Archive for April 11th, 2006

Why I can’t stand KDE

Here it is. A perfect example why I don’t use KDE.

Worst. User. Interface. Ever.

It’s cluttered. It has layers upon layers (aka tabs) of mostly useless stuff. Vertically and horizontally (argh). For some of the useless info presented you even must scroll down to read it all. Or it’s like we care about this scary “mood” thing that Amarok uses (what the f*ck is that?). And I am sure that if we were to right-click somewhere in that interface, the long options presented to the user would be even more scary.

Amarok is just an example of how terrible KDE application UI design can be. Most of the KDE or Qt apps look and feel as bad as Amarok does. While KDE does not have strict UI guidelines like Gnome has via its HIG, I don’t blame the developers. I blame the TOOLKIT and their RAD tools. Why you ask?

–> Think <–

Why OSX apps don’t look as ugly, even if most of the apps are created by the same kind of non-UI-educated developers? Why Gnome apps are usually not as cluttered either, even if most of the GTK+ devs don’t give a rat’s ass about the HIG? Why most common Windows apps don’t look as layered or cluttered even if they don’t have a HIG to begin with? Why these problems are MOSTLY visible on KDE and Qt apps?

The answer is because Qt’s RAD tools make it EASY for developers to design CRAPPY interfaces. I had never thought this way about it (I was always blaming the developers), until an Apple engineer friend of mine suggested it over IM a few months ago. Qt makes it easy to design ugly apps. The answer is to fix the RAD tool (QT Designer) to respect enforced widget alignments and to serve a better toolbar design (no, this has nothing to do with the theme used). Of course, developers will need to learn some basic UI design and usability principles too (yes, I know that usability!=UI), but everything STARTS with the toolkit and its tools (along with some usability design on a plain paper before that).

You may ask, what is the RAD tool to do? Here are some ideas: Enforce widget alignment and 10-12px spacing by default. Allow spacing between menu items in the menu bar (without my bug report on the current default KDE theme 2 years ago, all menu items would be reading like a single sentence — that’s how close they were. Other themes don’t have code to fix Qt’s broken menu spacing). Qt still uses “lines” around its “box” widget, while Gnome has moved to a simple bold header, just like OSX has, while XP has “soften” these box lines. These are just a few ideas to fix KDE/Qt UIs, without the developer having to do anything differently.

Some will say that some of my suggestions remove freedom from the developer and place some decisions to the RAD tool itself. YES. This is correct. If these developers don’t wanna read the HIG, then the RAD tool should take the right UI decisions for the developer. If the mountain won’t come to Mohammed, Mohammed must go to the mountain.

IMO, Qt is much superior to GTK+, programming-wise. But I can’t STAND the applications it PRODUCES. This is why while I respect Qt as a toolkit way more than I do GTK+, I use Gnome over KDE, and I will continue to do so.

Regarding sex bigotry

You know, I read a lot about “women who are treated unfairly in business”, or who are treated as secondary citizens because they are females (in the western world).

Well, I have never felt this way in my work environment. Not in Greece, not in Germany, not in UK, not in France and not in USA. I don’t know if I am lucky, or I behave too much… like a man, or simply some women need to get a clue about their own failures.

The only bigotry I have encountered towards women is that of my own father. A heavy traditionalist in an rural, isolated part of Greece, I wouldn’t expect otherwise (it even feels natural to be honest). And I always defied him anyway.

I don’t claim that there are no such problems in the western world, it’s just that all these years that I lived and worked in several countries, I never encountered any. I guess, I give the immediate impression that I would kick some asses if I was to be treated differently, so no one bothered to do so. ;-)

Recipe: Greek Tzatziki

This is my Greek mom’s recipe for tzatziki, always a favorite among our family and friends.

* 1/2 kg strained, Greek plain yogurt (normal yogurt won’t do)
* 1/3 tea cup virgin olive oil
* 4-5 cloves of garlic, minced
* A few mint leaves, minced
* a pinch of salt
* 1 cucumber

1. Place in a large bowl all ingredients except the cucumber and start beating them with a mixer for about 3-4 minutes, until the mixture has become one.
2. Skin the cucumber and grate it into thin strips with a cheese grater. Add the cucumber and the mint leaves to the mixture and mix again for 30 seconds (with a spoon this time).
3. Serve as a dip. Put the rest in the fridge in a sealed container, it will keep fresh for a week.

Tip: Every time you take it out of the fridge, there will be oil on the top of the mixture (it travels on top of the mixture all by itself). Before getting some tzatziki out of its container, just have a spoon ready to stir the mixture before serving.