In the comments of Steven's posting about the SideBar usability study, Frank says:
“It is good that usability is being tested for Avalon. Looking at the docs online, I have the feeling it is one of the least-usable APIs I have ever seen. The xml looks easy but the API is very complex and over-engineered.“
Frank is correct, we are too complex now in many areas. We think we have good reasons for the things we have done, but things are still early - we do have a ton of room for simplification and polish.
When Steven asks for more details, he follows up with another comment questioning 4 things: typing of our properties, Decorators, Changeable, and Length.
Changeable & Length
Greg Schechter, a new Avalon blogger, responds to the changeable and length comments.
Weak Typing & Decorators
We'll follow up with discussions on these later.
Frank ends his comments with:
“I think I could write a whole book here. Looking at how many abstractions the user has to juggle in their head just to understand simple buttons and shapes... it is incredible. Just count the number of classes involved, the number of complicated concepts. Well, maybe I will post more later, write something up in more detail. I don't mean to disrespect the hard work in that API, but this is supposed to last a long, long time. I think the "less expert" users will just cry when they try to use it, outside of the xml. Plus, exposing all this low-level detail will make it harder to change later.“
We constantly need to question why every class is needed, why new conventions are necessary, etc... We still have a lot of simplification work to do!
We have tons of internal debates about all of these things. I'm excited that we can now have you involved. Please ask us the questions. Make your comments. Tell us what needs work.
Please write more feedback! Point to concrete samples of what you are trying to do - show us your code/markup.
What about the Button is hard to understand? How to build one or how to use one? What were you trying to do with it.
Yes, Frank, we have a lot of work to do - we are trying to enable many powerful new things. Yet we need to keep it approachable.
Thanks for the help.