Saturday, July 01, 2006

UI Keyholes

Way back in 2003 I went to the Software Development Expo out in Santa Clara.  I met Josh there and saw a bunch of amazing folks like Steve McConnell talk. 

One of speakers I saw was Scott Meyers, author of the great work Effective C++, who gave a couple amazing presentations, one of which was on keyholes in software design.  Keyholes are poorly thought bits and pieces which badly limit your view into what’s really going on, or limit your ability to effective accomplish the task at hand.

A prime example are dialog boxes or windows which aren’t resizable, thereby making you do a whole lot of scrolling manually via scrollbars  To wit, the Select Subfoolders dialog in Microsoft’s nice-in-concept SyncToy for XP which lets you sync up two folders on disparate systems. 

The amount of manual scrolling I have to do sucks, quite frankly.  It would be very nice to be able to get this window wider, but no, I’m not offered that option.  Grrrrrr.

Do your users a favor.  Avoid these kinds of silly, annoying restrictions.

2 comments:

David Dossot said...

I see dead people... ooops... I mean: I see keyholes everywhere.

That's what happens to anyone who has spent a day listening to Scott...

See: http://ddossot.blogspot.com/2005/06/dog-called-rover.html

Jim Holmes said...

Thanks very much for pointing out your blog post, David!

Yes, keyholes are really, REALLY annoying and just plain stupid.

(Also, David was good enough to link to a PDF of one of Scott's presentations: http://www.aristeia.com/TKP_Oct_2003.pdf)

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