Update Manager Listing should NOT use descriptions
Binary package hint: update-manager
The use of package descriptions (instead of package names) in the Update Manager package listings represents a significant and needless reduction in usability.
There is no scenario in which a description of a package to be upgraded works better than the package name itself, followed by the description on the SECOND line, in smaller text.
As a seasoned programmer who has been creating GUIs since 1993, I'd like to offer the following reasons why using a longer description not only represents a reduction in usability but also reduces Package Manager's effectiveness as a security and management tool:
1) The headers are no longer bolded, which makes the heading more difficult to distinguish from the second line;
2) Longer list items require the eye move from left to right (or right to left in some languages), which makes it far more difficult for the eye to scan vertically;
3) NOBODY uses these package descriptions, making them even less recognisable than the (admittedly opaque) package names;
3a) Even if their use were to become common practice, the use of opaque, longer descriptions instead of opaque-but-terse package names is STILL not an improvement;
4) Developers don't make any effort to write succinct, useful descriptions (can you guess which package is the 'transaction based package management service'? I didn't think so);
5) Package names, although difficult for non-technical users to decipher, follow long-established naming conventions, and can immediately be parsed by advanced and intermediate users - the very people to whom this information is useful;
6) Package names are shorter (short is Good in lists);
7) There is no explanation or description that can be made in this limited space (save perhaps for a link to a wikipedia page) that could conceivably be of any use whatsoever to beginner users. Packages and their importance to the system are never going to more than vaguely understood by beginners. Reducing the usability of an important security tool for advanced and intermediate users is therefore a misguided and ultimately unrewarding step.
7a) The descriptions themselves are just more verbose version of the package name (e.g. 'tools for generating an initramfs' for 'initramfs-tools') - they add NO NEW information;
To sum up: This change in the displayed values in Package Manager's listings adds nothing to usability for beginner users (to whom the listing is meaningless in any case) and make it more difficult to use for everyone else.
Lest someone suggest this is unimportant: THIS IS A SERIOUS BUG. People judge whether and when to update their systems based on this listing. It MUST be as clear, succinct and useful as possible.
Expert knowledge of the system and its components is a prerequisite for using this tool, no matter how dumbed down the interface gets. Presenting the wrong information in the listing only makes it harder for those of us who depend on this functionality to do our jobs.
|Changed in update-manager (Ubuntu):|
|status:||New → Confirmed|
|importance:||Undecided → Medium|