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 bugs.microsoft.com 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.

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