My motivation for writing this blog post is based on an IRC conversation I had a few hours ago. Basically, we got talking about different distro’s and I eventually brought up the topic of convenience. Now I first thought, what is convenience? I figured its the ease of use of a specific application or distro, in computing terms anyway. But is that what it really means? the way I see it, convenience can be classified into two categories, short-term and long-term. Let me explain.

Short term convenience means that a user is able to get up and running and familiar with an application, distro or other piece of software very quickly, this has its benefits. It allows a user to quickly get the work they want to do done without having to learn lots of keyboard shortcuts/commands/read lots of documentation. For many people, this is the way they like to do things.

Now, long-term convenience means that a user is required to spend a little more time mastering a given application, but it allows them to have far greater flexibility and more importantly perhaps, convenience. I think the true meaning of convenience is not ease of use but less effort for the user, these two things are not the same thing, ease of use is how easy something is for a user, less effort relates to how effortlessly a user is able to accomplish a task, let me give you an example.

Say a user editing code wanted to open a document, go to a certain line, delete bits of code from inside other bits of code and then go to another set of lines and delete a whole bunch of lines entirely. In gedit, which I would class as a short-term convenience application, the user would have to tediously scroll around the document constantly switching between the keyboard and the mouse. But what if that user used something like vim, which I would class as a long-term convenience application. Then all the user has to do is enter a few short commands all strung together and they don’t even need to use the mouse.

Sure its easier to learn to use gedit, but is sacrificing true convenience for a slightly lower learning curve really worth it? in the long-term, it would be more beneficial for the user to simply learn to use vim. Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments.


One Comment on “Convenience”

  1. As soon as I got to the start of your long term convenience paragraph I thought of VIM. Your absolutely right though to take a few other examples xchat vs irssi, Evolution vs Mutt. sure there is some pain in getting to learn them and get them set up the way we want them but once it’s done we wouldn’t go back for a second.

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