Use the Force!

As you may know, a little ribellion is rampaging in GNOME. Some people (mostly “simple” users) are complaining against GNOME contributors (mostly developers and designers) about properties and preferences available on new Power panel in System Settings. Probably this will not be the only one change that will shock you. Do you want another example? Well, in GNOME 3.0 you’ll have to place an image file in ~/Pictures if you want to use it as background¹ or use Set as Background feature provided, for instance, by Image Viewer.

There will be big changes. Last week I got a short talk about new stuff in GNOME  3 and my opening slide was: Mantra: “We are going to break your desktop…”

I’m sure GNOME designers and developers are doing their best. I suppose it’s not simple achieve “design a self-teaching interface for beginners, and an efficient interface for advanced users, but optimize for intermediates“. But I also think GNOME userbase needs a little assurance about future directions. We are not developing GNOME for an ideal and stretched user, but for actual people.

So there are two open questions (to everyone) that could be good to answer:

  • is the currently chosen design immutable and “written in stone”? Come on, it’ just GNOME 3.0, we’ll have 3.2, 3.4, and so on until 3.32². Do you think it will be the same for the next 5 or 10 years? Are you sure we can address everything here and now? 3.0 is a starting point, there will be time and chances to reintroduce stuff or improve our favourite DE.
  • how can users/developers/contributors interact with designers? I suppose you can’t say “hey, here is a bug in your design” and file it on bugzilla. Here is no way to demostate it’s a lack, or it’s reproducible, or effects all people using the UI. Well, unless it’s related with i18n or a11y stuff (see for instance this bug, about Power settings and L10N/I18N). Here is a way to say “your design sucks in $THIS_AREA” in the hope this rant could start a virtuous circle of improvements? Here is a way to say “no, we want $THIS_WAY and we’ll not change” without being a Pure Dumbass(TM)?

I suppose the best way to gain users’ confidence is avoid to shut up like a clam and show more openness to any input and/or need. On the other side, remember that open source doesn’t mean “you can ask, you will obtain”.

… or… you can Use the Force! 😀

[1] basically, the Background settings panel lacks an “Add” button
[2] GNOME 3.34 == GNOME 4.0, I’m sure