User-Friendliness Vs. Dumbing Down Too Much

I have to say that there are very few Micro$oft product out there that I like. Except Outlook has got to be on the top of my list of “least favourite applications.”

First, I don’t like the interface; however, I readily concede that’s a subjective matter, one of personal taste. Second, I can’t stand how, under the guise of being “friendly,” it makes getting to full header information difficult. Then, when I have to explain to clients that I need “full headers” to get to the bottom of their problem, they look at me like deers caught in the headlights.

I hate it when “being friendly” leads to “dumbing down” irremediably. Come to think of it, I’m not even too crazy about the “make-you-feel-fuzzy-all-over” coinage of user-friendly. What’s wrong with the ancient word easy?!

Impressions of MT…

…from a PHP developer’s point of view …for I did have another motive when I downloaded and installed MT last night.

For over a year, I’ve been working on my own Web content management system. I looked at some of the programs out there — in particular the “Nuke” family for those of you in the know — but I wasn’t entirely satisfied. For one thing, to me they all seemed to work well provided one were to accept a predetermined (and a bit limited) data architecture. And for another thing, for someone like myself who works in a milieu with two official languages, I felt I had to come up with my own program that could be operated and could “publish” in two languages simultaneously. Plus I knew that my clients wouldn’t stand for having to learn even the most elementary HTML/XML tags.

I’m happy to report that my program is coming along very well and that it’s been getting a very good reception from my clients, who claim that the system is “dummy proof.” But after focussing for so long on my own work and not trying other people’s scripts, I was beginning to worry that maybe I’m making my program more complicated than it needs to be — either for myself or the ultimate end users. Hence the time had come to take a look at MT, but from the angle of a client rather than a developer.

Looking at MT was a safe choice, really, given that’s it’s written in Perl. I’m very happy in my little world of PHP and have no intention of “getting into” Perl, at least not for a while. So it’s not like studying the script would get me very far.

I must commend Ben & Mena Trott for coming up with an excellent interface. And the documentation that goes along with MT is, for the most part, exemplary. However, I must admit that the reasoning behind and the role played by the whole “Rebuild Site” sequences in MT still eludes me. Another quibble (in terms of usability) is that the “Rebuild” and “Cancel” buttons really ought to be transposed so that the Rebuild would be directly under the pulldown menu. (How many times already have I closed the dialogue box by accident!?)

But what makes me really happy is that my own program operates very much like MT with MySQL support. In other words, I seem to have managed to figure out some key principles — mostly on my own, but also with much help and advice from the Hosting Matters community. How I intended to deploy and license my program is completely different, however, but that might be the topic of another post.