Re: FYI: Your dialog isn't Modeless

Subject: Re: FYI: Your dialog isn't Modeless
From: sam th (
Date: Sat May 27 2000 - 01:01:01 CDT

Hash: SHA1

On Sat, 27 May 2000 wrote:

> Forgive my ignorance, but I had not heard of AbiWord. I looked at
>, and noticed a number of poor user interface details, for
> example:
> Scroll bars (they are slow to use and have small targets)
> Icons (confusing and difficult to learn)
> Menu not at edge of display (greatly increases time to use)
> and that was only in the first ten seconds.
> But before you write me off as a hopeless complainer, railing against
> everything that is familiar, I must point out that there are much better
> solutions to be had. The reasons for objecting to the widgets and methods
> pointed to above (not to mention that the use of windows at all is a UI
> mistake) are empirically based.
> I have a book, published in the last couple of months, that explains the
> basis for my claims that you have started up the wrong path (if a good UI is
> your concern). I don't want to sound as if I am just trying to sell a book,
> but the reason I wrote it was so that I didn't have to put it all into every
> email.
> So, please look at The Humane Interface (read the reviews on Amazon), and
> then see if it doesn't want to make you rethink interface design from the
> bottom up. There's also some stuff at
> Jef

Well, as for the use of windows, while I am sure that many people
(including yourself) have come up with superior interfaces, we are sort of
stuck with them. It's not really possible to write an application for a
GUI that is inhernetly window-based without using windows. And every
mainstream (and most non-mainstream) GUIs are.

I agree that the scroll bars might be considered too small, but this is a
property we inherit from the window manager/gui. Not using the native
widgets would first cause up to write LOTS more code, and second make our
applications look very different from every other application on any
platform we run on. This is the route Mozilla has taken, and they have
been severly criticized for it.

The menu issue I agree is a problem, but this is again a property of the
window manager (and one that is essentially impossible to code around. I
agree it would be preferable if a maximized AbiWord window had infinite
height on the menu bar, but this isn't possible on windows or unix. On
the mac, however, their menu bar system directly enables this. I'm not
sure if I like their system better, but it is defintely a different
perspective. Unfortunately, our Mac port is still in the process of being

Finally, with regard to icons, I wonder which you thought were confusing.
The New, Open, Save, Print, Redo, Undo, Cut, Copy, Paste, Bold, Italic,
Underline icons are all fairly standard, if slightly stylized from say the
MS Word versions. The Save As and Overline icon are new, but this is
because these are features not previouly on tool bars. (The overline
function, to the best of my knowledge, is unique to AbiWord.) If,
however, you feel that some of these icons are less than optimal, I would
be interested. One quick suggestion might be that they are too small,
although I do run at a fairly high resolution.

I do want to thank you for taking the time to comment on AbiWord. As I
said, I am anxious to make it as user-friendly as possible, and hope that
you can help us with that.

                                     sam th

PS - I took ESR off the cc: and added abiword-dev
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