Inside SWT

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Useless dialog of the day

Carolyn Macleod, accessibility wizard, was starting up Eclipse M-whatever yesterday and got this:

How useless is that? What file changed? How do you answer this question? At least tell me the file name.

I'm seeing a trend in software these days: attack the user with dumb dialogs. If you must attack, at least tell me something useful, like "All your base are belong to us".



  • It's not the dialog's fault... The editor receives a partVisible event before it is visible:

    By Blogger John Arthorne, at 9:18 AM  

  • btw, why would I ever want to not load the file?

    This dialog shows up everytime a file changes - why would I ever say no?
    I just want a big button with a YES on it, so I can say yes once and for good.

    By Blogger adas, at 9:29 AM  

  • Well, you know what the really funny thing is? It looks like this dialog popped up on Eclipse startup.

    By Blogger Daniel Spiewak, at 12:02 PM  

  • Adas, most people would find it disconcerting if they were reading something in an editor, and suddenly the contents changed without any user involvement. Since "Yes" implies throwing away user data (the contents of the file in the editor buffer), the prompt is warranted (throwing away potentially valuable user data without asking is a general user interface no-no). Sometimes *you* know that you want to discard the editor contents, but the editor can't make that determination.

    The dialog makes absolutely no sense in this particular context, because the editor is not yet visible, but it's due to a bug in the event mechanism that should hopefully be fixed soon.

    By Blogger John Arthorne, at 12:28 PM  

  • John,
    Showinf the dialog during startup is clearly a bug and of course, losing data is a clear no-no.

    But I meant the following scenario:
    - I have 2 files open in editor (f1, f2),
    - I'm looking at f1, I did not touch f2
    - f2 changes content on the disk (e.g., f2 was generated)
    - I click on f2 tab
    - a dialog pops up asking me if I want to refresh. But I always want to refresh.

    By Blogger adas, at 1:05 PM  

  • The guideline I think is that you should warn the user when you throwing away some user input.
    1. when the editor is not dirty, when file has changed, it should reload new content without any question
    2. when the editor is not dirty, and the file is deleted, it should close itself
    3. when the editor is dirty, and file has changed, it should ask the user (using this dialog)
    4. when the editor is dirty, and the file is deleted, it should offer the option to 'save as'

    I saw such problem today in some TPTP editors, I think, that it was asking me the question just after I have opened the editor. its a bug.

    By Blogger Wojciech, at 3:45 PM  

  • adas: Get your own material! The big button that says "YES" once and for all is my joke and was to be the subject of a fifty page blog rant! I want to say "YES" to every question a computer asks me!


    By Blogger Steve, at 4:45 PM  

  • Everyone: Relax, it's clearly a bug that will be fixed before Eclipse 3.3 ships. The general idea is that more and more apps are prompting these days. Heck, Vista prompts every time you run an .exe.


    By Blogger Steve, at 4:48 PM  

  • I certainly agree about the event and thanks for fixing the bug. I also agree that a dialog is not very useful when an editor is not dirty.

    I do think, however, that notification makes sense when an editor's contents changes even when it is not dirty. It doesn't happen that often, and I'd like to know when the things I'm working on change - like in a ClearCase dynamic view, for instance.

    One can think about less intrusive ways of notifying the user. But given that I don't get the dialog more often than a few times a month, I'm still happy with the dialog.

    By Blogger Martin Oberhuber, at 4:24 AM  

  • You might want to cc yourself onto bug 168695 which looks to add a preference that always says yes. However, I can pretty much bet that it's not going to make it into 3.3 since M6 is almost upon us.

    By Blogger AlBlue, at 1:00 PM  

  • - a dialog pops up asking me if I want to refresh. But I always want to refresh.

    Not me. Sometimes a file I'm working on gets touched or altered before I can save my changes. Example: I start adding rules to a Makefile, but before I save my changes, I decide to run the Makefile in its current form to examine its current behavior. I implicitly invoke makedepend, which changes the Makefile. Do I want to automatically throw away my additions to the Makefile? No way!

    By Blogger grackle, at 9:47 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home