What is this Software Usability, anyway?



Don't be scared, I'm not going to give you yet another software usability definition (TM). Actually even if I wanted to, I could not. I've read recently many papers on software usability. And everybody seems to have his own a bit different definition (and the right one, of course ;-). There are things which are common, but still this topic is somehow not exact.

I'll make my life simplier by focusing on usability of an IDE (Integrated Development Enviroment). My target group is a java developer using this IDE and I want to make it as usable for him as possible. So here's how I imagine good usability of an IDE, written with developer's words:

"Give me an IDE which doesn't annoy me [stable, responsive, error prone, fast]. Remove all those weird things [features he doesn't understand or are useless]. Give me all those cool features [those which enhance productivity]. Make me feel that I have full control over the IDE [understandable, manageble, memorable features]. And btw make it look slick [good UI design]."

So this is what I focus on when working on usability of our IDE. Agree or disagree? Looking forward to your comments!

P.S. I recommend to read this piece: Usability and Open Source Software. I agree that usability of many opensource projects sucks - not those sponsored by Sun, of course :-)
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