[ros-users] ROS usability (was: ROS & DDS)

Ingo Lütkebohle iluetkeb at gmail.com
Thu Feb 20 08:30:59 UTC 2014

On Wed, Feb 19, 2014 at 10:36 AM, Daniel Stonier <d.stonier at gmail.com>wrote:

> There is another point I'd like to bring up about usability. To me
> *usability* != *ease of use for beginners*.
> I wouldn't consider something usable if, despite being brilliant for a
> newbie, it isn't capable of doing everything that it's specified to do.

Your point is important, but the lecturer in me can't let that inquality
uncommented, because it's really not about personal value judgements --
there is an accepted body of knowledge that applies here, which comes with
a set of terms that are helpful in discussion such as these, I would think.

The aspects you're differentating here are usually called *utility*
(roughly => how much functionality is present) and *learnability* (roughly
=> how easy it is to use for beginners) in the usability literature. *Both*
of them are aspects of usability, so I while it is technically correct that
usability is not the *same* as learnability, it is an important component
of it.

> I think it's very important for people to sit down and work out the
> fundamental set of things that ROS must do, make everyone aware of these
> and THEN consider how to best make ros easy to use whilst being capable of
> that fundamental set of things. Only then do you have what I'd call a
> *usable* system.

Well, but what do you do when the question of what is "fundamental" is not
that easily answered? I would argue that that is exactly what is going on
here. IMHO, particularly in those cases, but also in many others, a more
*concurrent* consideration of utility and learnability might be helpful to


Ingo Lütkebohle, Dr.-Ing.
Machine Learning and Robotics Lab, IPVS, Universität Stuttgart

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