Friday, 3 June 2011

Open source usability

Free software usability doesn't come close to Microsoft work. Office 2010, user interface-wise, blows OpenOffice (and LibreOffice) out of the water. The Windows 7 Taskbar is a step above anything I've seen on Linux (though I still like sticky windows in GNOME on Ubuntu that snap to each other and screen edges) and as for development tools, nothing comes close to Visual Studio. The common factor here is clearly up-front work on usability.

It's harder to do usability with open-source projects, because most of the contributors are more interested in working on the back-end stuff for performance, compatibility or new features. Also, even if there's a leader for the project, he doesn't get to say what the community needs to contribute. They'll do what they do, and you take it or leave it. That's certainly not to say I want to do away with open source, because the world would be a bleak place indeed if nobody had competition. I'm just saying that user interfaces are one more area where open source has to play catch-up with big-budget software, and probably always will.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Open source both suffers from and thrives on a lack of direction.
PPS - Anything can be abandoned and anything new started at any time.

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