When a user sets something. please assume they meant it

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2005/04/15 21:50 -04:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2005/04/15/408746.aspx

I am not going to claim our UI in Windows is so intuitive that we can trust that anything that is set is what the user really wants. In fact, I have stated many times that Regional Options is not intuitive.

But when a developer tells me that the reason they do not use the override information is that it may not be valid, in my opinion they are a bit thin. If you know what I mean.

After all, if the user never launches Regional Options then the overrides are identical to the original Windows data. If there are any differences, then somebody went into Regional Options and changed something. And they have a good faith basis for believing applications will pick those settings up. Not picking them up is kind of irresponsible in a client machine scenario....

Now my buddy Mike definitely points out a use of the NLS SetLocaleInfo function that is downright irresponsible, no question about it. After all, if ignoring the user's preferences is disrespectful, then supplanting their preferences wuth your own is downright obnoxious! What is up with some people?

Another pet peeve of mine related to all this was one that Dean pointed recently in his post Disabling ClearType in Reading Layout View. Now I agree that the ClearType settings are pretty hidden, but is the Word replacement any better? If you look at the poor documentation and the way it is buried in the registry in ways that are hard to find, the argument that the Desktop Control Panel settings are obscure is pretty specious. I would be a tremendous fan of anyone who ripped this code out, root and branch, and used the SystemParameterInfo function with the SPI_GETFONTSMOOTHING, SPI_GETFONTSMOOTHINGCONTRAST, and SPI_GETFONTSMOOTHINGTYPE flags. Consider this post a standing offer of a dinner somewhere nice that I will give to any Office developer who accomplishes that. :-)

The principle is simple -- follow the user preferences. If they did not feel strongly enough about changing them that they are untouched, then that too may be a preference. And a good developer does not ignore messages the user is sending to them....


This post brought to you by "®" (U+00ae, a.k.a. REGISTERED SIGN)

# Brant Gurganus on 15 Apr 2005 8:47 PM:

I must agree. If a user doesn't want a behavior that is a result of a preference that has or has not been set, then they need to change that setting. The same applies to Web applications. There is absolutely no need for those alternate language links. If I want Spanish, I will change the language preference in my browser.

# Dean Harding on 16 Apr 2005 8:14 AM:

Actually, with web applications it might be a bit different, since you could be in a cafe or something in another country, but you still want your web pages in English (rather than Elbonian or whatever they've set it up in the cafe as). I don't know if IE lets you change the language when in Kiosk mode, but a simple british flag is usually good enough.

And Michael, I'll go halves with you on that dev's dinner, cause I'd like to see it changed to :) (though I can't actually *go* to the dinner, unless you wanna spring for a return ticket from Australia ;)

# Mike Williams on 16 Apr 2005 9:25 AM:

Yes and when I don't want to have an English(US) keyboard show up in my list of active keyboard languages I really mean it. Unfortunately XP SP2 reinstates it within two reboots, which also clutters up my language bar with additional options I don't want or need. Yes, this bug was reported during beta. No, I really don't think Microsoft comprehends the difference between "US" and "English", and any comprehension it might have is diminishing over time.

# Michael S. Kaplan on 16 Apr 2005 11:52 AM:

brantgurga -- I completely agree. :-)

Dean -- yes, this is a good exception. But I have to wonder, if you do not make an alternate selection, what would one use as one's guess? I blieve even in thoses kiosks they can change the settings (if not that seems like a 'bug' in the kiosk!).

Mike -- yes, and that is a bug (one that may finally get licked in Longhorn!). That pesky US keyboard does need to stop inserting itself everywhere like it has an inferiority complex or something.

# Mike Williams on 16 Apr 2005 6:48 PM:

I think if it were another language inserting itself so that English(US)users were affected, it might get fixed much sooner than Longhorn, no?

# Michael S. Kaplan on 16 Apr 2005 8:32 PM:

I think I'll avoid the flame bait, kay? :-)

referenced by

2006/10/22 It is Clear[Type] how the quality is being managed

2006/09/11 You say it 'looks good on paper?' It must not be using ClearType....

2006/05/11 Let Me Make One Thing Perfectly Clear[Type]

2006/05/04 Getting the wrong keyboard in Access?

go to newer or older post, or back to index or month or day