July 18, 2006
@ 05:12 PM

Yesterday, I spent way too much time trying to figure out how to import an OPML feed list into Bloglines from the UI before giving up and performing a Web search to find out the how to do it. Below is a screenshot of the key choices one has for managing ones feeds in Bloglines.

And this is what the Bloglines FAQ has in response to the question How Can I Import An Existing List of Subscriptions?

Once you have registered with Bloglines and replied to the confirmation email, click on the My Feeds tab at the top of the screen. Then, click on the Edit link. At the bottom of the left panel will be a link to import subscriptions. The subscription list must be in OPML format.
Why is importing a feed list an 'Edit' operation and not an 'Add'? Who designs this crud?


Tuesday, July 18, 2006 7:34:38 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
I believe the chap was last seen suggesting that a button labelled 'start' was a good place to put the shutdown option. ;). You did ask.
Tuesday, July 18, 2006 7:45:36 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Seems like that in Ross' world Windows is only a few years old :)

Anyway, Newsgator Online has some similar UI "glitches": it took me a lot of time to find a way to add a feed or import an OPML; with a little help from the help it was damn easy. But why do I need to consult the help for the most vital part of the service?
Tuesday, July 18, 2006 8:15:38 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Björn I was just being a smart-alec, but I expect there is just a good a reason for putting under 'edit' as 'add'. You are after all editing your subscription list ... although Add does seem the common sense place to put it.
Tuesday, July 18, 2006 10:41:38 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
I had the same difficulty finding this option. To me, "Import/Export" is logically separate and distinct from CRUD.
Wednesday, July 19, 2006 10:06:48 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)

>> but I expect there is just a good a reason for putting under 'edit' as 'add'[*]. You are after all editing your subscription list ... although Add does seem the common sense place to put it.[**] <<

re: * > Point taken, but theres also a reason why logic and usability are in separate domains of CS. Just because something can be reasoned through, and therefore logically placed within a UI management link hierarchy doesn't mean that the user is therefore wrong if he/she doesn't find any logic in the chosen link hierarchy.

Usability is a science in and of itself. A lot of well reasoned thought has gone into a lot of coulda/shoulda/woulda been great products, "if only those damn customers weren't so stupid!" ;)

re: ** > As would "Manage Your Subscriptions", as would "...", etc...

The problem with using a single verb at the top level of any given (request > response: (refresh, load, reload)) menu heirarchy to describe any given action, is that you have limited yourself to the action acting as not just the verb, but the noun as well, as you have to guess,

"If I want to management my subscription list, do I select 'edit' so I can (feed: (add, import(uri, list(opml, html), feed: delete)) to my existing list, or 'add' so I can (add, import(uri, list(opml, html)) to my existing list"

to then wait for the (response: (refresh, load, reload)) to find out if I made the right choice. It's frustrating enough to have to 'back' your way out of a choice, to then select from another verb to see if this time around you get lucky. Add to this internet latency and you've got yourself a significant usability issue.

Top level verbs work fine in instant response menuing systems such as your standard menu bar options, as selecting 'Edit' provides an immediate response mechanism that doesn't get in the way of standard decision flow logic. But even this is dependent upon the object in focus (e.g. a document in which you want to directly perform edit-related actions upon.) If the object I want to perform actions upon is currently out of focus, the selecting an 'immediatte action' verb such as 'Edit' doesn't always make the most logical sense to the end user. For example, open a specific component to perform a higher level management operation on an out of focus object such as 'Tools' > 'Code Snippets Manager...' to open a new control container that contains various components for managing/selecting a desired code snippet.
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