Access, How you Piss Me Off

Another night working on the dreaded ASP project, another bitch about some Microsoft UI user-abusivness.

Dear access designers, in order to further piss Alan off with the next release of MS Access, please ensure the following stupid bugs and bad UI remain:

  • Not putting somewhere to save password when connecting to an SQL server via ODBC
  • Make sure that values of “1” show up as “-1” in some linked tables.
  • Ensure that common keyboard shortcuts, such as shift clicking, or clicking, holding down and dragging do not work in the ‘select tables to link’ dialogue.
  • Keep the above dialogue so it’s non-resizable so that users can have a harder time of searching through large sets of tables.
  • Keep the error messages completely useless! (ie: “ODBC call failed”) Make sure that the help text that goes along with those errors where someone might go for say, help, does nothing more than expand ever so slightly on the original message. IE: (and this is my own interpretation) “The ODBC call failed – sucks to be you”. No useful text should be present!
  • Throw away conventions about how windows in access show up in the task bar (as a group you can’t close) and in the alt-tab menu (as separate windows) even when they are in fact goverened otherwise as an MDI application.
  • Resizing the query design view should never move widgets on it around in a sane manner, but should just lower the bottom of the window, leaving the field area widget where the user has to move it down to take any advantage of the new space.
  • Speaking of space, best to make sure that new database windows don’t open up to a size corresponding to the size of table they are displaying. Best make them open up nice and big so the user has to resize them every time.
  • Best not let the query designer SQL mode allow the user to put in any useful formatting, like tabs or anything. If tabs are pasted in make them ugly diamond characters, just to piss them off even more.
  • Double or triple clicking to select a line? Best not to let that either. People don’t design queries by typing them out, freaks design queries that way. Our clients do everything by clicking icons in the query designer.
  • Useful text tools? Fuck no! Let them paste code into vi and bounce on the ‘%’ key there to figure out matching brackets!
  • And because Frontpage was feeling left out, make sure that in code mode, the “undo” hotkey of CTRL-z at no time simply undoes the previous option, but instead should highlight large blocks of code and jump the cursor around, disorienting the user so they don’t know what was undone, if it worked as it should, or where in fact, they even are in the program/webpage.

People put up with this? Seriously? If I had to work with this all day long I’d rip my eyes out after a week. I’d ask if there was a place to ask for UI changes like this for future versions, but seems to be down and there’s no place on the MS Office home page to report bugs or request features. You probably have to know someone who knows someone who knows someone, who can tell you that they’d never change that, because some muckity muck would call Bill up and bitchslap him for changing something.

4 Comments on “Access, How you Piss Me Off”

  1. While we’re bitching about MS UI…
    In Visual Source Safe (which, funnily, is NOT used by Microsoft for source control, despite it being a Microsoft product for source control), replace the “Select All” behaviour for -A, which is used by every other sane appplication in the universe, with “Add Files”. Cuz, you know, that makes sense.

  2. Random mac applications do that as well, but it looks like it’s Adobe apps. Thing is they are replacing global mac shortcut keys like apple-h for hide app.

  3. O, this is a cry from my heart! The ‘-1’ issue was probably always present in Access (my memory goes back to Access 97 only, however). Why this clear bug is still there is beyond me.
    A lot of the other points you raise (weird dialogue boxes, the query designer resizing, undo thing)… are so familiar that I haven’t thought about them for a long time.
    And while I would have thought they would be solved in Office 2002, it didn’t surprise me that they weren’t either…

    1. There is an option to save the password after the first time. In fact, if you use Access/JET security and log in with the same username/password combo as your SQL Server combination, you won’t ever be prompted. Of course, that’s a bad security issue if … anyway for development it’s nice.
      re: multiple windows – there’s an option, under tools->options, to disable this behavior. I’ve turned it off myself.
      re: table and query window sizes – unfortunately you can’t save these settings, so yeah, it sucks.
      re: SQL view – yeah, do your SQL editing elsewhere, their SQL window is horrible. The SQL window is more there to confirm what you have already written in the query designer, or is there to make queries not supported by the QFE designer (like UNION queries). It’s not there to help you write that SELECT query, ever.