[Arcana] More Emacs love.

Jim Blandy jimb at red-bean.com
Fri Jul 27 18:47:44 CDT 2012

On Fri, Jul 27, 2012 at 11:47 AM, Karl Fogel <kfogel at red-bean.com> wrote:
> Jim Blandy <jimb at red-bean.com> writes:
>>I see: even if your eye were drawn to the next line, that would still
>>be further than it's drawn with your UI.
>>How are you going to be discoverable if your eye needn't move at all,
>>but you can't cover anything?
> Not sure I understand the question -- what's the "you" here?  The
> feature itself?

Sorry, I used two different "you"s. I should have said:

How can a feature be discoverable if the user's eye needn't move at
all, but the feature doesn't cover anything?

> If so, the answer is that I think there's an inevitable tradeoff between
> interfaces whose features are discoverable (i.e., friendly to newcomers)
> and interfaces whose features do not distract when not invoked (i.e.,
> friendly to long-time users who make an investment).
> A UI can be easy to use when first encountered, or it can reward
> investment.  But I don't think it can consistently do both.  At least,
> the two ways will come into conflict pretty often.  And I'm not saying
> one way is better than the other, in case that wasn't obvious.
> Immature fields talk about "good" vs "bad".  Mature fields talk about
> tradeoffs.  It has ever been thus.

I would temper this with the acknowledgement that making tradeoffs is
what everyone does at the limit of their knowledge. We're not terribly
experienced UI designers here.

Perhaps someone could make the UI appear *behind* the text, in a
not-too-saturated, contrasting color. Perhaps, if it were used
consistently, the color alone would suggest which modifier key to
start with ("When a Meta- command could apply, we always mark its
target with green..."). I don't know. It just seems kind of arrogant
for this band of merry travelers to declare that they've exhausted
their options.

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