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What color is the sky in Redmond?

One theme I personally feel runs through all of Microsoft's products - they don't know what's going on in the real world.

I've always had this feeling with Windows - default options very often had the sense that it was someone's personal preference/agenda instead of what really made sense in day-to-day use.

The feeling was strongly reinforced with VS.Net, with three main culprits:
1) The extreme difficulty in setting up a datagrid for bulk data entry. ANYONE who's ever written an ASP application has had to do this, and knows the loop structure for making tables by heart. Yet in ASP.Net you have to break the operating paradigm and do some serious under the covers work to pull it off.
2) The HTML formatting when switching between the designer and HTML views - no ASP programmer ever even looked at that; I'll guarantee the formatter was written by a C++ guy.
3) Putting dynamic javascript in a page is obviously a complete afterthought.

I'd be amazed to find out that *any* professional ASP developers had any say in the development of that area of VS.Net.

The latest evidence that Microsoft lives in an ivory tower - Biztalk Server 2004 beta is shipping. With no EDI engine. "That's going to be in the RTM" they promise. Microsoft has treated EDI like a red-headed stepchild for Biztalk's short history. 90% of the world's financial transactions are moving around in EDI and MS seems to think that X12/EDIFACT are beneath them, just as Steve Jobs felt that floppies were beneath the iMac. Both attitudes (IMHO) betray a serious misunderstanding of what's going on in their product space.

Just venting, really. :-)

Philo

PS - I'll be crossposting this (with more detail, me thinks) to the CAMEL. http://www.saintchad.org/blog/

Philo
Tuesday, July 01, 2003

Reporting from Bellevue, just south of Redmond ... grey and cloudy.

Alyosha`
Tuesday, July 01, 2003

Visual Studio Dot Net, eh. Having had to use it myself, I can assure you that no C++ programmers had a hand in its development either :)

It has this weird thing of calculating dependencies for all projects, not just the ones whose ultimate target needs building. Maybe there's a reason, but it's not clear and it slows things down. (I will admit, the compiler is generally faster.)

The dialog boxes are _still_ not resizable, and the text entry fields are teeny tiny.

The Project|Settings menu disappears and reappears depending on what's selected in the workspace.

Interestingly, the assumption where I worked (languages most often used: C++ & assembly language) was that it was designed by web developers :)

So you'll understand that I'm intrigued by a more web-oriented programmer thinking it smells of C++. This does make me wonder... just who the hell _is_ it designed for?! :)

(PS I didn't use any of the RAD stuff in it, it's just an overly fancy editor and build environment, but we were obliged to switch to it because MS don't supply Xbox tools for VC6 any more. I'm not sure what the opposite of rejoicing is, but there was much of that.)

Tom
Tuesday, July 01, 2003

Overly saturated blue, haven't you seen any of their default wallpapers?

www.marktaw.com
Tuesday, July 01, 2003

meta PS: so maybe if you are a C++ programmer who uses the class wizard for everything you will find it a perfect fit :)

Tom
Tuesday, July 01, 2003

"Both attitudes (IMHO) betray a serious misunderstanding of what's going on in their product space."

Seems to be working out financially, though, eh?
At least in Microsoft's case.

Mister Fancypants
Tuesday, July 01, 2003

I have not used these particular products so can't comment on the specific comments, but the web UI comments caught my eye!

Maybe, I am jaded by seeing web-applications and web-like applications which are worse than the GUIs or Text versions they are replacing.

With some occassional exceptions - and this is 100% personal opinion - but I think the general trend (many companies seem to be following) to make client GUIs, especially programmer GUIs, more web like - is mostly a massive negative step.

IMHO Web Page GUIs frequently suck.  Web Page GUIs can get away with a lot because:
- In most cases you read much more than you write and interaction is limited to occassionally clicking something.
- You probably don't do tons of user input
- If it takes 30 seconds to download the page when online, you can get away with a lot, as even clumsy UIs can seem quick compared to this
- They look pretty (and great in a demo). Unfortunately this ain't necessarily the same as being productive day-to-day

More fundamentally, there seem to be two different goals in different style apps. While the goals are not completely opposite from each other, there are enough differences that web-ifying a GUI may make it worse.

- Typical Web = Present information to *read* and *navigate* clearly. Collect only limited info from the user.

- Typical GUI or Text UI = Allow fast input of information as easily as possible.

S. Tanna
Tuesday, July 01, 2003

Tom, I believe the opposite of "rejoicing" is "wailing and gnashing of teeth".

On a slightly related note, I'd be interested to know what size of display people need to make VS.NET useable. I find there are so many windows all over the screen that the code winow is crammed into a postage stamp sized area on my display - admittedly only 17 inches, but I find it fine for most things.

ajs
Tuesday, July 01, 2003

S. - the users are low-tech store owners in over 200 locations all over the US, Canada, and (hopefully soon) Mexico. Would you approve of a web application in that case?

ajs - from a code window try Shift-Alt-Enter.

However, I find running 1800x1440 on a 21" monitor to give me plenty of usable space even with both UI and code windows open. You can get a 21" CRT for under $500 - I'd highly recommend it.

Philo

Philo
Tuesday, July 01, 2003

> S. - the users are low-tech store owners in over 200 locations all over the US, Canada, and (hopefully soon) Mexico. Would you approve of a web application in that case?

I thought we were talking about stuff like development tools.

And the answer to your question is it depends.

If they are expected to enter say details of every transaction in some horrible scrolling web page form with limited user interface functionality, crappy validation, no hot-keys, and constant required clicking with the mouse (requiring taking hands of keyboard) then I think the users would probably prefer a faster way to enter them. 

Sit next to somebody in a store, bank or travel agency who knows how to use the computer system and all the various hot-keys. They tend to whizz around at unbelievable speeds. For them a web page interface (and in some cases even a GUI as compared to text) is a massive retrograde step.

Users are not stupid, some apps are. If they have to enter a lot of data regularly, they get good at it, provided the UI is reasonable (and sometimes even with a crappy UI - despite the UI).

S. Tanna
Tuesday, July 01, 2003

"On a slightly related note, I'd be interested to know what size of display people need to make VS.NET useable."

I used VC++ 6 on an 800x600 laptop. For VS.NET, I need a minimum of 1280x1024. :(

Brad Wilson (dotnetguy.techieswithcats.com)
Tuesday, July 01, 2003

Reporting from beautiful Vancouver, BC, Canada (North neighbor of Seattle). Sunny, gorgeous and happy day.

Yes we won the bid for the winter olympic today, Hurray!!

Farid
Wednesday, July 02, 2003

I run VS.NET on a 1600x1200 screen.  It works fine.

Well, fine if you consider the long list of issues that I've had with it, fine.

But the actual C++ compiler is quite nice.  You have to give them points for that.  +2 for good compiler, -1e6 for awful everything else.

Flamebait Sr.
Wednesday, July 02, 2003

Yes, I've noticed in a lot of applications, the mouse is an enormous step backwards as well.  For very complex software it is good, because it does reduce the learning curve to be able to browse around the menus and dialog boxes.

But if you've ever seen people work with those old green screen inventory programs which only use the keyboard, they're amazingly fast with them.  They've installed newer apps at my local library, which use the mouse, and the employees are much slower to look things up.

It would be nice if windows had good support for interfaces which are meant to be more keyboard-centric.  Everything is mouse-centric and the keyboard is an afterthought.

Andy
Wednesday, July 02, 2003

The opposite of rejoicing is of course dejoicing.

Clutch Cargo
Wednesday, July 02, 2003

if we are already at VC7;
bring back VC6 find_in_files dialog; i am missing it.

Michael Moser
Wednesday, July 02, 2003

Find & Replace in Files are available in VS.NET 2003 (not sure about 2002) as Ctrl+Shift+F and Ctrl+Shift+H, respectively.  You have to use the little "dots" button to access the folder browser, then you can enter arbitrary directories instead of the standard solution/project options.

Chris Nahr
Thursday, July 03, 2003

Yeah, I don't get the objection to the find functionality in VS.NET. It changed a bit from VC6 in that it's centered around the files in the project instead of the files on disk, but that's probably generally for the best. :)

Brad Wilson (dotnetguy.techieswithcats.com)
Thursday, July 03, 2003

I'm not too fond of the new find-in-files dialog. It's far too easy to accidentally run your search somewhere other than where you thought, and that directory selection dialog is a usability nightmare. Not in the slightest bit intuitive.

Chris Tavares
Thursday, July 03, 2003

Grey.  It's snowing and were up to our asses in penguins.

Mike
Thursday, July 03, 2003

Dear Philo,
                You are quite wrong about floppy drives on iMacs. A colleague of mine whose email address was MacAl@isp.com told me four years ago that floppies were dead; he did this at great length as he was making his daily backup on floppies at the time.

              The only iMacs I ever saw in Saudi were in an Internet Cafe that was originally a Mac distributor but converted to make use of all the stock nobody would buy. And everyone of them had an external Imaton drive. The leading laptopseller in the Kingdom offers a discounted USB floppy drive with every superslim notebook that doesn't come with one as standard.

Stephen Jones
Sunday, July 06, 2003

Stephen, how do you mean I was "dead wrong" about iMacs? The original iMacs shipped without floppy drives because Steve Jobs decreed the death of the floppy. He apparently did this from the top of his ivory tower without checking with the real world. 
Floppies are dying now (five years later), but they're still not dead. The last box I built without a floppy; I've since regretted that move and my next box will have the little $14 anachronism.

Philo

Philo
Sunday, July 06, 2003

I'm floppy-free and don't miss it or regret it. Making bootable CDs is pretty simple. But if worse comes to worst, my laptop came with an external USB floppy drive that any PC can use (presuming it contains a moderately recent BIOS, it can also boot off of it).

Brad Wilson (dotnetguy.techieswithcats.com)
Sunday, July 06, 2003

Dear Philo,
                Your irony sensors are at zero; adjust the slider.

Dear Brad,
                  What is the advantage of a laptop that comes with an external USB floppy drive? The external is more expensive and cumbersome than a built in unit.

                  You will be amazed at the amount of ututilities that demand an A drive; to the best of my knowledge both Ghost 2002 and Partition Magic 7 do. The latest versions don't but when I bought my Omnibook a year ago neither were around. I'm still tempted to buy the floppy unit when I'm in England.

                  Floppies can be forgotten about when we are able to boot off the USB pen drives and the Bioses can treat them as an A drive. Not too far off I hope.

Stephen Jones
Monday, July 07, 2003

Hey Stephen!

I noticed the lack of Mac-Floppies last month. I did a cross platform project in Access to Filemaker and the only way to get data accross on the same LAN was to email it over! Very rude!

A RW CD drive seemed pretty excessive for small files. They should have provided an accessible File server at minimum I think.

Arak Leatham
Monday, July 07, 2003

Oh yes, about MicoSoft. I like them but.....

They definately assess the recurring sales potential in all projects. Do you see how you must retrain and buy more every year?

A family friend had everthing to do with the advent of Dot.Net. It is a greate idea. But it did provide the basis for the next 'sweep'.

I'm an old guy. The attrition in this industry is not due to age. It's not due to having developed all solutions. It's irrelevance.

I think New technology is not introduced just to do new things. That's just the excuse. Number 1 of 3 for why you are hooked. 2 is all the old ways don't work no more if you want have the new methods. 3 is that everyone else is switching, you must as well.

I can't see that as always benefitial to society.
It has, however, made the one richest man in the world.

My brother went to work for him in 1984. (As you know, 1984 is THE name of a book) He don't work there no more. Seems to me, from events, it was planned obselesence.

My advise is, Don't rest on your credentials, they now last only about 2 years. (Next, maybe only one year?)

Arak Leatham
Monday, July 07, 2003

"What is the advantage of a laptop that comes with an external USB floppy drive? The external is more expensive and cumbersome than a built in unit."

Sure, the once every 6 months I use it, I think "wow, this is cumbersome". :-p

Since the laptop has both a DVD-ROM drive and a CD-RW drive, I'm pretty sure I couldn't care less about the lack of a built-in floppy drive. The software you named is edge case software, designed to manipulate PCs outside their operating systems (Ghost actually doesn't require a floppy drive, as I've installed it without one, and given that I have a Ghost boot CD-ROM, have never needed one, either).

Brad Wilson (dotnetguy.techieswithcats.com)
Monday, July 07, 2003

Dear Brad,
                Check out your version of Ghost. Ghost 2002 appeared to require the existence of a floppy drive make the CD bootable. Ghost 2003 gets round this problem.

              Surely, if you have a laptop it's for when you're on the move. And carrying the external drive is a nuisance.

Stephen Jones
Tuesday, July 08, 2003

People don't hand me floppy disks. They hand me CDs. I have wired and wireless support. Seriously, I DON'T USE THE FLOPPY DRIVE. Beats me why you don't get that.

Brad Wilson (dotnetguy.techieswithcats.com)
Tuesday, July 08, 2003

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