Re: POW user suggestion

Subject: Re: POW user suggestion
From: Tim LaDuca (
Date: Sat Aug 18 2001 - 19:46:09 CDT

On 19 Aug 2001 01:33:45 +0200, Håkan Waara wrote:
> Tim LaDuca wrote:
> > Let's make this simple, I'm using myself as an example.
> >
> > User opens abiword. Blank new window comes up. User goies to file ->
> > Open. File opens in same window. User is done with file and wishes
> > to edit another one. User would tend to go to file -> close to
> > close the current document since he is done with it. Uh-oh! AbiWord
> > is gone. Must restart it. Go to File->Open and open next document. It
> > would be more intuitive if AbiWord stayed open.
> >
> > Here's the ideal behavior. I go to File->Close, abiWord closes the
> > current document and opens a new untitled document, UNLESS it is
> > already displaying a new untitled docment, in which case it exits.
> > (although I don't see the big deal of graying out close if it's
> > already on a new untitled document).
> "Mom, I just wanted to close the document! Now it opened a new blank one!"
I'm not sure if you're just making a joke here, or showing an example of
a "typical" users reaction. If the latter, I strongly disagree with that
conclusion. I think if someone closes a document and all there left with
is a blank document, then they beleive a good result happened, that is
the document closed(there's no trace of it left, just a blank page).
Remember the menu is ***FILE*** -> Close, not Program-> Close, or
something like that.

> >
> > Comparing abiword document interface to a browser makes no sense to
> > me. You don't "Browse" files, you edit them. I can't, while in
> > AbiWord, just type in another filename to switch to a different
> > file.
> It makes sense because a browser is traditionally (except for Opera)
> based on a SDI interface.
> Now, if the user closes the last document onscreen, well, what the heck,
> let her do that! She doesn't want a new window, she doesn't want an
> alert, she just want to close that darn document.
> Summing up, I think the ideal solution would be to just think of Abiword
> as a document. The philosophy is that each document is its application,
> much like Windows handles instances of applications.
> You can have have several different Abiword documents opened at once.
> But the distinction that they are *different* is important. Every window
> is an Abiword application, kind of.
> If the user somehow planned to make another document, she doubleclicks
> Abiword to get a *new* Abiword document.

Good point. I think this is the difference between new and experienced
computer users. The former being very familiar with the Start menu(or
whatever launches programs on their OS), the latter finding having to
navigate to the desktop or through the start menu to start another
instance, rather annoying. I'm guessing Mac users are used to using the
system menu to launch new windows.

> To make Abiword feel less like an app, but instead a set of
> apps/documents onscreen at once you'd have to remove the splashscreen
> (which I think is just annoying in general, and uninteresting for apps
> that takes less time to open than Photoshop).
> If you do this, the user will just think of doubleclicking the Abiword
> icon on the desktop as opening a new document.
> This is how I do with simple texteditors such as Notepad too. The
> difference would be that the user never notices that we are using an
> MSDI rather than a pure SDI.
> What do you think?
Personally, I hate the SDI interface in general. I think a program
should have one single representation of itself to the user. With a very
handy way to switch between open documents. Examples of programs that
have well implemented ways of switching between open documents are
Galeon(linux) Opera, and Word Perfect. I often get lost in a sea of
windows because most program designers these days chose SDI. If I have
several e-mail windows open, several browser windows open, and several
file manager windows open and other apps open I get lost in a sea of
windows. That does not mean that multiple window instances are never
useful. It is useful to have multiple (usually two) whenever you want to
see two windows side by side (good MDI apps usually have a split window
option for this), and for that case a program should have a Window->New

Sorry, that was a bit off-topic, this issue cuts to the core of OS
design, but now you know my angle on things.


> --
> Håkan Waara (

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