Archive for the ‘UI’ Category

Xobni feedback: Missing tooltips

January 16, 2008

In various areas in the sidebar, when there is not enough space for a string, ellipsis is used, but when I hover over it with my mouse, I expect to see a tooltip showing me the entire string, so I don’t have to make room for it to see what the string is. This is common UI pattern, which is missing in Xobni.

Sample for such problems can be see in panes titles (such as “People connected to…”, “Conversation with…”), messages subjects and some more.

Xobni makes excessive use of “what’s this” tooltips at the upper part of the sidebar, explaining each of the items, and also when the links for a person (“schedule time with…”, “e-mail…”) are truncated in a narrow sidebar, the tooltip shows their full text, but that’s less important. The count in the end of a pane title, or a message’s full subject is much more important, and for this, Xobni fail to show tooltips.


Macro keyboard shortcuts in Excel 2007

June 10, 2007

I’ve just written a new macro in Excel, and wanted to assign Ctrl-Shift-F to it, as it does some advanced finding. However, the Shortcut key field that appears in the Record Macro dialog and also in the Options… dialog opened from the Macros dialog, it seems to only be possible to assign Ctrl-<something> to a macro, and not Ctrl-Shift-<something>.

Disappointed, I choose Ctrl-E instead. Cursing Microsoft again for not putting a decent keyboard customization feature in Excel 2007 (and also in Outlook Editor), like they did in Word 2007.

But then I recalled that I already had a macro that copied the content of the selected cell, and I’m used to activate it using Ctrl-Shift-C. I want back to the Options… dialog and found out that although it says Ctrl+<something>, if you type Shift-<something> in that field, the Ctrl label changes to Ctrl+Shift.

I’d say that’s not the most discoverable feature I’ve seen…


The Macro I use for copying a cell (or cells) content is as follows:

Sub CopyCellContent()
    Dim MyData As DataObject
    Dim s As String
    Dim i As Long
    Set MyData = New DataObject
    If IsArray(Selection.Value) Then
        s = Selection.Cells(1).Value
        For i = 2 To Selection.Cells.Count
            s = s & ", " & Selection.Cells(i).Value
        Next i
        MyData.SetText s
        MyData.SetText Selection.Value
    End If
End Sub

Javascript component library found – Jack Slocum’s Ext

April 30, 2007

In the recent few months I was troubled in thoughts what JavaScript library we should used, now that we are rebuilding our product web UI.

The first limitation is that we will use the corporate common UI library which uses Prototype and Scriptaculous, but some components are missing from these libraries. The common UI library author did try to improve the library by adding more components to it, but they are far from being complete.

My main other options was YUI and Dojo. I followed and liked YUI from its very beginning – it seems like a nicely designed library with a devoted community. Then I attended Alex Russell‘s presentation at the ISOC conference, and I was impressed by the Dojo design concepts he presented, namely events and widgets.

However, I recently read the Ext library by Jack Slocum was released, and that it can work against Prototype, YUI and jQuery. I knew it was started as a grid for YUI which lacked that feature but added it in the recently released 2.2.0 version, but when I took a look at Ext’s component collection, I realized it has exactly all the components we needed for our revised UI:

  • a decent data grid
  • a date selection (calendar) control
  • a good menu component
  • impressive windoids support

There is one problem with Ext – although it is released under an Open Source license (LGPL), they encourage people who use it commercially to be a license. I didn’t see similar requests on YUI and Dojo. I don’t really know how our corporate will handle this license issue, but I think that when coding time approaches, I’ll start the process of using Ext in our product. Meanwhile I’m playing with it so I can show off what it can do to our product.

Dotted Lines in Tree

February 16, 2007

Our product is probably going towards using our company’s common UI. This will probably mean re-writing its GUI in a more Web 2.0 manner, which is nice.

The developer of the company’s common UI library is visiting us this week, so I had a first-time look into the library and trying to use it. BTW, the library is based on prototype and scriptaculous.

I noticed that in their sample page they use a tree that doesn’t display dotted lines that connect the dots. I asked the library developer if I can use our current tree implementation that does use dotted lines, and he said he doesn’t think that’s matter, but forwarded me to the usability guru of the company.

She said that from their experience, the dotted lines adds nothing to the tree usability and should be removed. I planned to say “do you know better than Microsoft” as I remembered Windows Explorer did display dotted lines, but when I took a look, I was amazed to find out that Windows Explorer in Windows XP no longer shows dotted lines in the folder tree (I’m pretty sure those lines were there in a previous version of Windows), and Outlook also displays a tree of folders without dotted lines. I guess this is the new convention of showing trees. There are some Microsoft exceptions for this rule, though. For example, the project explorer in Visual Studio has these dotted lines (from Visual Studio 6 until the recent Visual Studio 2005) as well as the advanced printer settings dialog.

Oddly enough, I can’t find any discussion about it on the web.