Widgets Blast From the Past: Stuff that Bugs Me

Blast From the Past: Stuff that Bugs Me

By Nick at November 30, 2012 08:03
Filed Under: General, Blast from the Past, Delphi

I don't know what I ate on April 1, 2006, but apparently it didn't sit well.

  1. Message boxes that ask a Yes/No question, but give you Ok/Cancel buttons.   I mean, come on. If you are asking a "Yes or No" question, how tough is it to tell the dialog to have Yes and No buttons? Not tough at all, that's how tough it is.
  2. Ok buttons that are enabled when a dialog is not properly filled in.   This is basic User Interface design. If pushing a button will result in an error message, don't let the user push the button.
  3. Non-sizable dialogs.  Argh. This one drives me nuts. It's especially galling when there's a list box or something that is so small you feel like you are looking at it through a straw.
  4. Dialogs that don't remember their size and position. Related to the previous item. Sometimes a dialog is too small, and when I size it, I want it to stay sized. Sometimes it blocks stuff I want to see. It should stay where I put it, not where the developer thinks it should go.
  5. Windows that insist on putting themselves in front when I am doing something else. This is absolutely, unequivocally the most irritating thing about Windows. It bugs me more and more each day.  I decide what I am looking at, not some shareware programmer from Wisconsin. If I am typing or otherwise working in a Window, no other application should ever be able to steal the focus, unless it's warning me that my house is on fire or something equally serious. 
  6. File directory trees the size of postage stamps. Related to the issue above. Ever get one of those slightly older applications that won't let you size the directory lookup tree? With ever expanding hard drives and increasingly complex file directory structures, looking at your hard drive through a fixed size treeview that's only 150 pixels square feels like being shoved in the trunk of a Yugo.
  7. Crappy error messages, especially when they are sentences and don't end in a period. "List index out of bounds". Great -- which list? The name or even type of the list is known. Tell us! "Error 332322". This isn't a problem because I have, of course, memorized all the error codes for your application. What's wrong with "In the DoSomething method, the length of the input from the name edit box is too short.  It needs to be at least five characters."  Feel free to write a novel in your error messages. Believe me, no one will complain.
  8. CAPSLOCK keys. The person who thought putting the CAPSLOCK key above the SHIFT key and right below the TAB key should be rubbed vigorously with rough sandpaper and then placed in a bathtub full of lemon juice.
  9. Unnecessary modal dialog boxes that I have to click when it doesn't make any difference. I love these. "You've done something really stupid. Press Ok to continue". Great. Thanks. I couldn't have made it through the day without that totally, utterly meaningless and pointless message.
  10. Dialog boxes that have the negative answer on the left and the positive answer on the right. OK buttons go on the left. Cancel buttons go on the right. Don't put the Delete button on the left and the Approve button on the right. It's a gross violation of the laws of nature.

Comments (9) -

11/30/2012 8:37:40 AM #

Hey, Mr. Cranky Pants. It MUST have been the cheap guacamole side that caused all that indigestion.
I, personally, love the reference to the Yugo trunk, but there is an increasing group of people who will not get the reference. kids get off my lawn!

Doug Johnson United States |

11/30/2012 12:33:06 PM #

Ok buttons that are enabled when a dialog is not properly filled in.   This is basic User Interface design. If pushing a button will result in an error message, don't let the user push the button.

I would actually argue the opposite perspective: If the user's input is not correct, and you don't give them a way to click OK and run a validation routine that will tell them what they're doing wrong, then they might easily be confused and have no idea why this stupid, frustrating program won't let them click the OK button!  (Don't tell me that's never happened to you...)

Mason Wheeler United States |

11/30/2012 12:55:33 PM #

Yup, I'm with Mason. Either have some visual indication on the data that is in error. For example highlighted in red. But if you can't do that better to let the user press OK and then be told what was wrong.

David Heffernan United Kingdom |

11/30/2012 2:36:51 PM #

I would say that I'm with Mason and David on this one, but as usual, it depends on the context.

1st, the OK/Cancel buttons should NEVER be disabled or it means they are not true OK/Cancel buttons, but maybe should be some SAVE/QUIT or other choices. (UI 101)

Then, I do hate when I'm stuck with a dialog where the only choice is to Cancel the whole operation because I have no clue of what I need to do to make this frakkin "OK, Save, Next or what else" button happy.

The user should never be trapped with a choice between a disabled action and a bad one (or of unknown consequences).

François United States |

11/30/2012 1:15:24 PM #

Favorite error messages I've seen:
"insert error text here"
"Unspecified error"

Kevin S United States |

12/1/2012 8:13:29 AM #


richard Canada |

12/3/2012 2:06:43 AM #

lol love it!

Donovan Bpddy South Africa |

12/3/2012 2:15:21 PM #

>> OK buttons go on the left. Cancel buttons go on the right. Don't put the Delete button on the left>>

This is a big problem for me, because I'm writing Arabic applications which should be read from right to left, but wait, I'm writing English applicaitons too. Moreover I have reusable forms that need to be translated from Arabic to English and vice versa, during translation I should move components to the oppoiste direction, and reverse anchors, but this does not always go smooth, it is a really nightmare to me.
In web applications, it is very easy, just RTL/LTR in the body tag could do it.

Motaz |

12/11/2012 9:48:04 PM #

I agree with Mason: disabled controls confuse a user.  Leave them enabled and if the user clicks on them, tell them what they have to do to make them work...

Tom Field United States |

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