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Monthly Archives: February 2010

[Update: Chance Roth, from Cloud Canvas, indicated in a response to this post that there are changes underway for upcoming releases. His response made me re-evaluate this post, and I apologize to the Cloud Canvas team for using over the top abrasive language. I realize that a lot of hard work goes into launching a startup and getting this far. I have updated this post to tone down my dismissive language. I look forward to trying out Cloud Canvas’ upcoming releases.]

I must say, I am pissed off right now. And why is that? Here goes. TechCrunch, a site I visit regularly to keep myself abreast of what is happening in the tech world, had an article about the Founder Institute, graduating some startups. One startup caught my eye – Cloud Canvas. These days, the word ‘Cloud’ is the buzz word. Plus, I am looking around for a cheap Photoshop replacement, and thought that I could give this Cloud Canvas thing a try. Just two minutes on the site were enough to drive me mad. Here’s how the site looks.

Cloud Canvas Home Page

I wanted to see the features offered by this site. I wasn’t going to create an account just to try some site and then discard it if it was not up to the mark. Sure enough, the list of features was there.

Cloud Canvas Features

This list would have made an MBA proud. To a person like me though, this is just trash talk. Show me what it is doing. Any demo? Any visuals? Nope. As usual, when I can’t find what I want, I assume that I am an ass. However, in this case, I am sure I am not, since there is no such thing as a demo. This is an issue since Cloud Canvas is a startup, eager to get new users. And it doesn’t show them why they should use the site. And by the way, if you click on that ‘More Tools and Features’ link in the screen shot above, where does it take you?

Nowhere.

At this point, I was sure to include this site in my rants about GUI bloopers, so I soldiered on. The UI to create a user account was quite a treat to someone trying to find bloopers. Here’s the UI:

New Account Creation UI

Hmm, I can’t make out if all information is mandatory. To add to it, usually sites impose some restriction on the length of the user name, password and the characters it can contain. I can’t make out if such restrictions apply here. Since I am not told of any, I think there are no restrictions. Sure enough, something beautiful happened:

Amazing! The error popped up after I hit TAB to go to the next field. Now, why can’t this site tell me what it expected before I started typing? Also, the error message would have made another MBA proud. It gives the user no clue on how to recover. What do you mean by wrong length? What is the right length?

And the crowning glory lies in that little field called ‘Beta Invite Code’. Since is is not marked as mandatory, I kept it blank (since I don’t have a code) and clicked on ‘Register’.

Which missing field?

Which missing field should I enter? All? But I had entered all except one. But the site lost all my information. But,ย the bigger point is that if the site requires an invite, for God’s sake, make that obvious.

I have been dabbling with Grails of late, for a pet project. NetBeans comes with a sufficiently usable support for Grails. The other day, while installing a plugin using NetBeans, I stumbled upon this confusing UI. For anyone who has worked with the Grails command line, the list of plugins is self explanatory. However, what got me was the way to install the plugin once I select it in the list.

NB Grails Plugins Dialog

See that ‘Install’ button there? It is so close to the plugin location field. It doesn’t catch your eye since it somehow feels related only to the plugin location field. Also, the dialog poses questions to me when I look at it, questions which can only be answered by trial-and-error, which is bad:

“Am I able to select multiple plugins from the list and install them with one click?”

Turns out that I can’t. Then again, not many folks need to install many plugins in one go. But some indication might have helped. You see, GUIs are supposed to be one up over command lines, so I was assuming multi select is possible, only to try out and find it otherwise.

“Am I able to select a plugin from the list and specify another plugin’s location in the field and install both of them with one click?

Again, an extremely rare use case. This is very similar to scenarios you might have while installing NetBeans plugins themselves and the UI there makes it very clear what can be done simultaneously and what cannot be. Below is the screen shot of the NetBeans Plugins Installation UI.

NetBeans Plugins UI (Manual Install)

NetBeans Plugins UI (Update Center)

As can be seen above, the NetBeans Plugins UI has two tabs – one for plugins available from the update center, and another for installing plugins from your hard disk.

And since NetBeans is an open source project, the action item for me is to check out the sources, implement the fix and submit the patch for evaluation and inclusion into NetBeans 6.9. Stay tuned for updates.

  1. Buy a $130 pair of Ray Ban sunglasses
  2. Use them, rave about them for 2 months
  3. Show your stupidity by holding them with your lips while clicking your wife’s photo, and open your mouth to shout posing instructions so that the sun glasses fall to the ground and get a scratch which would put a tiger’s paws to shame.
  4. Hunt for the receipt. Fret over not finding it. Blame the world, curse your fate. Roll with agony.
  5. Let your wife find it for you (and make your hear this fact for eternity).
  6. Get your scratched sun glasses exchanged for free from Ray Ban ๐Ÿ™‚
  7. Goto step 2. ๐Ÿ™‚