IBM, whose decision to back Linux years ago was a driving force in its adoption by business, called on developers of the open-source operating system to make it more "green" and to stop copying Windows, if they want to see Linux on the desktop.- Information Week
Bob Sutor, VP of open source and standards at IBM, told attendees of the LinuxWorld Conference in San Francisco, that what the open source community needs to make Linux popular as a desktop OS used by consumers and businesses are "some really good graphic designers."
"Stop copying 2001 Windows. That's not where the usability action is," Sutor said during his afternoon keynote.
Gruber's post is so good, that I run the risk of reproducing it in its entirety.
Wow ! I suspect most reactions are going to be predictable. The real problem though, might be that "some really good graphic designers" are not the only factor that could result in a great Linux desktop. Linux development is now heavily influenced by corporations that are not known for any great user facing design efforts. Great UI work does not seem to lend itself to the kind of distributed development style that has made many open source projects successful. Successful open source projects which are usable by the ordinary user are few and far between. Good UI requires a different mindset as John Gruber explained once in an excellent post:
UI development is the hard part. And it’s not the last step, it’s the first step. In my estimation, the difference between:
isn’t just a little bit of extra work. It’s not even twice the work. It’s an entire order of magnitude more work. Developing software with a good UI requires both aptitude and a lot of hard work.
- software that performs function X; and
- software that performs function X, with an intuitive well-designed user interface
It’s not something every programmer can learn. Most programmers don’t have any aptitude for UI design whatsoever. It’s an art, and like any art, it requires innate ability. You can learn to be a better writer. You can learn to be a better illustrator. But most people can’t write and can’t draw, and no amount of practice or education is going to make them good at it. Improved, yes; good, no.
Conversely, some people who are good UI designers aren’t programmers. But the rock stars are the guys who can do both, and they are few and far between.
If there’s a glib, nutshell synopsis for why Linux desktop software tends to suck, it’s this: Raymond and his ilk have no respect for anyone but themselves.
They have no respect for the fact that UI design is a special talent.
They have no respect for the fact that good UI design requires a tremendous amount of time and effort.
And, most importantly, they have no respect at all for real users. The idea that GUI software needs to be designed for “dumb users” — which is Raymond’s own term, and an indication of what he really means when he refers to dear old A.T. — is completely wrong.
Great software developers don’t design for morons. They design for smart, perceptive people — people just like themselves. They have profound respect for their users.
...Movies are collaborative art, but require strong direction. So it is with end user software.