Stupid wordpress. second time I’m writing this. OK, I would like to present my idea for the research project I will work on for a year from now.
Problem: Users don’t test usability in FOSS software enough. It’s too laborous and unrewarding.
Solution: Take advantage of the fact that many users enjoy trying out new features, but don’t go so far as to actually download, compile and test unreleased software. Build a solution that let’s them test unreleased software easily. Use technologies such as klik or glick to include all needed libraries in a single runnable binary. Allow for instrumenting the software with automated tests (for example, with a qt app, one could use a class that would attach to all qt buttons and menus and generate statistics on which buttons were used most, and how a certain task was performed, maybe even record all events and do some sort of a playback that the developer can observe). Distribute this instrumented software to a large group of users and generate a summary of the results that the developer can use for reference when (re)designing the software.
Implementation details: Since this is a one year research project, I aim at making a prototype of this solution, only implementing the needed parts as I go along. I do intend to write it so that the project can be continued afterwards as well. What I need from the community is help with testing this solution on a certain piece of software. What kind of software this would be is of course dependent on how I implement the prototype, but since I know KDE well I think choosing a KDE application would be a good choice. (Maybe even choose Ark, as some might remember that I also code on)
I have not yet finalized on this plan, it might change or even be replaced altogether. But either way I would like to know what the community thinks about the idea? Are there any obvious logical problems? Technical problems? Let me know in the comments.