4 min read

My failure with users

Failure of an technical guys,a retrospective.

Since last April I started to attend the university. It all began with an introduction week. A get tougher of everyone who was new to this main subject. Some games to get to know each other.

One session was to find a tool everyone agreed to use. One of my wishes was not to use any services like Google or Facebook. Most of them agreed and I proposed to use a owncloud. For chatting it would be a Jabber and everying else we will use the mailling list from the University. During this session we met some students from they masters, begin ‘student buddies’. As an helpful gesture I took all of their notes from the previous years. I’ll then put all of this data into the owncloud.

I started right away and installed a new owncloud. At first I use a docker container, but had to change due some performance issue. After some handwork it was done! I allow the users via a special script to login ejabber with their owncloud credentials.

Managing all the user and import them to the owncloud was the most annoying part. I provide a

I was happy! But I didn’t consider a important fact! the user.

Despite of the data and ‘our’ agreement, most of the user never used cloud at all. Some managed to use it.

As technical person, you tend to focus differently then others. But I missed this out and this made it to ofne of my biggest issues.

For example: Most of the users accessed the owncloud with a SmartPhone.I never expected that, my focus was on a desktop computer. One that can use the native client to access the cloud. Nevertheless most only use a SmartPhone. It might related to a change base lines, that users just want to access things on the fastest way possible, something that is a bit odd to me.

In additionally matter of fact was that when you want to use the owncloud app(on iPhone/Android) you need to pay money. I kind of only use a f-droid in wich the owncloud app comes for free. There is no free alternativ to iPhone.

The chat had similar issue. Also to get a good app for chatting imply paying money.

Also the fact that most of them don’t read the documentation or even trying to work with the service someone managed to them. Just the afford to take to get know of the technology seems oddly to much.

As a result everyone uses what they know best. Google and Facebook services.

What brings me back to a blog post I read some time ago. I can not finding it in the moment, but the message was simple: What’s the point in Open Source software when the user is the limited itself in using it.

It brings me to the conclustion that you have to enforce users, but that only work when you have the power to this. In every other chase the user will look for a more simpler alternative. Beside teaching the user to work with this seems important, something I failed to do well enough.

As an additional note: I have to say it’s an quite impressive project and work very well. It has only one element I dislike, PHP. There are have some concerns about,but it manage to do a good job.

Also my expectation of the use of the Jabber Server. There is real work in there to get the ejabber service to use the owncloud user databases to authenticated them. It has even a integration into the website!

But the use case was again that they user rely on a desktop machine, not on a smart phone.

Another issue I missed is how afraid users are when they have to do something new. As User I tend to do the same, but in the sense: What’s the best work flow.

But it’s a good lesson to be learned.