One demonstration that the OpenOffice.org guys still have a way to go on the user-friendliness front:
Of course, ours could do with further improvement too. If they are going to suggest hacking prefs via about:config, they could at least link to instructions.
I’m much more open to just removing the text concerning about:config completely.
… and replace the preference names with simple extensions to just toggle them (as suggested in bug 360365).
While the OO.o notes are a little, uhm, technical looking, they do at least specify exactly what changed from the previous release. I think having a link to some kind of information like that would be useful.
Excellent, my parents are about to download OOF680_m14 so that they can benefit from UTF-8 encoding for dBase databases.
As if the technobabble wasn’t awful enough, you have to scroll horizontally to read all of the text in a maximised browser window at 1920×1200. I know OpenOffice.org isn’t exactly making inroads in terms of being relevant in the real world, but they could at least put some effort into their release notes.
The Firefox release notes certainly are better overall. But things like “Website Compatibility: Fixed various web compatibility regressions” don’t help me at all. I won’t know whether a specific problem I’ve had is solved or not. It forces me to go hunting in blogs and forums. A combination of Firefox’ user friendly instructions and an extensive changelog like OOo’s would be nice.
There are other interesting omissions as well. I notice that the section “Installing Firefox 2” doesn’t tell you how to install Firefox. This may not be such a problem with Windows, but we sometimes get inquiries from Mac users who have no idea. And I have no idea how Linux users manage.
There’s more, too. For example, the Help menu has not a single word about troubleshooting, although it does have a link to the Release Notes, for those who think to look there and can do so.
The OOo notes may not be user friendly, but they are rather more informative. Even non-technical users may want to know what’s actually changed since the last version. Firefox’s notes tend to go too far in the direction of “lots of bugs have been fixed, and stuff has been improved, and the new version is better”. The only fixes where there is any detail are the security fixes (where the detail is provided through a link) – “various web compatibility regressions” should be a link too, with some detail about what sites (or types of sites) were broken.
Do novice users read release notes? Actually, maybe a better question is, Who are release notes for? They certainly aren’t easy to find in Firefox’s case: go to mozilla.com -> go to tiny Learn More link -> then hit the nearly invisible link to Release Notes. I’d also imagine ‘Release Notes’ is a phrase most people would think is technical. They also don’t seem to load automatically after a new install. So when would most novice users see them? And, except for security issues, they are way too sketchy for technical users, so who are they for?
Not to defend OOo (where software and website usability ranges from very bad to just OK), but the OOo relnotes page is actually a changelog, which *is* useful for technical users — at least, I’ve always found them useful. It should be called a changelog, though.
I know more people’s parents who have heard of OOo than Firefox.
OOo’s release notes look like an itemised receipt because that’s exactly what they are at the moment. As the development process loosens up and new feature lists become based more on inspiration than on committee checklists this will change.
Eventually OOo will get a Burning Edge-type thing and all will be well. I’m sure of it.
voracity: Sure. I’m not denying the need for such a list. I’m just saying that it’s not the same thing as “Release Notes”, which IMO should be a document which picks out, in human readable language, the top new features, and gives instructions on how to deal with common upgrade issues.
One thing though the OO release notes aren’t easy to find… I spent a good half an hour searching for them the other day…