I hope that the majority of KDE contributors have at least heard of them, but they have not received much attention lately: The KDE Human Interface Guidelines (HIG).
Every major operating system and desktop environment has human interface guidelines, because they are an important instrument for
- ensuring or at least improving consistency in appearance of and interaction with the different parts of an ecosystem and thus
- facilitating the transfer of knowledge gained in one part to other parts of the ecosystem
- promoting known best practices
- freeing developers or user interface (UI) designers from having to reinvent the wheel each time or having to look at several existing UIs to know what the “standard” is
- saving time which would otherwise spent discussing the same things over and over again
The value of HIGs depends to a large extent on their degree of completeness. However, creating – and maintaining – HIGs which cover most standardize-able aspects of UIs takes quite a lot of time and effort, from people with an interest in and knowledge of interaction design and usability, a rather scarce resource in KDE.
That is why the KDE HIGs are far from complete at the moment, and some of them are rather outdated. To improve this situation, I sent an email out to the KDE usability mailing list about three weeks ago, asking whether some people on that list would help me reboot the HIGs.
Thankfully, I got positive responses from three people so far: Heiko Tietze, Aurélien Gâteau and David Edmundson. The four of us met on the – recently pretty much abandoned – KDE Guidelines mailing list to start working.
First of all, we did what people usually do when they reboot some effort: We changed some fundamentals. Heiko introduced a new structure for the HIGs in general, as well as a new structure for each guideline (he’ll be talking about that soon in a blog post over at user prompt). We’ve already moved the links to existing guidelines into the new structure and are now working on updating existing guidelines and creating new ones.
Of course, help is always appreciated, so if you’re interested, hop unto the KDE Guidelines mailing list and join our cause!