I had forgotten to mention previously that one of the worst offenders in terms of terrible user interfaces is academic software. I mean software that is included with textbooks on CDs and other matter. For example, one of the courses I took while a student was on pavement design. A piece of software included was called KENPAVE (The “KEN” signified “Kentucky”) had to have been one of the worst things ever.
Aside from the fact that it requires now depreciated dependencies and tends to crash (said crashes being totally unrecoverable with all work being lost), the interface shows a total lack of even being aware of Windows specifications.
Let’s start with the first screen:
OK who chose the colors? I count seven different colors on this thing, which is completely gratuitous. The buttons are arranged in no logical order or understandable configuration. After some investigation, you find out you have to do it like this:
- Click “LAYERINP” to enter the information
- Click “KENLAYER” to get the program to do the analysis
- Click “LGRAPH” to get a pretty picture
Here’s a bad sign: The “help” is displayed as part of the main user interface. It takes up so much space I’d like to expand the window, but…
…it wasn’t designed with that in mind. You can also go the other way…
Now, to start analyzing, you have to go to File > New to create a blank file and then start entering in data by clicking the menus. You cannot see it here, but the menus like “General”, “Zcoord” and so on are actually buttons. Clicking them brings up new screens. The General “menu” gives us:
rather stupid seeming “help” is there, informing you that you just got here by clicking the so-called “menu”. More notably, and what really gets me, is that some of these entries are using numbers in place of drop down boxes. The first line, “Type of material”, should have a selection of four options in a list, not require you to make up for the programmers lazyness. Same goes for lines NDAMA, NSTD, NBOND and NUNIT. Why is the value of NL colored red, unlike everything else?
Also, note the lack of any way to close this window. You have to type a title, and fiddle with other lines before it’ll let you exit. Trying to shortcut will get you errors like this:
I was going to detail further poor design, but evidently another .OCX file was missing and the program was not built to fail gracefully. Instead, it just fails and corrupts your work to date as well.
If anyone is interested, I may delve further into this piece of work when I feel like getting smacked with unhelpful errors without much warning.