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most software is quite poor


For example, I am trying to center a paragraph in Mac OS X. What is the standard keyboard shortcut for this? In TextEdit, there is not only no shortcut but if you wish to center text, the ommand is considered so obscure that you must make your way down to submenus.

So I wonder how Word handles it. Go into word. Mess around for 45 minutes. Can't figure out the keyboard shortcut.

Go to google "keyboard shortcut center text". Ah - Command E in some randow MS application. Maybe that is a standard for MS stuff. Go to MS Word. CMD-E. Works! Huh, let's see, CMD-L and CMD-R do left and right - that's intuitive, I was able to guess. But where is it documented? Check with live help. Finall find directions to get a list of keyboard shortcuts - go to tools menu then macros submenu, then chose Macros item then in dialog, set up several parameters, then scroll down a long list with thousands of entries, a list which can not be resized, and select "List Commands", then press "Run" then select options from the resulting dialog box, then it outputs an 11 page document with all the current keycommands.

THIS is why productivity is lower when using computers than when using typewriters. 1 hr to figure out how to center text without having to press buttons and open toobar sections using a mouse and it involves google searches and finding obscure mini programs to execute.

Ed the Millwright
Monday, December 29, 2003

Remember in the old days when shortcuts were listed in the menus and very commonly used tasks were easy to figure out how to do?

I remember those days.

Time to get the 286 out of storage - i was productive with that machine.

Ed the Millwright
Monday, December 29, 2003

Yes, but can your typewriter get the words to their destination as quickly?

:-)

Wayne
Monday, December 29, 2003

Hmmm ...

Fires up Word 2003 for Windows.

Hovers mouse over "center" toolbar button.

Tooltip says "Center (Ctrl+E)"

And your other finds were in the help under "keyboard shortcuts" and "print keyboard shortcuts" respectively (thanks for that second one BTW).

Maybe Word for Mac doesn't have these items so easily at hand,  but banging on the keyboard for 45 minutes was not the answer in any case. I would have hit Google in about 30 sec if I couldn't find it in the program or its help.

Chris Altmann
Tuesday, December 30, 2003

And in a funny sort of way, Ctrl+E is a logical shortcut. Ctrl+C is taken, and E is the next letter in "Center".

Chris Altmann
Tuesday, December 30, 2003

OS X is different, just tried it - the tool tip says "Align Center", which tells me nothin I don't already know.

I agree that the Windows version is much better based on your description.

Why do I have to google to use a damn typewriter? That's one unintuitive typewriter let me tell you.

Ed the Millwright
Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Stoopid piece of brekardilli. Dang yabbity yib.

And all this other software is no better - it's all ridiculously impossible, requiring googles for even the simplest tasks!

Ed the Millwright
Tuesday, December 30, 2003

I have only learnt a small subset of the Word keyboard shortcuts. I suppose if I'd started with computers before Win 95 I would know more.

The eleven pages is a lot to learn, but what do you expect. You can use the mouse; if you want shortcuts you're going to have to put in the effort to learn them, or make your own.

Stephen Jones
Tuesday, December 30, 2003

BTW, the OS X help is different - as I said before, under keyboard shortcuts the best one can do is follow the descriptions to run the built in VB program that outputs 11 pages of shortcuts after a mere few dozen nonobvious steps.

Ed the Millwright
Tuesday, December 30, 2003

It's not that there are 11 pages - I can deal with that. It's that it took an hour to find where it was documented and that a bizarre and byzantine procedure was necessary that no one would have any chance of guessing at.

Ed the Millwright
Tuesday, December 30, 2003

And I'm not singling out word for punishment - the native os x text editor written by apple is far worse than this - there is NO shortcut and no way of adding one!!

Ed the Millwright
Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Stephen, regarding the effort to learn them, yeah ok, I did it. Wy whole point is that for such an incrudibly common procedure it should not be so dang hard to find the answer! Thus my statement that computers lower productivity and not increase it.

Ed the Millwright
Tuesday, December 30, 2003

OK, went through the entire preferences section looking at all 981 options and nothing.

Then looking around in other menus for maybe some secret hidden preferences. In 'tools', found an entry 'customize', and there it is "Show shortcut keys in tooltips", unchecked of course.

So I'm fine now but I pity the poor folks that don't know that option exists and is for some reason turned off by default.

This gets back to Joel's point that most options should be removed and just settle on a reasonable one.

Ed the Millwright
Tuesday, December 30, 2003

What the heck! Under "Customize Commands" there us AutoText and it has a list of all sorts of private information I have typed into OTHER programs!?!!!!

Word has been watching me when I type things into other programs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I don't like this!

Ed the Millwright
Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Its such fun watching someone else rant in the morning.

Simon Lucy
Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Uhhhh....

I wouldn't say most software is *poor*. I would say that most software is overly complex because vendors have been in a competitive features race for years. The one thing that "sells" commodity software does not appear to be effectiveness or ease of use, it's the sheer number of features. And because every vendor does things differently, you have to have excellent sleuthing skills in order to determine the way to access the feature you need.

I'd ask you - "how would YOU implement centering" but even if I liked your answer, I would bet that there would be a huge chunks of the user public who would be baffled and mystified by your choice, no matter how logical.

Years ago the most popular word processor was Word Star. There was a generation of typists that trained their fingers to generate the obscure compound control key combinations that Word Star used. Remember, we're also talking text screens and no mouse or menuing, so the program did much less than Word. And one only heard bitching from people trying to *learn* Word Star. The day to day users of Word Star couldn't care less and were satisfied because they had a tool that worked the way they needed - once they had learned the tool. The point is, computers did a lot less in those days, so the level of complaining was proportionately less.

Bored Bystander
Tuesday, December 30, 2003

What on earth is the complaint about TextEdit?  Either you want to use the mouse or you want to use the keyboard.  If you're using the mouse, it doesn't matter that the option is on a submenu (Format -> Text -> Center) because it's faster to click the button on the toolbar.  If you want to use the keyboard, they have at least made it easy to find out what the key combo is, as it's listed on the aforementioned submenu.  In TextEdit, the Left/Center/Justify keys are surprisingly mnemonic:  { | }. 

As for Mac Word, yes, I think Microsoft could have made it easier to find the shortcut for "center paragraph."  The two most obvious ways of doing this are:

a)  control-click the Center Paragraph button in the toolbar.  This gives the control's context menu, from which you can select Properties.  Inside the properties dialog you can click the Keyboard... button which tells you the shortcut.

b)  use the help system.  in the index, go to "Shortcut Keys, using."  Expand that item and select "Keys for formatting characters and paragraphs."  The list is right there, including cmd-e for center.

These two options took me all of 3 minutes to find in Word.

The bigger question, then, is if this really requires an hour of time wasting?

jburka
Tuesday, December 30, 2003

re: Word keyboard shortcuts

Yes, I know that this is hard to find, but here it is anyway:

Tools/Options/Commands Tab/Keyboard...

This is a fairly comprehensive list of things you can do (if not all of them), and any applicable keyboard shortcuts.

Jonathan
Tuesday, December 30, 2003

I remember someone told me that I can increase or decrease the size of the font in Word using Ctrl+[/Ctrl+]. Man, it has been a lifesaver ever since. Strangely enough, Word does not have icons to do this, even though some of the most basic Word Processors I've seen by Israeli companies had.

And these keybindings don't work in OpenOffice, which does not seem to have any feature of this kind. <sigh /> Time to send a patch? ;-)

Shlomi Fish
Tuesday, December 30, 2003

In my experience, about half the software out there is below average.


Tuesday, December 30, 2003

CMD-| is not a key shortcut in my version of TextEdit.

Ed the Millwright
Tuesday, December 30, 2003

There's no "Options" submenu in the Tool menu, but there is 'customize'. It's still hard to use though since you have to be able to guess both the category that the command might possibly be in (Format) and the name of the command (CenterPara) and click to see it.

And also slow because finding the dialog involves a 12 hours process dragging in an entire world full of experts in the field.

Surely there is a better way.

I agree with Christopher Alexander's feelings on the subject - software sucks big time, especially software made by architecture astronauts.

Ed the Millwright
Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Half ?  You're being generous. I would say about 90% of all software is crap.

But the other 10% is soooo fantastic that I can't imagine not having a computer.

Kentasy
Tuesday, December 30, 2003

80% is utter crap. 18% is usable and useful. The remaining 2% makes me keep my Luddite hat in the closet and use computers.

Ed the Millwright
Tuesday, December 30, 2003

---"Strangely enough, Word does not have icons to do this,"---

Yes it does; what you have to do when you start up Word for the first time is customize the toolbars and add the icons you want.

Windows annoyances has articles on how annoying the default icons for both Word and Excel are. seem to have been designed by marketing.

Stephen Jones
Tuesday, December 30, 2003

> Why do I have to google to use a damn typewriter? That's
> one unintuitive typewriter let me tell you.

Hey it's a lot easier to centre a paragraph in Word than it is on a manual typewriter.

Infact how would you centre a paragraph on a manual typewriter?

Matthew Lock
Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Ctrl+Shift+< and Ctrl+Shift+> can be used to decrease/increase fonts.

Yep, learned it by accident after years of working in Word.

Alex.ro
Tuesday, December 30, 2003

You have a tab stop at the center and you backspace from it half the count of the length of the line including spaces.

If you do it a lot you get real fast at it - like the guy who instantly counted the number of sheep in a pasture by counting their legs and dividing by four. Easy and intuitive!

Ed the Millwright
Tuesday, December 30, 2003

What do you mean? WordStar was bad?

I think WordStar was still a reasonable word processor - it didn't include the kitchen sink.

WordPerfect was a disaster. :-(

MX
Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Does anybody remember Lotus AmiPro 3 ?

In my opinion, it was the most logical word processor I ever used - logical menu structure, logical commands, good equation editor...

It was much better than Word 2, and was comparable with Word 6.

MX
Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Yeah WordStar! That was the one I was trying to remember that I liked on the 286. Now THAT was a real word Processor. Freakin productive I was on that mother.

Ed the Millwright
Wednesday, December 31, 2003

I finally threw out my copy of Ami Pro 3 about a month ago. I realized I hadn't used it in about a year, and out it went.

I really loved it; it had the best style system I've ever seen, which actually made it easy to build nice looking documents with decent structure.

Alas, it never made the leap into 32-bits. The successor app, Word Pro, was just awful.

Chris Tavares
Wednesday, December 31, 2003

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