Matt Gemmell

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An action-adventure novel — book 1 in the KESTREL series.

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Microsoft MenuItemTextField

Interface 1 min read

I was using MS Access 97 the other day (via Virtual PC, I hasten to add), and came across an amazing new UI element of mind-bending inappropriateness.

Witness the majesty of the MenuItemTextField:

Menu item text field

Now, I know I’ve criticised Apple in the past about using inconsistent or inappropriate UI elements, but I don’t think they’ve ever gone quite so far as this. There’s a bloody text-field in the menu!

Not only is it hideously non-standard and visually jarring, it’s completely unnecessary. You may be thinking that it avoids bringing up a modal dialog to type a filter-string into; it doesn’t. The workflow is this:

  1. Right-click to produce the menu.
  2. Click into the text-field within the menu to focus it.
  3. Type your filter-string, and press return.

Now compare that to how it would work if you used a dialog:

  1. Right-click to produce the menu.
  2. Click the "Filter For..." menu-item to produce the dialog.
  3. Type your filter-string, and press return.

Same amount of effort, same result, but with just a sprinkling of consistency.

Don’t even get me started on how, once you’ve entered a filter-string, Access doesn’t actually display the string anywhere; or how the MenuItemTextField is the only item in the menu which isn’t indented; or …