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feature review and frontends

Abstract:  general impressions from the feature review.

Thank you for presenting a straw man design complete enough to raise
issues all across the backend and docs&links design space.  I have
some general impressions:

1) I think you made the right trade-off, concentrating on
functionality rather than presentation.  Some of the pieces also have
interface polish on them, of course.

2) several of the pieces are pretty rough along various dimension.
I'm looking forward to redesigning the interface, hopefully
generalizinbg the capability.

3) the overall design sufferred from the standard problems of having
one designer cocentrating on the problem for too long.  The design
becomes too familiar, and 'obvious' simplifications are hard to see.
Also, the frontend representations stray unnecessarily from the
underlying backend designs.  (Note that this may be a reason for the
backend to change!)  Sensor/alarms/recorders is a good example.  Note
that these divergences are typical, and you did a remarcably good job
at hitting soft spots in the backend.

4) the two major sources of complexity are sophisticated link handling
and sensor/recorder/alarm handling.

5) a minor source of complexity that has little to do with xanadu is
inclusion list handling.  I don't advocate getting rid of it, but I
like the direction MarkM's simplifications headed.  'An issue' is
whether we should spend much time on the inclusion list part of the
interface rather than the links/sensors/versions stuff.

6) After the presentation I started talking to people about ideas for
improvements.  Lots of people gave great ideas for improving the
*interface* onto the underlying conceptual structures.  We also came
up with some cleanups to the concepts.  I'm confident that we can
clean up the interface and the concepts enough to produce a simple and
elegant frontend.  I think the underlying framework is sound.

7) you didn't make clear during the meeting which parts of the
frontend had a lot of interface thought, so people walked away with
the impression that you liked it all equally much (absurd, upon
reflection).  I think there's too many buttons and icons, for
instance.  I actually found the current design more useful for
yesterday's meeting, however, because each functionality had it's own

8) finally, I was impressed several times with how much you remembered
about all the things that need to happen inresponse to some action.
I'm a bit worried about how much you might have forgotten :-)

A following message includes a bunch of suggestions gathererd last
night for simplifications or improvements to the interface (or