Microsoft Word Ate A Bit Of My Soul

I’m expanding the Design Rants to include crappy software design.

First up? Microsoft Word.

Now, it may come as a surprise that I actually like Word. Or, at least, I did like word way back on my Mac Plus in 1986 or so. And I find Word 2004 to be a tolerable enough word processor once you turn off enough features.

Almost. I still can’t fathom how a piece of software can consume more CPU cycles when hidden then when its windows are simply shoved to the back. That, at least, seems to be mostly fixed. Or maybe it is because I turned off the live word count feature which seems to recount words perpetually, even when the app is hidden.

No. That isn’t what motivated this particular post.

Periodically, I have to work with word documents that are actually canned forms. Fill in the blanks, send it on to the next cog in the wheel. Many of these forms have nice big comment type fields where I’m expected to write a bit of text justifying the rest of the form contents.

You would think that the “form” feature of Word would simply be a mode where some of the text (the form) is locked or otherwise non-editable while the empty spots (the blanks) act like any regular chunk of text.

You’d think.

Nope. Doesn’t work like that.

It is hard to verbalize exactly how broken interacting with forms really is. The “text blocks” don’t edit like regular text. Instead, they have some weird dark background and selection is completely broken.

For example, if you want to select a part of the text in the editable area, you would normally click and drag out a selection. Doesn’t work in a form field. Instead, clicking and dragging selects everything from the point to the beginning or end of the paragraph, depending on which way you drag.

That is stupid. Why the hell would the user ever expect or want the mouse tracking to be different just because they are editing multiple paragraphs of text in a form vs. in a non-form document?

To further erode the foundation of my sanity, Word also seems incapable of spell checking in the block of text within a form. Because, you know, there is absolutely no reason to spell correctly when commenting in some random form to be put on permanent record.

So, instead, I use TextEdit (or Mail’s compose window) to edit the text, then paste it into the form.

2 Responses to “Microsoft Word Ate A Bit Of My Soul”

  1. Fish says:

    I’ve not used Mac sw since 2000, but I’m fairly sure I’ve not seen all these things be wrong in the Win versions. Looks like once again the Mac side gets the Microshaft…they used to lag on features version to version in the 90’s. Can’t say anything else that actually helps, and I’ve not noticed the CPU issue on my own, nor will I dig for it…for me, ‘Office’ just works most of the time.

    And to think, some of my ex-CMU pals had me wondering if OS X was worth playing with…especially since it finally has all that NeXT goodness we (especially you) loved so well! Ah, the NeXT years…

  2. Uriel says:

    I’ve got some beefs with Word too: A Tool for Thought Declines

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