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Graduated GUIs

Different Levels of Technicality for Different People
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Take an OS, any OS, and make for it different graphical user interfaces, also called GUIs, or at least different styles of the same one, for differing levels of 'geekiness'. (Linux already has several different available GUIs; not that they can't be improved based on this idea.)

For those with little or no computer experience, or whose thinking patterns don't agree with most GUIs, an OS X-type interface which is very easy to use; for those who want a bit more technik in their OS, something like the Windows or KDE/Gnome interface; for über-geeks (like me) who want ultra-functionality and detailed information (and for programmers testing their programs), something like Enlightenment.

This could (and probably should) be expanded to include system-info and other dialog boxes, and error messages. Ex:

Easy. Your CD-writer program is broken;

Technical. CDCreator had a segmentation fault and will be terminated;

Programmer. c:\Program Files\ECDC\creatr32.exe had a critical error in aspi.vxd at memory address 0x2bff96ff.

galukalock, Mar 01 2003

[link]






       Read plain english description of problem for those who read plain english, and not indecipherable technobabble. Right?
thumbwax, Mar 01 2003
  

       The only message I want to see is: " The CDCreator had a segmentation fault and I'm taking care of it automatically. It will not happen again. Go on with what you were doing."
jurist, Mar 02 2003
  

       I'd prefer the "You've just won the lottery!" message myself but sort of understand all those who are partial to segmentation faults.   

       I *think*.
bristolz, Mar 02 2003
  

       Well, so do I, but I was just giving an error message as an example.
galukalock, Mar 02 2003
  

       It seems to me that if the computer was smart enough to cause the problem, then it should be smart enough to fix the problem. Don't give me a graphical user interface to tell me that the problem is difficult and will take specialized knowledge to repair: Just fix the damn thing. I occasionally have had employees in the past (particularly programmers and technical workers) who held me hostage to this obfuscation strategy either to win raises or to impress me with their unique irreplaceability. I fired them at my earliest convenience, for obvious reasons that should not require a graduated graphical user interface to comprehend.
jurist, Mar 02 2003
  

       Microsoft does something a little like this. If you have visual studio installed it gives you the option of debugging crashed programs.
jnoel, Mar 02 2003
  

       What I'm talking about here is 'just fix the darn thing' for those who don't want technobabble, and debugging options for those with programming skills, all in one operating system. If such is already available, [Dimandja], I haven't seen it.   

       By the way, this doesn't just refer to error messages, this is a whole easy-to-use *system* for non-techies, and a technical *system* for geeks. OS X's Aqua GUI is *very* easy to use, Linux is more technical, for example.
galukalock, Mar 02 2003
  

       You wouldn't have to *pay* to upgrade as learned, because all versions would be bundled in the system. As soon as you learn one (provided you actually *want* a different one), you just tell the system to load a different one next time.   

       That's what really makes this an idea. (It's also why Microsoft would never do it.)
galukalock, Mar 02 2003
  

       "What I'm talking about here is 'just fix the darn thing' for those who don't want technobabble, and debugging options for those with programming skills..."
I have programming skills, but why would I want debugging options is 'just fix the darn thing' is available?
  

       This type of tiering is pretty much in place now on the human side of the equation. If you get a message box on your screen with a big stop sign, you either know what it means or you don't. Simplifying the message won't resolve the problem.
phoenix, Mar 02 2003
  

       I'll say it again: it's not just about the error messages, it's the *whole system*. Tailored error messages, as you pointed out, aren't worth all that much. The *whole interface* should have variants to match the needs/wants of the user. We shouldn't all be stuck with the same GUI.   

       Ideally (which means this couldn't happen in real life), there would be one GUI for each individual on the planet, each tailored to the needs and thinking patterns of the person for whom it was designed. Since that's not feasible, I have proposed there be *a few* (perhaps 3 or 4) different GUIs bundled into the operating system so that the user can try them all and choose that which best suits him/her.
galukalock, Mar 02 2003
  

       Well, there's certain limitations to all that. If there is even 1 extra GUI per technobabble-possibility, then you're going to have a lot more resources, such as OS size, diskspace, memory usage, critical updates/service packs/patches, etc. used up, let alone number of discs required to (re)install the system, should that necessity arrive. Many conflicts which come up as technobabble on any screen are due to one bit of software from one vendor not woiking with a component of a MS OS. If there's an outside vendor's conflict, would it be up to the outside vendor or MS to some up with a plain-english version of what the MS OS is baffled by? So on and so forth.
thumbwax, Mar 02 2003
  

       Glad it's baked in games. Unfortunately, such a thing doesn't exist for OSs. Probably there are people who would like to know how to use their computers as soon as they buy them.   

       //There are these people, apparently.//   

       [thumbwax], KDE and Enlightenment, 2 of the GUIs on my Linux system, together take up about 76 MB. That's including the 100 or so games, a fat (phat) multimedia kit, and some other junk. That's less than 5% of a typical Windows install. So, to put 2 more GUIs into Windows would be insignificant, spacewise, compared to the bloated OS itself that Microsoft shoves in our faces.   

       All I'm saying is, if I'm going to use Windows, I'd like some flexibility, not the rigid, same, doesn't-fit-me interface.
galukalock, Mar 02 2003
  

       Well, an OS 'has' a GUI in that a certain GUI is typically the default interface configured at the (for lack of a better word) factory. Windows is this way. Explorer.exe is the application ALL versions of Windows have used since version '95. OS X only comes with Aqua (although at least one halfbaker has X Window System from Linux on his). This is what I mean by 'has'.   

       And yes, I was aware that the GUI is but an application.
galukalock, Mar 02 2003
  

       Man, I haven't even finshed it and I like that link, [Rod].
galukalock, Mar 02 2003
  

       //X Window System...as often used by Linux//   

       I guess that's what I meant. Maybe I'm wrong, but wasn't X developed for Linux?
galukalock, Mar 03 2003
  

       I seem to remember first seeing X-windows on a MicroVAX but I can't remember if it was running Unix or VMS. It was a long time ago, when the Earth was young .......   

       Of course, it could be a false memory, deliberately implanted for some heinous reason.
8th of 7, Mar 03 2003
  

       I see.   

       I'm using Red Hat Linux 8.0 (did you mistype?) and it has X on it.
galukalock, Mar 03 2003
  

       Can we change the blue screen of death from readin "Fatal exception error at..." to a red screen that says "Forget it. It's f***ed. Turn it off, turn it on, smoke a j, chill out man."?
Mayfly, Mar 03 2003
  

       ahhhh...the VAX cluster...memories...   

       think that was VMS, but it's been so long (killed by a UNIX server at my place at least 5 years ago)
suctionpad, Jul 13 2003
  

       So, basically, you've described Mac OS X. All you really need is decent programming, lengthy testing before final release of all software and an automatic bug reporting feature.   

       Most people are fine with error messages as long as they are in plain English and they either give a solution or fix it automatically.
Jambam, Jul 29 2005
  

       Hey thanks for clearing that up - I thought GUI was a "genito-urinary infection".
coprocephalous, Jul 29 2005
  

       [jurist].. why would you want to see the message:

" The CDCreator had a segmentation fault and I'm taking care of it automatically. It will not happen again. Go on with what you were doing."

surely.. erm. no message, if it's fixed?
neilp, Jul 29 2005
  

       Of course, [neilp]. At the time, over two years ago, I was only suggesting that message as a more welcome and useful alternative to [galukalock]'s Easy and/or Technical sorts of dialog box information. I didn't think it was a bad thing that the computer was alerting me that it was experiencing difficulty, especially if there was the chance that it might recur; I just wanted it to try to automatically fix the corruption without undue effort and head-scratching on my part.
jurist, Jul 29 2005
  
      
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