[A picture of private offices at Fog Creek Software] Alert! This ancient trifle retrieved from the Joel on Software archive is well-past its expiration date. Proceed with care.

Joel on Software

News

by Joel Spolsky
Wednesday, December 15, 2004

All these people griping about how writing software isn't fun anymore probably didn't notice that here in the northern hemisphere, we're only about a week away from the shortest day of the year. Install some bright lights, drink some coffee, take a vacation in Tahiti, and tell me in April if you still think software development is depressing.

Google Suggest

I had to change my home page back to regular Google due to a fairly blatant usability bug in Google Suggest. Repro steps:

  1. Move your mouse so it's over the "Google Search" button
  2. Type "Joel"
  3. Click the mouse button immediately

The bug: often, the timing is such that the Google Suggest popup appears after I type Joel but before I click the mouse, so I think I'm clicking on the "Google Search" button intending to search for, say, Joel, not that I would search for myself, after all, I'm right here, but I'm really clicking on the popup listbox item for "Joel Turner", whoever that is. Any relation to Tina? Or Bachman?

I still think Google Suggest is important—I'm sure they'll fix this little problem. It's important not for searching, but because it's going to teach web users to expect highly responsive user interfaces:

  • If you have a website that shows a map, and the user clicks to zoom in, they're going to expect the map to zoom in, quickly—they will no longer tolerate the full-page-reload-and-scroll-to-the-top that Mapquest has conditioned them to accept.
  • If you show a list, and let people click on the column headers to sort by different columns, they're no longer going to tolerate the full-page-reload-and-scroll-to-the-top that certain unnamed bug tracking applications have conditioned them to accept.
  • If you have an email application, and you show people a list of email and give them a button to delete email as spam, they're going to expect virtually instantaneous response time, not the full-page-reload-and-scroll-to-the-top that most web email programs have conditioned them to accept.

That's what I meant by "raising the bar."

More Google

Attention, FogBugz competitors: a court has ruled that you are welcome to continue to advertise your products when people search for FogBugz on Google. I actually don't think there's anything wrong with this although it does show a certain lack of class, mm, don't you think? You don't see Wal*Mart advertising when you search for Tiffany.


Have you been wondering about Distributed Version Control? It has been a huge productivity boon for us, so I wrote Hg Init, a Mercurial tutorial—check it out!

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About the author.

I’m Joel Spolsky, co-founder of Fog Creek Software, a New York company that proves that you can treat programmers well and still be highly profitable. Programmers get private offices, free lunch, and work 40 hours a week. Customers only pay for software if they’re delighted. We make Trello, which lets you organize anything, together, FogBugz, enlightened issue tracking software for bug tracking, and Kiln, which provides distributed version control and code reviews. I’m also the co-founder and CEO of Stack Exchange. More about me.

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