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An introduction to Linux Deepin’s way of innovation

Author: Andy Stewart, co-founder and leader of the Linux Deepin team

Note: This article is translated from this page.

 

When Linux Deepin team was organized two years ago, we already have a clear idea of what a perfect deskop operating system would be like. Over the last two years, our team has grown from several people to more than 30 members. We've always had a clear-cut goal, that is, to make a Linux operating system with the best interactive user experience.

 

Our view about interactive experience


In our opinion, the criteria for good interactive experience are as follows:

1. It's not the users' job to work out the details

There are lots of things to learn about Linux. Programmers can examine underlying algorithms. Designers can do visual studies. Experts in other subjects can do research in their fields. However, ordinary users will basically need to listen to the music, watch movies or the like.

Traditionally, Linux users, especially Chinese users, have to spend days to get fonts, character encodings and codecs working properly. Sometimes they go to extremes to get bleeding-edge versions of underlying libraries. I am a geek myself. I never use a mouse when coding and I use Emacs to get everything done. I also lived the days when I was full of enthusiasm and spend days and nights playing with my system. However, as time goes by, I would rather see that things *JUST* work and do not need configuration after installation.

So We have put the idea into practice. The arduous and daunting configurations are already done by Deepin. All users need to do is enjoy.

2. Good interactive design is not just about themes.

Some people who work with the command line every day still think of interactive design as good-looking themes. In fact, good themes merely give pleasure to the eyes. However, interactive design comes from deep thoughts about humanity. Based on the research, we make decisions and feedback which are considered natural and meet users' expectations.

Let's take DSnapshot and DPlayer as examples.

1). Perhaps the best screenshot tool with GUI before DSnapshot was Shutter. What did we do if we wanted to take a screenshot and share it with a friend?

Steps: Take a screenshot -> Save it -> Open the picture and edit it -> Save it again -> Upload to social websites

Users could not edit the picture immediately after the screenshot had been taken. They had to save it, open it for editing, save it again and then open a browser or use other tools to upload it.

Let's see what our users really need?

a). Select the area to take a screenshot as they wish;

b). Edit it immediately if they need to;

c). Share it with friends once the previous preparations are done.

So what we need to do is get rid of the unneccessary steps and only "bother" our users where choices are needed. Taking a screenshot, editing it and sharing - no extra steps. The simplest way to realize user experience is the best interactive design.

2). What does DPlayer do when it is minimized?

Let's analyze why a user who was focusing on a movie wants to minimize the player? Because he/she has other things to do. What is he/she going to do when he/she's finished? That's right. He/she's going to continue to watch the movie.

So what do WE do now? When the user minimize DPlayer, we pause the movie for him/her. When he/she restored the player window, we continue to play the movie. This is basically what interactive design is like. When the user needs to pause, we help him/her pause it. When they come back, we help them play it.

As is shown above, it is the details that we care most about.

3). What do users do when they've finished installing an application in the Software Center?

They'll need to launch it. And no, they don't need to go to the launcher menu to start them. We give them a startup button on the app's page. Users don't have to worry about where the application was installed. They can just click the button and launch it.

 

Linux Deepin is *NOT* reinventing the wheel. They are creating an excellent interactive design.

 

Many Chinese Linux fans often ask us the question, "Why are you reinventing the wheel when there are so many distributions out there?" So I think we need to make our point clear. The powerful tools on Linux is beyond counting, but they rarely give the pleasure to an ordinary user as being considered easy to use.

It is not the answer to the question that matters. What surprised us is that lovely monomania deeply rooted in the heart of Linux techies, who work with git, patches, mailing lists, IRC and bugs everyday. In China, a misunderstanding about Linux is always around. On one hand, ordinary people tend to think Linux is for experts. On the other hand, the enthusiasm of Linux users has, to some degree, developed into some sort of religion. The techies love to make Linux a symbol of expert. They wouldn't see their lovely toy ended up as easy to use for newbies. Some even obstruct efforts to make Linux available for average computer users.

We all love Linux. Any efforts on Free and Open Source, being it on underlying algorithms or simply making Linux easy to use, are worth praising. We are all working for a better Linux with more users and great future.

 

Linux Deepin has always been leading the Chinese way of Open Source.

 

Linux Deepin has contributed heavily to the Free and Open Source world. The projects we created in the past two years are shown below:

a). Deepin Software Center

b). DSnapshot

c). DMusic

d). DPlayer

e). Deepin Desktop Environment

We'll bring more innovative design to the world, such as desktop apps, community tools and many other unprecedented creations.

 

As we are moving forward faster than ever before, we are facing considerable challenges. Every week, we receive about 30 to 50 bug reports or suggestions from our users.

For example:

a). Add a launcher icon for DSnapshot;

b). Provide a weather forecast item for Taipei (P.R. China) in the weather widget;

c). Give a switch to users to turn on/off automatic updates in the Software Center.

....

So how are we going to make our System and apps stable and deal with improvement suggestions from our users? If Linux Deepin only focused on new features and wouldn't listen to feedback, their product would be like many other desktop distributions. It wouldn't be like those predecessors as being average and unbearable as to details.

Suggestions from users, no matter how "trivial" the idea may seem, would be accepted as long as we think it will improve user experience.

Therefore, we decided to spend one working day each week to deal with feedback and known issues. Now we are investing 80 percent of our time in innovation and 20% in improvement.

In a word, we are taking 20 percent of our time to improve user experience as we are rapidly making innovations.

 

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