Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn

Seven Habits of Highly Evil Unix Applications

Rantish...Occasionally applications do things that make me very upset. Tonight, an emulator I was running did the equivalent of "xset r off" (turning off autorepeat for my keyboard), which I only noticed because, it having crashed, it didn't turn it back on when it exited. It's pretty uncool to do this even temporarily (as if I switch away from the application, I don't want to have that different keyboard behaviour).. it should be unnecessary anyhow - the application can handle keyboard events as it likes. Other things that just seem gratiuitous whenever I see them (not Unix/X specific):

  • System-Model Dialog boxes - fortunately, most window managers don't provide the needed support for this to work. It's fine when an application decides that it needs to know something (or tell the user something) before they can keep using the application, but highly uncool when it decides that it needs to know/tell that before the user can keep using other applications. Similar in some ways are applications that refuse to be iconified/minimised (some installers do this)
  • Warping the pointer - Apart from messing up people using tablets or making people lift their mouse (if their pointer's one of those types), it messes with people's notions of mouse-space to move the pointer for them. Fortunately, this behaviour is pretty rare nowadays.
  • Masking the pointer - having the pointer disappear when it's in front of some applications can be confusing. Some games do this.
  • Not accepting cut'n'paste - when text information, especially information I might want to copy somewhere else, is not selectable, that's highly uncool - taking a (real or virtual) snapshot of the screen for error dialogs should never be necessary, nor should the need to type information into fields that's already typed for me elsewhere. Even if I'm using software that needs a license key, I should be able to simply cut'n'paste that information in. I especially hate when the reason I can't mark/copy something is because that information is in a list/selector widget.
  • Recurring nags without an option to tell them to stop - If I don't want to reboot my computer, I don't appreciate being nagged to do it every 15 minutes, especially if I'm playing a game or running an experiment that needs a certain graphics mode or exclusive screen access - being dragged out of that to be nagged makes me very upset (and ruins whatever I'm doing at the time). This is mostly a problem on Windows (Microsoft's sofware is bad in this way, but it's not alone in that).
  • Advertisements in applications I'm using. Highly uncool.

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