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Re: Usability test.


On Tue, Sep 9, 2014 at 10:54 PM, Tim Hutt <tdhutt@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> Anyway, I've been following CERN's work on Kicad, and thought I'd give Kicad
> a try. These sorts of programs always seem to fail on basic usability things
> (like how to copy/paste) so I recorded my first ever Kicad session!
> Hopefully it will be valuable so you can see what new users thing when
> trying Kicad (assuming you care).
> It's 30 mins. Somewhat low quality youtube (it downscaled 1024p to 720p
> stupidly):
> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k93cSNXEFUk

Thanks Tim. I think this is a very valuable contribution. It has
reminded me that there is some work foreseen on the user interface in
the roadmap [1], but it may not have received as much attention as it
deserves. There is a big difference between commercial proprietary
applications and FOSS applications with no paid labor: in the former,
if your usability is bad, nobody buys your software and you starve. In
the latter, there is a strong temptation for developers to do things
as they think they should work and place a bit less importance on
usability for new inexperienced users. There is also a temptation to
think that what's good for an expert user is what is ultimately good
and all new users should just become experts. This is all quite
natural and justifiable.

Watching 15 minutes of your video has been a very painful experience.
I could not take in the whole 30 minutes. There are clearly things
that could be more intuitive. Things which cannot be considered
controversial. I think those things could be the object of a detailed
work package to be included in the roadmap. Then there is the
controversial/religious stuff. How to copy/paste and such. I think
that part needs more debate, but it looks to me that if one accepts
the premise that KiCad should be very usable by a new user, the
*default* behavior for things which are done in a given way in 99% of
the graphical applications out there should be that de-facto-standard
way. And users who are expert users should know how to customize KiCad
in a way that maximizes their productivity. That customization could
very well include very fast and efficient ways of cutting, pasting,
moving, rotating, etc. Another option would be to try to make the two
types of methods co-exist at the same time. It's difficult to discuss
how possible this is without getting into a lot of detail. BTW, the
fact that KiCad is undergoing major change in several important areas
is not helping in the usability/coherence department. Things should be
better soon even without major efforts.

The good news is that, as you say, the effort to improve in this area
is not that great. There is some low-hanging fruit. KiCad is already
very powerful, and the work on usability is probably smaller than
several of the big work packages people have been taking on lately. I
think KiCad should have a usability team as it already has people
concerned with libraries, documentation, etc. Same goes for testing
BTW. If some people (maybe also from the users list) step up for the
task and Wayne thinks it's a good idea, I think it could do a lot of
good to the project. If the idea moves forward, you can count on the
help of the CERN team in this domain.

Many thanks to you and to all KiCad developers. These are exciting times for us.



[1] Search for "ergonomics" in

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