[Desktop_printing] Usability: Printing roles, tasks and environments

Robert L Krawitz rlk at alum.mit.edu
Wed Mar 8 16:14:44 PST 2006

   Date: Wed, 08 Mar 2006 09:42:13 -0500
   From: Michael Sweet <mike at easysw.com>

   >> Most printers offer additional device output/quality options:
   >>     Media Type (plain, glossy, matte, etc.)
   >>     Media source (auto, tray 1, upper, lower, etc.)
   >>     Duplexing (1-sided, 2-sided long edge, 2-sided short edge)
   >>     Color Mode (grayscale, color, photo, etc.)
   >>     Resolution (600dpi, 2880x1440dpi, etc.)
   >>     Output Tray (top, side)
   >> High-end printers (basically copiers with built-in computers)
   >> typically offer finishing options:
   >>     Staple (top-left, side, saddle)
   >>     Fold (booklet, Z-fold for brochures, etc.)
   >>     2/3 Hole Punch (top, bottom, left, right sides)
   >>     Mailbox (next available, specific slot, etc.)
   > ok, thanks.
   > are these lists complete?

   No, but they cover the common things you'll see.

   If you look at the Gimp/Gutenprint driver options, you'll see a LOT
   of output quality controls (that is one of the major complaints I
   have about the current Gutenprint drivers), and that is something
   I'd like to talk about at the summit - focusing on usability WRT
   driver options.

Or as I'd prefer to look at it, how to better organize and present the
options to users.  I don't believe that it's necessary to reduce
functionality to improve usability -- I'd prefer to have good defaults
(or simple settings) that work for most users, while having the whole
panoply of options for people with more advanced needs.  When the
epson-inkjet at leben.com mailing list was in existence, there were a lot
of people who were screaming for more control over their printers.
Those people were definitely the high end power users (professional
photographers, artists, and such), but they're the ones who lead the
way and we should not ignore their needs.

The current PPD-based print dialogs I've seen don't have any way of
selectively hiding options from users.  Many (but not all) offer
tabbed dialogs, but that's still a lot of tabs with the number of
options we offer.  Gutenprint provides a lot of information that could
be used to be more selective about which options to display, but
there's no way of taking advantage of them.

I'd really like to offer the curve settings (and some other composite
options, such as arrays) to CUPS users as well as GIMP users (and
users of other applications that link directly to libgutenprint, which
is the core driver package).  The CUPS 1.2 PPD extensions will help in
terms of offering numerical options, but there's still a way to go.

This is certainly a topic I will be intensely interested in

Robert Krawitz                                     <rlk at alum.mit.edu>

Tall Clubs International  --  http://www.tall.org/ or 1-888-IM-TALL-2
Member of the League for Programming Freedom -- mail lpf at uunet.uu.net
Project lead for Gutenprint   --    http://gimp-print.sourceforge.net

"Linux doesn't dictate how I work, I dictate how Linux works."
--Eric Crampton

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