[maemo-community] Command line apps & Extras

From: Graham Cobb g+770 at cobb.uk.net
Date: Thu Nov 26 18:53:53 EET 2009
On Thursday 26 November 2009 14:59:20 Daniel Martin Yerga wrote:
> In my opinion If we allow CLI applications in Extras, end-users will be
> dissappointed, they will install CLI applications with this reason:
> This application is called socat: so-cat (a cat!, surely it's like a
> tamagotchi!).
> End-users (and start-users too) generally don't read descriptions, they
> first shoot and then ask ;-)
> When they see that the application that they installed isn't
> anywhere in a graphical form, they will be dissappointed and will say
> "Maemo apps sucks", "Maemo is only for developers". Well, they won't if
> it happens only one time, but if it happens with let's say 10-15
> applications, they will do.

That is why I liked the idea of a specific package icon that we use for all 
the packages which do not install an application.  Whether we include command 
line apps or not, there will be lots of packages which do not install an 
application: packages of add-ons (levels for games, plug-ins for Modest or 
Telepathy), services which run behind the scenes, etc.  People would soon 
appreciate having an easy way to spot that they shouldn't go looking for an 
application after installing this package.

> I know that if we take this decision, it's going to be difficult for
> us. In the end, we are the kind of people using these CLI utilities, but
> what would happen if the end-users were the people deciding about this?
> Would they be happy to have "sqlite" between "recorder" and "theremin"
> in the all-list?

H-A-M is not a suitable user interface for handling large numbers of 
applications -- we know that.  It will never be able to handle even a 
fraction of the number of apps in the Apple app-store.  That is why most apps 
will end up installed using Ovi or using a web interface.  They will handle 
much better categories, ratings, reviews, recommendations, favourites, 
notifications and all the things people need to actually **find** interesting 
apps as well as install them.

H-A-M will rapidly become a tool only used for installation by power users.  
It will be like the Windows control panel -- no one touches it unless they 
have to, and they have no expectation of a good user experience, but it does 
an important and necessary job.  For that reason, I think it is **exactly** 
the place to put CLI apps.

If we can actually make some small improvements to it (so it is easy to see 
whether something is an "X-terminal" app, for example) then even better.  
But, just like Windows today, we shouldn't be putting rules in place limiting 
the sorts of apps people can find and install using the basic tool.  We want 
the N900 to appeal to many different types of users, some of whom want apps 
which are a bit geeky (although they may not be developers) and others don't.

> Can we to do a survey to the normal people (not techies) around us? Just
> ask them: "What would you think if you install an application in your
> phone (ehh, mobile computer) and it doesn't appear anywhere?"
> Of course, in a better English than mine.

Or, alternatively, ask them "what would you think if you couldn't install an 
app in your phone because someone else had decided it was too geeky for you?"

> If we want to help Maemo to go mainstream (whatever it means), we
> will must take difficult decisions with some old GNU/Linux traditions,
> and this is the first decision of this kind, surely we will see more.

As a developer I don't want the community creating arbitrary rules about what 
apps can and cannot appear in Extras or any community distribution mechanism.  
Don't you tell me whether my app is "too geeky" for users, or has a "nice 
interface" or is "unusable".  Let my users decide.  Let there be competition 
between developers. 

We want developers to be able to experiment with new interfaces, old 
interfaces, no interfaces at all and bring new ideas and old ones to the 
platform.  Some of the results will be crap (and many of those will have 
GUIs!).  That is what rating and recommendation systems are for.  We have to 
solve the rating and recommendation problem for Extras for GUI apps and the 
solution will allow CLI apps to be in exactly the same place.

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