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

Daniel Stonier d.stonier at gmail.com
Thu Feb 20 13:07:41 UTC 2014

On 20 February 2014 17:30, Ingo Lütkebohle <iluetkeb at gmail.com> wrote:

> 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.

Check. I usually have my head in code or algorithms, or these days trying
to help a team to function, and typically leave these conversations to
others. Also, I'm not in any way advocating that ease of use isn't
unimportant, perhaps that didn't get emphasised.

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
> decide.

I like that - concurrently is a very good way of thinking about it. My
concern is that this sometimes hasn't been done. Catkin was a good example
- have spent some time in the past trying to escape conversations that
quickly drifted away from the original topic into ease of use noise with
some parties not being really aware of what catkin was trying/needing to

I think that we need to be wary of discomfort from change colouring our
arguments and affecting others as well.


> cheers
> --
> Ingo Lütkebohle, Dr.-Ing.
> Machine Learning and Robotics Lab, IPVS, Universität Stuttgart
> http://www.ipvs.uni-stuttgart.de/abteilungen/mlr/abteilung/mitarbeiter/Ingo.Luetkebohle
> +49-711-685-88350
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