Filed under: indescribable
Once more, I tried to use frassle today. I was hoping to exploit some of its features, but instead found myself too frustrated to continue until I had had some tea. Updates once I’ve settled down a little.
Okay, so I just spent an hour on Frassle, seeing how it works. And I’m still frustrated, and I got only two useful categories out of my browsing. But I think I know how it works… The features that often assuage my frustration on other sites, the help pages and the search function, don’t work the way… one might expect.
The main difficulty I have is that the site doesn’t tell you what you can do with it. You are immediately presented with three big link-tabs at the top of the screen, for an aggregator, a “publisher“, and a “weblog“. The publisher looked interesting, but why would I use that and not my weblog? After I got my first inexplicable red-inked error (on my second submission), I stopped trying to publish, and stuck to blogging.
The second striking problem is that many features of the site and interface are subtlely dependent on your context — whose writings you’re looking at, whether they are being published or blogged, and whether they are already categorized by you in your aggregator or not.
Finally, many tasks are not readily reversible. Things can be added from interfaces that disallow deletion. Things can be moved or renamed, sometimes magically, from one interface but not from another which looks almost identical. In one particular case, unsubscribing a feed from a category could only be done by clicking on the category title and then clicking on the word “subscribed” in the resulting page… this alone took me a few minutes to figure out.
In any case, the whole categorization interface (and categorization + the long arm of cross-category matching are frassle’s calling card) is painful to use and only sporadically intuitive. Flashier now than the last time I visited, but still painful. And while it occasionally adds helpful mouseover text (which compensates for vague elements in the interface), that too is sporadic.
On the bright side, there seem to be a few new people streaming in to test it out (and hey, I went back , so I have some hope that alpha 17 will start to look really neat. I figure I should check back around Hallowe’en.
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