[linux-elitists] Re: Yet another mozilla atrocity

Jeremy Hankins nowan@nowan.org
Wed Oct 8 06:20:05 PDT 2003

Jeff Waugh <jdub@perkypants.org> writes:

>> Perhaps so.  But as far as I can tell the last two sentences are a
>> perfectly adequate summation of Jeff's position.
> Dude, you should totally read Havoc's essays. Balance. :-)

I did.  It didn't help me to understand your position.

Balance is kind of like kid-issues are for politicians.  Everybody
agrees with the idea, just not with each other.  IOW, saying "balance"
is little more than a way to avoid taking a position.

In broad, general terms, I can hardly disagree with much of what Havoc
said.  Obviously, there's a cost to increased complexity, and
preferences are one variety (of many) of complexity.  Fortunately,
this is not a zero sum game -- if you're clever simplicity and
flexibility can be made to co-exist.  That's the whole point of
design, as opposed to slapping things together.

What I'm getting from you, from gconf, and from Havocs essay to some
extent as well, is a *lack* of balance.  It's as if fewer preferences
were a goal in themselves -- even Havocs essay suggests acting as if
you had a finite list of "preference slots" to fill.  In software that
is already complex (as, undeniably, gnome is) limiting user control
makes a bad situation worse.  You need to structure the complexity and
make it manageable, not pretend it doesn't exist.  Things like
searchable preference lists and structured ways of accessing them that
make the inter-relationships between choices clear can increase the
amount flexibility that can be effectively managed.  This is one of
the biggest reasons I'm a fan of text-file-based configuration -- it
permits you to incorporate and make explicit much more structure for
you preference data.

Gconf is incredibly complex and totally unmanageable.  IMHO.  It's
buggy (by your own admission), and mystifies even power users unless
they're experienced gnome users as well.  In response to this I've
seen two things:

* Yeah, but you shouldn't be modifying your preferences, so that's ok.

* Yeah, but it's *cool* and RSN we'll fix it.

Definitely, if you write something up in response, let me know.  I've
been disappointed (and yes, annoyed) by the one-liners.

Jeremy Hankins <nowan@nowan.org>
PGP fingerprint: 748F 4D16 538E 75D6 8333  9E10 D212 B5ED 37D0 0A03

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