The Design of Software (CLOSED)

A public forum for discussing the design of software, from the user interface to the code architecture. Now closed.

The "Design of Software" discussion group has been merged with the main Joel on Software discussion group.

The archives will remain online indefinitely.

It is astonishing what we put up with

This is a rant about any GUI that makes it possible for input intended for one window to be delivered inadvertently into another window.

It is not hard to construct a scenario where such a GUI can start a nuclear war.

Consider a submarine commander about to click on "Yes" to "Run routine maintenance now? Yes/No".

While the nerve signal to click is travelling down his arm, a pop-up window appears which says "Hostile entity in sight, fire missile? Yes/No".

Unfortunately, the "Yes" in this pop-up window is in the same place as the "Yes" that he was about to click on.

So the pop-up window takes the click, and immediately disappears, and is replaced by a window which says "Are you sure? Yes/No".

The pop-up window which said "Hostile entity in sight" only existed for a fraction of a second, while the nerve signal was travelling down his arm, and the commander didn't even have time to see it.

What he now sees is "Are you sure? Yes/No" in response to his intended click on "Run routine maintenance now?".

It is astonishing that the world puts up with this.
Ben Wint Send private email
Friday, January 27, 2006
 
 
A strange game. The only winning move is not to play. How about a nice game of chess?

Friday, January 27, 2006
 
 
One online poker client I... know of... had a problem whereby their 'notification' popups would appear in the middle of the screen (standard MessageBox behaviour), but they weren't application-modal. But when it was your turn to bet, the table window would bring itself to top, in front of any message box. So you could find yourself intending to click the message box, but actually clicking Call.

They changed that pretty quick.
Larry Lard Send private email
Friday, January 27, 2006
 
 
I agree, however I also observe that one of our customers' most frequent demands is for stuff to pop up in front of them so they are sure to notice it. Eg. if they are approving cheques, they don't want to go look in an Outlook-style Inbox queue, they want a big box to come up the instant the request is submitted to the person is forced to deal with it immediately. Sometimes they even want buzzers and sirens and so on. When we unwisely implement this sort of thing, it is typically disabled after a few days.
NetFreak Send private email
Friday, January 27, 2006
 
 
The Mac mostly gets this right, in that most dialogs are application-modal. Actually, these days, most of the things that used to be pop-up dialogs are now drop-down sheets that appear on the window that spawned them.

There is still the occasional issue of applications bringing themselves to the front and stealing focus when they launch, but that's getting under control.

I end up typing something into the wrong window at least once a day in Windows, but I can't remember the last time it happened on my Mac.
Mark Bessey Send private email
Friday, January 27, 2006
 
 
The drop down sheets on the Mac are a terrible design. Half the time you need to see the informaton behind them in order to answer the question they ask.
Art Wilkins
Friday, January 27, 2006
 
 
Reminds me of a customer order management system I worked on in the mid 80s. (called COMS no less!)

During a meeting with the finance team, the finance manager requested a yes/no prompt at a particular point in the processing of an entry screen.

We went away and I started work on it. Only to find that there was ALREADY a YES/NO prompt at that point.

The users had hardwired into their hindbrains the actions to submit the form and so the display did not even have time to bring up the prompt, so when she watched them, she did not see it.

She then came back and asked if she could have the YES/NO prompt only if they where NOT sure. ( I KID YOU NOT! )
Peter Morris Send private email
Friday, January 27, 2006
 
 
The "Install" button on Firefox dialogs is grayed out for the first couple of seconds.
Mr. Powers Send private email
Saturday, January 28, 2006
 
 
>> Consider a submarine commander about to click on "Yes"
>> to "Run routine maintenance now? Yes/No".

>> While the nerve signal to click is travelling down his
>> arm, a pop-up window appears which says "Hostile entity
>> in sight, fire missile? Yes/No".

I bet that happens all the time!

The nerve signal idea reminds me of traffic light cameras we have here in the UK, where you get photographed and ticketed if you run a red light. I was done recently 1.3 seconds into a red light. The problem is that the lights are at amber for only 3 seconds, and (according to the Highway Code - a set of standards for road use over here) it would typically take 4.8 seconds to think and stop from 50mph. So I didn't stand a chance - to have hit the brakes would have left me stopped in the middle of the junction, and to carry on gets me fined. Now that's what I call a poor user interface. Unless you're the local authority counting the revenue, that is.

Rich
Rich (poorHouse)
Monday, January 30, 2006
 
 

This topic is archived. No further replies will be accepted.

Other recent topics Other recent topics
 
Powered by FogBugz