Application Names Should be Intuitive


I just hope you guys realize that only a few people like managing menus manually. And I hope at least something similar to the mentioned specifications will be implemented post-R1.

If you uninstall the programs under Wine, or even decide to remove the entire ~/.wine/ directory, you can safely use the Menu Editor to remove all the menu entries related to the Windows programs installed under Wine, because those are nothing but text (desktop entry) files inside ~/.local/share/applications/.

What the Menu Editor does is allowing the user to use a GUI to easily and safely manage their desktop entry files.


Maybe. I have no data on that…
It may very well be that there are many that would like to have control and long for an OS that doesn’t keep it from them.


Not many want this level of control. What most people complain about Windows is the way the update system behaves, which is annoying and counter-productive.

The purpose of the FreeDesktop menu and desktop entry implementations is to look for the desktop entries and build a menu out of them. Nothing stops the users from altering those files, even by automation. But it helps most people to click here and there to use their programs, without fuss.


hey… if you buy a dog… it is not known what he might be useful for…
he might behave like you thought him…
maybe not…
but … anyway it’s name still persists…

so give your pet a name! Now!


I would say there are actually a lot of people who come to Haiku specifically because it doesn’t try to make questionable decisions on your behalf. Automation is great only when you have a full control over it. Many people want to know precisely what their system is doing and why it is doing it. On a side note, with the current approach you can easily use Filer to wire up some simple script and implement this automated management the way you like :wink:


So Haiku is meant to be used only by power-users? This forum has way too many geeks. Not that it’s not lovely, but it looks like the average Joe will have a very long time to wait until Haiku will (if ever) offer a friendly UX.


So Haiku is meant to be used only by power-users?

Yes. at least semi-technical users. Grandma isn’t going to be using Haiku R1. One attraction of Haiku for me personally is it wedges itself in-between OS X and Linux. You get some power, but still have a few friendly things like a self-contained API with clear cut facilities for most basic tasks.

We have so few developers at the moment, we just got to focus on doing what we can to get R1 out the door. A user experience overhaul isn’t in the cards.


Much worse than a customizable list is a hierarchies of sub menus like in the Windows 98 Start menu. A flat list is best. I argued this in the mailing list when this was discussed but there is a sizable contingent that would like to see a Windows 98 style hierarchy of categorized submenus or something like Gnome or KDE menus which also resemble Windows 98.

Deskbar was very much modelled after the Classic Mac OS Menu Bar which listed Applications and Control Panels (Prefs) in flat lists inside the Apple menu. The explanation for why Apple did this is described in the HIG: user interface testing revealed that people had trouble navigating more than one level of submenu (sorry X-Ray folders). Unfortunately the actual test results are proprietary and have never been released so we have to take Bruce Tognazzini’s word on this.

In Mac OS X 10.0 Apple removed Applications and Control Panels from the Apple menu and provided a regular folder containing app bundles instead. The Apple Menu lost its customizability with it. I think the UI change in 10.0 is actually pretty good solving a lot of the problems building the Apple menu and maintaining it over time, then again some people really loved how the Classic Mac OS Apple Menu worked. But what really made Mac OS X work was Spotlight introduced in 10.4 and then iterated on in 10.5. Of course Haiku has the basis of Spotlight built in but it needs somebody to write Index Server to really make it shine. Microsoft has also converted to using a flat list for Start Menu apps with a search feature in Window 7.

We kind of split the difference in Haiku by populating the Deskbar Application menu from a folder. This way you could edit the menu as easily as editing files in a folder. You used to be able to edit this folder directly but package management has made this folder read-only.

As far as naming applications intuitively we mostly do, however it is the right of the programmer who writes the app to decide what it is called. If you really are so offended by CodyCam or Poor Man it should be relatively simple to code up a nice replacement. Give the replacement a nice intuitive name and I’m sure that the app would be accepted. Otherwise what are you asking for? We’re not going to rename these apps just because you say so.


I know of some grandmas who very much would use Haiku R1. Some grandmas were writing C code in the 1970s, you know…


This is perhaps my favorite feature of Windows 7!

I used to obsessively build nested sub-folders structures in the start menu until I had been using Windows 7 for a few years. Now the things I use very frequently are setup as Run shortcuts (tip: create a shortcut in the system32 folder and it’s accessible from start->run, or win+r) and less frequent things are easy enough to find via the search in the start menu.

I can do a similar thing with QuickLaunch in Haiku. I have it assigned to a shortcut and after typing a few letters, the application I want is now easily accessible. The Deskbar menus are inefficient, by nature not by the fault of Haiku, and I rarely need them anymore. The only time I used them is if I forgot what something was called, and then I can see the icon and recognize it.

I’ve recently been playing around with Linux as a desktop OS again and they seem to have the categorize menus (like Mint Cinnamon). For me this adds very little value. It’s useful for the first glance when I didn’t know what came with the OS. I use their search feature most of the time.

The one thing I do think would be nice is if there was an ability to tag applications with a few keywords (maybe as an attribute?) that would be searchable in something like QuickLaunch or a future version of the Deskbar. For example, it would be nice if I could type “IDE” or “Text editor” and then see all related apps, such as Koder, PE, KDevelop, etc.


I find the Windows 7 taskbar to be quite elegant with its ability to pin your favorite applications. If you want to pin a running application, you can do it by right-clicking on it in the taskbar. You can also pin an application from the start menu or the file manager. It’s very easy and requires no extra software or mucking around in config files.

As for the menu, I’m not sold on a flat structure, but at the same time I find that having too many categories kind of defeats the purpose and makes things more confusing. I don’t think the organization in the leaf menu is actually bad the way it is in Haiku currently.


This only confirms what I said on this topic: you should know about ~/.wine and ~/.local/share/applications folders (which are hidden). So, you need either to know how to make hidden folders visible in a File Manager or use a terminal for managing them. AFAIK Gnome / Cinnamon menu editor only can make menu entries hidden, not to remove them completely and uninstall.exe knows nothing about Wine’s architecture to remove them either.

Your use of majority argument gets annoying, leaving aside it completely lacks arguments. In some other thread you use the number 99.999% as the majority level. Let do a simple math. In this case the minority (Haiku users) are 100 - 99.999 = 0.001% of world population 8,000,000,000, so you suggest that Haiku users number is somewhere 8,000,000,000 * 0.001 / 100 = 80,000. I would say, Haiku has more users than that. And this is so even if you suggest that all Windows / Linux / MacOS users are happy with their behavior.

I personally found Haiku more intuitive and user friendly than Windows, many Linux distributions and MacOS. A very average person with little computer knowledge can install Haiku, configure and update it, install / uninstall applications. The basic OS usage is very intuitive and easily discoverable. More advanced tuning (no OS is free of it) needs reading the manuals and forums, but is not usually necessary to happily use Haiku.


I can certainly be wrong, but I’d love to see how you can say Haiku has more users than 80,000. What is your basis for that estimation?

Indeed, personally - because the skills, experience and taste are personal. Some people are clumsy with technology because it’s not their cup of tea. None of us are reliable representations of the typical user, so let’s not pretend we’re relevant in that regard. But if Haiku is strictly meant for power-users, then I guess it’s great someone aims for us geeks, who want nothing more than doing manual stuff for fun, just because we can. Because doing it sets us apart from the average Joe. Because there are no geeks who would appreciate Haiku if it was more user-friendly.

Sarcasm aside, and I hope no one took that personally, whatever the far-future goals Haiku might have, we know it takes a lot of time and effort to pull it through. But I would say Haiku doesn’t plan to be a geek-only OS forever. And if I’m right, then at least let’s have a constructive talk about it, even if it will only happen years later.


That’s all my point, include yourself in this phrase when speaking about “majority of users”.


Then you misunderstood my messages if you got the feeling I suggested all of that for my personal needs, as I would be part of the majority. I’ve done IT personal training with people ranging 6-60+ years old, tech support and consultancy for over 20 years. So the people I interacted with were very diverse in many regards.

All I ask from the geeks involved in these discussions is to look at things as objectively as possible, because I’m not here to revolutionize anything, but rather share perspectives, add feedback, offer insights and some of my experience with people, technology and how these two mixed together under my watch. It’s a far cry from everything we could consider regarding UX and other technical aspects, but everyone can chip in a little.


I only say that your feeling of the majority expectations is different from my feeling on that.

I also have extended experience of responding to the customer requests in a software development company, to create / customize the user interface to what customer feels best suits him. And I can say, what customers in one country feel user-friendly customers in other country feel counter-intuitive and vice-versa.

Believe me, no one would create an OS to be counter-intuitive by design, and BeOS / Haiku are not exceptions.


It depends what your vision of a “beginner” and a “power user” are.

Haiku has everything configurable through a GUI. A lot of thinking goes into keeping the UI clean, readable, discoverable, understandable. It should be obvious what will happen when you click a button, and it should be easy to find where a particular feature is.

However, we don’t always have to follow what others did. If your notion of a “beginner” is someone coming from another OS, there will be some unexpected things. But for me, a beginner is someone who never used a computer before, so the expectations are quite different. This means switching alt/ctrl is ok, for example.

There are some places where we did not yet find an acceptable compromise. The resize shortcuts are one example. We do not want to advertise the window borders as the way to resize the window, because they are hard to reach and this is inconvenient. However, the current solution is not discoverable (as it uses a keyboard shortcut). What could we do about that?

Another part of the Haiku way is that the OS does not get in the way. This is why I’m not very receptive to a “getting started” prompt on first boot. This would be the computer trying to be a little too helpful. Providing a link on the desktop and letting the user deciding if he wants to open it or not is a solution more in line with our way of doing things.


You see, there’s a difference there, because those people know what to ask and exactly for what reason. I was talking about regular users to have just been exposed to Haiku or even computers. In my experience, it’s not easy to find people who are fluent in using computers without stumbling on what we consider normal things. And I find this normal, even with the younger generations, who are users and definitely more advanced than our elders, but they are rather consumers of what their technology has to offer. It takes a little passion, courage and persistence to get more involved, and at the speed everything moves around us, it also takes plenty of motivation.

An interesting challenge were two kids I had to teach computing stuff 19 years ago. They were 6 and 7 years old. The girl (6) barely recognized a few words, and the boy (7) had already started school but he needed time to read and glue the words together to process the whole sentences. So I had to be creative in teaching them how to use Norton Commander and Windows 3.11 - that’s what we had to work with. Thankfully, being patient and with just enough imagination, I managed to move forward with them. They gained a little bit of confidence, they reacted positively to the way I talked to them, and about 4-5 sessions later the girl’s mom noticed her improvement and ask me to make time to give her a few lessons as well.

Starting off with people who never or barely used PCs can be challenging. They have a ton of questions, they fear breaking stuff, and they constantly need help and confirmation that they do the right thing. Well, at least for a while. And then there are people who are already accustomed with PCs. Two other of my students, 25-30 years old, wanted to learn more about Microsoft Office, for work. She wanted to know more about text formatting, editing and working more efficiently with the keyboard (shortcuts), he wanted to learn about formulas, page layouts for printing and working with multiple sheets. Teaching them was different because they knew what they needed, so they knew almost exactly what to ask. Compared to teaching the kids, this was much easier.

Then I had two other students, both 60+. One of them was an airplane pilot in the second world war, so no wonder the technical stuff appealed to him. He wanted to build a home network but he couldn’t find the right information online. This was about 17 years ago, in the early days of the internet. I drew him a picture of the whole thing, in Paint :P, I told him how to wire the cables if he couldn’t find the required length in store, then how to set up the IP addresses. He managed to do it without bugging me much, and later we went over other hardware+software stuff he wanted to know or clarify. It was a breeze working with that man.

On the other hand, the other 60+ man I taught computing had an angst in front of the PC. For one thing, he felt uncomfortable because he barely knew anything. And then he didn’t like that the UIs (Windows 98, then XP) weren’t comfortable enough - at least for him. He hesitated doing stuff because it felt to him like he might damage something by mistake. So it took me quite a few weeks to explain and demonstrate the basics, to make him “repeat after me” (terms, actions), and dive into making files, folders, copy, rename, delete, move, browse and search the web, install/uninstall software, burn CD/DVDs, print covers and documents, scan, do OCR, work with MS Word and other stuff. But the thing is he didn’t have a passion for computers. He always treated it as a tool and as soon as he learned what he wanted to know to get things done, he was happy with it and he didn’t care about anything else. Every single time he had issues after updates or something changed his desktop or the default search engine, or… anything else significant, he called me and sometimes I had to go over and put things in order, as he was comfortable with. Otherwise he felt out of place.

At work, back when I did tech support in a 3000+ employees company, I had a colleague calling me to fix her computer. She gave me no details, other than “it doesn’t work” - she said it was urgent and hung up the phone. Although the Caps Lock was lit up like the mother of all LEDs, she didn’t correlate that with the fact that she put a big-ass folder on the keyboard, which caused her system (BIOS) password not to be accepted. I removed the folder, I turned off the Caps Lock and I told her I fixed the problem. I have plenty of colorful stories from this company, but this one was… a bit special.

It is irrelevant how optimistic we are about the users. Either you’re there for them, or they will fail miserably and go for something that’s easy enough for them - if they can find such a thing -, or just quit. And in rare cases - at least in my experience - you’re lucky enough to work with people who don’t need much hand holding. But to most people that I had to teach, to assist or “clean up” after, it was important for everything PC-related to be as easy and friendly as possible. Heck, even my sister, who knows a lot compared to the average Joe (and she also has me to ask, for free), still has angst about various tasks on her PCs, and easily gets annoyed when things are not intuitive enough. Because she also treats the PC as a tool.

There’s more than just experience. That’s why it’s always a good idea to be there for the users, one way or another. The UX is very important, and some things are not that hard to accomplish in an OS. Sometimes I found the users’ inability to do basic things quite disheartening. Every now and then it felt like there’s nothing I could do to help them, because they lack even the slightest interest in exploring the OS and the apps. But what can you do? Even our logic and wit take breaks sometimes, so what can we expect from people who don’t even like computers? They need them, and they need someone to help when they get stuck. But the more intuitive the software is, the more self-reliant they can become.

That’s why not having things like categories or requiring manual organization of this and that, I know for sure it’s a bad idea for many users. Even I like being pampered by all the features Cinnamon offers under Linux Mint. I get stuff done faster and easier. It’s beside the point that at my first contact with a PC I wrote some BASIC code instead of playing, or that soon after that I did memory optimizations for MS-DOS PCs with menus in the config.sys and autoexec.bat files for those pesky programs that wanted more conventional memory. I still want and enjoy not having to do everything by hand. Because that allows me to do more with my PC, or to learn something else new, or move away from my PC sooner rather than later. Convenient and intuitive technology is great for both newbies and geeks alike. But the ones who need it the most are obviously the masses. And I hope you trust me when I tell you that it’s a big majority. I will never be able to provide accurate numbers. Nobody can do that, realistically, but just ask other people who worked for years in the tech support business and they will tell you horror, or sad stories.

By “first boot” I meant one time after the OS install. But there’s no excuse not to have a shortcut on the desktop even in the nightlies. The new comers won’t even know that WebPositive will lead them to the documentation, so this only adds to the problem of not having anything documentation-related in sight.

Man, this got long… :roll_eyes:


A other problem of readers, to long post will not be read… :wink:


Sorry… yes lelldorin could be right…
short, smart answers welcome…#