[linux-elitists] Re: Yet another mozilla atrocity

Martin Pool mbp@samba.org
Thu Oct 2 19:19:50 PDT 2003

On  2 Oct 2003, Jeremy Hankins <nowan@nowan.org> wrote:

> gconf-editor is a gui, iirc, and gconftool isn't exactly a substitute
> for a text file.  But in any case, I understand that.  gnome is
> designed for users who like clicky interfaces & eye candy.  Different
> people have different priorities; I have no problem with that, and I
> acknowledge that there is a niche that gconf fills.  What annoys me is
> when *I* have to deal with it.

So don't deal with it.  Don't use software that uses it.

If software authors want to address an audience who does not enjoy
editing dot files in vi, who are you to tell them not to?

> Don't elevate the (naive, imho) wishes of a subset of the user
> population to "good UI".
> > b) Each application, should it require 'preferences', provides an
> > appropriate interface to the most useful options.  You may enjoy
> > editing text files, but it's a strange and unfortunate leap between
> > your music library and player software and, say, vi. Why would that
> > be a preferable solution?  Context matters more; do it in the app.
> So you think editing text files to configure software is "strange and
> unfortunate."  

It's strange and unfortunate to have GUI software that can only be
configured through a text file, just as it would be s & u to have a
daemon that could only be configured through a GUI.

If you choose to use a command-line music player it's perfectly
scriptable from the command line.  But it would be a bug for a
graphical player to require you to hand-edit configuration files,
because it makes the application inconsistent.  It doesn't serve the
users who dislike "clicky things" and it doesn't serve the users who
dislike vi.

More constructively: can authors write things in a way that makes both
camps adequately happy?  I think gconf is a good though not perfect
attempt at that.  It presents an excellent API to write clicky
applications, and it is adequately scriptable.

Some people here seem unhappy that although gconf presents a good
scripting interface (gconftool) and stores things in a reasonable safe
and transparent format, it does not strictly adhere to "everything is
an editable plain text file."  Well, that's unfortunate, but life's
like that sometimes.  Some design tradeoffs are necessary.  Unix has
never really been as consistent about it as some people pretend.

gconf has an abstraction layer above the configuration files.  If you
think that, say, sexps, or .ini files would make you happier, then
feel free to write one.


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