Suggestions for Software Designers

I liked the format of my first CPM Wordstar, and haven't found anything to match it since. There was one command available for most functions, usually Ctrl keys (no Alt key in CPM). Today, in many programs, we have a choice of Ctrl, Alt and arrow keys and mouse commands. I'd prefer that Alt or Ctrl keys be reserved for macros, and I can do fine without a mouse. The mouse (and its relatives) is usually a way of using a hand to push virtual keys, which take up screen space, instead of using fingers to push real keys. (Of course I have the advantage of my *alternative keyboard* with Shift, Ctrl and Alt under one thumb, rather than under my pinky, which makes them much easier to use.)

Wordstar menus had "hotkeys" associated with main commands. When you learn a menu, you disable, or partly disable it, and just use the keys. Secondary menus, using two keys, could be configured to appear with a set delay after the first key. Once you learn them, their much faster than moving to a virtual key with a mouse. We've come to emphasize commands that are easy and fun to learn rather than to actually use, though learning them should take the smaller part of our time.

I'd like all software to have many option to include or eliminate. The non-used options and the configuration program could then be kept on another disk. All software should identify all files that can be stored elsewhere or deleted. Otherwise we continue the escalation of bigger programs and bigger disks. My first CPM system at its prime had 24K of RAM and one, maybe 180K, floppy drive. It did all the word processing I needed at that time, more than now in some ways, though maybe a bit slower.

Menu items should be numbered or lettered, and hot keys should be able to access each item.


Send me your thoughts.
Dan Robinson, danrob@efn.org, Eugene, Oregon
My home page: http://www.efn.org/~danrob/