i.Mage Update
Date: 26/10/2005
Today I updated i.Mage for the first time in 11 months... yeah I've been slack I know. The new build brings with it a number of UI fixes, bugs squashed and speed improvements. Most telling is I finally got rid of that horrible select/paste tool and made it just a select tool, retasking the brush tool to actually paint with the brush. So now I think it'll match most users mental model of how a paint application should work.

Strangely enough I came to the realisation of just how bad the UI in this area was because I was re-writing the help file to explain the usage correctly. And I just couldn't bring myself to explain this quirky select/paste behaviour in the help file, so I had to rewrite the app to match the help.

It's an interesting way of going about it, writing the help and then making the application comply, but it certainly did highlight a few things for me. An exercise worth doing if you write software. If something is hard to explain in the help then maybe it's just not user friendly enough, and you need to fix your app rather than spend many paragraphs explaining it in the help.
26/10/2005 5:22pm
It's a fine line to walk.

On the one hand, I think that computers should, by and large, work the way that people expect them to. That is, you should be able to sit someone who hasn't used your app in front of a computer, and they should be able to use your app without any explanation. I think that you should be able to put anyone, even someone who's never used a computer before, in front of any computer, and they should be able to do something productive with it, without any hand-holding. It should work the way they expect.

On the other hand, I know that people are conditioned to expect certain things; they expect applications to work a certain way because they've grown used to that way of doing things on other applications, even when it's not a good way. That makes it very difficult to establish a properly intuitive UI model, given that many people expect a UI that is not intuitive.

I think it's a step in the right direction, writing the help file first, and writing the app to match. Features that require large amounts of explanation aren't well designed features. Good job.
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