This Is What Happens When You Let Developers Create UI


#162

urrrmm… man wget? just use the command line ya pansies.


#163

@Mike:
Yep. Pro Mode (cheesy name, I agree) lets you edit the .bat file, import and append other txt and bat files.

@Iain:
As you can tell by the design, I’m a hopeless retard and cannot remember wget’s parameters well enough. Besides, dragging’n’dropping links is easy for windows pansies like me. :slight_smile:


#164

I love the “Pro mode” button… does that mean we’re looking at the basic mode?


#165

It seems to me that most of the comments in here are from the development side of the spectrum. From a designers perspective, designing a functional UI can be a good combination of excellent programming and good design. Contrary to some of the comments here, a good designer doesn’t simply add a rainbow of colors to make the UI “perdy”. Designers will use spacial relationships and layout organization so that the user isn’t overwhelmed. Since your target audience was yourself, then I’m sure it works perfectly. Yes, I’m a lowly designer; but I believe there is always a perfect blend of form meets function.

Let the flaming begin…


#166

How about comparing this screen to its equivalent in competing products? For example,
http://www.sparkleware.com/superbot/help/commontasks.gif


#167

@ madmrshn,
no flaming here from my part. I agree it would make sense to present basic users with three options (file, page, site) and put the rest onto another tab. As deep down I’m a nice guy, I might do that if I find a way to not compromise the power of my dialog “design”.
I used “spatial relationships” and “layout organization”. Not in a way you and many agree with, obviously. But I did.
And with one click on the “-” button that “overwhelming” dialog becomes so small and handy, you will not want to stop dragging those links! :smiley:

@Chris
As I said, the idea (which isn’t unique to Superbot) of having three basic options (file, page, site) is a good one. However, browsing to the SuperBot homepage and seeing those screenshots
http://www.sparkleware.com/superbot/screens.html
I can’t help but notice that it takes a lot of screens to enter those things that are accessible on one page with wgetgui. Implementation of that regex code is something I could use to further disfigure my dialog. An evil plot is thickening and sickening while we type :smiley:

Jens


#168

But it’s not that bad! (im a programmer)

LOL


#169

This reminds me of the UI of MSN Live. It made everything harder to use and it had a lot of bugs in it. I downgraded to 7.5.


#170

seen development from both sides (programming and graphic design) and chose fill the chasm in between - if you’re going to take the time to make a GUI, take the time to test it (or even talk) with one or two users. If you’re a programmer or a graphic designer who has to do a lot of UI, take the time to read one or two resources on the subject. All of this would take an afternoon of concentrated effort, BEFORE you start to program or design and at one or two other stages of development.


#171

I see the screenshot from this page, but without running the program itself I wouldn’t know what bugs it might have. Can someone explain exactly what part of the screenshot is the problem?


#172

I blogged about this some time ago too.

Has anybody tried to contact the author? I wanted to, but I kinda felt bad. The irony is that he’s pretty proud of this GUI if you read his page!

http://sellmic.com/blog/2007/02/20/usability-matters/


#173

I’m right here, Augusto.
Why did you want to contact me? To help me improve it? Then you’d have nothing to feel bad about.
Am I proud of wgetgui? Not really, but neither am I ashamed of it. It worked very well for me - originally the only audience - and it also works well for some others.

Cheers
Jens


#174

wget::gui is another GUI for wget.

http://www.martin-achern.de/wgetgui/index.html#screenshots

It is in the same manner as WgetGUI, but the options are arranged like the wget-manual. No batch- or shellscripts are used. You have all options of the GUI in one view, without switching through menus, tabs or dialogs.

You can save your options to different settingfiles. So you can manage many different tasks without huge effort.


#175

What I find most amusing is that there is a ‘Pro Mode’ button on that dialog!

There would have to be. This is wget we’re talking about. It’s a very advanced downloading and mirroring tool, with way more functionality than you could ever cram into a dialog box that would fit on the screen. (I imagine the Pro Mode box must be a tabbed interface. One boggles. Either that or it’s a big fat textarea where the user types in the arguments to be passed to wget on the command line, which incidentally is roughly what I’d design if I someone held me at gunpoint and forced me to design a UI for wget for MacOS 9.)

Hmm while there are some pretty hairy things in that dialog, I have to
say that a big dialog with loads of controls on it is prolly the best
type of design for a wget gui.

Frankly, the only UI that will ever make any sense for wget is the command line interface (and the config files of course). Making a GUI for it is inherently silly. End users are never going to have any use for most of its functionality, even the subset shown in that ridiculous dialog above. Frankly -c (the “continue that previously interrupted download where it left off” option, a bona fide life saver for dialup users) is the only option (beyond the URL to retrieve, of course) that an end user is ever going to want. The rest of the functionality is all poweruser stuff, and they can consult the documentation and use the command line.


#176

If the wget GUI looks like this, I’d hate to see the source.

You misunderstand. This GUI was not created by the wget developers, but by a third party. wget is a command-line tool, and was never intended for end users. Making a GUI for wget is kind of like making a GUI for grep.

You don’t see FTP clients all centering around that idea, despite
the being the same in concept!

That’s really unfair. Normal ftp clients don’t do the stuff wget was designed to do. Some of them have one or two of wget’s niftier and more generally applicable features (e.g., some have retry, and I saw one once that had resume), but complaining that wget doesn’t have a nice end-userey interface like ws_ftp is sort of like complaining that a recording studio mixer with sixty channels is harder to use than the single volume knob on a basic boombox. There are bazillions of simple GUI-oriented download tools out there, some better than others, but wget is not trying to compete in that space. It serves an altogether different purpose.

In fairness, you’re not the only one to fail to understand that. In fact, I’m pretty sure the creator of this wGetGUI thing didn’t get it either.

I’d like to see some other examples people have run across along the way.

I wish I had a screenshot of the configuration interface for Polaris (the library automation system). Hoo boy. Fortunately it only ever has to be used by system administators, but even so it’s quite painful to use. I suspect a lot of line-of-business software has some pretty bad UI, actually, because the developers typically assume it never has to be used by anyone who doesn’t receive specific training for it. (Of course employees in most industries usually don’t get nearly the training they ought to have, but that’s the difference between theory and practice for you.)

Come to that, Visual Studio Dot Net has some pretty bad UI in it too. I’m thinking particularly of its UI for creating Reporting Services rdl files (the things that specify how the data returned from a database query should be layed out on paper as a report). Writing the XML by hand would almost be easier. Actually, with a decent text editor and a good reference book on the format it might be.

Or the Windows 98 interface for installing hardware drivers. Remember that little dance? Click Start. Click Settings-Control Panel. Double-click System. Click Device Manager. Select the device in question. Click Update Driver. Click Next. Click “let me select the correct driver”, because the find-one-automatically option pretty much never ever works right. Click Next. Click Have Disk. Click Browse. Wait for it to scan the floppy drive, even though there’s clearly no diskette in there. Click drive C: and so forth until you find the directory where you unzipped the manufacturer’s drivers. Click around randomly in the directory hierarchy there until you find the folder with the correct .inf file. Click okay. For each associated driver file it can’t find, repeat the last five steps (starting with “Click Browse”, above). Then for each file it wants from the Windows CD, repeat those steps again only with the path for that. Reboot and pray that it actually works. Bwahahahaha. (There are people out there who will look at you with a straight face and claim Windows XP is not an improvement over Windows 98. One wonders if they’ve somehow managed to completely avoid ever needing to do a reinstall.)

There is one thing, much, much worse then having the UI designed
by a developer: having the UI designed by a graphic designer.

I wholeheartedly concur. I’ve seen that, and it’s wretched in the extreme. Among other evils you get icons that look nice enough but don’t communicate squat, rigidly inflexible layouts that break in horrible ways as soon as you populate them with real-world data, controls that do a perfectly standard thing but for no earthly reason are just gratuitously different enough from the usual standard widgets that users have to be specifically trained on them, important controls that users don’t see because they look like mere design elements, and other things that look like important controls that ought to do something useful but turn out to be just decoration.

Ditto the comment about the ‘Pro Mode’ button. I want to see what that does.

You can probably get some idea by reading the wget man page. (For Unix-challenged readers, you can just google the words wget man page and find a copy of the relevant document online.)

wget has a ton of options, but really only a few that you use often.

Talk to a hundred different wget users, and you’ll get at least eighty different lists of which options they use often. That’s the problem. In fact, you see that big fat dialog box at the top? It’s actually missing one of the options I use most often (specifically, I don’t see any UI for the -p option, which is really handy and probably the option I use next-most-often after -c).

It also doesn’t do anything you couldn’t do with firefox and a few
million years to spare

Actually it does. Quite a lot. In order to get the full functionality of wget you’d need, in addition to Firefox and a whole lot of spare time, a text editor (to do things like -k), a file manager, an ftp client (for active ftp), and a Firefox extension to preserve the http headers, plus the Web Developer Toolbar, and that’s just off the top of my head. Also I’m not sure Firefox’s network options are really configurable enough, even with about:config, to do some of the things wget can manage, so you might also need LWP or somesuch. Come to think of it, if you need wget, then you need wget. Firefox is really completely inadequate. The only real competition for wget that I’m aware of is curl.

A lot of these comments act like wget is just a file downloading utility, but that’s missing the whole point. If you want a downloading utility with an easy-to-learn GUI and a small handful of options, then you are clearly not part of the target audience for wget.


#177

This is one of my favorites posts on this blog. I make all the devs on my various projects read it - so true!


#178

Another example is MediaEncoder http://mediacoder.sourceforge.net/. On paper its brilliant software – allows you to convert all sorts of media from one format to another. But installing and running it – good grief! It requires superhuman like intelligence, fortitude and iron hard abs to figure out just which of the tabs, button, scrollbars and widgets to click to even START the process!


#179

Disclaimer: I am a developer.

Of course, you could always let graphic designers make user interfaces. That always works out well (not!).

Look at Trillian. Particularly the older versions.
Look at Winamp 3. And Winamp 5, for that matter.
Look at Avast Antivirus, when you use the Skins interface.
Look at Nero’s “smartstart” software.
Look at ASUS’ “MyLogo” utility (for making custom BIOS images with your own logo on them)
Look at ATI and NVidia’s graphics card driver installers in 256 colour mode (where they are normally going to be used). In fact, look at any graphic card driver installer.
Look at Internet Explorer 7.
Look at Windows Vista, heck, even Windows XP is pretty bad with it’s “Fisher-price” interface…
Look at any consumer-level video editing software.

All of these programs had “designers” behind them. They’re all bloody atrocious.

Now look at some applications that are designed by “developers”, such as the GNOME desktop, and XBMC. They have great HCI.

wget is a command line utility, and the complexity of said GUI reflects how many command line options you give. While it’s not great, you’ll be troubled to write something better that allows as many options as that, without having property page nightmares like you do in Windows (particularly Windows Server). I for one hate property pages, and property-sub-pages.


#180

Dude, please don’t generalize.

That is like saying “Oh just look at that fiat uno! It’s disgusting! Car manufacturers are useless as designing cars.”

There are ferraris out there.

We dont look at one bad blog and say “Oh - bloggers can’t design.”


#181

“This is the best UI i ever see” (a developer)