[Openicc] GoSoC 2011: CPD and target printing

Hal V. Engel hvengel at gmail.com
Fri May 6 13:42:24 PDT 2011

On Friday, May 06, 2011 12:26:23 PM Chris Murphy wrote:
> On May 5, 2011, at 7:32 PM, Robert Krawitz wrote:
> > On Thu, 5 May 2011 13:38:29 -0600, Chris Murphy wrote:
> > There are two schools of thought that I see here.  One, which seems to
> > be exemplified by GNOME (yes, I'm calling that project out by name),
> > is to have UI experts determine the minimum set of features needed by
> > users and present an absolute minimal interface.  The other, which I
> > greatly prefer, is what a former colleague of mine described as
> > "successive disclosure of complexity".
> I would not call the current presentation of Gutenprint driver options as
> successive disclosure of complexity. Its present disclosure of increasing
> complexity occurs in parallel. But even if it were successive, you're
> talking about a rabbit hole of successive disclosure and that still makes
> software obscure.

I agree that the current print UI(s) do a poor job of presenting complexity 
adn that how these do this for the GutenPrint drivers makes this particually 
obveious but we aren't talking about the print UI as they exist today.  WIth 
the CPD how this is presented to the user can be altered greatly by editing 
the PPD file.  And it can be made to be very successive in it's disclosure of 
complexity.  This is integral to the UI design of the CPD as one of it's 
design goals was to deal with this issue.  

> > What that phrase means is that inexperienced users, or those with
> > simple needs, should see a very simplified view of the system --
> > possibly even as simple as Hal's proposal 

Just to be clear about this this is NOT my proposal.  This is how the CPD 
currently works and I was not the person who did the UI design.  But having 
played around with it (actually I have done some coding work on it as well) I 
do think the UI design is a good one although there are some minor points that 
I find I disagree with (not being able to maximize the preview being my biggest 
objection) but these are for the most part nits.

> > that they only see the name
> > of the printer and how many copies or the like.  As people's needs
> > grow, they can access more elaborate functionality.
> This sounds very nice in theory, but in practice what happens is that as
> users get more advanced, the options they require differ radically. So
> what happens is moderate to advanced users will have to sift through
> multiple extra panels 

There is only one options panel in the CPD and the user can control what 
apppears on it.  Don't conflate current print dialog UI design with the CPD's 
UI design as the CPD has a very different UI.  It was specifically designed by a 
UI design expert (actually a team of experts) to deal with this issue.  It 
does a good job of presenting the complexity continum if the PPD file for the 
printer driver is done correctly.

> looking for the options they want because the
> ability for the user to create group options for a specific subset of
> themselves isn't how print dialogs presently work.

I agree that current print dialogs have a lot of issues with this.

> So what this does is it kicks the bucket of obscurity down the road to just
> moderate and advanced users. They are still users, just because they are
> advanced does not mean they should be subject to sifting through options,
> 90% of which do not apply to them.

Again this is a matter of how this is presented to users.  I just brought up 
the most recent version of the CPD on my machine to refresh my memory using 
the GutenPrint driver PPD for the Epson R2400.  This driver is close to as 
complex as any GuenPrint driver can get with options for setting many things 
that most users will never use.  The current GutenPrint R2400 PPD is not real 
well designed to take full advantage of the CPD with option groups named 
things like "Output Control Common" for things like Brightness and Contrast 
which some users will use,  "Output Control Extra 1"  and "Output Control 
Extra 2" (through 4) for things like GCR, drop sizes, ink density and other 
things that are used very rarely.    There is a "General" options group that 
has things like color model, media source, media size and media type that many 
users will use at least some of the time.  Most of these groups do not have 
very descriptive names but I am fairly sure that the GutenPrint folks have not 
had the time to look at these names in detail to improve how this is presented 
in the UI.  On the other hand the groups do appear to be fairly well orginized 
and the items in the groups appear to be logically grouped.

The GutenPrint R2400 PPD also creates five additional non-Default presets 
"Text", "Graphics", "Mixed Text and Graphics", "Photograph" and "Line Art".   
But I am not sure if these are correctly setup in the PPD file since I don't 
seem to be able to select any of these.  This could be a problem in the CPD as 
> >  Most
> > 
> > well-designed applications actually operate like that -- think
> > OpenOffice.org, where you can simply start typing into a text
> > document, but as you learn more, you learn how to use spreadsheets,
> > with increasingly elaborate functionality as your needs changed.  One
> > could argue that the default set of toolbars presents too much
> > information at the start, but ultimately, if you need to do things
> > like mail merge, that functionality is there.
> > 
> > I don't see why this shouldn't apply to printing,
> A print dialog is not a monolithic application with thousands of options.
> If it does, users will start dying. I'm not kidding.
> > and in particular, I
> > don't see why the CPD shouldn't be designed along the same lines so
> > that every application has the same dialog (which also helps reduce
> > confusion).  In particular, just because we don't see a certain use
> > case with a certain application doesn't mean that somebody else
> > won't.
> This argument works EXACTLY in reverse also. Just because you don't see a
> prolific UI as brain damaging, user hostile, and a top reason to NOT use
> an entire operating system doesn't mean someone else won't. If it came to
> a bet, I will bet the numbers are on my side. I'm a fairly advanced user
> but I do not appreciate the notion that the two or three options that are
> important to me, be floated in amongst 280 options I do not give a crap
> about and I cannot cause to be disabled for the sake of my sanity and
> workflow efficiency.

Again these are issues with the existing/standard dialogs not (or at least to 
a much lessor extent) with the CPD.

> There is a cost to designing a GUI for 99% instead of 80%, and that means
> 99% of the people will have an increasingly negative experience for each
> option inserted into a print dialog that cannot be anywhere nearly as
> effectively hidden from the user as is possible in applications.
> This is why I think the bulk of Gutenprint options should be in an
> application. 

And what application should that be?

> Not exposed to most users at all. We still have to sort
> through all of it and try to decipher the relevancy of these options. I
> find it absolutely inhospitably maddening.
> There are two sides to every coin. More options are not inherently better.
> They do come with a cost.
> Chris Murphy
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