The author of that article says: "Is it really worth having a preference panel that benefits fewer than 2% of users overall? — obvious spoiler alert: The answer is no."
The answer is yes. If 2% of users have a purpose for it, perhaps it wouldn't have been high up on the priority list to implement as a new feature, but it's already there, and removing it requires extra work. Is it really worth removing features from an application to deal with some hypothetical problem that's been posited under the assumption that most users are idiots?
If there really is a problem, it may be worthwhile to move it to an "advanced settings" panel, but removing it entirely is a terrible idea.
If users don't know the difference between Diesel and Gasoline, better option is to educate them in context (e.g. handle of fuel pump) rather than closing down all Diesel pumps.
If people don't know the difference between diesel and gasoline, is a note that says "Note: Diesel is not the same as Gasoline" going to help? Doubt it.
The assertion is that 'configuration creep' is overwhelming for the unsophisticated user in the first place, adding even more notes and explanations to all the configuration options is not going to help.
>If people don't know the difference between diesel and gasoline, is a note that says "Note: Diesel is not the same as Gasoline" going to help? Doubt it.
Really? I would think that sign would help everyone who knew how to read, bothered to read, and wanted their car to run. A sign with a simple message like that was enough to fix one national timeclock system that I worked on. "Do not do X before 12:00 Noon unless Y." in English, Spanish, and Polish.
For the people who still messed it up that we found by using heuristics on all of the punch data, we sent reports to their managers that said that they had probably done something wrong. After 3 or 4 cycles of this, the failure rate went from 15-20% to 1-2%.
Unsophisticated users remain unsophisticated users if you systematically remove configuration until the application only does one thing one way, badly.
Only if you want 9000 apps, because then it becomes a question of which of those super narrowly focused apps will work to do what you want to do. An email client that only emails your mother is a good emailing your mother client, but a bad email client. If they take away configuration for people with stepmothers or two mothers, because it's only a 5% use case, it's even a bad emailing your mother client.
If you know your car runs on gasoline, and you don't know the difference between gasoline and diesel, then you see a sign that says "diesel is not gasoline," you know that diesel is not what you're looking for - even though you still don't know the difference.
1. As the blog post has said, many web sites will fail in mysterious and unexpected ways. Some web apps may be rendered completely useless. In fact, you might as well just say goodbye to the modern web if you're gonna totally disable JS.
I wasn't aware I could set a field to SUM(..) etc from the gui... Most of the features in Excel are a bit under the covers.. and far more so than about:config... maybe the "advanced settings" tab should be a button that just takes you to about:config with a warning?
Err... I just opened up Excel (2002 since that is all I have at work), selected a cell, clicked on the SUM button (sure it uses the mathematical symbol for sum but if you hover over it, it says SUM), and then was able to click and drag (or CRTL + click for nonconsecutive cells) to select cells for the sum. This is all via the GUI. I'm not sure how this is hidden. Heck, I did this in a Japanese version of Office which I can't read.
Is this different in Office 2010 or any of the newer versions of Office? I mostly use LibreOffice and even there it has the same "all GUI" functionality.
Honestly, didn't know, I rarely use excel, but do know a lot of people who do a ton of VBA code to connect to database resources to create interactive spreadsheets.. and a lot of that is far from common, button-click functionality.
And in any case, for those that want it, it's in about:config ... I doubt anyone who should be disabling JS would be looking around for it in a config frame, and not do a quick google search. I've generally adjusted most of my settings via about:config, mostly cache related for me, but if I'm playing with js settings etc.. it's easier to keep a tab open with about:config than a modal.
While you may know a lot of people who do VBA code in Excel, that is actually far from the norm for the average corporate user. From my non-CS friends who have worked in both large and small companies, I have heard tons of horror stories of the insane spreadsheets that low-to-average users make using just the GUI functionality. Huge spreadsheets with formulas spanning tons of sheets to simulate what could be done in a simple function. These spreadsheets get huge over time as coworkers slowly add/update functionality over time. All using the GUI which makes it a cluster fuck (my friends' words) to understand.
And all of this actually is equivalent to the "uncommon" VBA coding that you hear of. I wouldn't be surprised if all of the VBA code / spreadsheets you hear about evolved from one of these massive GUI created spreadsheets. Why? Anecdote time:
Those VBA sheets tend to come into existence when a non-programmer decides to learn about macros, updates one of these sheets to be simpler (less data entry), and it actually works. One of my friends was one such employee and she ended up converting a few of the inefficient spreadsheets into a single faster (though still slow) one. Due to cutting down the amount of manual data entry and processing time, it made what used to take a few days of work into a single day of work (mostly to have the sheet run calculations). If this creation gets useful enough, it can take a life of its own in the company and eventually some manager might make it the responsibility of an "IT" guy to update the code. Usually because the original employee got promoted (or left for a better job) due to killing their performance reviews. My friend was one such employee who left and actually did this at more than 1 company leading to a pretty damn well paying job at a young age. Last she heard, her original spreadsheet was still being used and semi-maintained by IT. And this it how I believe a lot of those VBA coding projects come into existence.
My dad takes great pride in complex VBA code. Unfortunately, this can backfire. A few years ago he was brought in to help manage a particular support system for a large telecoms company here in the UK, which involved a lot of Excel donkey work. He understandably figured out a way to automate about 50% of the work of the entire system.
This meant that he freed up plenty of time for the entire team he was on. Unfortunately, this meant that they now had surplus staff, and as the newest arrival, he was the first to let go.
Yeah, incredibly backwards internal politics, but I swear it's true.
100% believe you because this was one of the concerns my friend had about sharing her work. Only management didn't go the firing route. They ended up giving the employees even more work because of their newly found free time.
What makes you say "Advanced settings" dialogs mean poorly thought out UI? I think it's a very good way to tell novice users, "don't open this panel if you don't know what you are doing". And if they still do it and something wrong happens, they'd immediately know the reason.
User has trouble with software. User says that software is "too hard to use". A usability/interaction team are tasked with making the software "easier to use" and set off to find "confusing and infrequently used" features they can kill off.
Obviously anything on the 'Advanced...' dialog makes an easy target.
Implementation isn't the only cost of features. You need to test them so they don't break. Features can be a burden for the codebase and removal can lead to many edge cases becoming unnecessary. A magnitude of features can overwhelm users, especially occasional users. They steal attention from other features that you may find more important.
And the most important point here: This feature really is broken as of today. Nobody can persuade me that they use it on their main browsers. I don't believe them.
But you don't need to disable JS altogether to prevent that, only disable replacing context menus. Unfortunately for that argument, updating to FF23 removes all of the 'advanced' JS options, not just the checkbox to disable it altogether.