|Re: WP34s shift keys|
Message #18 Posted by Peter Klein on 27 July 2012, 1:33 p.m.,
in response to message #14 by Paulo MO
The question of menus vs. shift keys is a fundamental design issue, and for some almost a religious issue. There are going to be passionate people on either side no matter what is done.
I must say that when I first started playing with the 34s emulator a couple of days ago, my first reaction was, "What? THREE shift keys? Too complicated!" But once I got to know the layout and conventions of the calculator, I found myself liking it more and more. It's kind of like learning to play the bassoon, which I do :-) Some fingerings don't make any sense when you start. But after a while most of them "get into your fingers," and all's well.
It probably helps that I've used a 25c, 11c, 32s, 32sII, 42s and 33s. So I could take mental shortcuts: "Oh--that's like my 11c. OK. This is more like the 32sII. That's OK, too."
I've used, documented, tested and compared much software in my lifetime. I've come to the conclusion that discrete key commands are best for things that you do every day. Menus are better for things that you don't do every day. With the keystrokes, you employ less physical motion than menus. Muscle memory takes over, and you can do familiar things quickly and easily. But with menus, if they are logical, you spend much less time hunting for the right key. So even though they usually mean an extra keystroke or two, they can save you time overall for things you don't do all the time.
Ideally, you have both and can choose--which is why most software has both menus and keyboard shortcuts. That would be nice in a calculator, but we are limited by the display and available memory. It would be nice for the 34s to have a two-line x-y display. And 42s-style menus with hierarchy so we could quickly find less-used functions. But the physical display is the limiting factor here.
Another thing to remember is that the more advanced calculators have so much math stuffed into them that some people are bound to be less happy with the interface than others. If your favorite functions require less keystrokes to get to, you'll be happier. If not, not so happy. And (my opinion here) if we start down the road of combining the shift keys, I think we've crossed the line where the complexity becomes great enought that few would be happy in the long run.
Finally, we have to remember that with the most advanced calculators, we are bumping up against the point where it might be better to use a computer. :-) Most people in the 1970s didn't have that choice. Now we do.