Are you interested in software usability and open source? If so, my friend Jim would like your help. He is doing a study of usability in Open Source software. I’ll post his entire request below along with a link to his blog. Also, he’ll probably be doing some other interent based interolocution about this; I’ll pass on to you whatever he passes on to me.
Here’s the thing. Jim has been involved in Open Source software for a long time, and is the creator of FreeDOS, and it doesn’t get much geekier than that. (I think the FreeDOS developers manual may be written in a dialect of Klingon.) What he’s looking for is a good example of Open Source software (any platform, does not have to be Linux) that has a medium amount of complexity that can be served up for analysis of positive and negative (but mainly positive) aspects of usability. I’m going to suggest the following list for consideration:
Open Office Writer
Shotwell or Digikam
an IM client
This list runs from way complex on the top to (probably) way simple at the bottom. I would think that a study needs to be of more than the simplest applications because there won’t be enough to work with. (These are mostly GUI based applications; not sure if Jim is looking for any cli applications. VLC is certainly both.)
Have a look at Jim’s criteria below and make a few suggestions. The list above is just to get the brain juices going.
Here’s Jim’s RFI:
What programs have good usability?
I want to ask for your help in my study.
For my study, I want to do a “deep dive” on usability in open source software. After speaking with several “thought leaders,” my thinking now is that it’s better to do a case study, a usability critical analysis on an open source software program that has good usability. The results will be a discussion about why that program has good usability, and what makes good usability, so that other open source programmers can mimic the good parts.
I’ll also discuss what features are not good usability examples, so programmers can avoid those mistakes. But the focus will be more on the good and less on the bad.
Picking the right open source program is a tricky thing. The ideal program should be not too big (for example, very complex menus can “lose” the audience in the details) but neither should it be too small (a trivial program will not provide as valuable of results). The program should be approachable by general users.
There’s no reason the program needs to be a Linux program. However, I prefer that the case study be of an open source program. Many open source programs also exist for Windows and MacOSX.
The original blog, which you should visit, is HERE.