Installing in Real Life: Comments on Usability

If you want to help the RetroShare team and project, you can do some small tasks. Designers, testers, translators, please come...
Forum rules
Please read the forum's rules carefully before posting. This forum should not be used to post RetroShare usage related questions.

Installing in Real Life: Comments on Usability

Postby keller_scholl » Sat Jan 14, 2012 5:53 pm

This is the documented path of a somewhat technical user attempting to install RetroShare after seeing it on HN. Being a big believer in usability, I thought you might appreciate feedback. This is being written as I work my way through the install process.

Downloading RetroShare: Download the .exe, all is good. Just ignore the complicated options.

Run: Yay, things are working. I do what it tells me to about installing GPG, and that works fine. I am confused for a moment if it wants my email password at the password prompt, but the little dialogue solves my problem. Yay!

Quick Start Wizard: OK, I have seen these before. Download and upload speed limits I know of, though I think guidelines like "Wifi" and "ethernet" should be provided. Why can't RetroShare prompt to discover this by sending a massive pinging packet somewhere? I just leave the default options, hoping all will work. I don't want to take down the network my family uses, so I am a bit worried, but I trust it will all be fine.

Connection: The default is firewalled, but I know I don't have that. Manually forwarded port? I don't do manual manipulation of ports if I can possibly avoid it, so no. I conclude that I should be using an automatic connection. Again, why is this impossible to scan for? Test a bunch of sites(Politics and porn) to see if any of them fail to return what they should. Ask the user first, in case they are worried about getting caught. But it would be nice.

Discovery: Public. I am not using a darknet for this, no worries.

Dynamic DNS: WTF? Ok, I know what the term means. It assigns new DNS addresses for some reason, maybe because you have a bunch of users who don't use it at the same time. But, um, what do I enter? Do I have a dynamic DNS? Well, I use a laptop, so what does that do? I check the documentation. I land ... umentation, I click installation guide which hasn't been updated in a while. It is no use whatsoever, and doesn't tell me anything about Dynamic DNS. I am getting annoyed, so I try clicking next to see if it is mandatory. It doesn't appear so, but I am worried it will result in a nonfunctional program somehow so I go back. I find the FAQ after checking the main page of the wiki, don't see Dynamic DNS named anywhere in the subjects, but I do a ctrl+f for it and find that

"Retroshare clients also propagate IP/port updates through the F2F network. Provided there is at least one node with an address you're able to obtain via DHT or Dynamic DNS, you will be able to connect to that node and be provided with the IP/port updates for any common nodes that have changed. To keep the network stable you should have DHT enabled, or have others on your network supporting DHT or with Dynamic DNS."

Well, that was moderately helpful. It tells me it is probably important. Time to go to the forums, maybe somebody else has had this problem. Nothing on the front page, so I search for it. Apoapo first says that it is "self explaining." They edited it to admit that "could be confusing for users who do not know dyndns." Ok, so now I know what to get. Download DynDNS separately, finish that install, and then finish RetroShare.

Ok, so DynDNS costs money. Let's find the free options. FreeDNS comes up first, somewhat stereotypical "no graphics and features list front page of an open source project." I can work with this, I am somewhat technical. They say that Dynamic DNS is supported and there are clients for windows. Getting better and better. The signup is at the bottom of the site, three pages down on my netbook. I sign up for that after a few unexpected username fails. While waiting for the email to come from them, I see what else there is in the setup process.

Joy, a folder that I can't see in its entirety. Netbook means that I get to see C:/Documents and Settings/Keller Scholl/Appli...
Also, I can't expand the window to let me see the whole thing. And when I try to find that folder, it doesn't exist. Thankfully I am tech savvy enough to jiggle with the settings, remember how to view hidden folders, set that to true, and spot Application Data. I go into there and find RetroShare, and assume that is where the folder would be. I don't want to start anything drastic, and I figure I can add places later, so I move on.

Yay, button options! I select the ones I like(startup on startup, auto minimize), hoping that my computer's slow internet connection gain won't be an issue.

My chrome tab for Gmail shows something is in my inbox. I try to add a subdomain with FreeDNS, and I have no clue which option to use. I look at them all, none of them seems like what I want. I switch back to the tab I had of Dynamic DNS clients, pick one, and the website seems to be down. Some error about the server being interrupted. It replicates. Alright, pick another one. This one says it is friendly, and the download works. I go through the install process easily. Everything is nice and automatic. It seems to work. Looking at the FreeDNS thing again, Type CNAME seems to be what I want. I then try to set up FreeDNS Update. I give it my username and password, say get domain list, and it stalls. Or maybe returns nothing. I can't tell. I fiddle with FreeDNS some more, and finally get to work. I toss my username and password into FreeDNS again. Still nothing. I by sheer luck switch over to the Status panel, which tells me what has been happening. Somewhat. Vaguely. I try tracing the domain using the FreeDNS utility, which says a lot and tells me little. There is a little red thing, and I get the oh so helpful message of " is not equal to received type is cname."

It is now almost an hour after I started. I email the guy who made the program I tried to use, and I conclude that installing RetroShare will be a lot harder than I anticipated. For now I just skip past it, remembering that everything can be changed with the tools menu.

This is the exhaustion, annoyance, and befuddlement of a recreational programmer who is used to working with open source projects. I love the idea of RetroShare, but setting it up is less than fun.

I know I probably did a few things wrong somehow, or that it is easy to use if you just do X. The problem is that I didn't know X, and there isn't much help provided for it that doesn't involve me going to the forums. And yes, much of this came from troubles with interacting with stuff outside your control. But you can make a guide that tells people what to do, step by step. Use this website to do this thing and then do that over here. If I have to go to the forums to understand something about the program, there is a problem. I love having people who can help out, but having them not need to would also be really nice. If I have to go to the nice people in the forums as part of a standard setup process without errors...

Thank you for making this project. I know how hard it can be to make something work, and I am impressed by the massive number of capabilities it has. I really wish I could make use of them by suggesting it to anyone else. You have done an amazing job creating this, and I hope that someday I will be able to suggest it to others. I don't mean to slight you, and I hope you know that I really want to use this software. Keep on creating and coding and fighting for privacy, please. I do appreciate it.

I hope this helps.
Posts: 1
Joined: Sat Jan 14, 2012 4:45 pm

Re: Installing in Real Life: Comments on Usability

Postby apoapo » Thu Jan 19, 2012 5:01 pm

(at first: i am not part of the dev team, not even a programmer)

Hi keller_scholl,

nice feedback. I am also a big fan of 100% perfect usability for non techy users. RS can still be improved on this field imo ;)

I would like to answer on the dyndns thing:

It is not necessary. In fact it should be stated in the dialog that it is totally perfect to continue without dyndns, because DHT is enough to connect to each other.

DHT and dynDNS are both used to find the dynamic (changing within 24 hours) IP of a friend and therefore redundant. When 1 service works, the other is obsolete. Dyndns should be provided as an option for techy users only, because DHT is much easier (nothing to setup here).

Posts: 189
Joined: Sun Jan 10, 2010 12:55 pm

Re: Installing in Real Life: Comments on Usability

Postby Distro » Thu Jan 19, 2012 11:03 pm

You also might want to select "DHT only" because discovery used to cause disconnections. (It could have changed recently though...)
Posts: 303
Joined: Sun Sep 04, 2011 7:33 pm

Return to Contribute and help the RetroShare project

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest