[pmwiki-users] Supporting different modes in default pmwiki

Neil Herber nospam at eton.ca
Mon Aug 8 15:52:47 CDT 2005

At 2005-08-08  01:38 AM -0400, Bronwyn Boltwood is rumored to have said:
>Now imagine that there are fairies whose job is to reorganize your
>desk for you at your command.  Who could, in an instant, tidy away
>your financial apparatus and bring out your letter-writing things.
>Wouldn't that be wonderful?  I would certainly want desk fairies of my
>very own.
>Right now, only skin designers can rearrange the PmWiki desk.  People
>tolerate this because there is (so far) no alternative.  Modes are
>desk fairies for PmWiki: they clear the wiki's desk except for the
>tools you need, and switch toolsets at your command.

Having fairies cleaning up my desk sounds appealing on one level, but this 
whole idea of modes or roles or views (I favor the last term) seems to be 
glossing over a very important UI feature, namely: muscle memory. "Users" 
(what should I call these folks now!!) learn to expect the edit button in 
the upper right, the history button in the lower left, the sidebar on the 
far left and so on. Having views that make subtle changes to these 
arrangements causes disorientation and frustration.

In the case of a physical space like my real desk, I do keep the calculator 
in a drawer until I need it, but I would probably leave it on my desk if it 
had more surface area.

In the software world, I find the so-called improvements to programs like 
Word that make the menus adapt to your usage to be so frustrating that I 
turn them off and revert to the 
show-me-everything-I-can-do-and-leave-them-in-the-same-damn-place menus. 
There is also some value in having facilities that a person might use 
eventually be visible - it may prompt a curious click.

I also don't want to classify myself as a reader/seeker or 
author/contributor or admin/dictator or have software decide what I am 
based on my login or current behavior.

Providing user (eek!!) help in a fairy-controlled environment could be very 
frustrating: "My menu doesn't have a 'blurt' function on it ..."

Getting my users (sigh ...) to actually edit a page is like pulling teeth, 
and telling them that now they will have to select the mode they want to 
use to access the wiki will be the kiss of death.

I can see where this facility would be appealing and useful to some 
audiences, but in general I would say that we have more than enough tools 
already in PmWiki to provide a customized "utilizer" experience without 
adding another layer of markup or extra core features. By all means, 
provide modes as a cookbook recipe, but don't make it part of the core.


Neil Herber
Corporate info at http://www.eton.ca/
Eton Systems, 15 Pinepoint Drive, Nepean, ON, Canada K2H 6B1
Tel: (613) 829-4668 

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