22 Sep 2003 auspex   » (Journeyer)


Craftsman hand tools have always had an unlimited warranty. To this day, past the 1950's demise of durable goods, you can take a broken Craftsman hand tool to any Sears store and get a replacement at no cost. (Sometimes the clerk doesn't know this, so you have to ask for the manager.)


Just now trying the free standing GNOME Blog. I got lost. Instead of the blog entry window, it opened to the preferences page. At first I thought the entry window was somehow buried underneath something else. For the third time, I had to set it to Advogato and enter my username and password. The applet version never survive being removed from the panel; this seems to be a systemic applet bug. The password field is asterisked out, but the key value is stored unencrypted.

There are a few HIG violations and other UI errors.

  • The "Add Link" button opens a dialog which is correctly modal, but it doesn't have a trailing ellipsis.
  • The ellipsis on the "Preferences..." button indicate that a modal dialog will be opened and indeed the window which appears is modal, but it's missing the OK and Cancel buttons. Instead it has the Close button of preference windows which are not supposed to be modal.
  • The "Preferences..." button and the title field label (which didn't work for Advogato last I checked) lack access keys.
  • There are two buttons with the stock Bold and Italic icons, but no labels (hence, no access keys) and no tooltips; and, last I checked, they actually added the tags STRONG and EM, respectively.
  • Resizing the window shows that widgets are incorrectly packed. Though only the text area should grow taller, the whitespace above and below the title entry and the "Post Entry" button increases and the other buttons grow taller. The inconsistent heights of the bottom buttons indicate that more is wrong with packing than improper expand and fill properties. The secondary windows also exhibit packing problems.
  • The Bold and Italic buttons don't set or show state properly. An inconsistent selection should show the buttons in an inconsistent state. Absent a selection, the state of the buttons should indicate what will happen on typing; e.g., pressing bold with nothing selected should cause subsequent typing to be in bold. In other words, they should act like the same buttons in a word processor.
  • Added links can't be inspected. A tooltip should suffice for indicating where a link links, but doesn't allow editing. Removing the "Add Link" button (and dialog), and replacing it with an inspecting "Link" toggle button (like the Bold and Italic buttons) and entry would allow both inspecting and modeless linking.
  • The window title "Post Blog Entry" looks like the title you'd expect on a dialog after pressing the "Post Entry" button. A better title would be ("%s Blog Entry for %s", blogname, bloguser), or something along that line.
  • Not all blogs support titles, but the title entry is always there. Rather than conditionally showing the entry, it could be removed in favor of a "Title" button like the Bold and Italic buttons. What's sent to the blog would be whatever is appropriate as entry title.

As with most applications, GNOME Blog doesn't need preferences. It just needs a blog and some other data to post an entry. That this state is stored where various preferences are stored is an implementation detail. I can see two ways to eliminating the bogon:

  • Change "Post Entry" to "Post Entry..." and show a dialog asking for the necessary data. After the data is given once (the first time dialog appears), it should be remembered for the next time. This adds an extra step for each subsequent post, but also allows a check against accidently clicking the button. It's a poor solution, but if the button is usually close to the panel applet button, the check may be worthwhile.
  • Place the "Blog type" option menu in the main window with a disclosure button (perhaps "Details") next to it. Disclosed would be username and password fields, and whatever else is needed. This could replace the title field at the top of the window, or the "toolbar" could be at the top (maybe as a real toolbar) and the blog details at the bottom.

(I told Seth online that I'd just blog my complaints instead of adding to the email and bug reports he's already receiving. ;-) )

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