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Old 01-15-2013, 11:12 PM   #16
kiwidude
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Dumbing things down for people who are unwilling to even TRY to learn something will never accomplish anything good.
I kind of agree and disagree, like I said above I am on the fence about this one. I think there are some applications out there that make things harder than they need to be, due to poor UI design. And in such cases, be it through terminology, wizards, or hiding features behind advanced buttons the initimidation factor can be reduced to ease people into it.

However I strongly believe that in the case of ebooks we have been stuck in a corner by the fact that there are so many technical issues revolving around them, that mean that unless your only usage is to put the book straight onto the device from purchase to read it you are forced into a learning curve. And I don't think people should be criticised for not wanting to take on that curve, it just means that calibre is not the solution for them, at this point anyway. We all have only so many hours in the day (or as we get older so many things we can remember!) so we pick and choose what things we deep dive on. Obviously the hardcore calibre fans have chosen this app as one to spend countless hours on wrestling to grips with, which is great for them. However there are the other 99% of people out there who read a lot of books who may choose not to take that on. Just like I know nothing about how a car works, or gardening or whatever - we all pick and choose what things are of interest. That people who read ebooks "should" have an easier way I don't disagree with at all, and right now it seems the only option for them is to stay within the vendor specific and closed ecosystems. Which is not what calibre is competing with of course.
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Old 01-16-2013, 01:18 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by saoir View Post
- Book cover library display.
Dammit. I knew this was going to end up in here. Calibre should never have a "book shelf" view. That is a data-poor UI, and the only people who like stuff like that are those who only have < 10 ebooks (or however many fit on 1 page of your chosen display). Faux-wood or not, it's always better to display the book/author name than just a 60x60 (or whatever) book cover thumbnail.

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Advanced users can then turn on the Advanced Mode, where the UI is populated with the present huge range of tasks and sub menus etc. etc. and fiddle and convert and manage their database and Meta data to their hearts content.
"Advanced mode" is a cop-out. What is advanced? Is book conversion advanced? Is sending to multiple devices advanced? If you have a device with two memory locations (for example, a Nook STR with built-in memory and an SD card), is "basic" to send only to the built-in memory and "advanced" to allow sending to SD card? What do you do when the "basic" user runs out of space on his device because calibre's ignoring the SD card? Tell them to turn on advanced mode, even though they don't need any of the other "advanced" functionality?

That said, here are two suggestions:
  1. Calibre is open source. Go checkout the source code and have a go at modifying the UI. You could start off simple, changing text labels ("Metadata" -> "Book Info" or whatever), or go all out and try to split off basic vs advanced functionality. And then get Kovid to accept your diffs.
  2. Most of calibre's functionality is exposed in command line tools, and in theory you could probably even import various libraries. Why not take that as a "backend" (calibre's database, conversion tools, meta data tools, device sync tools, etc) and build your own OS X-specific UI?

Obviously those options require you having the ability to write this kind of software. So if that's not the case there's always option 3: Send Kovid a sizable donation (I'd suggest something in the ~$50,000+ range) and then ask him to make some special changes for you. I doubt you'll be able to buy him off, but you can try and I'm sure he'd appreciate the donation.
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Old 01-16-2013, 04:05 AM   #18
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And .... what is it with the updates ? One friend abandoned his kindle solely because he was driven crazy by the regularity of these updates !
Calbre is in a constant state of development so there is usually an update once a week: this is a real strength. You are not obliged to install each and every update. Personally I check out what's changed and only get the new version if changes relate to my use of calibre.

You can disable update notifications in Settings > Behaviour. Perhaps there could be another option "Tell me when my version of calibre is obsolete" so that at least this is shown when notifications are off.
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Old 01-16-2013, 04:15 AM   #19
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I too find the update cycle a giant plus.

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You can disable update notifications in Settings > Behaviour. Perhaps there could be another option "Tell me when my version of calibre is obsolete" so that at least this is shown when notifications are off.
Turning off notifications just disables the pop-up, you still get the line at the bottom of calibre telling you a new version is available.
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Old 01-16-2013, 06:30 AM   #20
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Face out /Face up, book shelves is:
1) a SELLING tool (I also ran a bookstore sometime in my life )

2) only used in Real Libraries(tm) for the 'featured/New Titles area

You wouldn't do this with very many deqd tree book (Ikea does sell lots of 'Billy' in my area)

I do occasionally use the cover browser and find t approximates a loosely filled shelf (where you peek into the gap as you move books)
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Old 01-16-2013, 07:45 AM   #21
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I disagree in one circumstance with the book cover comments made so far. Sometimes, when trying to re-locate a forgotten book, you remember a book's cover and not it's title or author. In such a case a multiple, non-animated, book cover display would be quicker.

Mind, I'm not expecting it to be implemented...
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Old 01-16-2013, 10:25 AM   #22
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I disagree in one circumstance with the book cover comments made so far. Sometimes, when trying to re-locate a forgotten book, you remember a book's cover and not it's title or author. In such a case a multiple, non-animated, book cover display would be quicker.
Wouldn't the Cover Browser work for that?
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Old 01-16-2013, 10:46 AM   #23
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Wouldn't the Cover Browser work for that?
The key word was Non-animated.
+1 for a toggle to turn that off. Simple slidshow mode I like the edge book to show, as the colors do jog the old brain. The blue one, next to the Fish)
and the Reflection: I have never seen a bookshelf shined up to that level. Maybe I need the Dust and cat fur option to make it more realistic )

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Old 01-17-2013, 07:44 AM   #24
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Wouldn't the Cover Browser work for that?
From my perspective, the answer is no. Because, as TheDucks mentions, the cover browser is animated, has the unnecessary reflection and only shows a single book at a time.

However, the cover browser does provide a "bare minimum" equivalent to the idea. Just consider how annoying, time consuming and wearying it would be to try and search through a calibre library of a thousand books, one cover at a time.

And many calibre users have libraries far larger than 1,000 books.
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Old 01-17-2013, 09:26 AM   #25
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From my perspective, the answer is no. Because, as TheDucks mentions, the cover browser is animated, has the unnecessary reflection and only shows a single book at a time.
Agreed.

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However, the cover browser does provide a "bare minimum" equivalent to the idea. Just consider how annoying, time consuming and wearying it would be to try and search through a calibre library of a thousand books, one cover at a time.
Same goes, in the end, for the static thumbnail grid, if your library grows large enough. But I can see the utility for a smallish (but too large for the current cover browser to suffice) library.

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And many calibre users have libraries far larger than 1,000 books.
58K here
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Old 01-17-2013, 02:53 PM   #26
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But the interface is still so so so technical and obscure - Myriads of choices, functions, listings etc. It is FINE for people who are accustomed to using technical applications every day. And those people (incl me) probably find it quite frustrating when ordinary people are bewildered.
...
Am I wrong ?
I believe you are correct, and I have argued this myself. However, criticism of Calibre always seems to get slapped down by the forum regulars. The typical response is either denial, or "it's open source, fix it yourself if you don't like it."

Calibre was invented by a techie and (in my opinion) designed for technically literate users. As for the comment that there are 13M users so it can't be hard to use--as you (and others) have asked, how many are active users? And on the whole planet, how big is an audience of 13M really? Apple sells 13M iPhones every month.

I think Calibre is a fabulous tool. I use it every day and I have contributed hundreds of hours to its development--fixing issues with MOBI formatting and developing and maintaining periodical recipes. However, I am a technically sophisticated user. Everyone in my circle who has a normal, pedestrian degree of computer literacy (e.g., one of the 13M/month iPhone purchasers) who I have introduced to Calibre has said "oh, that's nice" and put it aside.

Active Calibre users will always be technically inclined by necessity. One day, e-reader companies and e-publishers will realize that making their e-book environments walled gardens via format and DRM is holding the market back. When that day comes I'll be able to manage e-books much like I manage photos on my various computers and devices--I won't have to worry about formats and DRM, and I'll be able to move them around just like files. Right-click on an e-book and I'll get a properties window with all the meta-information (just like with photos). I'll be able to load any of the mainstream formats on all of my devices--MOBIs on my iPad (without having to use the iPad Kindle app), ePubs on my Kindle Fire, etc. I'll have a right-click "Send to..." menu to deliver the e-book to whatever e-reader device is on the air or plugged in.

Until this utopian vision of the future arrives, it's Calibre for the technically literate and the walled gardens for the other 99.9% of the population.
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Old 01-17-2013, 08:11 PM   #27
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Same goes, in the end, for the static thumbnail grid, if your library grows large enough.
True. But I figured if it was implemented it would be user customizable to offer a 1 page = "N x N" customized grid size. So... tiny to huge screens, and relative database size, could be accommodated to some degree.


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I believe you are correct, and I have argued this myself. However, criticism of Calibre always seems to get slapped down by the forum regulars. The typical response is either denial, or "it's open source, fix it yourself if you don't like it."
I would just like to comment that I agree, calibre is too technical and could use a GUI makeover to simplify things. I think the failure to come up with a such a better, simpler interface is because no one has thought up an appropriate design for an interface widget offering all the possible ways in which features can be accessed and/or mixed together currently. I honestly think that if anyone could come up with a new and viable interface idea that it would at least be discussed and explored.

Another, somewhat related issue, is the tech level of the user manual. Almost all good programmers are terrible writer's/instructors; they're simply too knowledgeable within their field (in general) and too close to the software (specifically) to effectively write instructions for the average user. Most users will never understand the hardware or software processes and limitations; those few that have some knowledge will have an oversimplified understanding of things. Once you get past that, you still have linguistic barriers - no two people will read and comprehend a page of text and arrive at the same understanding.

I also agree with your supposition (without any factual proof available to either of us) that the abandonment rate of calibre is probably quite high. Additionally, I suspect that there are a high number of "repeat new installers" within the download numbers cited. Having uninstalled calibre, I imagine the unique ID from that installation also ceases to exist (rightly so - tracking should not be necessary). So repeating the install process only shows up as a new user rather than a repeat installation - thus skewing the numbers.

Finally, in defense of those who answer questions and provide comments to users in the forums... Dealing with customers or clients is never easy. It requires a phenomenal amount of patience - more than anyone has on a 24/7/365 basis. So if sometimes the response is brief, sounds rude, or dismissive-it might be. But it might also be the Nth time the responder has answered that exact same question this day, week, month, or year.

Last edited by Sabardeyn; 01-17-2013 at 08:13 PM.
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Old 01-17-2013, 09:06 PM   #28
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True. But I figured if it was implemented it would be user customizable to offer a 1 page = "N x N" customized grid size. So... tiny to huge screens, and relative database size, could be accommodated to some degree.
Let's say you have a reasonably-sized library of 500 books. Let's also say you have a 1920x1080 screen and you run calibre full screen. Finally, let's say you display covers at 128x128, because any smaller and they don't convey much information (also assume that covers are perfect squares, which they generally aren't). For usability, let's assume that there's a 20px gap between each cover. So, each cover requires 138x138px to display. Assuming no other chrome and complete edge-to-edge layout of books, you can fit 13 covers horizontally and 7 covers vertically. 13x7 = 91 covers == 6 pages of covers for your library. And that's best-case scenario. If you're a more average user, with a 1366x768 display, with sidebars and other UI chrome enabled in calibre giving a ~800x600 display area. You're now down to a 5x4 grid. 5x4 = 20 covers = 25 pages in cover view. Maybe that sounds fine to you, but that definitely does not work well for me.

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I think the failure to come up with a such a better, simpler interface is because no one has thought up an appropriate design for an interface widget offering all the possible ways in which features can be accessed and/or mixed together currently. I honestly think that if anyone could come up with a new and viable interface idea that it would at least be discussed and explored.
People have tried. Multiple times. Well, "tried", anyway -- basically this exact type of discussion, just theoreticals and "Somebody should do something!" but the people who want a simpler/prettier/better/<choose your adjective> GUI never come through with anything. Kovid and crew aren't opposed to making the GUI better/easier/cleaner/whatever (they are opposed to making one-off native GUIs per platform, and for good reason), but apparently nobody has provided any patches that make things sufficiently better all around (what's good for you may not be good for someone else -- that's why the GUI is configurable) for those patches to make it into the product itself.

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Another, somewhat related issue, is the tech level of the user manual. Almost all good programmers are terrible writer's/instructors; they're simply too knowledgeable within their field (in general) and too close to the software (specifically) to effectively write instructions for the average user. Most users will never understand the hardware or software processes and limitations; those few that have some knowledge will have an oversimplified understanding of things. Once you get past that, you still have linguistic barriers - no two people will read and comprehend a page of text and arrive at the same understanding.
So do something about it? The documentation has what the documentation needs -- specifics about how stuff works. What you're asking for is more of a "user guide" than documentation, and there's no reason you or somebody else couldn't write a simple guide saying, "Here's how you add a book. Here's how you send it to a device." It doesn't even have to be official documentation. Write a blog post and/or record a video and post it in various places. If it's good, people will find it, Google will bubble it up to the top of the search results for calibre, etc.

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I also agree with your supposition (without any factual proof available to either of us) that the abandonment rate of calibre is probably quite high. Additionally, I suspect that there are a high number of "repeat new installers" within the download numbers cited. Having uninstalled calibre, I imagine the unique ID from that installation also ceases to exist (rightly so - tracking should not be necessary). So repeating the install process only shows up as a new user rather than a repeat installation - thus skewing the numbers.
According to the stats page (emphasis added by me):

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Usage statistics are collected whenever a user starts calibre. Every calibre installation has a unique ID, this ID remains unchanged by upgrades and even an uninstall/re-install. This ID is used to collect usage statistics. Only this ID is stored, no other identifying information is collected.
My guess without reading through the code (which you can absolutely do) is that this is probably based off of the PC's MAC address. If you install across multiple PCs, that would look like different installations. But if you install/uninstall/reinstall on the same PC then you're not duplicating your original installation. I don't know if this is recorded only at installation time, or if calibre phones home periodically/on every start. If the latter, then there's probably a database somewhere that could be mined for "active users" (defined as "users who have started the app within some timeframe"). You'd have to take that up with Kovid, though.
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Old 01-17-2013, 09:11 PM   #29
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I don't disagree at all with your list of basic function as a wishlist. However the point in my post above was that once you take out the top two (which are not possible either for technical or legal reasons) you end up with something that other programs already do. And by trying to include those top two, by their very nature you require a certain technical level that users like my parents are never ever going to be at or have any desire to do so.
Keep in mind that the trend is moving steadily ... one might even say briskly to the demise of DRM from more and more publishers. Format conversion would still be needed because of different devices.
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Old 01-17-2013, 09:15 PM   #30
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Posts: 188
Karma: 2088290
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Ireland
Device: Kindle Paperwhite
Quote:
Originally Posted by theducks View Post
Plugins:
The proper way to avoid program Bloat
Ah yes ... like all of the greatest and most successful and most popular programs in the world. I get it.
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