[josm-dev] JOSM Fail

Russell Nelson russ at cloudmade.com
Fri Jan 16 02:10:10 GMT 2009

I was trying to show somebody how to use JOSM today.  Massive fail.
Executive summary: Do people know that JOSM has these newbie usability
problems, and if I put resources into fixing them (without removing
functionality or impeding experienced users), would those fixes make
it back into the source tree?

1) First (and I realize this is probably a Java / Mac thing), we
couldn't paste a URL into the URL window.  Fortunately, the
drag-n-drop code worked (massive hoorays to whomever added that).

2) JOSM has the usual GIS problem that it will happily render
off-screen with no indication that anything is wrong.  True, this is
fine for the sophisticated user, but nobody starts off sophisticated.
Perhaps if JOSM noticed that nothing got drawn within the clipping
frame, and drew an arrow in the middle saying "Your data is thataway",
it wouldn't be a "big black box of fail".

3) She may have used an older version (but definitely has used
potlatch), but the first thing she did was select a box to try to zoom
in.  She successfully zommed in with "Zoom to Select", but then tried
to zoom in again, and succeeded in grabbing and moving all those
points.  That *would* have been massive fail if she found the upload
button, even if she did manage to move them back to very nearly the
right location.  I helped her find Undo.

4) She selected a way, and then tried to move the node because the
road had been extended.  Of course, she moved the entire way.  (This
mnay not be easy to fix).

5) She went into insert node/way mode with the way still selected, in
order to extend it.  It ignored her clicks.  This is a usability
fail.  Never ignore a user's input.  If it can't be used in this
context, then say why.

5) It *really* bothered her that in insert node/way mode, she had a
red line from the tail node.  She is resourceful and figured out that
ESC would terminate the adding.  But that de-selected the way, so she
had to go into select mode, go back and select it again in order to
tag it.

6) "You geeks must really like tedium, because it's wicked boring to
have to select/delete, select/delete, select/delete, select/delete all
these inapplicable tags".  I reassured her that we don't like it
either, but that didn't serve to explain why she couldn't select a
range of tags to delete them.

I've been hired this week as a Community Ambassador by Cloudmade.
It's my job to help people map.  If I have to fix JOSM to get them to
map, then that's what I have to do.  But I'm also really NOT
interested in taking over JOSM development; that's NOT my job.  So
please tell me how I can contribute to JOSM in a way that helps me
recruit new mappers, but which is also acceptable to all the currently
JOSM users.

--my blog is at    http://blog.russnelson.com   | Delegislation is a slippery
Crynwr sells support for free software  | PGPok | slope to prosperity.
521 Pleasant Valley Rd. | +1 315-323-1241       | Fewer laws, more freedom.
Potsdam, NY 13676-3213  |     Sheepdog          | (Not a GOP supporter).

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