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From "Dennis E. Hamilton" <>
Subject RE: [QUESTION] Usability of Non-Optional Java Dependencies
Date Sun, 01 Nov 2015 17:47:13 GMT


Thanks for the great summary of the situation, below.  I have a few supporting comments there.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Damjan Jovanovic []
> Sent: Sunday, November 1, 2015 09:22
> To: Apache OO <>
> Subject: Re: [QUESTION] Usability of Non-Optional Java Dependencies
[ ... ]
> To summarise, users are beaten through a gauntlet of serious usability
> problems when Java isn't successfully configured:
> 1. We don't have a Win64 version of AOO available for download.
> 2. The Win32 version that Windows users thus download, can't use 64 bit
> Java, something that is tricky to see.
> 3. The list of detected JREs in AOO Options is awkward to use, with its
> radio buttons.
> 4. The Quickstarter then stops AOO from being restarted.
> 5. Missing JRE error messages come up even for places where Java is
> optional.
> 6. There are multiple (10+) missing JRE error messages when assigning
> macros to form control events.
> The solutions seem straightforward:
> 1. We should have a Win64 AOO download available. Why don't we?
> 2. The UI should be clearer that Java has the wrong bitness.
> 3. That's also what the Eclipse IDE does in its list of JREs. I am not
> sure
> how that UI could be improved. What do you propose?
> 4. If we are keeping the Quickstarter, it needs to be more intelligent,
> and
> restart itself when AOO is intentionally restarted by the user.
> 5-6. Missing JRE error messages should only come up (1) when Java is
> actually needed, and (2) once for each dialog.
> I've also noticed that the version of Java used to build AOO becomes the
> minimum version of Java that it will accept in the list of detected
> JREs,
> older versions just get this generic non-descriptive error: "The folder
> you
> have selected does not contain a Java runtime environment. Please select
> a
> different folder."
> Damjan

A while ago I started digging into how to improve the messages that do come up, although that
doesn't remove users being trap-doored.

I discovered that the way exceptions are chained together and used to build the resulting
message dialog to users is difficult to untangle.  My concern was that the user would receive
multiple messages that all specified the same remedy (pointing to a single web page where
details and the cure can be found).  It may be appropriate to do that anyhow until a better
solution is found.  A quick fix for that part should not be too troublesome, other than needing
new localizations for the few dialogs involved.

By the way, the way Base chains exception messages and presents them looks like the technique
that should be used in all of the code, since it provides invaluable diagnostic information.

I think releasing an x64 version for Windows would be great, although an x86 version would
still be required so long as we support XP (or continue to provide simple/security updates
to the last XP-compatible distribution).  This should be a separate topic, because it also
involves code signing, building "dual" installers, and going to a modern installation process.
 The ultimate goal should be to have the authentic Windows and Macintosh binaries be acceptable
in the respective store systems.  There are multiple moving parts to orchestrate in getting
there.  It's my impression that getting code signing in place is an essential first step.

 - Dennis

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