a day keeps the doctor away
Everything here is my personal opinion. I do not speak for my employer.
October 2007
November 2007

2007-10-19 »

(I'm not crazy. You're crazy.)

AMSE Sucks Part 3: I like menu bars, loser!

You just wrote an absurdly long article about something you didn't put in your program. Does that bother you? Do you have any sense of priorities at all?

Menu bars have been around since the first mouse-driven program was driven by the first mouse. And there's a reason for that: they work.

Everybody knows there's a hierarchy of learning for software users. First they click on the things that are easily visible on the screen, like toolbars. If they can't find it there, they look through the menus. And if they find a menu option they use frequently, they learn its hotkey and start using that.

Menus are useful for all kinds of options that are sometimes important but often not needed, like option toggles. Where would you put the option for toggling the status bar and toolbars on and off if not on the menu? Oh sure, you claim that those options aren't important enough so you left them out. Well, I've got news for you, power users like me like those options and we use them all the time. Removing features doesn't improve your program, it makes it less useful. A program with 80% of the features won't be used by 80% of people, it'll be used by nobody. And leaving out your menu bar makes falling into that trap all too easy.

And leaving out menus leads you to also misuse toolbars. I notice that the "Help" option is a dropdown menu - why not a button? And if it's a dropdown, then why not in a menu bar? Why is "Recommend to a friend..." in the Help menu? Just because you were embarrassed to have too many menus, because it would defeat your point? Oh, that's really mature.

I don't like your giant menu buttons, either. They waste valuable screen real estate. That's the real value of menu bars and traditional icon-only toolbars; they pack more power into less space! I see your thing about Fitt's Law and requiring less mouse agility, but okay, fine; give me a toggle to choose which mode I want. I'm agile enough to hit a pushbutton of any reasonable size. Yeesh.

And I can't believe you don't even let me move the toolbar around. For heaven's sake, the feature is built into Windows now! It's not like you need to actually code anything. In fact, I feel like you turned off this ability just to annoy me. On a widescreen monitor, it only makes sense to put my toolbars on the side, because I've got more horizontal space than vertical, and it's easier to read documents when they're narrow anyway.

Your top-only toolbar makes using your program actually painful for me. My head hurts. Goodbye.

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