[tahoe-dev] barriers to using tahoe

Jody Harris imhavoc at gmail.com
Thu Feb 4 15:28:49 UTC 2010

On Wed, Feb 3, 2010 at 9:52 PM, Zooko Wilcox-O'Hearn <zooko at zooko.com>wrote:

> Dear Jody:
> Thank you very much for the report from the field! It is useful to
> get overall gestalt reports in order to track our progress and to set
> expectations for other users. Hearing reports like this from actual
> users who have actual expericen is invaluable.
> In addition, you could contribute even more value by adding details
> which are specific enough that we could see how to fix them, i.e. new
> issue tickets. I'll quote some of your message and ask for more
> specifics.
> On Monday, 2010-02-01, at 9:58 , Jody Harris wrote:
> >  - It's hard to get it up and running
> But the people you cite did get it up and running but subsequently
> stopped using it, right? Was it perhaps sort of left-over resentment
> from the getting started part that contributed to them giving up? (I
> know I'm that way about software -- if it is hard to install then I
> feel like it owes me one and it has to make up for it once I get it
> installed. :-)) Or was it just that they didn't find it sufficiently
> useful?
> They did get it up and running, but then were unable to understand the
interface. (more on this below)

>  >  - Creating directories and files via the WUI makes keeping track
> > of capabilities a tedious manual exercise in futility.
> Did they use bookmarks? I find bookmarks (in my web browsers, I mean)
> to be pretty easy. What could we change to reduce this problem?
> "Bookmarks? What the heck? You mean I have to bookmark my files to get back
to them?"

You use bookmarks because you understand that the system does not offer you
another way of keeping track of files created through the WUI. As a new
initiate to Tahoe, I am viewing Tahoe as a file repository. I put something
in. I come back later to get something out. When I make a deposit in a bank,
I don't have to keep the transaction number in order to withdraw that money
later. When I put milk in a glass, I don't have to use a unique, randomly
generated key to get it back out. When I put a file on my hard drive, I go
back to where I stored it to get it back.

For most users, bookmarks are a work-around (for something they will see as
badly broken), not an interface.

>  >  - Using the CLI is arcane, mysterious and cryptic.
> If you can provide some more specifics, now would probably be a good
> time to do so, as David-Sarah has assigned a bunch of usability
> tickets to themselves including CLI tickets: http://allmydata.org/
> trac/tahoe/query?status=%21closed&owner=davidsarah

"You mean I have to TYPE stuff in the DOS window? Oooooo! Yuck!"

These guys are even experienced computer users. I kid you not! Granted, they
are all in their late 20's to early 30's, but they have never known the
command line in an intimate way.


>  - There should be a FUSE-like gateway through my file manager
> I heartily agree! Volunteers needed! Here are the related tickets:
> http://allmydata.org/trac/tahoe/query?status=%
> 21closed&order=priority&keywords=%7Efuse
> François and David-Sarah have both contribued small patches to the
> FUSE code recently. If any readers want to jump in and make a proper
> read-write FUSE plugin, feel free to post to this list about it.
> There are at least a couple of other strategies that might have even
> better results than a FUSE plugin for you. What file manager do you
> use? Perhaps Tahoe-LAFS could be integrated directly into that
> filemanager. Or perhaps the existing read-write ftp plugin would
> satisfy.

It think it has to be transparent to the desktop. I use Gnome as my desktop
now, but I still greatly prefer and use KDE's Dolphin file manger. FTP can
be easily attached to the standard set of file managers, after which, it can
be used _mostly_ like a local FS. Something that depended on Nautilus would
be a huge disappointment to me because I don't care for Nautilus. (Not that
that would keep me from using it.)

Supporting each file manager would seem to be a lot more work than a more
generic interface... but I understand that there are many trade-offs to be

> >  - Once I create items, I have no way to browser them (see above)
> Hrm, because you don't have a sufficiently convenient way to keep
> track of the caps to them, you mean? What if you were to keep a
> bookmark to a certain directory and link everything you create into
> that directory (or into subdirectory which are linked into that
> directory, etc.). Would that satisfy? That's what I've been doing,
> e.g.: http://testgrid.allmydata.org:3567/uri/URI%3ADIR2-RO%
> 3Au6hxf6v5mu6viibkppkpd7ygu4%
> 3Am54njuevyfxpma4dzklipej3g4kh24l2tgt6l52foaqwzdhzsw3a/

Users expect a / directory in a filesystem. Tahoe isn't a filesystem, but it
does things a filesystem does (store and retrieve files). They expect to
interact with it like a filesystem because they see it as a filesystem.

I don't have these problems because I looked at what tahoe was doing, and I
thought, "Oh. Okay." and I changed my methods to be compatible with tahoe.
Most people won't bother. If it doesn't act (at some level) the way they
_perceive_ that it  _should_ act, then it is "broken."

I'll post some more comments to this thread from my users later.

> >  - I don't have time to read manuals
> >  - I only have [15 minutes a week] to work on this project
> Yeah, too little time. I have this problem too! ;-)

I've discovered that I have an awful lot of time since I turned off the

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