12 Sep 2003 mikehearn   » (Journeyer)

Congrats to the GNOME developer team on 2.4, I'm looking forward to playing with it when the next Red Hat is out.

Wine wise, things are good. WineCfg continues to make good progress, mini-flamewars over instant apply on the side. Some highly dubious statistics were thrown around, for instance "70% of linux users use KDE, 90% of people use Windows, so therefore 99% of people are not used to instant apply".

Personally, having used both types quite a bit, I find instant apply to be much nicer, it actually makes the machine feel faster (or does to me), and I didn't have any problems adapting to it. On the other hand, I didn't have any problems with the Gnome2 button ordering either, and I know some people found both these things very disruptive (well, a few did, because they bitched about it online).

Now, there are arguments for doing both things in winecfg. Most seem to agree that on its own, instant apply makes sense, and has good usability. The arguments for the old way basically boil down to "That's what the rest of the world does!" which at least in my view is a rather weak argument. Nonetheless, conformance does have some merits.

The difficulty seems to be a belief that consistancy with Windows and KDE is a good thing. KDE tends to be consistant mostly with itself and Windows, not necessarily any particular set of usability guidelines, so I'm not inclined to use that as an example. Likewise, despite being implemented using Win32, winecfg will be used exclusively by users of the Linux desktop (well also freebsd etc as well). At that point it boils down to consistancy with either KDE or GNOME, and given the usability arguments each side can present, I'd favour the same route chosen by Gnome.

Hence - we have an instant apply winecfg.

Can I be bothered with the flamewars and controversy though? Probably not. It's a very little thing. Worse, Win32 does not have good support for instant-apply dialogs, the PropertySheet API we're using for instance does not support it. The transactions system I did internally can support both easily enough. Possibly a command line switch might be used, so the Gnome menu launches "instant apply mode", and the KDE menu launches "OK/Cancel" mode. You could use the OnlyShowIn property of the .desktop format to control this.

I can't help feeling that it would be ultimately a bad idea. User interfaces are more malleable than APIs, and while Wine is a fairly conservative project, in this respect I think it should be more flexible. Alexandre appears to have little opinion on the matter, he generally indicated he wanted instant apply in the future but has not yet weighed in on the debate.

On the other hand, it's not all been argument - I might be getting a contract from Relux Informatik AG to port their software using Wine, as they are interested in a Linux version of their software. Being a specialist lighting design app though, there is not a chance of a full port, it would basically mean a rewrite which is clearly not acceptable. Is this the start of my own little company? I hope so :)

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