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Lazy Developers November 17, 2008

Posted by Chuck Musciano in Technology.
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You see it all the time on web forms: the little bit of “advice” next to entry fields for phone numbers and credit cards: “No dashes or spaces.”  This drives me crazy!

Let’s understand this: the developer is asking you, the unfortunate user, to make sure you enter data correctly to match what he needs.  Because… it’s so hard for computers to get rid of characters that aren’t numbers?  No.  Because the developer is too lazy to write the code to get rid of the unwanted characters you may type.

Ever type in a phone number with dashes, only to be dinged with an error popup chastising you to not type the dashes?  Ever put spaces in a credit card number only to be similarly admonished?  If so, you have been the victim of a lazy developer, one who deserves to have their keyboard seized and their pocket protector revoked.  That’s shameful coding, and it should be punished.

In case you were wondering, it is trivially simple to automatically remove non-numeric stuff from numeric fields.  Actually, it’s trivially simple to configure the field to keep you from typing them in the first place.  It actually takes a lot more work to check for the errant characters and pop up a window to irritate you that it does to fix the $%&^# field in the first place!  Bad developers will spend more time writing bad code that irritates the user than they will writing good code that makes life easier for the user.  Go figure.

All software development is about the end user experience.  Period.  The user experience should be natural, easy, forgiving, and rewarding.  It should not be filled with pedantic errors and foolish activities better left to the machine.  Developers who develop anything less should be ashamed, and user should complain vociferously when they are forced to use such systems.  Stand up and demand better!

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