem:

      You can pop up pie menus in the screen corners or along the screen edges, by

  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Monday December 11, 2006 @12:54PM (#17196960) Homepage
    For a couple of seconds there, I thought "Wow! The same amount as the original 1984 Macintosh." My, how times change...

    Remember when John McCarthy said (sorry, I don't have the exact quotation... if anyone does I'd love to have it and the source) that there were no theoretical barriers to artificial intelligence any more, they knew how to do it and the only thing they needed was a "million words of memory?"

  • The link to the OLPC Human Interface Guidelines [laptop.org] shows a horizontally oriented graphical table of contents - colored table cells to contain links to each section. And then whole page is rendered with with all of the editable sections rendered to show visual containment inside a bunch of DIVs, w/forward/backward nav, etc. Does anyone know if that is core, or some type of mediawiki extension? I'd like to experiment with it further. Can someone point me to the source of that extension for mediawiki? Its ver
  • This is a refreshing new take on computing, and quite possibly a necessary and due one, too ... but I can't help wondering if this is a case of "hey mac, this new gadget of yours looks GREAT ....but you try it first and we'll see how it works out, mmkay?"

    I agree that it is creative and ballsy and everything, but has it even been tested? Wouldn't it be even more ballsy to test it on ourseves before peddling it as an educational tool to the poorer part of the world? I know I'm being rather critical here, and
    • by grcumb (781340)

      I agree that it is creative and ballsy and everything, but has it even been tested? Wouldn't it be even more ballsy to test it on ourseves before peddling it as an educational tool to the poorer part of the world?

      Good idea. Why don't you go to laptop.org and download your own copy of the software and, well, test it, then? I did, and I found it has far more strengths than weaknesses. I really feel that they got inside the head of a first-time computer user; not confusing them with details, and creating sim

      • by KlaymenDK (713149)
        > Well, I might flame you for ignorance ... but not for intention.
        Thank you for being so reasonable. :) Apparently I missed the news the other day.

        > I really feel that they got inside the head...
        Wow, great to hear. :) Kudos to the team! I just might try it after the xmas rush settles; my home pc is used to OS swapping (*BSD,*buntu,*DOS,...).

        Just last night I discussed with my dad (old time IT dude) how the MSO specs was 6000 pages, the OOo 700, and the Mac GUI specs a mere 60 ... he thought the OLPC g
  • A GUI designed by committee. This is sure to be as wildly popular as Ada, a language designed by committee.
  • Weren't some or many of these things in Microsoft Bob?
  • It's for my inner child, of course.
  • Misunderstood, out of date, misinterpreted, I don't know where the disconnect is but what was credible for a 7" screen in a Classic Mac is pretty annoying on my Macbook Pro's 17" display - let alone the 23" next to it.

    The locations easiest to reach on the screen are not the edges or the corners, they're the location of the mouse itself. As screens get larger, this becomes more and more true.

    The most comment operations need to be right where the mouse is in a contextual menu, selected from a specific and con
  • Almost all of this stuff has been tried on various systems through history, and hasn't exatly set the world on fire. VMS, Mozilla, and Psion/Symbian covered most of them already. Those features haven't found their way onto other systems, and for good reason.

    If you want a better way to tell this guy is a know-nothing crackpot, notice that he includes the lack of a URL bar as a great interface feature, along with the rest of his overhyped claims of interface design magic...

    That's not an interface improvemen

When I left you, I was but the pupil. Now, I am the master. - Darth Vader

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