Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

What Open Source Can Learn From Apple

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 5 years ago | from the good-design-always-a-good-idea dept.

309

Linux and open source have long struggled to gain acceptance from the wider (read: non-technical) audience. This has improved in recent years, but still has a long way to go. Columnist Matt Asay suggests that perhaps open source projects should attempt to emulate Apple's design philosophy, with whoever succeeds becoming the "winner" of the hearts and minds of the vast majority of users. "Some projects already accomplish this to some extent. The strength of Mozilla, for example, is that it has figured out how to enable 40 percent of its development to be done by outside contributors, as BusinessWeek recently wrote. The downside is that these contributors are techies, but the upside is that they're techies who add language packs, accessibility features, and other "niche" areas that Mozilla might otherwise struggle to deliver. This suggests a start: enable your open-source project to accept meaningful outside contributions that make the project reflective of a wider development community. But the real goldmine is broadening the definition of "developer" to include lay users of your software. The day that I, as a nontechnical software user, can meaningfully participate in an open-source project is the day that open source will truly have won."

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

user analytics (4, Insightful)

alain94040 (785132) | more than 5 years ago | (#28652575)

I agree with the article that user involvement is key. However, users are clueless about what they really want and you can't possibly use them to write the specs of your product! On the other hand, developers tend to reject criticism from end-users because they lack technical expertise.

I can think of one approach that might work: build a really good analytics library that would measure various usability aspects. Applied to Firefox for instance, it could generate data on how the average user goes about finding a particular setting, how long it takes them to perform a given action, etc.

Developers would respect the hard, factual data that the analytics would generate. It would make it easier for the minority of usability engineers to argue against feature creep.

Re:user analytics (3, Interesting)

AshtangiMan (684031) | more than 5 years ago | (#28652623)

Agreed. The lay user will only be able to meaningfully participate in early design phases (think requirements) and then again in testing (especially UI testing). It seems to me that they already have the ability to participate in these ways. Any attempt at involvement in the architecture design surely would only hinder good software practices.

Re:user analytics (3, Insightful)

Dare nMc (468959) | more than 5 years ago | (#28652817)

then lastly in plugins and add-ons that don't require changes to the core of the project. Clearly:

The day that I, as a nontechnical software user, can meaningfully participate in an open-source project

is referring to things like: addons.mozilla.org [slashdot.org] not to things like adding crud [wikipedia.org] to every projects main branch.

Re:user analytics (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28653225)

Oh yeah just what I want. A pretty boy toy OS with an asshole company like Apple behind it. pfrt.

Re:user analytics (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28653653)

^^ Parent is being facetious. What he really wants is a 8" cock fucking his asshole.

Re:user analytics (4, Insightful)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 5 years ago | (#28652747)

I think a bit better of a way to put it:

5 out of 10 users know what they want, but can't express it in a manner that communicates it sufficiently well to achieve it.
4 out of 10 users haven't a clue what they want, but think they do.
1 out of 1 users know what they want and can express it.

And then you have the developers, who want to make something with nice nifty features, but don't want to be bothered with the polish.

This reminds me of a friend who is a senior analyist has a paper on her cube wall, I've seen two variants of the theme. It has a picture of a sports car with the caption "What the users want". This is followed by the picture of a UFO (in some variants a fighter jet) with "What the developers want to make". This is followed by "What the company is willing to spend money on" and it has some small compact car. And then finally, a picture of a really funny looking "tricked out" tricycle with the caption "What ends up being produced".

Re:user analytics (5, Funny)

jo42 (227475) | more than 5 years ago | (#28653719)

senior analyist has a paper on her cube wall

There is also this classic product development [imgur.com] comic.

Re:user analytics (3, Insightful)

T Murphy (1054674) | more than 5 years ago | (#28653027)

users are clueless about what they really want

They know what they want. Ask them what they want in a car and they'll say an SUV with room for 8, at least 50 MPG, all the latest gadgets and costs less than $12,000. If you can't provide that then it's your fault.

I mean this for humor's sake but thinking about it I'm scared that it might be an accurate description.

Re:user analytics (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 5 years ago | (#28653261)

You are dead on. The one thing you are missing is that they want it now, or even yesterday.

I knew a sales manager who had a habit of relaying customer requests as you describe. If you did not respond with an unequivocal yes, it was always because you "just didn't want to" and never because the request was unrealistic. The same guy once asked "don't we already have that product" when investigating a customer request. Gee, it is not in the list of products, no resources were allocated for development and we never discussed such a product, but maybe the product fairy left it under a pillow last night.

Re:user analytics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28653457)

You forgot it also has to have a minimum 300hp engine. Why? Lord only knows.

Re:user analytics (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28653029)

Put yourself in the place of the average user. You just downloaded an app, played with it for an hour and it wants to upload "one megabyte of 'usage statistics'". What do you do?

Re:user analytics (2, Interesting)

hobbit (5915) | more than 5 years ago | (#28653113)

But would user analysts spend their spare time analysing users like hackers spend their spare time hacking?

I Can Tell You This About Users (4, Interesting)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 5 years ago | (#28653161)

They're not impressed nor amused by app names like gtkWTF, IAMRECURSIVERECURSIVEIAM, and, especially, The GIMP. Also, stop talking about programs being "stable." Isotopes are "stable." Programs either run well, or are buggy.

People mock Microsoft, but I tell ya... I've worked with people who have no idea what Silverlight is or does, but they want it cuz it sounds cool and has something to do with the Web. It's almost as if Linux developers go out of their way to be non-MS in everything -- including creating marketable names for their wares.

The problem, of course, is that the same guys doing the codewriting are the same guys doing the naming and marketing ("...because, after all, I've written the code, and that's the tough part that really matters, right? And if people don't get the Linus/Stallman/Montypython joke upon which I've based the app's name, then fuck 'em, who needs 'em, I'm only doing it for love anyway...").

Why isn't there any open-source marketing? Maybe some of the bigger projects could reach out to some university business and marketing students who could take on the work in much the same way they attract coders?

Re:I Can Tell You This About Users (4, Insightful)

bigredradio (631970) | more than 5 years ago | (#28653435)

I think you are right. Get marketing students or business students involved. Same goes for graphics designers and webmasters. Get the people who are experts to perform the right tasks.

Re:I Can Tell You This About Users (1)

Tom9729 (1134127) | more than 5 years ago | (#28653445)

I agree with you that a lot of projects could use better or more descriptive names, but you've gotta realize that 99% of the time these are people's personal projects that they are either working on because it has some utility to them or because they just want to get experience.

Re:I Can Tell You This About Users (2, Insightful)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 5 years ago | (#28653675)

I agree with you that a lot of projects could use better or more descriptive names, but you've gotta realize that 99% of the time these are people's personal projects that they are either working on because it has some utility to them or because they just want to get experience.

That's fine, and God Bless. Keeps 'em off the streets, and all that.

But every time someone criticizes Linux for not having an app that does what such-and-such closed source app does, the response is invariably, "Whaddya mean? KgnuSMEGMA is out of pre-Alpha and does EVERYTHING that program does, and once Joey gets home from camp he's going to be spending the rest of the summer building a killer GUI for all the lusers who don't like the CLI."

Personal project? Or alternative to proprietary commercial? You may choose one.

Re:I Can Tell You This About Users (1)

Ant P. (974313) | more than 5 years ago | (#28653853)

The problem, of course, is that the same guys doing the codewriting are the same guys doing the naming and marketing

This is why Ubuntu is so popular now - the same marketdroids making all those flashy "cool" names for Microsoft apps also have control over how the software is written.

Re:user analytics (5, Insightful)

geekmansworld (950281) | more than 5 years ago | (#28653219)

"However, users are clueless about what they really want and you can't possibly use them to write the specs of your product!"

This demonstrates the inherent problem with open source's attitude towards user demands. To them you are either (a) a Programmer, or (b) a Grandma.

I'm an IT professional, a power user, and consider myself a connoisseur of good interface design. But I've never coded a line of C++ in my entire life. Does this make my input useless?

For example, I've been trying to get bugs in Thunderbird fixed for a while that seriously impede usability, but the development team doesn't seem to care.

Open source is always talking about how they can win over more users. But how do you win over users if you don't focus on usability?

Re:user analytics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28653505)

You've never been to the Ubuntu Absolute Beginners forum, have you.

Re:user analytics (1)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | more than 5 years ago | (#28654371)

Is there a reason to go there? Considering there's no URL nor reason to go there, your post could use some additional detail.

Re:user analytics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28653773)

I'm an IT professional, a power user, and consider myself a connoisseur of good interface design. But I've never coded a line of C++ in my entire life. Does this make my input useless?

I don't mean to appear rude, but just because you consider yourself a "connoisseur of good interface design" doesn't necessary mean you can make a good interface.

Re:user analytics (2, Insightful)

cheier (790875) | more than 5 years ago | (#28654007)

Because I can appreciate and judge great cuisine, doesn't mean I can make it, yet the feedback these judges provide is the cornerstone for a chefs continuous improvement. People who use and judge interfaces in the field are usually a great resource to find ways to improve it. If it is a hit to the interface designers ego that some interface element isn't where the users would like it to be, suck it up. Make it better, always improve it.

Re:user analytics (1)

jank1887 (815982) | more than 5 years ago | (#28653903)

I am a (self assessed) highly technical individual with programming experience that stops at Matlab algorithms for physical simulation. Well, I've played with C++ once or twice, but I have no notion of software development. I would love to see an FOSS equivalent to SolidWorks, Pro/Engineer, etc. I use these tools daily. I firmly believe that I could make a contribution to such a product, even if it was just user feedback.

Also, one of the basic problems with many open source projects is documentation. Some people are quite capable of clicking Help in MS Excel to find something they want to do. Excel has a very thorough help file. Any user could help put a help file together (a wiki doesn't necessarily count). Pretty graphic design, layout, etc., don't require programming experience ("hey guys, photoshop me what you'd like to see it look like, and I'll try to code it").

When people (a) know what it is, (b) know how to find it, and (c) don't feel like their sacrificing anything to use it, then people will use your product over something they have to pay for. Time has to be invested in (c), and that's all about the user experience.

Re:user analytics (2, Interesting)

je ne sais quoi (987177) | more than 5 years ago | (#28654049)

I'm an IT professional, a power user, and consider myself a connoisseur of good interface design. But I've never coded a line of C++ in my entire life. Does this make my input useless?

I'm a scientist who writes C code on a weekly or semi-weekly basis on average and have written a theme for e17 as well as done some writing some small "in house" type guis used for interface with instruments. My bug reports to open source projects are largely ignored as well (to the point that I rarely issue one now). But then again, Apple devs ignored all my complaints about the Finder when they removed the horizontal scroll bar from the Finder when you clicked on a special location awhile back too. They had a vision of what they wanted to do and they did that and didn't care what I thought. It's nothing to do with you, it's that open source developers are doing this usually for some small salary or part time and what they get paid to do is sometimes not what what you want them to do and there's only so many hours in a day.

Re:user analytics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28654261)

I've never coded a line of C++ in my entire life. Does this make my input useless?

Yes.

--A Developer

Re:user analytics (1)

tonyreadsnews (1134939) | more than 5 years ago | (#28653275)

I disagree. I think most users have a pretty good idea of what they want, they just generally don't have a clue on how they want it implemented. Most users don't consider many consequences of 'what they want' thats where a developer comes in.

For instance, a user would know that a particular interaction was clunky, or that certain data would be valuable to have at hand in a UI, but likely would have no clue (or probably care) how it was improved or how to store and generate the data.

Actually, users could write marketing spec, just not design specs. Most marketing specs I've seen are initially way out there, and are then revised to come in line with what is feasible in a reasonable time with the help of engineers.

Re:user analytics (2, Insightful)

Estanislao Martnez (203477) | more than 5 years ago | (#28653295)

I agree with the article that user involvement is key. However, users are clueless about what they really want and you can't possibly use them to write the specs of your product! On the other hand, developers tend to reject criticism from end-users because they lack technical expertise.

I get the impression you didn't understand the article then, because quite early on they approvingly cite this (which they attribute to Jason Snell of MacWorld):

"Apple excels at creating products that the general public likes because the company is driven by design, not by engineering." [my emphasis]

They're not simply asking users what they want and then just doing what the users say; that would indeed be a recipe for disaster. They have design people in charge of figuring out what the products should be, validating proposed designs against user focus groups, sitting end-users down for experiments to see how usable something is, discovering usability problems with existing products, etc. And then they use this sort of information to decide what to build.

I can think of one approach that might work: build a really good analytics library that would measure various usability aspects.

Won't work. You need to know what the user is trying to do to interpret the data, and the software can't read the user's mind.

Re:user analytics (1)

imhennessy (1425987) | more than 5 years ago | (#28653649)

What are the obstacles to building in a simple tracking system to more applications? I routinely check to box, even for Microsoft products, that provides feedback about crashes, or which packages are most popular, or what ever usage statistics developers are collecting.

I guess it would have to:

be opt-in.
clearly, and demonstrably NOT collect personally identifying info.
have very little impact on resources and performance.
collect the right info.

I'm sure there's a lot of stuff I'm missing, and I really have no idea how to deliver any of it; all the same, it seems like something that would be quite beneficial, and easy to present as such.

ivan

Re:user analytics (1)

trvd1707 (793036) | more than 5 years ago | (#28653729)

Even if this user analytics is able to capture the whole echosystem of the machine running the program, it would have to be able to capture things that are happening outside the computer reach. Sometimes the user executes several tasks outside the program to find out what they want to do with the program. There are written notes on the side of the machine, questions shouted to someone on the other desk, phone calls, that might be fulfilling things that the program is failing in provide.

Help desk (1)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | more than 5 years ago | (#28653797)

My proposed solution is to make it a rule that all software developers should be required to serve at least one day a week on the help desk.

As far as I can tell, developers-- at least the Microsoft developers, anyway-- really, honestly don't know why ordinary users find their products frustrating and hard to use; while the help-desk people do know what the problems are, but are considered to be so low on the totem pole that nobody would ever think of asking their opinions.

Re:user analytics (1)

nobodylocalhost (1343981) | more than 5 years ago | (#28653813)

I'd toss some lighter fluids on firefox and kick it out of the window if it forces user analytics. No, just no. Why do you think so many people don't use Chrome? It's because of annoying and stupid harebrained ideas like this that we can't have nice things. The funniest part about this is YOU, AS A USER, ARE SAYING YOU ARE CLUELESS ABOUT WHAT YOU REALLY WANT YOURSELF! This is a big (not funny) joke. A browser is the kind of software that everybody uses, including programmers, designers, artists, architects, engineers. How dare you generalize your user base in such manner. It's incredibly simple to figure out what the users want. All you need to do is but ask. That is what Apple does. They design something, and ask the users if they like it or not. DONE.

Re:user analytics (1)

RobBebop (947356) | more than 5 years ago | (#28654345)

I can think of one approach that might work: build a really good analytics library that would measure various usability aspects.

A simple "Suggestion Box" would probably suffice. Firefox screws up a number of tasks that I give it from time-to-time. The single most beneficial feature they've ever added is that it recovers my open tabs after any crash, though. So in effect, I typically don't have to deal with the problems when they occur.

However, for weird stuff (e.g. plug-ins failing and then disabling themselves) it'd be nice to have an easy to find "Suggestion Box". I'd even accept an invitation to right click the toolbar area and choose "Customize Toolbar" to add "Suggestion Box" to replace the little "Home" button that I don't have a real use for.

It's not about contributers (4, Insightful)

Mork29 (682855) | more than 5 years ago | (#28652645)

It's about standards. Apple's UI guidelines are very well written, and very well thought out. When developing your app, you don't need to spend a lot of time thinking about the proper place to put something, because it's generally obvious. This makes it so much more user friendly as a user can pick up on things in a very intuitive way. It also gives a general "feel" to the entire operating system.

When working with Objective-C/Cocoa in XCode, your almost forced to give your app a very Mac like feel to it. The same goes for the iPhone. Everything you'd want in your interface is already pre-built, so everybody's apps have a familiar feel. I know I've heard the exact opposite when developing for something like the Blackberry.

Having more people contribute with no clear guidance will just make things worse.

Re:It's not about contributers (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#28653215)

Having more people contribute with no clear guidance will just make things worse.

And overly-restrictive UI requirements will prevent the interface from ever evolving. No set of guidelines and standards can account for all possible applications and uses. So we will always need a testbed and ways to deviate from the standards; Apple would never allow that. Linux makes it optional. The community makes it recommended. The userbase reflects the demand for it.

Re:It's not about contributers (4, Insightful)

davester666 (731373) | more than 5 years ago | (#28653393)

"Apple would never allow that"

What do you mean by this? Both on the desktop and on the iPhone the developer has complete control over virtually every pixel of their interface (I haven't messed with drawing in the menu bar proper, as you can do custom drawing in menu items, but I'm not sure drawing the title's in the menu bar itself).

Hell, Apple itself deviates from it's own standards, as well as wildly popular applications such as Delicious Library (just as an example). Apple has always expounded that they have "guidelines", not "rules" or "laws" or "requirements".

Re:It's not about contributers (0, Troll)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#28653497)

Apple has always expounded that they have "guidelines", not "rules" or "laws" or "requirements".

Yes, and corporations repeatedly tell me they value my privacy, business, and happiness, so they install cameras everywhere, add hidden fees, and outsource customer service to countries where english is a second language and the most common word used in conversation with them is "what". What Apple says and what Apple does are two very different things. If it was all just a few guidelines, they wouldn't have such byzantine approvals processes for every piece of kit they make.

Re:It's not about contributers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28653665)

You need to have Jules Winnfield have a conversation with those customer service reps.

Re:It's not about contributers (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 5 years ago | (#28653673)

Well, for desktop apps, there is no approval process. Hell, Apple even gives away a pretty decent development setup (XCode) as part of MacOS X.

As for iPhone apps, and their approval process, it's generally been more about content being rejected and not GUI. The only reports I've heard of GUI rejections were for so-called copyright violations (icon's being used without permission, but there was one stupid one about an icon "looking" like an iPhone, which was not permitted). And if you crafted an app that violated all Apple's guidelines purely to violate them (so the app was difficult to use), it also probably would be rejected. But you can still make an app with a fully customized UI for the iPhone (even non-games) that will get approved, if the GUI makes sense when you use it.

Re:It's not about contributers (5, Insightful)

clintp (5169) | more than 5 years ago | (#28653821)

Companies that are successful in this field have UI experts -- and the management to back them up -- to say

"Yes, this works adequately, but it looks awful. Sorry, you can't ship it."
"Yes, this works adequately, but it doesn't blend well with the rest of our product line. Sorry, you can't ship it."
"Yes, this works adequately, but it's hard to use. Sorry, you can't ship it."
"Yes, this works adequately, but there's too many extraneous features. Sorry, you can't ship it."

(And of course, the ever popular "It was a nice product, but we're abandoning it for something simpler, prettier, and not overburdened with legacy.")

UI guidelines give everyone a place to start talking about the problems (looks/blend/hard/extraneous) and give the development teams a starting point. If there truly is an earth-shattering eye-popping UI feature (a widget) that the guidelines don't allow, then you alter the guidelines after buy in. This *then* requires re-engineering the rest of the applications to account for that great widget and use it where applicable to maintain consistency.

It's expensive and it may seems pointless, but no app is an island when you're trying to engineer a great user-experience.

Linux generally tries to compensate by providing standard frameworks for UI. But there's the I-Love-Standards-There's-So-Many-To-Choose-From problem and that there'll always be the cowboy that turns out a useful app that looks and works different from everything else.

Standards are double-edged. (1)

PeanutButterBreath (1224570) | more than 5 years ago | (#28653567)

They are awesome if you are happy working within their bounds. True, its easy to snap together pre-built elements into powerful applications. On the down-side, it can sometimes be damned difficult to do anything outside of the box created by the standards implementers. If you are trying to write innovative software (which may just mean solving a novel problem), you are eventually going to bump into the limitations of any guideline or standard. What then? Do you give-up? Or break the standard and create the same old mess -- perhaps worsened by the expectations set by the obsolete standard you just had to break to get the job done?

OS X is a mass-market desktop OS. It can thrive within Apple's UI guidelines because its bread-and-butter is providing very familiar functionality to a user-base with shallow expectations. Is this where Linux should be heading? If you are trying to do more than provide the typical "productivity" suite, browsing, media playback and photo editing software, you aren't going to get by with strident UI guidelines -- unless they are so broad as to defeat the point. Same situation if your entire user base isn't satisfied with having their user experience dictated to them.

Re:It's not about contributers (1)

code4fun (739014) | more than 5 years ago | (#28653581)

Agree with everything you say. Plus, Apple provide a rich set of documentations. This is often the problem with open source. The standard "RTFM" attitude or "read the source" is not acceptable for the general public. I've switched to Macs when they came out with the cheaper Minis. I use it as my desktop and media center. They work great and have lots of nice multimedia applications to go along with it. If I wanted to get down to Unix, I can still do that. On my server, I still use PC hardware running Linux as it does everything I need although any free Unix variant would work.

Re:It's not about contributers (1)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 5 years ago | (#28653619)

It's about standards. Apple's UI guidelines are very well written, and very well thought out. When developing your app, you don't need to spend a lot of time thinking about the proper place to put something, because it's generally obvious. This makes it so much more user friendly as a user can pick up on things in a very intuitive way. It also gives a general "feel" to the entire operating system.

When working with Objective-C/Cocoa in XCode, your almost forced to give your app a very Mac like feel to it. The same goes for the iPhone. Everything you'd want in your interface is already pre-built, so everybody's apps have a familiar feel. I know I've heard the exact opposite when developing for something like the Blackberry.

Having more people contribute with no clear guidance will just make things worse.

That's a big part, but an equally important part is the ability to enforce the standards. Apple has a dictator; most OSS does not have someone to enforce compliance, more importantly, teh nature of OSS allows anyone to go any way they want. While that is great from developer's perspective it adds to confusion in markets as well as disperses resources that could possibly be better used in a unified effort.

Judging by the comments in this thread, many developers don't want input; and really don't care about the user experience. That's fine, but don't expect users to adopt your project as readily.

Re:It's not about contributers (3, Interesting)

nine-times (778537) | more than 5 years ago | (#28653871)

I don't even think Apple's success is about UI guidelines. I mean, sure, they help, but Apple seems to have a... I don't know... what's the opposite of "tin ear"? Anyway, they just have a very good sense of design. Not just UI design like "graphic design", but engineering a product, like figuring out which features to include and how those features should work.

I've always thought that one of the interesting differences in design approach that Apple uses is that they don't throw in the kitchen sink right away. Some people hate them for it and feel like their products aren't feature-rich enough, but it really seems to work. They just start with a basic product that basically does one thing simply and well, but might not yet have all the features you want. Then their next release of that product adds a few features, but very carefully integrated in to the existing feature set. The next version adds some more in the same way. What you very rarely hear as a criticism about Apple's products is, "this feature feels tacked-on". You might hear, "It doesn't hear every feature you might want," but it's usually followed by, "but if you only want the features it has, it will do those things well."

Microsoft, for example, has in the past had the exact opposite design philosophy. It used to be that version 1 or 2 of their products had pretty much every major feature they're ever going to have, but none of it was actually usable until version 3. It's only then that Microsoft seems to focus on making those features work well together.

Linux users... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28652653)

... only care about EXCLUSIVITY.

I want to make clear that I like Linux and free software; in fact I'm writing this from Mandriva Linux. But we have to accept the awful truth: many Linux users would be using Mac OS X if they weren't a misers. Why do I say that? Because even if it hurts to all of us, I have to say that the Linux community doesn't appreciate quality and freedom.

Normally, Linux software DOESN'T have the same quality that propietary software has. It's normal, it is not bad. After all, free software is free (as in speech) and the other one is costly... No one would use MS Project if GNOME Planner did have the same quality. Is good to have freeware software for things that are not serious, though.

The other reason why someone decides to use Linux is to read the source code, it is a good reason. But let's be serious, how many of you read the code of every update your apps recieve, and when you make sure everything's okay, you compile them and execute them? Nevertheless, I appreaciate the freedom to make modifications. Even myself have modify apps to see on the "About..." screen my own name.

And, the other reason, the reason I would walk on hot coals for it, is that at least 50% of Linux users, use Linux just for exclusivity.Just like Apple is the shit on usability, but more than 50% of Apple users use their products because of the "little apple" logo that appears on the notebook; most of the Linux users don't care about Linux advantages but EXCLUSIVITY.

I would make a difference between two exclusivity types: the miser version of the Macuser, that don't want to spend a buck and uses things like GNOME+Compiz or KDE 4; and the megafriki like Richard Stallman that sees movies with a MPEG-->ASCII converter, edits his web page with a text mode emacs, sees some web pages throught wget, and do everything throught a console while is eating snacks [google.com] .

The first group don't care about dislocating their hands rotating a 3D cube, nor that KDE 4.2 only do half of the things KDE 3 can do using more time. The cool things is to have windows that bounce up and down like a good tits. Perhaps that is the closest thing to sex they will have. This kinds of users like Ubuntu, Debian, Mandriva... it doesn't matter. After all, they're people without prejudges, that with faith (sometimes thanks to the bad advise that the second group (I will talk about them later) gave them) run from Windows to the freeware Linux.

The second group searches for intellectual exclusivity (as if configure X.org with nano were considered intellectual by someone with a healthy sexual life). They are the typical guys who give you shit because you use MS Office or OpenOffice instead of Latex, the guys who believe they're awesome because they have to type thousands of sequences like "/isearch:qqvv!!" just to edit a text on Vi, the guys who see pages on Lynx and treat you like shit because you use Flash, the guys who think that desktop enviroments are a conspiracy from multinationals companies to force all of us to buy high cost PCs, and the guys who think that, if you use Ubuntu, you're a lammer.

All of them used distributions like Corel, Mandrake, etc. several years ago, distributions that were easy to use (much more easy than Debian or Caldera) and could use lightweight enviroments like IceWM, XFCE, ENlightment... That was enough for them to feel more important than their stupid friends that used Windows, friends that used PCs to do disgraceful things like play videogames, edit rich texts, use scanners or printers, surf on internet with a 56k modem...

With the popularization of distros like Ubuntu, their friends started to switch to Linux, just like they told them before. In fact, they never thought anyone would pay attention to them, and that's why they never thought about the possibility that someday they will not be "superior" to other people because they work for their PCs while everyone else drinks beer or has sex, like a normal person.

This kind of people is the people that hates Ubuntu... they don't want to accept that what they used to do to have the "right" to walk on college wearing a black gabardine and with the hair full of gel just like Neo, is now easy to install and configure... no one has to ask for help to them just to configure the Super VGA.

And you, where do you want to go today without using emacs?

Thanks for your attention.

Re:Linux users... (2)

dyingtolive (1393037) | more than 5 years ago | (#28652869)

because they work for their PCs while everyone else drinks beer or has sex, like a normal person.

Really? Cause the reason why I use Linux is because your girlfriend gets wet when I recompile my slackware kernel, and cause when I go out to bars and scrawl perl on napkins women get so tight around me I can hardly breathe and start buying me drinks.

Seriously though. I have a mac, and I have several linux boxes. I have a (gasp!) windows box for gaming/movies too! At my job I run Solaris and Linux servers both. Which stereotype do I fit into? Please, I need to know which condescending asshole to act like.

Re:Linux users... (0, Troll)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 5 years ago | (#28653105)

> But we have to accept the awful truth: many Linux users would be using Mac OS X if they weren't a misers.

I own 3 Macs. MacOS runs on none of them.

I run desktop Unix because I LIKE UNIX. If I wanted a "free operating system", I
could just use the same bundled shovelware that everyone else uses. It's no less
free than Linux is from the common man perspetive.

I would have bought a $400 PC Unix back in the day if only it ran on a common PC.

I like Unix because first and foremost I want things to "work". "Looking pretty"
is a secondary consideration. Thus I am more concerned about the crude red-eye
tool in iPhoto and unconcerned about the byzantine menu structure of Gimp.

Gimp gets the job done. iPhoto doesn't.

All of the "consistent" in the world won't make up for that.

Unix and Linux by extension is "function over form".

Apple is "form over function".

It's a good idea to look at MacOS (and everything else
for that matter) and see what good ideas we can steal
but the idea that we need to make Linux into some sort
of proper MacOS clone is just assinine.

If any of the KDE/GNOME guys want to swap me a Revo for one of my minis I will be happy to oblige.

Re:Linux users... (2, Informative)

Ian Alexander (997430) | more than 5 years ago | (#28654155)

Gimp gets the job done. iPhoto doesn't.

To be fair you're comparing apples to oranges. iPhoto is primarily a photo-management application; it's in the same category as Picasa or F-Spot, not GIMP. It does have photo-editing abilities but by their extremely-limited nature it should be obvious that that's not its primary intended use and that those are there for quick, simple touch-ups. It would be better to compare GIMP to Photoshop or Aperture, or iPhoto to Picasa or F-Spot.

Mac OS X can be better or worse than other Unices but first you need to get your comparisons right!

Re:Linux users... (3, Insightful)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 5 years ago | (#28654297)

Fun fact of the day: Mac OS X is certified Unix; Linux is not.

Re:Linux users... (1)

pauljlucas (529435) | more than 5 years ago | (#28653671)

... more than 50% of Apple users use their products because of the "little apple" logo that appears on the notebook ...

[citation needed]

(And what about using desktop Macs at home where very few others see the "little Apple logo?")

What? (1)

denzacar (181829) | more than 5 years ago | (#28654027)

You were never taken on a tour around someone's house to be shown the more important works of cultural and artistic importance such as BigAss(TM) TV, VeryLoud(TM) Stereo or MostExpensiveGenericShit(TM) they could find?

People who buy things to brag with, brag all the time.
At work, at home, on the road, buying a packet of chewing gum at the news stand...

whomever succeeds??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28652669)

"Columnist Matt Asay suggests that perhaps open source projects should attempt to emulate Apple's design philosophy, with whomever succeeds becoming the 'winner' of the hearts and minds of the vast majority of users."

You mean "whoever succeeds." This is elementary grammar!

Re:whomever succeeds??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28653685)

Agreed. I always think that if you lose one point for using who (and derived forms) when it should be whom, you should lose a thousand for being a pretentious cock and doing the opposite.

Umm (2, Interesting)

hansraj (458504) | more than 5 years ago | (#28652693)

This suggests a start: enable your open-source project to accept meaningful outside contributions that make the project reflective of a wider development community.

Isn't that already the case with most of the free software anyway? I mean not many people might be contributing to every project, but I don't think that is because the core team wouldn't accept outside contributions. In fact, what the hell does "outsider" mean in this context? I suppose anyone is usually free to start contributing to any project they like; usually it is hard to get accepted as part of the team but that is mostly because you can't expect to just get up one morning and figure out everything about an already existing project or convince everyone that what you want to add is in fact a desirable feature.

Seriously, with every Jack writing a piece of "analysis" these days, I am reminded of the saying: "Opinions are like assholes, everybody's got one".

Re:Umm (1)

mdwntr (1367967) | more than 5 years ago | (#28653033)

Yes, I find this and similar articles to be so light on specifics as to be practically worthless. I think what this analysis is alluding to has been going on for years anyway. My experience is that most projects of note are very receptive to contributions, but there is only so much they can do. Besides, compare say, the state of Linux (as the article mentions) today to what it was five or ten years ago and it would be hard to deny the improvements in 'usability'. These things don't happen overnight.

Re:Umm (1)

tonyreadsnews (1134939) | more than 5 years ago | (#28653417)

I think he is referring to user's being more involved in the development process. He explicitly mentions broadening the term developer to mean users of the software. I haven't seen many ways to contribute to open source development other then
a) code contributions
b) bug reports
This means only programmers are determining feature road maps and other design decisions (such as which bugs to even fix).

In the commercial world, engineers are not the only designers. A marketing department with a (hopefully) excellent understanding of the target market acts as the user liaison so that engineers focus on things the market needs, not just what the engineer wants to work on.

Re:Umm (2, Insightful)

Estanislao Martnez (203477) | more than 5 years ago | (#28653449)

Isn't that already the case with most of the free software anyway? I mean not many people might be contributing to every project, but I don't think that is because the core team wouldn't accept outside contributions. In fact, what the hell does "outsider" mean in this context? I suppose anyone is usually free to start contributing to any project they like; usually it is hard to get accepted as part of the team but that is mostly because you can't expect to just get up one morning and figure out everything about an already existing project or convince everyone that what you want to add is in fact a desirable feature.

The major problem is in fact that people who control a project can be incredibly hostile to doing things that improve usability, and will just not compromise because they see no reason to do so.

A relevant example: Linus's uncompromisingly negative attitude toward Unicode normalization of filenames [kerneltrap.org] . OS X's HFS+ filesystem guarantees that all names are stored in normalized UTF-8; Linux's ext3 apparently just lets you use whatever you want. This means that in a Linux system, you could search for a file called Martínez.txt (note the accent on the "i"), search for a file whose name contains the subtstring Martínez, and not get a match because the filename and the search string are using two different representations of the accented "i". Or, from the user point of view, you get a search term that doesn't match itself.

At any rate, you do seem to agree that getting project owners to accept usability contributions is an obstacle. What I want to point out is that very often the obstacle is just not practically surmountable, period.

What OSS can learn from Apple: (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28652717)

Gay people are a market, too !

Nontechnical software user (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28652721)

This is a universal. Most software is delivered to nontechnical software users.

Even the specialized mrp and accounting and I bet even the most technical/scientific of software are delivered to nontechnical software users.

Most development approaches begin and end at the source code control systems, by people who don't ever and probably wouldn't want to get near their customer.

Successful development projects do not simply arise from people having the "fun" experience of development. To be successful you will have to do the "not fun" things of supporting your endusers and documentation and attention to the supporting infrastructure that delivers your running software into running systems.

Slowly... (1)

emanem (1356033) | more than 5 years ago | (#28652789)

...linux/OSS can do it.
Just keep on.

Cheers,

What Apple Has Learned From MicroCRAP: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28652855)

Have as many billable new versions as is Balllmeringly [wikipedia.org]
possible.

Yours In Bash,
Kilgore Trout

Re:What Apple Has Learned From MicroCRAP: (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 5 years ago | (#28653281)

Shouldn't that be
"Have as many Billable [wikipedia.org] new versions as is Ballmeringly [wikipedia.org] possible."
?

Easier said than done (5, Interesting)

C_Kode (102755) | more than 5 years ago | (#28652945)

Apple spends a lot of money implementing their design philosophies. Lets face it. It's not cheap to design user friendly high quality UI. Most companies that build open source products aren't serving the Desktop; they're serving the server market. The few that actually are (Ubuntu) are taking Linux and the open source desktop to a higher level.

I am very thankful for Mark Shuttleworth and what he is doing for the Linux Desktop. Everyone knows Redhat flip-flops on the Desktop subject all the time and never actually get much done for it.

Really? (3, Interesting)

fluffernutter (1411889) | more than 5 years ago | (#28652963)

"Linux and open source have long struggled to gain acceptance from the wider (read, non-technical) audience"

Do they really? Consensus on Slashdot seems to be "If they can't figure it out, screw 'em".

What users want, not what they say they want (4, Insightful)

dazedNconfuzed (154242) | more than 5 years ago | (#28652985)

Apple is very good at figuring out what users actually DO with the products - and that includes figuring it out BEFORE the product is released. This in contrast with giving people what they _say_ they want, which rarely satisfies them.

Re:What users want, not what they say they want (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 5 years ago | (#28653207)

So that's why the iPhoto red-eye removal tool is nothing more than a black paint tool...

That's why the red-eye removal tool can't recognize an eye and will mark up any part of a photo...

That's why they insist on forcing you to load files into the app-centric database before doing anything with it...

That's why they ignore whatever existing organization the images might have had...

Apple are competent engineers that have a really good marketing deparment.

It's really pretty simple: No Ads, no marketshare. Great Ads, growing marketshare.

Sure. Steal whatever good ideas they might have. Just don't drink the cool-aid.

Re:What users want, not what they say they want (3, Insightful)

Late Adopter (1492849) | more than 5 years ago | (#28653291)

You think Free Software developers pander to what users say they want?! I can't think of any more group more intransigently opposed to doing anything other than scratching the itches that satisfy their particular use cases.

At least corporations have an obligation to pretend to care (for better and for worse).

Re:What users want, not what they say they want (2, Insightful)

Bassman59 (519820) | more than 5 years ago | (#28653629)

You think Free Software developers pander to what users say they want?! I can't think of any more group more intransigently opposed to doing anything other than scratching the itches that satisfy their particular use cases.

This is truth, folks. I made a suggestion to the gEDA PCB developers, asking if they could implement a feature found in pretty much every commercial PCB layout package -- display the netname in every footprint pad. Seriously, this is a standard feature. And the tepid response from the developers? Something along the lines of, "Huh? I've never seen that ... and anyways, I can't imagine how that could be useful."

And, with that, I unsubscribed from the gEDA mailing lists, deleted all of the sources and dev builds from my machine, and went back to using the paid-for and perfectly functional schematic capture/PCB layout tool I had been using.

Re:What users want, not what they say they want (1)

arose (644256) | more than 5 years ago | (#28653901)

Sounds like you did a great job of explaining what you wanted and how it would be useful to many users of their software... Was it along the lines of: "All the commercial packages have X, if you don't implement X ASAP I'm gone"?

In otherwords.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28653031)

...be responsive to/fix bugs logged by non-techie or non-developer users? That would be a nice start.

Contributor ideologies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28653093)

I think there also exist different ideologies for different types of contributors. In general, the techies are the ones who enjoy getting something done and may or may not care if they are attributed. Some of the below is speculation, but some of it also comes from reading comments places where programmers are looking for assistance.

However, speaking from the perspective of a winning open source application, a good UI is huge win and it is those types of contributors who are rare. It seems the artists will never touch something they aren't paid for. The same is likely true for those who consider themselves to be usability experts. It is these areas that open source needs to strength, but the people just don't seem to be there.

In a way it is quite sad since your typical artist could probably make a decent set of, say 40 icons, in one to three weeks (personal time). But your typical programmer might spend months to get a working application. Yet who is it standing there with their hand open, palm up, looking for their monetary compensation?

fuck apple (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28653111)

tldr

More whining from fashion designers (5, Insightful)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | more than 5 years ago | (#28653119)

The more complicated a product gets, the more technical acumen is required to put it together. Bad Web sites are built by people who know how to code HTML and JavaScript but don't understand how people use the Web. Bad software is written by people who are experts at knowing how a computer works and how to write code to make it do what they want, but no idea about how regular people behave and how those people expect to interact with that software.

This is bullshit. Bad websites are built people who barely know how to use HTML and Javascript, but believe that the more HTML and Javascript you use, the better the website is. Slashdot, Digg, Gizmodo, Endgadget, Facebook, MySpace - they're all fucking horrible. People believe that because Google can pull it off, they can too. They believe that because they have very fast machines, everyone else does too. The believe that "moar interactive" == "awesome website", and that the more iframes you can pull into one page makes it a "mashup" and very "Web 2.0".

Do you see that kind of shit on the Apple website? Of course not! Apple doesn't succeed because of "design", they succeed because they have production values. They don't tolerate "good enough", they don't fixate on technology because it is new, they don't march to the beat of an ideological imperative. They believe in themselves, and they do what they want because they like it, on the assumption that their tastes are like everyone's tastes. Apple does not live by focus groups. Apple doesn't hold "design" over "technology", they hold "simple" over "complicated". The design wankers attach themselves to Apple's coattails because they can't differentiate between pretty technology and well executed technology. They don't understand technology, so they make a religion out of design so their priests can have something to lord over the unfashionable nerds.

Do you know why so much open source software sucks? It's because the programmers suck! They don't measure themselves against any standard of excellence. They stop when something works, ignoring the fact that it doesn't work well. It's plain old slob apathy. They're not getting paid for it, they can't be fired for failure, so what do they care?

Re:More whining from fashion designers (1)

tonyreadsnews (1134939) | more than 5 years ago | (#28653651)

they don't fixate on technology because it is new, they don't march to the beat of an ideological imperative

Just to be sure, you're talking about this company [google.com] ?

Curious.

Re:More whining from fashion designers (3, Interesting)

edalytical (671270) | more than 5 years ago | (#28654073)

No, he's right. Why hasn't Apple released a Netbook? They could have put there OS on a tiny underpowered device with a 800x600 screen and called it a Netbook. But they didn't. Why do you think that is? Maybe they're not fixating on new technology. Maybe they don't "ideologically" repackage products to fit every new product category like other companies do. I mean, people wanted an iPhone for years before Apple release it and it turned the market upside down. If they just put an iPod on a phone or a phone on an iPod nobody would have cared except for a few fanboys. Instead they made a truly innovative device and entered the market when the time was right -- when they had something interesting. The same thing will likely happen with the Apple Netbook. They'll enter the market for sure, but not just for the sake of entering the market. They'll have something to offer, something that will take two years for the market to catchup with.

It's about marketing (3, Insightful)

enrevanche (953125) | more than 5 years ago | (#28653125)

What keeps Apple and Microsoft on top is marketing and momentum. We live in a society driven by mass media. For the most part open-source does not have a sufficient marketing budget. Most people do not even know about alternatives.

Re:It's about marketing (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 5 years ago | (#28653565)

Thank you. While there are many things about any given Open Source software project that could be improved, the real reason for the low adoption rate of Open Source software is marketing.
Another problem with stories like this (and with Open Source marketing in general), is the idea that "Open Source software" can be lumped together and compared to "Apple software" or "Microsoft software". Open Source software is to Apple (or Microsoft) software like Creative Commons music is to U2 music.

Re:It's about marketing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28654081)

What keeps Apple and Microsoft on top is marketing and momentum. We live in a society driven by mass media. For the most part open-source does not have a sufficient marketing budget. Most people do not even know about alternatives.

Apple is open-source's marketing budget. Just because its not GNU/linux or GPL doesn't mean its not open source.

Downside? (3, Insightful)

willoughby (1367773) | more than 5 years ago | (#28653139)

"The downside is that these contributors are techies..."

That's like saying the drawback to commercial aircraft is that they are designed by aeronautical engineers.

Re:Downside? (2)

Estanislao Martnez (203477) | more than 5 years ago | (#28653507)

That's like saying the drawback to commercial aircraft is that they are designed by aeronautical engineers.

But that has in fact often been a problem. There are many aircraft accidents where bad human factors design played a major role. For just one example, check out this Bruce Tognazzini article [asktog.com] .

Re:Downside? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28653805)

I read that article you linked to. It went like this. A plane kit was designed by an engineer. Someone bought one of those kits and made some changes to the plane, and then John Denver bought that used plane, not knowing of the non-standard changes to it, or at least not having those changes in the fore front of his mind. And his familiarity played a major factor in his death.

What I don't see is how this supports your point. An engineer made then the plane kit and then someone else went and changed his design. The lesson I learned from that story was don't buy a plane with major changes that were made by someone other than the people who designed it. Not "we need more people who arn't engineers working on plane design". Quite the opposite in fact.

Re:Downside? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28653569)

I don't fly based on the make of the plane. I fly based on the customer service the airline offers.

Re:Downside? (1)

Aggrav8d (683620) | more than 5 years ago | (#28653605)

That's like saying the drawback to commercial aircraft is that they are designed by aeronautical engineers.

You don't fly much, do you.

Re:Downside? (2, Insightful)

nine-times (778537) | more than 5 years ago | (#28654341)

Well, if you're running a commercial airline and you allow the aeronautical engineers to design the interior of the aircraft (including seats, lighting, fixtures) without including anyone with interior design experience, then yes, that might be a problem. If you allow the aeronautical engineers to design the menu for the inflight meals without consulting any kind of chef or caterer, then that might be a problem too.

Focus on what the user wants (2)

Thaelon (250687) | more than 5 years ago | (#28653197)

Spend time on the UI.

Make sure that your software is the user's bitch, not the other way around.

To elaborate, here are some tips:

  • Use zero modal dialogs. They force the user to act at the software's behest to continue doing what they want. Making the user your software's bitch.
  • Make any reasonable action from one state as convenient as possible from that state to the most likely states.
  • Observe how your users use your software and modify it to make everything the do in it as easy and as fast as possible.
  • Just because it has a lot of functionality doesn't mean shit if it's too hard for them to figure out how to use it. Make it as intuitive, as logical, and as predictable as you can.

Re:Focus on what the user wants (2, Insightful)

FishWithAHammer (957772) | more than 5 years ago | (#28653323)

# Use zero modal dialogs. They force the user to act at the software's behest to continue doing what they want. Making the user your software's bitch.
Making

A modal dialog often has value, in that it focuses the user's attention on something that, generally, is necessary to actually do what the user wants. Take Visual Studio for example. If I click "run," and a file has changed since the last build, it'll ask me whether I want to build again before I run the application. You could assume they want to build again, but for some people that may not be what they want, so it asks. Of course, for many workflow options, this only needs to be exposed to the user once. Visual Studio asks me whether I want to build before running, but there's a checkbox that tells it not to ask me again. I check it, click "Yes," and it never bothers me again--but now it acts the way I want it to, every time.

There are many uses of modal dialog boxes that everyone gets wrong, however. No, I don't want to send user statistics ANYWHERE, and you should not be popping up a modal dialog and keeping me from doing what I want in your vain attempt to get me to do so.

Your other points, however, are right on the money. Great post.

That a single cohesive vision... (4, Informative)

rAiNsT0rm (877553) | more than 5 years ago | (#28653209)

is actually better than a chaotic/bazaar mess that spins it wheels for 15 years? No shit!? Man, I mean while everyone blabs on and on about the bazaar and how great the chaotic development is, it isn't good enough for that central part: The Kernel. So why in the hell we keep fighting a cohesive and directed effort to build at least a baseline for the entire OS is beyond me.

This is why I gave up on Linux for all but my servers. One day it will happen, or Google/Ubuntu will do it first. At this point I don't even care, just that it happens.

Re:That a single cohesive vision... (1)

agrif (960591) | more than 5 years ago | (#28653989)

This touches on the argument used a lot around here that desktop Linux isn't all that popular in part because of the amount of choices each distribution has for its parts, resulting in distributions that are all different. This does, in fact, make applications extremely hard to distribute amongst all distributions. (I have some brief experience with this, and I already hate it.)

However, it's important to note here that Linux is just the kernel, not the operating system. I would go as far as to say Ubuntu and Gentoo are about as similar as FreeBSD and Mac OS X, and that expecting there to be enough similarities between them to be able to treat them as one operating system is impossible. Each Linux distribution is its own operating system, they just happen to share the same kernel.

I agree that having a standard base would increase adoption, but only as much as a standard base between OS X and Windows would increase adoption. It's also just as unrealistic.

One word (2, Informative)

PhotoGuy (189467) | more than 5 years ago | (#28653241)

Polish.

Re:One word (1)

edittard (805475) | more than 5 years ago | (#28653775)

One more: Hungarian.

Open source needs a god (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28653253)

A sexy one...

Rebuttal quote (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#28653289)

"The day that I, as a nontechnical software user, can meaningfully participate in an open-source project is the day that open source will truly have won."

You just did. Feedback from users is the lifeblood of the open source movement -- not programs and data. We listen. Our email addresses and online presence is right here. We don't hide behind departments and voicemail systems with irritating prompting systems. We'll come out for a beer with you if we're close. This isn't a corporation, this is a community. Several thousand people in the open source community just read what you had to say -- and thought about it.

You think you'll ever get that, however much you pay, for commercial software?

Re:Rebuttal quote (4, Insightful)

edittard (805475) | more than 5 years ago | (#28653863)

I'm not saying you're wrong, but a much more likely response will be:
  • None.
  • Works for me.
  • That's a feature not a bug.
  • If you're so smart, fixit yourself and submit a patch.
    (so you submit a patch)...
    • your patch is teh sux0rz - rejected.

As maintainer of two OSS projects... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28654329)

No, the more likely responses are:
1. Um, we fixed that a couple of years ago - you might want to try a current build at ...
2. Good idea, I'll commit something right away (if it is something simple).
3. Good idea, we intend to do that at some point along with the dozens of other good ideas we are already aware of.
4. Can you describe the problem a little more clearly so I can try to figure out what's going on? (often a response to "your program sounds good but it sucks it crashes when i use it", or similar).

5. And, admittedly, sometimes "none". When I'm not busy in real life, I'm all over my email, various forums, etc. to help users, but sometimes other things take priority over my *hobby*.

We are *not* trying to conquer the world, or at least I'm not. The proprietary software companies may be competing with me, but I'm not competing with them. I'm just doing what I'm doing. It does make me feel good that at least tens of thousands (maybe hundreds of thousands) of people use my software on a regular basis, but it doesn't affect me materially whether they choose my programs or commercial alternatives.

Completely misses the point about Apple design (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28653303)

Soo, the author clearly has no idea what Apple's design philosophy is. Nothing in this article is even close to how Apple designs software. Users don't contribute to Apple's design. While Apple does solicit feedback regarding its current software, it strongly discourages (http://www.apple.com/legal/policies/ideas.html) idea submissions or other contributions to development. Steve Jobs once quoted Henry Ford regarding how they feel about what customers think they want: "If I'd asked my customers what they wanted, they'd have said a faster horse." Apple doesn't care about what users say they want, because users don't think about product development the way Apple does. Apple hires very smart people and pushes them very hard to develop what they do. They're very focused on what they want to achieve and usually dream much bigger than the typical user or outside developer.

Basically, Apple's design philosophy is completely backwards from open source design philosophy, and I believe that's one of Apple's true strengths in its design process and what allows them to bring to market the breakthrough types of products that they do. There are many other design and engineering principles that are also fundamental to Apple's success, but bringing that to the open source world seems like a poor match.

False start (1)

scorp1us (235526) | more than 5 years ago | (#28653347)

The day that I, as a nontechnical software user, can meaningfully participate in an open-source project is the day that open source will truly have won.

Show me an instance of this with Apple. In fact, I would argue the opposite - that their strict control of the platform has allowed them to focus on only approving software that specifically fits the customer's needs the best. As apposed to the open source model which is one tool, a million uses. With apple you get the universal 1-piece screw driver. With open source you get the Craftsmen all-in-one screw driver with 36 bits and 6 handles in 4 colors.

Apple is the bipolar opposite of open source (2, Interesting)

goffster (1104287) | more than 5 years ago | (#28653595)

Apple is one man's dream, and it will die with that man.
Open Source will outlive any particular person.

You already can... (1)

i.r.id10t (595143) | more than 5 years ago | (#28653757)

You already can, if you have just minor technical skill. Simply, the ability and willingness to explore menu options, figure out how to actually *use* the app, and make great documentation.

Apple engages users? (1)

edmicman (830206) | more than 5 years ago | (#28653839)

Wait, what? Apple engages the user community to develop they're products? Are you sure they don't limit the featureset, tell the users what they want, spend $$ on marketing, and then watch the bank roll in while everyone covets the "new" old product?

I agree, OSS should take a page from Apple's UI and design philosophy. But I don't think involving every Tom, Dick, and Harry to offer input (although, that is necessary, too, I think) and hold the same weight works at the same time.

Ironically, Apple has benefitted immensely from OS (1)

WelshRarebit (1595637) | more than 5 years ago | (#28653931)

Apple took good advantage of the portability and generous licensing of open source software and based huge swaths of OS X on long established projects such as BSD and Mach. Then by grafting on a tightly controlled series of entirely proprietary application interfaces, they were able to ensure that while code flows easily and readily from Linux and FreeBSD to OS X, it is almost impossible for them to flow back. That is why you see so few truly cross platform open source desktop applications that originated on OS X but also run on other platforms. It also explains the plethora of OS X-only forks of popular open source applications such as Firefox and OpenOffice.

Firs7 post (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28653935)

to fight what has world. GNNA members
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?