ESR’s Bad Ideas

So I’ve been listening to some back episodes of The Linux Link Tech Show lately, and they’ve had a lot of insightful guests (the interview with Aaron Seigo of KDE was particularly excellent.)

They also talked to Eric S. Raymond in episode 95.

So here are some ESR quotes:

“A program that requires documentation is a design failure. . . If you need documentation, you have failed.” He said that in some cases, it may not be possible, but people should never give up on that goal.

I’d like to see him write something as easy and powerful as grep without documentation. How about a non-linear video editor, where there are some complex concepts at work?

He went on to describe how one might write a spreadsheet app without documentation. “The way to design a documentation-free spreadsheet is: the initial state of the spreadsheet is that every gesture that the user might make pops up a balloon prompt saying ‘This is what will happen if you confirm this.’ As they demonstrate knowledge of the interface, the balloons stop popping up, and are replaced by other baloons that say what they can do with other gestures.”

I have one word for that: AIEEEEEEEE.

This is worse than Microsoft Word with the paperclip. And ESR wants us to develop it.

Please, give people a simple quick reference card or something instead of annoying popups. Anything but the annoying popups! If I want to learn how to write a letter in word, I can go to the help system and learn how to write a letter there.


One thought on “ESR’s Bad Ideas

  1. that sounds like something a developer would say about documentation… “it’s so intuitively obvious, there’s no need for documentation” Ha. Sounds like someone needs to maintain someone else’s code for a while.

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