Summary: Interesting information in LibreOffice UI research here: http://user-prompt.com/libreoffice-user-research-results-vol-4/
The (Pre) ramble: Want just one tiny item in LibreOffice 4, and so had another go at installing an update for LibreOffice. The bugs for installing on Windows where 1) you get false errors preventing the process from working and 2) Spellchecker not working due to another error are still there after 4 years. The solutions are easy. 1) Registry hack. 2) Delete your profile.
But I got distracted, and went to look up on the OO > LO UI debate that I've followed a bit for 4 years. There is some angst in the forums with a [false] dichotomy between "Fix bugs" or "Improve UI". It is interesting to note the rationale, that includes "MSO ribbon is good" and "Need to compete with M$" and "just do it for your users"
I think there is room for research in this area in Moodle. Stuart has shown us some. (The references I am too lazy to look up now) Why not a few Masters thesis level projects on Moodle UI?
Re LibreOffice and UI, here are some random links on a few random aspects of a FOSS project:
- Wanting the old days back. https://wiki.openoffice.org/wiki/Renaissance
- Continuous debate about tools. http://nabble.documentfoundation.org/Experimental-new-LibreOffice-UI-td4048178.html
- People who want NO change at all. http://iloveubuntu.net/creative-developer-releases-updated-interesting-libreoffice-ui-mockup
- Really, really cool mockups. http://pauloup.deviantart.com/art/LibreOffice-UI-Mock-up-dark-1-193805290
- Angst, and discussion shut down by moderators. http://ask.libreoffice.org/en/question/7815/i-dont-want-donate-you-because/
- Some serious hacks, after all, it's open source and there are undocumented features http://scottintheway.kinja.com/easily-bring-libre-office-into-the-21st-century-476728810
- Coming up hackfest with a focus somewhere on UI https://wiki.documentfoundation.org/Hackfest/FOSDEM2014
Wondering if we can make any real headway with Moodle UI.
Uh, the MSO ribbon *shudders*
I've installed Decaf as our theme which gets all the navigation and settings at the top of the screen leaving more screen real estate below for actual content. Apart from the icon used to represent the navigation menu (which in practice 'does' seem to confuse many people and so is an example of bad UI design IMO) it's fab.
Course formats that collapse the scroll of death are available - Grid and tabtopics have been popular here, I see from a casual look there's some new ones I've not looked at recently....time to check that out.
Drag and drop has been fantastic, now I just need to get our tech unit to drop IE8 *rolls eyes*
Where I'd really like to see improvement is in /course/manage.php and backup/restore.
I see headway being made. When I got my job here 2 years ago we were on 1.9 and our moodle felt all very 20th century.
Two years later and it now looks and acts a bit mid-noughties with a mix of web 1.0 and 2.0. That's a quick step up for us so far but now I can see things slowing down to the incremental improvements I've seen over the last 12 months or so.
I thinks there's a lot to be optimistic about but getting more people on the problem would be nice.
/stream of counciousness
I always think Open Source projects can (and usually should) benefit from the input of more (but never all) real users. And by that I mean experienced real users with a depth of understanding of the software.
Everything that has ever annoyed me about Moodle has been the result of developers being 'smart'. What seems logical to the development community does not necessarily make any sense to 'normals'. This has to be offset against providing shiny new features that users didn't know they needed or wanted. It's a tightrope.
I still think that for a significant number of users roles would have been a backward step. If all you care about is teachers and students then the additional complexity (and, lets be honest, performance degradation) caused by roles is a distraction. In some cases, useful features effectively vanished forever. On the flip side, sophisticated functionality was undoubtedly added but it has to be a careful balance. This is just an example that springs to mind (although roles spawned a great many "but this is how it works now" oddnesses).
For the avoidance of doubt, I would consider myself a developer. But an old cynical one perhaps
Yet, strangely, Moodle made it through several, well-used versions perfectly well without them
I'm not suggesting that roles and capabilities are not a useful and powerful feature. I am suggesting that - for most users - they are arcane and unnecessary. I'm not advocating ripping out roles. I am pointing out that when (as did happen for those old enough to remember) useful functionality vanished from the UI because "that isn't the way roles works" that something might have gone a bit wrong. And, I still don't understand block context, user context and a number of other things and I work with Moodle (more or less) all day every day. So what chance to normal users have? Anyway, roles was just an easy target - an example that sprung to mind.
My point is that if developers have to do a bit more work to keep the UI simple and intuitive for the vast majority of users who couldn't care less about Moodle (they just want to put their stuff on line) then they just have to do a bit more work. Nobody really cares that you finally found a way to use that really hard to understand pattern that you learned in final-year computing classes. It's all about the end user. And if you don't know who your end user is then you are (excuse my language) screwed!
"Arcane" is an apt term to describe the "roles and capabilities" system in Moodle.
When talking about "end-users" in the context of Moodle we should always remember that there are 2 different kinds of end-users: teachers and students. Sorry, I meant "persons with a teacher role" and "persons with a student role". I am purposefully not mentioning "God", the all-powerful admin role.
Joseph (aka God on my own Moodle test sites )
....don't you actually mean persons with a particular set of capabilities in a given role context?
I'm just messin'
But seriously, you also have to differentiate between Admins like (I presume) you and me who - for whatever reason - have gained a depth of knowledge about Moodle administration and those who have the administration role (small-r) foisted upon them and still don't want to be bothered with all the detail. I still strongly suspect that the latter describes the greater number of site admins.
Not that the following would ever happen in education, in relation to the management of a CMS, but have always had a wild imagination. So, can you imagine (go on play along with me) if the following roles corresponded with the following set of perceived capabilites:
1. Admin role: builds job around knowledge of intricate detail with regard to CMS-no one else got that knowledge/capabilities/experience-makes key decisions about how CMS is operationalised
2. Teacher role: shares knowledge of CMS affordances and constraints-shares resources/hints and tips but if role is about delivery of setpieces then teachers can become perceived as two-a-penny=high turnaround
3. Student role: 'Buzz quoth the blue fly, hum quoth the bee. Buzz and hum they cry, and so do we!
thanks for playing along
Howard, techy's are cool!
thanks for your response. I like that.
Ooooo....I'm cool! That doesn't happen often
whoop whoop.....oops! meant plural of course....so yes- Sam you are cool too !