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User-interface responsiveness is your best entertainment value

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Feb. 21st, 2005 | 08:42 pm
mood: cheerfulcheerful

I'm full up on personal projects, but here's one for my inbox:

My contribution to the mozilla firefox project will be to review and enhance whatever is indicated by this metric:

When I change tabs, how quickly do you show me the contents of that tab?

This is important to me because of my particular (perhaps idiosyncratic) processor-intensive, browser-crashing, web-browsing style. Don't make me wait, ever. Never ever ever. I don't care what else may be happening. If you are a computer program with a user interface, your first priority needs to be interacting with me. Don't just do something; stand there. You are my guide; don't leave me stranded, even if to do something I asked you to do. If this means you need to (over-)specialize, then fine. Do it. Where 'it' is my most recent demand.

This is likely to be a hard problem and not localized to any particular part of the code.

An interesting first milestone will be to make a small suite of tests for this metric.

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Comments {9}

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Triple Entendre

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from: triple_entendre
date: Feb. 22nd, 2005 06:06 am (UTC)
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 I'm all into paranoiac programming.

Never go extreme programming without your test harness!

 "What would your program do, if at any instant a cat walked across the keyboard?"

Wonderful! I like to tell clients about the "dictionary test"1, but I like this one better.

I believe that there are some programs out there that do some kind of "sanity check" on their input because the programmer is a cat owner. I think there's also some kind of driver software available that detects the particlar signature of your cat's typing and shuts off keyboard input until the danger (meaning, the cat) is gone.

-Trip

1. The Dictionary Test: place a large dictionary on the computer's keyboard and see what the program does.
Many, many programs will crash. Something about a flood of near-random input just makes things go poof.

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Chef Monkey

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from: chefmonkey
date: Feb. 22nd, 2005 05:39 pm (UTC)
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Hmm... the dictionary test is more of an overall operating system working nowadays. For example, I just tried it on my laptop. The application with focus -- firebird -- did very little. I think it scrolled up about five lines.

The operating system, however, stepped in and turned down the volume, brought up the battery meter, and put the computer into suspend. I didn't know that there were keystrokes that meant any of those things.

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