James Governor's Monkchips

UI Consistency Death: but I *want* plain text

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Andrew Shebanow today argues that the idea of UI consistency across platforms and applications is a pipe dream, and that the expectation for same has been broken by the web. Not entirely unexpected than an Adobe person would argue this. “The web is broken”, “The back button problem” and so on.

I dont mind dealing with a bunch of different UIs but i have to say the way people treat the cursor in AJAX apps drives me up the wall. When I right click I just want a copy plain text. It took me about five minutes yesterday to work out that to cut/paste from Zoho you needed to go into preview mode first. That said Microsoft Word does the same kind of thing. Plain text is an optional extra. WTF? If I want to cut and paste formatting then allow me to do that, but if i highlight a few words chances are I just want to copy the text. I love text. It is the primary mechanism for communications. So why do do we relegate it to an option? AJAX people some consistency wouldn’t go amiss. Microsoft- Office 2007 finally begins to separate content from formatting. A little bit ironically, two posts before Andrews’s on the Adobe group blog, Rock Borstein explains how to cut and paste with and without formatting from PDF reader. What is my point? Keep it simple stupid. And you can’t get simpler than text.


  1. Ah yes… but what if you highlight a heading and the following text – and want the formatting to be preserved? There’s no one perfect solution for what to do as the default. What you want may not be what someone else wants. I can’t count the hors I’ve spent in discussions abot the right thing to do for feature defaults…

  2. Huh? I don’t know how you went from what I wrote to “the web is broken” – is that instead an argument you’ve heard from others at Adobe? If so, they were full of it as far as I’m concerned.

    Also, in general, please don’t paint me with such a broad “Adobe person” brush – just because other people at Adobe said something once doesn’t mean I agree. Its dehumanizing.

  3. Also should point out that UI consistency across platforms is not a universally desirable goal. Remember, the genesis of the discussion was that Adobe is being beaten on by Mac users for having CS3 be consistent across platforms. Similarly, some people criticize firefox because its UI widgets aren’t consistent enough with any one platform even though they are consistent across platforms.

    Adobe is in fact trying to make the platform less of a factor in these things with Flash Player, Apollo, and so forth. Java and the web browser did the same. But its clear that a lot of people get angry when you try to do it.

  4. I hate that copy with formatting stuff. It’d be nifty if I could tell my OS that I don’t want anything copied with formatting (or that I didn’t want that to be the default) and then all apps would obey that. Hook it into OpenID 2.0 attribute exchange, and then I could provide that preference for any application to use.


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