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Re: Installer UI advices

From: M. Uli Kusterer
Subject: Re: Installer UI advices
Date: Tue, 15 Mar 2005 15:16:02 +0100

At 7:08 Uhr -0600 15.03.2005, Jesse Ross wrote:
I think the confusion here for end users is that the volume that comes from the DMG looks just like an external hard drive, and even has to be "ejected" like an external hard drive, when it's certainly not something physical they can eject. Make DMG volumes look more like packages, and allow the user to throw them in the trash when they are done with them, just as with a PKG, and you solve the consistency issues. From a technical point of view, it can be handled exactly as it is now -- it's the visual metaphors that need to change.

Why bother? ZIP archives already behave in that way. What I'm trying to get across is that it would be much less work to just use archives. We'd get the same features, and there would be no special code needed to hide what they are, while we'd also get all the same features as far as the users are concerned.

Remember, .DMGs came up in the MacOS 10.0 days, when it couldn't create ZIP archives. Since disk images were already implemented, people used those to package their apps (StuffIt hadn't been updated to handle long or Unicode filenames and had some other bugs back then, and I think it also had some issues when used to extract other types of archives).

Then Omni Group found out you could set up a Finder background image for folder windows on a disk image and write your instructions on it, and it became a packaging standard because it supported all features, *and* promised that particular usability and coolness improvement.

In 10.3 MacOS got ZIP archive support, but it was implemented differently than StuffIt had used it, and were thus incompatible. So, it's only natural that apps that have to ship for earlier MacOS versions or that want those special background images are still distributed as .DMGs.

A user shouldn't look at his desktop/file manager/wherever his drives are contained, and see this non-physical physical looking volume. It's a very confusing concept to teach a new user. That, and having to Command-E a non-physical volume when I know that it's a file I want to delete (Command-Delete), is strange and still trips me up when I'm in work mode and not thinking about it.

Exactly. And Steve Krug has told all of us in his book why we don't want to trip up users, even if it's only momentarily. They want to get work done. People use computers to literally do rocket science. We don't want to lower their effectiveness by making them use precious brain capacity to remember quirks in the app if we can easily fix it.

Using archives instead of disk images *would* fix it. Having to delete the archive afterward isn't different from having to delete the image file in amount of manual labor involved. But it's less thinking, because files and how to manipulate them is something they have already learned.
M. Uli Kusterer
       "The Witnesses of TeachText are everywhere..."

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