GNOME Answers Criticisms: Page 2

Key personnel in the GNOME Project respond to the Linux desktop's highly vocal critics.


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Because of the complaints, the strengths of GNOME 3 are sometimes ignored. What are those strengths? What features do users like?

The integrated chat functionality is particularly popular -- people love it that you can hold a conversation without needing to change windows. Another feature that people really like is the ability to launch applications using search.

Apart from specific features, we know that many of our users really value the way that GNOME 3 feels, and how it has been constructed as an integrated, consistent experience. That is an area where we feel that it has surpassed GNOME 2.

How would you respond to the complaints about GNOME 3? For instance, what would you say about the comment that GNOME 3 set out to solve imaginary problems like "clutter"?

User experience researchers have established that there are major usability issues associated with user interfaces that simultaneously expose large numbers of controls to users. The design of GNOME 3 is a response to that research, and aims to provide an experience that is easier to use than GNOME 2.

One of the design aims for GNOME 3 is to highlight primary functionality, but also to ensure that our software has depth. As you use the system more, you will find that there are actually quite a lot of powerful extras that you can learn.

That GNOME 3 over-relied on usability theory?

The design of GNOME 3 has, first and foremost, been informed by experience. Its architects are many of the same people who brought us GNOME 2 (which was also ill-received when it first debuted). Extensive usability research was performed in preparation for GNOME 3, and we have several contributors who have significant experience in user testing.

Testing of GNOME 3 is ongoing, both within the community and outside it. Far more ideas have been discarded than [most people] realize since development began. It's also worth remembering that GNOME 3 has evolved significantly since its inception. This evolution is the result of us listening to feedback and making changes when things don't work so well or need refinement.

That GNOME 3 restricts the possible work flows, and its acceptance depends on whether your work flow is one it permits?

GNOME 3 is not the same as GNOME 2, and it may require people to adjust their work flows in some cases.

At the same time, GNOME 3 is also designed to be flexible and to allow a variety of work flows. An example is the number of ways you can switch windows: Alt+Tab, via the dash, the window selection in the Activities Overview, or, in some cases via notifications and the message tray.

Likewise, there is a huge amount of flexibility in how pole choose to work with content. In this area, we have actually increased the number of options available to users, with the introduction of GNOME Online Accounts, which gives users quick and easy access to content stored in the cloud. Another example of flexibility is the use of side-by-side windows, which lets you snap two windows to fill two halves of the screen.

That GNOME 3 works better on mobile devices than workstations or laptops?

The primary targets for GNOME 3 are laptops and workstations. If you look at the design of GNOME 3, you will actually see a lot of optimization for these types of traditional devices. It's fair to say that GNOME 3 is far more keyboard-centric than GNOME 2 ever was.

At the same time, there are new kinds of devices emerging, and we do intend for GNOME 3 to be compatible with them. Our initial targets in this area are so-called hybrid devices, which include a detachable keyboard and touchpad.

That GNOME 3 ignores what the majority of users want?

People who love GNOME 3 aren't as motivated to speak out, and their voices aren't as loud, but they do exist in significant numbers. We know this because we are often contacted by them, and because we encounter them in the course of our work.

We continue to listen to feedback and to develop GNOME 3 with the majority in mind. The experience is under constant refinement, and there are new pieces of the complete picture that are under development. We are confident that it will become increasingly compelling as our plans come to fruition.

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Tags: Linux, Gnome

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