[mythtv-users] Why Free Software has poor usability ?
skd5aner at gmail.com
Sun Aug 10 17:11:09 UTC 2008
Since when did this become an MS Office mailing list? ;-)
Regardless, can we pull this back to what this thread was originally
about? Usability in FOSS software, particularly in myth.
Folks like Microsoft, and commercial software companies are forced to
care about usability, because it's key to their business model -
selling software. If the masses don't like the usability, then their
product won't sell. Since Office 2007 was brought up, that was the
whole concept of "the ribbon". It's supposed to increase usability,
and in my opinion, it does.
However, when you look at the FOSS model, rarely is usability at or
near the top of the priority list for the developers, because they
aren't designers and they aren't usability experts - they're
programmers. They write code and functionality that they understand in
their head, doesn't necessarily mean it's ideal for the masses. And
in a situation like myth, where many functions are "owned", or focused
on, by one developer, the usability can be drastically different
within the same application (see, mythmusic vs. mytharchive vs.
importing DVDs vs mythweather vs mythflix, etc). While there's some
familiarity there, and a some-what common framework, the experience
and usability can be drastically different.
Listen, I'm not bashing myth or the development team. Quite the
contrary, I think they've done a great job! However, just like
commercial software, FOSS and myth is typically driven off the needs
of the end users. In applications like GAIM/Pigeon and Asterisk, the
end users are typically the average Joe and companies/businesses
respectively. In Myth, the long time theme is that the target
audience of users are the folks who write the application itself.
Anyone else who comes along and downloads and installs myth is welcome
to enjoy the ride - but if you don't like something, change it
yourself and/or submit a patch.
The myth development team, by it's nature of volunteerism, can't focus
on "usability" until a usability expert volunteers their resources -
for free. Companies like Microsoft have the luxury of hiring teams
and performing usability studies. I think this is what the article is
stating in terms of FOSS vs. commercial software, so that's why I
disagree with some of the original comments in the thread stating that
myth doesn't suffer from these issues. I don't see how it couldn't,
no matter how much I personally love to use it myself. Just like the
interface and usability changes from office 2003 to office 2007,
sometimes you have to understand that what "works" isn't necessarily
what's best. Since when did constructive criticism and introspection
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