Monday, July 7, 2008

Stupid GUI Choices

I have a very simple quiz for you, my dear readers. What happens when you use each of the following keyboard shortcuts?

Control/Command + C
Control/Command + V
Control/Command + F

Even the least savvy of computer users will know the answer to each of these (copy, paste, find). They are implemented almost universally across programs and platforms. Of the three, the only one which may cause new computer users to pause is "paste" since it uses "V" instead of the more logical "P" (which is reserved for printing). No one can argue though that the first impulse of any experienced user when he or she wants to find something in a sea of data is to go for control/command + F. That's "F" as in "find", right?

I've used this particular keyboard shortcut so many times that it's nearly second nature. My fingers are hitting the keys without my brain even sending the signal telling me that I need to hit "command" and "F".

Ask yourself what software developer in its right mind would decide that, instead of making "control/command + F" the keyboard combination for "find", would make it the shortcut for DELETE ALL CURRENT DATA. Yes, I'm shouting because this has to be the stupidest decision ever. What is more, this particular piece of software auto-saves every keystroke and has no "undo" so if you happen to hit "control/command + F" to find something since that's what happens in every other piece of software in the universe, your data is consigned to oblivion. There is no way of getting it back.

A pox on your house, Filemaker.

Yes, I'm looking at you Filemaker Pro. I don't use Filemaker for my personal work as database software isn't something I need, but I do use it for my work doing (freelance) telephone English level testing (for my former company). Sometimes I do multiple tests over a year with the same students and I need to find a previous score to compare it to the current one so you can imagine my joy at doing a search for a student's name and finding the record of every single student irreversibly wiped out. Without a doubt, this is the absolute worst GUI decision by a company to break with standard user interface conventions.

If you ever find yourself using Filemaker Pro 6 and needing to do a search, the brain trusts at Filemaker have decided that you need to use "control/command + SHIFT + F". If you forget the shift key, all is, quite literally, lost.

(Note: Yes, I know you can customize the hot keys in Filemaker. You shouldn't have to and you shouldn't lose all of your data to learn that you need to.)

2 comments:

badmoodmike said...

To add insult to injury...it is a database program which commits said changes instantly!

Luckily, Microsoft Access doesn't have and equivalent to "delete everything" that I am aware.

I'd expect better out of FileMaker...

Orchid64 said...

I would as well if it were still controlled by Apple. It's not that I think Apple is the bee's knees, but they are known for being strict about their user interface guidelines.

I owe you a message and a Kit-Kat or two! I'll be e-mailing you as soon as I have some time. My CH is sick this weekend and I'm rather tied up taking care of him!