DoomsDay Aardvark Random Rant

Random Rant for 6/12/2002

It's that time again. I promised you all a rant about why applications suck, and here it comes. In point of fact, this is the second time I've tried to write this thing, but unfortunately, the last time, the application froze up before I had a chance to save the document. So there you go.

Generally speaking, though, applications tend to do what they set out to do. The real problem with pretty much any application is getting into the same mind set as the person who wrote the application in the first place. If you happen to think like the guys who wrote photoshop, then you have no trouble getting into the program and using it. If you're like me, though, you start wondering why things are laid out the way they are. For a start, why is it that when I maximize an image, all of the pallettes float on top of it? And more to the point, why do they float over top of the scroll bar on the right side? For reference purposes, we'll call that "stupid."

Of course, photoshop isn't the only application with a stupid interface. Many others can claim similar difficulties. Dreamweaver is a prime example. While no doubt many of you have used and loved this particular application, I find that it is pretty gosh-darn cumbersome. For a start, it has the same pallette issue as photoshop, except that they're not as useful. The real problem, though, is that dreamweaver is basically just one of those apps that exists because some fool decided to make things too complicated. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong (in theory) with graphical HTML editors, the problem is in the practice. GUI HTML editors lead people to the conclusion that they don't actually need to learn HTML. Then, when the page looks all goofy, they wonder why, and start crying and cursing.

Honestly, guys, it's not that hard. There is a book out there which claims that it can teach you HTML in about twenty days. My opinion is that you should be able to learn everything there is to know about HTML in about twenty hours, and have a working knowledge (enough to create a simple working page) in about twenty minutes. This page was done in a program called Quanta+ which gives me all the functionality that I really need. (It has a window for me to type code into, a directory tree with all of my files in, some little short-cut type things so that I don't have to type all of those lovely table tags all the time, and I think it'll even ftp for me).

But I digress. Just about any application you can name has at least one thing wrong with it. In fact, they all do. Why? Because they were all written by people, for use by themselves. Case in point, the GNOME application suite. For those that don't know (and if you don't, you probably don't care either), GNOME is a GUI environment for Linux. The problem here is not that any of the apps has a particularly bad interface, but that the interfaces lack external consistency. Allow me to explain, since that sentence should be taken out back and run over with a truck. Individually, they're all pretty good. Unfortunately, very few of them have anything to do with each other, and therefore, as a whole, they seem like they were put together by a comitee. (Which, admittedly, they were, kinda)

Other applications just do weird stuff. Let's talk about Microsoft Office, shall we? It is a very powerful office suite. Indeed, it contains the only word processor I have ever come accross which allows the user to run visual basic scripts. Or any other kind of script for that matter. Why? I haven't the foggiest idea. It all seems pretty blasted silly to me. By now, most of you have probably heard my rant about margins, too. The rest of the suite is no better. They have an email program (Outlook) which not only opens attachments (viruses) automagically, but also supports the same silly VBScripts that Word does. I have yet to think up one, even ONE, legitimate use for this functionality. If anybody can tell me why a word processor or an email client would ever need to run a script, send email to (No, that isn't linked, just use the damn copy and paste)

By now, you're probably wondering how to avoid all the crap that's out there. If companies like Adobe and Macromedia, and (now here's a shocking one) Micro$oft are delivering such crap to us, how can we hope to avoid it? The quick answer is:


Be a sheep. Sheep have good lives. Go on using the crappy software just like everbody else. It isn't really that important, and there isn't really anything that's all that much better. There are always other ways to do things, but they do tend to make things a whole lot more complicated than they really need to be. Next time, I'll talk about one of those issues -- namely, compatibility. Stay tuned, it's gonna be a blast.