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Subject: Re: GUI


From: Neon John <>
Date: Fri, 03 Mar 2006 13:16:34 -0500

On Fri, 03 Mar 2006 14:55:23 +0000, Dave Chapman <>

>I'm undecided about whether the "home screen" in Rockbox should be main
>menu, or whether it should be the file browser.

File browser. Nothing but the file browser. We use the browser every
time we turn our machines on. If I use a menu once a day I'd be
>On the one hand, I think that the main menu (with a browse files option)
>would be a much more welcoming first screen when a new user uses
>Rockbox, but on the other hand, users probably spend more time in the
>file browser than in the menus.

With all do respect to 'em, screw the new user! I've been forced by
the children of Redmond to suffer this new user crap called windows.
Sure, a new user can sit down and muddle through. But this GUI crap
forces the experienced user to also muddle through, perhaps a little

What makes some software allegedly "hard to learn" also makes it
powerful to use, once learned.

Perhaps the logical extreme, at least for those who don't get it, is
the Vi editor. Probably the hardest editor out there to learn but
once learned, the fastest and probably the most powerful.

I think that rockbox strikes a nice balance between usability and
learnability. I don't like hierarchical menus but I've gotten used to
them. My muscle memory makes my fingers twiddle the buttons in the
right sequence to do most things without looking. What really screws
me up is when someone makes a gratuitous change in the menu layout.
(hint, hint!) (Forte' Agent recently did that with their mail agent
which is why I'm no longer a customer. If I gotta relearn software,
might as well reward some company who hasn't done that.)

If I had my druthers, my JBR would have a keyboard and a command line.
With the hardware at hand, I think rockbox does it about as good as it
could be done.
>However, that may change when Rockbox has a good, fully-featured tag
>database - some users may never want to use the file browser again.

One of RockBox's main features is NOT strapping the user to the
artist/album/song model. If RB ever gets a "full-featured tag
database", I sure hope it's easy to disable. I'd hate to have to
start maintaining my own version of code!

>Apple's iPod firmware takes the approach of unifying everything into a
>single menu - browsing the music database, changing the (very small
>number of) settings, and accessing the plugins (Extras in Apple-speak).
>Whilst this is easy to use, it's also very frustrating - you can't
>quickly go from one part of the UI to another without navigating up and
>down through the menus. So I definitely wouldn't want Rockbox to go
>down that route.

This is probably the WORST user interface I've ever had to use. At
his insistence, I recently baby-sat a friend's iPod video. I say
'baby-sat' because after about an hour of frustration, it went on the
shelf until he came back to get it. Even if Apple wasn't involved,
that unit would be on my "never buy" list. A full RockBox running on
that hardware will truly be the Alchemist's trick of turning lead into

>The iPod's interface (with Apple's firmware) is 100% text based (no
>icons apart from the status bar), and that's not often called ugly.

Probably because "the rest of us" are gagging too badly to speak.....

I have to admit that whomever Apple hires to do their industrial
design is pretty good. The physical package is slick. But that stops
as fast as Wily Coyote into a cliff when the thing is turned on.


John De Armond
See my website for my current email address
Cleveland, Occupied TN
A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.-Ralph Waldo Emerson
Received on 2006-03-03

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