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Proper Design: BBEdit?

bad_dialog.gifBBEdit is one of my favorite applications. I use about 1/10 of its power (we supposedly use the same percentage of our brain power at peak usage) because it typically follows good standards, stays very much "out of my way," provides keyboard shortcuts throughout, and so on. In short, it's a very good "citizen" of Mac OS X as John Geleynse likes to say. It's even got an animated dock icon when doing massive find/replaces or uploading files to FTP servers.

That having been said, this dialog is just pure crap. Pure crap. Let's see what we can find wrong with it:

  • Old-style "small" warning icon
  • No icon badge (BBEdit's icon)
  • The default button is on the LEFT
  • The buttons are labelled "Yes" and "No" instead of "Cancel" and "OK". "Yes" and "No" aren't really verbs. You can "OK" something or "Continue" or "Open" but you can't "Yes" anything.
  • The dialog provides no explanatory text and actually seems to be questioning my sanity. Why is what I'm apparently attempting to do BAD? Why is this dialog in my face?
  • Let's take a look at what a dialog box should look like from Apple's HIG (Human Interface Guidelines):


    According to the HIGs, alerts should contain:

    • Alert message text, in bold, should provide a summary of the error. It's often presented as a question.
    • Informative text in a smaller font telling the user what the consequences of their action would be.
    • Buttons for addressing the alert with names that correspond to the action. For example, "Erase."
    • The application icon. If it's a more critical alert, the icon can be badged onto the STOP! icon.

    bad_dialog2.gifThis is a rare case. BBEdit normally does a great job... or does it? Have we just gotten used to it? Have a look at this dialog, which occurs when you attempt to upload a file (via BBEdit's built-in FTP tool) over a file that already exists. It at least gets the default button on the right part correct, but corrects none of the other problems. Shame on you, Bare Bones. Shame on me for not noticing and reporting this earlier.

    Good design has been mandated and is expected. Can my reasons for using BBEdit continue to include "adheres to the Apple HIGs?" It would appear not.

    One Response to "Proper Design: BBEdit?"

    1. Been using BBEdit since it was an embryo. When I first had to use a PC at work some 5 years ago, I called BBEdit and asked if there was a PC version. NO. (Take that, Windows).

      Favorite part about the program? Able to open "hidden" files, like httpd.conf, when logged in as admin. Pico no more. BBEdit is about the only program I'll pay bucks for upgrades.