Not user friendly

I just want to select a file and click a button to encrypt it. If I have to select a key, create a new key, select a passphrase, or whatever else, that’s OK too. I can handle three or four steps. The instructions should fit in this 10 row text box that I’m typing in. There’s no reason encrypting has to be more complex than that.

Somehow I was able to find instructions that said I need to use the Encrypt to Self option to do what I want. On another page (Configure) I found a description of Encrypt to Self and the top of the page said “GPGee’s configuration dialog is activated from the GPGee context menu.” Luckily I knew what that meant and found the menu. Encrypt to Self was already checked, but the instructions for Encrypt to Self say that the option will cause the key used for signing the file to be added as an encryption recipient. There’s no obvious place in the configure menu for that key. I wouldn’t know how to create a key anyway. Just make something up like a password? All the fields in the Sign and Encrypt menu are blank and there are no instructions there.

Just put all the instructions needed to encrypt files for a person’s own use in one place and I’ll be happy. When you’re creating documentation, it’s not enough for it to be complete. It has to be user friendly. If someone can learn what he wants to know by reading five pages of documentation of which 90% doesn’t apply, that’s not good. I have a strong hunch that what I want could be written in a few sentences. In fact, it probably shouldn’t be necessary to look at the documentation if the user can find the interface. Yes, an interface can really be that good.

I anticipated problems like this from free software. That’s why I looked at commercial products. I found two from companies that I figured might semi-established and not that small. One catered too much to pirates and other low-lives, and the other was buggy according to some forum posts and caused blank email to be received. I won’t spend $100 for that. There’s nothing good and trustworthy out there as far as I could tell.

The area of file encryption is currently being re-implemented for Gpg4win 2.0.
We hope to get out first BETAs soon.

We’d very much appreciate improvements of the
documentation to be more to the point.
Are you willing to work on the text and
prepare a improved version?
(note that it is planned that the manuals
will undergo two iterations of improvements,
but any help is welcome – coordination
is done of the gpg4win-devel mailing list).

Alternaitvely, testing the user interface
and reporting problems or proposals how to
improve is welcome anyway.

Once the BETA is out this will be announced
on the announce mailing list.

What about setting up a Wiki? I’m surprised more software projects don’t do this. I don’t have the time or knowledge to write extensive documentation, but if I ask a question and someone is nice enough to answer it for me (or I find the answer on the web) I’d be happy to add it to add it to Wiki.

Even better, someone should set up a Wikipedia of error messages wherein you’d enter the program, the steps you you took to generate the error, and the message and the Wiki tells you what it means and how to fix it.

While I am a friend of Wikis, introducing
a wiki simply means yet another infrastructure
element to maintain.
This just lowers the man power of the
Gpg4win team which we are short of already.