April 2017

910111213 1415
16171819 2021 22

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags

August 5th, 2010

marcmagus: (regexp)
Thursday, August 5th, 2010 06:01 pm

I'm an unrepentant vim user, eschewing other text editors which might have less terrible internal scripting languages. I love vimperator for Firefox, and I'm about to give Chrome a whirl and the first thing I'm going to do is install Vrome for it. I prefer crawl to nethack and nethack to ADoM (at least in UI terms). I passionately hate almost every "webapp" ever written.

I do almost all my work in the console. It's not actually that I prefer doing everything in a cell matrix containing characters in a monospaced font; in fact, for a lot of things, especially reading, I'm increasingly finding that proportional fonts really are advantageous. [Please don't ask me about antialiasing; I still haven't done a good enough side-by-side comparison to determine whether it results in "smooth" or "blurry".] It's just that console applications as a general rule are much more likely to have an input UI which allows a little more expressiveness than pointing with your finger and grunting. (To be fair, some GUIs do allow you to grunt, whine, or whistle while pointing.)

The goal of the input portion of a tool's UI is to effectively transmit information (what you want to do) from your mind to the tool. I think there are a few basic principles that should be kept in mind when designing or evaluating a UI.

Read more... )

As a designer of a tool, it's your job to think about how people will want to interact with that tool and make it as easy as possible for them to do so and get the most out of it. It's not good enough to do what's easiest for you to design, and it's not good enough to stop at only the features that will be easy to learn. For input, the tool should be able to capture relatively complex ideas in a simple way, and grow with the user. Users shouldn't have to ask, "I need to do this simple task about 20 times a day, why does it take 5 minutes to do each time?" At the worst, the answer should be because the user wasn't aware of the simpler way; it should never be because of an unnecessary limitation of the UI. Designers of database-interactive software, I'm looking at you, here.

marcmagus: Me playing cribbage in regency attire (Default)
Thursday, August 5th, 2010 08:30 pm

Having heard that Chromium (the Open Source browser under the hood of Google Chrome uses threading to display separate tabs, I thought I'd install it and give it a whirl and see if it can keep up with my normal browsing habits.

Some initial thoughts:

  • I use a two-level hierarchy for browsing, with separate windows for conceptual distinction and tabbed browsing within each to manage multiple things I might want to flip between. Chromium will let me have multiple windows, but new tabs opened via the command-line seem to always want to open in the first window rather than the window with focus.

  • Out of the box I can't easily paste a URL into the browser to open it. There's an extension which does that, but it's a bit limited. It works, but its "open in new tab" feature (very cool idea) opens the new tab in the first browser window rather than the current one.

  • vrome works to provide some vi-like keybindings, but is already missing some features I liked from vimperator. Notably, Shift-Insert seems to work with the chromium clipboard (I thought it did nothing) rather than the selection buffer, removing another way to easily open a URL I have in another program.

You might notice that so far the problem is related to my trying to quickly and easily get all the stuff I had open in my most recent Firefox session open in Chromium to see how they compare. Once I get that going I'll have a much better opportunity for comparison under load; it seems pretty nice and snappy right now, but it's not really a fair comparison yet.

More later...

marcmagus: Me playing cribbage in regency attire (Default)
Thursday, August 5th, 2010 11:02 pm
  • Once it's up and running, Chromium seems able to handle my c. 50 simultaneous tabs comparably to Firefox in terms of overall system performance, or at least not noticeably worse.

  • Restarting with that many tabs is also comparable. I was hoping for an improvement.

  • Actual browsing of the sort of thing I generally browse (which is mostly a lot of text with images) feels noticeably slicker. In particular, in Firefox I get a very noticeable delay when I change tabs or especially windows. In Chromium I can jump around between windows with a delay that is within reason (comparable to typing speed).

  • Yesterday in Firefox I found the scribd webapp for the Prop 8 Ruling unusably slow. Here in Chromium today it's a bit pokey, but quite usable. I sincerely doubt it's a difference between yesterday and today.

  • In-browser video seems to be inconsistent, perhaps depending on the underlying technology. YouTube videos actually seem slightly improved. Other sources (which I have no idea how different they are under the hood) seem choppier than I'm used to. Not sure what to make of this one.

  • I haven't yet had the problem where Flash applications (such as streaming videos) have the audio get completely screwed up and I have to quit the browser to correct the problem. This may just be luck, though.

  • I've tried two programs which are supposed to provide a similar experience to vimperator in Chromium: vrome and vimium. Both offer a really inconsistent user experience (not always working, frustratingly), and a strict subset of the features I want. It seems part of this may well be due to limitations of the Chromium extension architecture, which is, well, frustrating. I'd like more of an :ex-style interface, and the ability to hide the address-bar like Vimperator offers. Very annoyingly, both extensions don't seem to use keypresses chorded with Control correctly, and instead pass them through to the browser.