Anthony Kozar proposes a new vision for usability and free software. I love his commentary on the GNU project and the Macintosh. He’s right, it’s too bad that Richard Stallman didn’t take his inspiration from the Mac. The world would be completely different. Kozar proposes the features that his vision would contain
- All graphical UI, i.e., no command line and metadata [though I am not sure why Kozar assumes that command line interfaces are less usable. They are definitely harder to learn and initally less usable for novices, there are significant advantages to a keyboard based command language for expert efficiency. But there does need to be a balance for all user groups (including novices and experts).]
- System’s architecture more integrated, ala Squeak and Raskin’s Canon Cat interface (see the Humane Interface for details).
- Consistency, consistency, consistency! The any functionality should appear the same to a user and be available in whatever context that makes sense to use the functionality.
- User’s data is sacred! Think the PalmOS, there is no save and there is a pervasive, unlimited undo
- High degree of customizability is required [ Again, this feels like a Unix-ism working it’s way in, a better way would be to provide a flexible UI that allows users to have multiple working styles, but with customization comes enough rope for users to hang themselves].
I think that Kozar has a great commentary on the state of todays graphical user interfaces and operating system interfaces. But his core features seem to miss.