The difference between only being allowed to set 32 of something versus only being given 32 options to choose from

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2008/07/17 10:01 -04:00, original URI:

Yesterday in The situation was quite grave when I realized how "tepid" those hot keys were, I pointed out a whole bunch of interesting little problems with the "Hot keys for Input Languages" feature in XP and Vista. And I promised there would be more.

There is.

First, you have to take advantage of the ability to add a lot of keyboards. I took every single locale in either Europe or Russia or places surrounding, and almost ever keyboard listed under each.

I basically had 89 locales and 149 keyboard layouts - more than any human would likely ever need.

But I am trying to really show a problem and an extreme example is often the best way to do that.

Now first of all, the language bar is no longer the most usable thing in the world:

Notice that it has no scroll bar so all of the languages that are not there cannot be reached.

That is not the bug I had in mind, but this is also kind of, if not a  bug, then a real design limitation that you are allowed to create something that you cannot use.

But to get the real problem, let's look at the Advanced Key Settings tab:

89 locales, 149 keyboards. Remember?

Well, as it turns out, only the first 32 ever show up:

The other 117 cannot ever be set in the user interface.

Now there is a limitation of 32 hot keys that can be set, which is fine.

But in this case the user interface lets you add more than 32 keyboards, and it won't even let you choose between all of them!

Now the order of the list is another interesting bug/problem -- it is LCID (well really PRIMARYLANGID) based, which is kind of crazy in terms of usability. Tobe honest it is kind of another bug all on its own, come to think of it.

But for example in my case, I better not have wanted to include any Romanian or Russian or other keyboards lower on the list for hot keys!

There is a big difference to only being allowed to set 32 of something and only being given 32 options to choose from....

Maybe someone could teach that to this component. :-)

Workarounds here have real challenges blocking them, though. Covering them might be a good idea at some point (with the inability to easily select a keyboard in some cases, the ability assign a hot key becomes much more important!).


This blog (like the one before it) brought to you by ` and ~ (U+0060 and U+007e, aka GRAVE ACCENT and TILDE)

James Hancock on 17 Jul 2008 11:16 AM:

This dialog is one of MANY that shouldn't exist in Vista. All of these were promised to be switched over to the new browser style like the Users management etc. (Display is another one that was supposed to get the axe, and the fonts one was in there too...)

So yes, fix it for sure! Rebuild that screen from scratch to actually be marginally intuitive. (English Canadians don't have multi-lingual keyboards, it shouldn't be the default (Windows 2000), nor be installed by default! (XP and Vista).  

Give us an easy screen to setup for the average user. Then burry the rest so that people don't have to think about it. I can't tell you the number of computers that have this stuff seriously screwed up.

mjb on 17 Jul 2008 11:06 PM:

Ok, MIchael I've read your blog for years, and admired a lot of what you say. But this seems... whacky to me

Yes you found several lmiitations.  Now, what % of users need more than 32 languages simultaneously. I'll wager less than 100 people worldwide

Michael S. Kaplan on 18 Jul 2008 2:14 AM:

Actually, it is a lot more than that -- a common scenario is the standard desktop that is shared by a lot of people -- so they keep a consistent set of keyboards across a lot of different machines.

Now mind you this is not a setup I would tend to suggest, but it does ease the management of install images and logon scripts to support the desktops.

And in these cases, if there was ever a time that the ability of a user to assign hotkeys would be useful, it is this one!

Of course these blogs are about a bigger issue, the one James actually touches on -- the overall lack of intuitivality of the UI here, and the bugs only make this situation more complicated....

Igor Levicki on 3 Aug 2008 9:57 PM:

Err... why there is Bosnia and Herzegovina appended to Serbian and Croatian?

Or better yet, why there is no Serbian (Latin, Serbia) or Croatian without suffix?

Or worse, where is the Bosnian (Latin, Serbia)?

And why is Serbian still SR when it should be RS (like the internet domain)?

Michael S. Kaplan on 3 Aug 2008 10:45 PM:

In order:

1) Either I just did not include it when I added many keyboards or presumably because a population was attested.

2) Because no version of Windows really supports "neutral" locales; they all have a region. when there is more than one, it is included to distinguish. Note that SQL Server 2008 does this better, in part at my recommendation (and in part because that was what they preferred anyway).

3) Either I just did not include it when I added many keyboards or presumably it as not attested.

4) Because the keyboard "language bar" list are based on the first two characters of the WINDOWS three-letter code, as I have blogged about previously....

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