[openbeos] Re: on SoftwareValet for OBOS

  • From: "Anton du Toit" <adu_toit@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: openbeos@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 29 Nov 2001 09:44:45

Hi. I?ve been lurking here for a long while ? never posted anything because 
I?m not a developer or remotely technical, just a keen ?Joe Sixpack? BeOS 
user. However, it seems to me that my _lack_ of expertise makes me qualified 
to contribute something to this thread. Just think of me as somewhere 
between the developers on this list and your grandmother..

In brief: I?m all in favour of one-click installations (or updates), and I?m 
all in favour of SV (or something like it) being bundled with OpenBeOS. I 
think that while SV may be peripheral to the OS from a technical standpoint 
? it?s just another utility, right? ? from a user experience standpoint it?s 
central. Because:

***1. Updating apps is FUNDAMENTAL***
Most BeOS apps are still very much in development and go through .1 and .0 
updates frequently (how many SoundPlay updates have there been?). Also, 
these updates are generally desirable (unlike, say, updating MS Word from 
5.0 to 6.0), so you want to get them. This means that updating software is 
not something you do occasionally, it?s something you do pretty frequently. 
(This seems unlikely to change in the near future, given where we are in the 
OS and apps? lifecycles.)

***2. More keystrokes = more Bad Things ? ***
This is perhaps more an argument in favour of .pkg, but anyway: multiply the 
number of times you update an app (as above) by the number of keystrokes 
needed to install it, and you have some kind of proxy for the likelihood of 
Bad Things happening.

If you can reduce this to a dialogue box from oSV (openSoftwareValet) that 

?You have SoundPlay 4.6.4 currently installed. SoundPlay 4.6.5 was released 
on 20th November. Would you like to download and install it now? [Y/N]?

... then I think we?re home and hosed.

***3. Less Bad Things = more users***
The less unzipping and copying has to be done, the less potential for 
mistakes there is; the fewer mistakes, the less frustration => better user 
experience => more ?Wow? factor => more word of mouth => more users.

The frustration, of course, is the real killer here. Sooner or later the OS 
gets blamed, and people go back to Windows. And we can?t have that now, can 

***4. You guys are technical. Most users won?t be.***
Critical point. Err on the side of ?dumb? when thinking of your lowest 
common denominator user. You can always put more options in menus if you 
need to.

You might think of a pyramid of (actual and potential) OpenBeOS users, i.e. 
highly technical at the top, less technical as you go down:

Level 1: A small number of technical guys (like you) at the top. Compiling 
binaries? No problem.

Level 2: People like me.  Can?t compile binaries; can unzip and copy if you 
tell me clearly where it goes; but would much prefer a .pkg file. Would 
really love something like SV (which I?ve never used, BTW) to tell me when 
the next version of SoundPlay has come out and install it for me. Easy, no 
worries I?ve put it in the wrong folder, just crisp, snappy instant 

Level 3: Your grandmother. A much larger number of people who aren?t at all 
confident unzipping and copying; they want something like InstallShield 
where they can click ?I agree? and ?Next? ... and even then, there?s an 
audible ?Ooh!? when the next dialogue box comes up.

Further - I put it to you that as you make arithmetic increases in the ease 
of use (i.e. as you go down the pyramid), you get geometric increases in the 
number of potential users. For every one kernel guy there?s 10 developers, 
100 power users, 1,000 Joe users, etc.

At the moment the BeOS community is largely towards the top of the pyramid ? 
as you would expect for a young OS (how many people signed those Save BeOS 
petitions ? 4,000?). To get enough users for long term viability, it has to 
be easy enough for those legions of grandmothers.


So yeah, I?d like to see some sort of oSV included with OpenBeOS. I wouldn?t 
want to see it as a third-party thing, because from a user point of view 
using software is why you have an OS in the first place, and to use it ya 
gotta install it first, so .. it should be right there with the OS, IMHO.

Oh, and when OpenBeOS is in full swing and there are OS updates coming out, 
as opposed to app updates? Everything I said above, squared. Gotta have an 
unfuckupable installer then (though I guess the app installer might be 
different to the OS installer [??]).

Apologies for the length (first post, y'know), and apologies in advance for 
any technical stuff I?ve got wrong above(!).


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