[maemo-developers] [maemo-developers] Follow-up: N800 and Newton

From: Daniel Amelang daniel.amelang at gmail.com
Date: Thu Jan 25 22:29:28 EET 2007
On 1/24/07, Sean Luke <sean at cs.gmu.edu> wrote:
> ...
> it doesn't require rabid fanboyism to make a cogent argument
> that GTK+ is distinctly inferior to OS X and maemo is inferior to
> NewtonOS from an interface point of view.

Without expressing an opinion either way, I think it is important to
point out that the user experience on a GTK-based system is a
combination of GTK, the theme engine, and the application/desktop
itself (among several other components).

You may find that the "fixing" you call for has less to do with GTK
itself, and more with those other components than you expect. GTK is
written to be loosely-coupled with the look, and even the feel to a
certain extent, and is readily extendable by the application or
framework (Hildon begin a case in point). Yes, GTK may require
changes, but learning the details of the separation of concerns is an
important step in joining the effort to better the user experience in
Maemo. I suspect that your tendency to conglomerate the various parts
of the UI software stack into one, label it and place the blame (or
give the praise) comes from experience with systems that are better
represented (marketed?) by such aggregation. That fact that you
compared GTK with OS X, and Cocoa with Maemo begin evidence of this.
The fact is, different lines are drawn in different places on the
different platforms.

> ...
> Unlike GTK+, each was
> the product of untold millions of dollars of development, expert UI
> design, and a large degree of user testing.  (Well, for Cocoa, Steve
> was sometimes the sole test-user :-).  Anyway, there's something to
> be said for massive amounts of resources and UI expertise.
> ...

An underlying assumption here is that GTK doesn't have (and hence,
requires) "massive amounts of resources and UI expertise" and a "large
degree of user testing" behind it. While this could be true, but I
would like to see this established in an objective manner. And if it
can't be, I would recommend leaving this part of your argument out.
Remember, we aren't even establishing the quality of the systems yet,
just how many resources and expertise are behind a given system.

Now, let's give you the point that GTK doesn't have as many
resources/expertise behind it, for the sake of analyzing your argument
further. You also treat the relationship between the quality of a
system and the quantity of resources/expertise behind it as somewhat
of a bilateral condition. I don't necessary agree. I believe that
there exist systems with significantly less resources/expertise behind
them that are of higher quality than those that have greater

Now, the "untold millions of dollars" that you attribute to the
proprietary systems is also an interesting subject. I assume that you
are familiar with the several studies that attempt to estimate the
even harder to track untold millions of dollars that some open-source
software systems represent in value. This one (which includes GTK)
comes to mind: http://www.dwheeler.com/sloc/redhat71-v1/redhat71sloc.html

So it is important to distinguish between the amount money that was
directly and visibly invested in a system, and the value that that
system represents.

Now, having said all that, I think your analysis as a whole has great
value. I, for one, welcome our new Newton-influenced UI expert :)


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