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Re: spell checking and search woes

From: Peter Kerr <p.kerr@auckland.ac.nz>
Date: Sat, 25 Feb 2006 10:55:06 +1300
Message-Id: <26B8BBA0-5700-4A53-9539-5DC01E422C08@auckland.ac.nz>
Cc: "Amaya mailing list" <www-amaya@w3.org>
To: tomcloyd@bestmindhealth.com

On 24/02/2006, at 11:07 PM, Tom Cloyd wrote:

> Amaya users, lovers, and developers:
> I continue to be baffled and frustrated by how spell checking and  
> search works in Amaya, and want to comment about why this is a  
> problem for me.
> The most fundamental problem is Amaya's insistence on being  
> idiosyncratic. A number of thoughtful people have written about  
> problems associated with user interface design - be it web sites or  
> application programs. As I read this material, what I encounter  
> repeatedly is the idea that one should NOT surprise the user, that  
> it is best to know what they expect and then to deliver it. In  
> other words, simply make the user happy, rather than making them  
> work needlessly to figure out your interface.

In an ideal world, yes. Especially when the user is paying a vendor  
for commercial software, the vendor usually tries to satisfy the  
customers' desires. How much would you be prepared to pay for Amaya  
if it did most of what you want? It can never be all things to all  
people. But I agree with you (without acknowledging this is good or  
bad) that at present it tends to follow the FOSS lowest common  
denominator. I give Amaya some latitude here, because it has to  
satisfy users of different platforms. And quite a few of those users,  
and I suspect of the developers, use Linux distros where the user is  
expected to have to tweak things for himself.

> Say that I want to spell check an 18 page document I've just  
> written in Amaya (this was the case last night). I already know  
> that I can't predict what will happen when I push F7 to start the  
> spell check function. Sometimes it just won't work. Other times it  
> immediately opens the structure window and starts checking the text  
> in THAT window (WHAT??? WHY?? I don't want this at all. What just  
> happened? < - that's what I'm thinking at this point.) It's so  
> simple: when I press F7 I want a spell check of the text in the  
> window which currently has focus. Nothing more, nothing less. I do  
> NOT want something strange and unexpected to happen. Why can't I  
> have this? Too often I just give up, load my web page into another  
> editor and use that, because it simply always works like I expect  
> it to work. Why doesn't Amaya give me this experience?

Well, Amaya is an editor and a browser/verifier. Combining "composer"  
and "browser" may be Amaya's fault. A browser will not normally allow  
you to change text in its window. Perhaps a MS style dialog is wanted?

     You are spell checking in a browser window.
     Any changes may do bad things to your formatting.
                                        [ OK ]

> Next, I want to do a search of my text. What's my expectation? That  
> I'm going to have to do too much thinking, and that maybe I'll get  
> it to work, but just as often I won't. Too often. The search  
> function opens with "Checking...after selection" as the default  
> option checked. WHY???? No other program I use does this. I  
> practically NEVER want this.

Ahh, I nearly always want this. I'm trying to remember back how many  
of my word/text processors always started a search from the top,  
maybe 2. Now I know that I can select in the search box "From top" if  
I don't want the default of "from current position" and Amaya has  
this like all my other editors.

> If you're thinking at this point, "he just doesn't understand, so  
> let's explain it to him", you're headed the wrong direction. The  
> goal is to not HAVE to explain, with very basic functions like  
> spell check and search, is it not? It's like web site navigation -  
> if it's not obvious how to work it, then the design's wrong. It has  
> to be obvious. End of discussion.

How about I don't explain, but just try to make excuses ;-)
Human Interface Design is the top end of operating system  
development. It takes an unfortunately large amount of effort in  
developing applications which have to work cross-platform. I use  
almost daily Windows 2k, XP, MacOS-X, and less frequently a flavor or  
3 of Linux, and MacOS 9. It's often hard work remembering what this  
button does, or that keystroke, in those which are not my chosen  
favorite. Even "mature" applications with years of user feedback,  
still break users' expectations with new version releases (Word anyone?)

> Please, is there any chance this can be fixed in the near future?

Sorry to harp on the commercial theme, but fixing things takes time  
and effort. There's plenty of shareware around at US$30 - $50 which  
is less functional, polished or standards compliant than Amaya. Amaya  
is excellent value at its current price. Enough dirty words, a quote  
from the home page:

    Amaya is an open source software project hosted by W3C.
    You are invited to <a href=http://www.w3.org/Amaya/ 
    contribute</a> in many forms (documentation, translation,
    writing code, fixing bugs, porting to other platforms...).

BTW I do like your web page layout, Tom.

Peter Kerr
School of Music
University of Auckland,  New Zealand
Received on Friday, 24 February 2006 21:55:15 UTC

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