Wednesday, June 24, 2009

gmail user interface:

It it one of the worst ever devised?

Where's the address book?

Where are folders? Screw this "conversation" nonsense. I cannot find some emails since they are hidden in a collapsed conversation thread - grouped together because of the subject line! I guess we all retype subject lines for every single email and never, ever inherit an older email and reply without modifying the existing subject line.

And who has the time to fiddle with labels? A fast click and move is much easier.

When accessing things on the internet, I prefer to use the mouse and as little of the keyboard as possible. Gmail thinks it's a gas to type in labels and search criteria. I don't.

Apparently, there are people who want the gmail UI in Thunderbird. Amazing.

In case anybody's wondering, I type fast and accurately, but what I don't like to do is switch modes from keyboard to mouse and back again. When reading (and sorting) email, the mouse should be sufficient, but isn't with gmail.

ALSO: I might as well be an equal-opportunity UI basher. Microsoft's most recent Office suite (a couple of years old) got rid of the File menu entry. Instead, there's something unlabeled called the Office Button that brings out the same options (save, save as, etc). And the Help menu entry is replaced by a small blue circle with a question mark inside.

I cannot resist quoting from this Microsoft page about the Office Button: (emp add)
When you click the Microsoft Office Button Button image, you see the same basic commands available on the File menu in earlier releases of Microsoft Office to open, save, and print your file.

[me: try and reconcile the following two statements]

The Options command that was on the Tools menu has been moved to be under the Microsoft Office Button.

The new location for the Options command is in the lower-right corner under Word Options, Excel Options, PowerPoint Options, or Access Options.

Why does the Office Button blink?

The Microsoft Office Button Button image should only blink when you have not clicked the button to view the commands. The blinking is a "look at me/click here" feature, because many people think that the button looks like a decorative logo, rather than a button to click to see commands. If you click the Microsoft Office Button Button image one time, it should stop blinking.
Kudos to the MS development team for making it harder to use their application. Bravo!


I use MS office suite from 2003 for work. On home machine have a copy of the new Office that I rarely use. That damn logo that is really there to open everything you need has cost me several hours. I fished all over the place trying to find common commands and put them in a place where I could find them. Truely assinine "upgrade" on their part.

By Anonymous Mart, at 6/24/2009 9:26 AM  

"It it one of the worst ever devised?"

I'm gonna have to go with yes. The whole conversation business is really utter nonsense.

By Blogger Sadly, No!, at 6/24/2009 11:00 AM  

"...because many people think that the button looks like a decorative logo, rather than a button to click to see commands..."

Yeah, it took me a long time to figure that out, too.

As for gmail...the first I saw of the "conversation" nonsense wasn't gmail, it was USENET, after Google purchased Deja News (a web interface to usenet). IIRC aside from the conversation nonsense, in one of the more common modes the Google Groups interface is in, there's a lot of wasted space on the screen.

Same comment applies to Google maps. There's wasted space. And I can never zoom out by clicking on the thing-ee that's there for that purpose, because the way it's drawn on my screen prevents me from doing that. So I have no choice but to use the slider for zooming out.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6/24/2009 12:11 PM  

They got rid of Clippy, so from the MSFT POV, one step forward requires 2 steps back/

By Anonymous The Dark Avenger, at 6/24/2009 7:13 PM  

Anon: I can see grouping stuff in Google Groups since that tends to be very, very topic-centered (e.g. "how do I fix this error message from application XYZ"). But for most person-to-person communication, in the back and forth, the topics typically change, and at the time you know what the email response is about. So you can handle a flurry of emails and, if needed, click and move a subset to an appropriate folder. But weeks later? If it's all collapsed under a "conversation", you've really got your work cut out finding the critical email from, say, the last Friday in April.

By Blogger Quiddity, at 6/25/2009 2:59 PM  

Dark Avenger: Yeah, Clippy is gone, but how about the "improved" search in XP and beyond? More mysterious than useful.

By Blogger Quiddity, at 6/25/2009 3:01 PM  

This is a righteous rant. I hate the conversation-thing. Yesterday, I went to look for a specific e-mail and it was buried among a chain of 28 other e-mails, and I just couldn't find it. And just to try to forward or print one of those e-mails in the chain without sending the whole thing. I thought Google was supposed to be run by geniuses.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6/26/2009 9:02 AM  

Quiddity wrote, I can see grouping stuff in Google Groups since that tends to be very, very topic-centered (e.g. "how do I fix this error message from application XYZ")...

But they're already grouped by topic (subject line). The useful thing Google Groups inherited from Deja News (and which news browsers often use, I imagine) is a frame on the left with a tree-like representation of who responded to who in the topic thread.

Adding the damn "conversation" thing, where some posts have to be clicked on to open them up, adds absolutely nothing to the useability.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6/27/2009 12:34 PM  

I like gmail. Feel free to throw rocks at me.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6/28/2009 4:03 PM  

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