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Re: Emacs setup assistants

From: Stefan Monnier
Subject: Re: Emacs setup assistants
Date: 26 May 2004 11:26:17 -0400
User-agent: Gnus/5.09 (Gnus v5.9.0) Emacs/21.3.50

>> Actually, if the process is linear, I think most users would be happy
>> with an non-introcive outline of the process available somewhere.
>> Something like:
>> --------------------------------------------------------------
>> |  Gnus setup:  3.1 News host
>> 1. Introcution    |
>> 2. Identity       |  What is the name of your news (nntp) host
>> 3. Servers        |  
>> 3.1 News host     |  _________________
>> 3.2 Reading mail  |
>> 3.3 Sending mail  |
>> 4. Whatever       |  [Previous]  [Cancel]  [Next]
>> 6. The End        |
>> ---------------------------------------------------------------

I think I've seen something very much like the above in some installers on
Mac OS X.  I thought it was indeed much better than the "peephole" offered
by typical assistants I'd seen before.

> I think that's reasonable.

I find it much more than reasonable.  This helps users understand what's
going on and where they're going.  I'dargue that "the end" should be
replaced by something more useful along the lines of "commit" (tho probably
les technical-sounding) to express the fact that anything you do before
that is harmless.
Also each settable-item should come with a way to view or revert to the
"current" value as well as the "default" value.

> I don't want users to *jump* to 3.3 or 2
> from 3.1, that's the major issue I'm raising.

I think it only makes sense to prevent users from doing something if we
can't make the result sensible.  I.e. jumping from 3.1 to 2 should *not*
be prevented since it should simply do the same as hitting `previous' twice.
It might make sense to prevent the user from jumping from 3.1 to 3.3 if
there's a good technical reason.  But nothing should prevent the
user from jumping from 3.3 to 3.1 and then back to 3.3.  In the above
example, I can't think of any good reason why a user can't jump straight to
3.3 since setting up "sending mail" should not have any dependency w.r.t
"news host": the suggested ordering is arbitrary anyway, so the user should
be free to do things in another order.

To prevent users from getting confused, items in the outline that have not
been completed yet should be dimmed/highlighted.


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