I was just scanning through the boatload of emails in Outlook 2007 and noticed an orange status bar continuously scanning on the To-Do Bar. Here is what starts running through my mind…
“I appreciate you showing me that something is happening; but can you throw me a bone…What the
So I set out to try and figure out what Outlook was doing; the way a non-developer may…
I tried hovering over the area – nothing.
I tried clicking – nothing.
I tried right clicking – nothing.
I asked the help system – nothing (don’t get me started).
I asked Google – nothing (could not form narrow enough query).
So what else can I do but to just rant on my blog about it. Wouldn’t you know it; I soon as I went to grab a screen shot – it stopped. So I took the screen shot anyway and circled the place where this happening. On the off chance that someone actually reads this AND they know what the heck that bar means; please let me know.
I think Microsoft has done a better job at reducing the number of pauses that happen in the software; where things just stop and have you wait for some “background” process to complete. It is my opinion (and we all know how many of these there are and what they’re worth) that it would be better to just tell the user what is going on; it’s the not knowing that makes it hard.
For instance, when I delete a file in Windows why does it take so long? What would be nice is if Windows told me in the status box…
“Please wait while I put this file in the recycle bin for you”
“Oh, this is taking longer than I expected because someone else is hogging up the disk channel”
[Note: Of course I hope that for the sake of my Mom that they would clean up the message a little; I can just imagine trying to explain that message to her (unlike Don Box's mom, my Mom does not know assembler).] Now that I know why I have to wait maybe there is something I can do about it – “Oh yeah, I started that Disk Cleanup utility a couple of minutes ago, maybe I should pause it”. Users will start to draw correlations between things and just become smarter.
Conceptually what I am describing sound nice; but as a software guy this pretty challenging. It seems like it requires design/architecture that supports the exchange of this type of information. Of course security would have to be honored. Not to mention that you may end up telling people more about the internals of what you are doing (or not doing) than you would like to. This would make a good thing to report on when capturing data around user experience, which Microsoft (and others) seem to be doing more of.
Sometimes I wish I was working on something this cool.