Open PDF Documents Full-Screen in Dropbox for iPad [#dropbox, #ux]

This was actually surprisingly difficult for me to figure out since there is basically no discoverability hints anywhere, and I literally found it by accident.

In the Dropbox app for iPad, if you open a Word or other Office document, there is a little button in the lower right hand corner for viewing the document in full-screen. However, if you open a PDF document, that button is not present. Hmmm…

Additionally, in the iOS 5 version of the Dropbox app, there used to be an arrow button in the navigation bar area to toggle the visibility of the navigation panel on the left. This served as an adequate almost-full-screen view of a PDF, but the (as of March 10, 2014) current version of the Dropbox app removed that functionality.

So for months I was in a bit of a predicament regarding how to view a PDF in the app – double-tap zoomed, but didn’t remove the Panel from the split view controller. But just this weekend, immedately after sending an email to Dropbox lamenting the loss of the full-screen PDF feature, I discovered accidentally how to do it. It’s not immediately obvious how to view it in full screen, but thankfully, it is possible!

Turns out the answer is…. Single Tap. [facepalm!]

Just tap once on a PDF in Dropbox for iPad and your document will be shown in full-screen, and better yet, all of the other UI elements like the navigation bar fade away and you just see the document itself. So, while it was a little more difficult for me to find, once I discovered it I like the improvement in the full-screen view. I’m not sold on single-tap as a full-screen view gesture, but at least it’s there in some fashion.

Peet’s Coffee Packaging UX

As a nice perk, the company at which I am currently employed provides complimentary Peet’s coffee. While this a very nice daily benefit, and is entirely welcome, there seems to have arisen a fundamental usability problem.

This morning I just made the observation that, as far as I can tell, every coffee station here at the office seems to have a pair of scissors — since the coffee packets are so difficult to open!

Somebody better tell Peet’s that coffee packets have users too! I’m sure if it was a financially viable option, and if they made a commercial-grade machine, companies might just switch to Keurig over it.

Please don’t add debug messages to your customer-facing application

Debugging messages are for developers/engineers, not for humans (I can say that since I’m a developer). But I can’t believe that it’s 2009 and I still encounter things like the following example…

Every time I log into one of my online banking systems, I get a message like the following:

Online Banking Debug Message

This is just intrusive and rude behavior (as Alan Cooper might say). First of all, the message first off tells me when the last unsuccessful attempt was made to access the account… HUH??? Then it tries to be helpful and tell me when the last successful attempt was made.

It just makes no sense at all to me why this message exists at all. Why would I ever care about these particular statistics, and even if I did care about them, is it really necessary to pop up a message box every time I log in???

I vote no.

Fine. If you want to have that information accessible, provide a log of all accesses tucked away in my account settings or somewhere I can get to if I think I have a security concern. Don’t show this message to me, please. What this message boils down to is a debug-ish message in the clothing of security (I could be wrong, but that’s what it smells like to me).

Interestingly, as a side note, I happen to know that this system is from a company that is now owned by Intuit (my former stomping ground), and in the two or more years since that acquisition, this message box has surprisingly still not disappeared.

HP printer driver gets subtle usability upgrade

I just noticed when printing up a document today that my [Windows] HP printer drivers must have been upgraded recently. As a result, the Printing Preferences dialog that used to have an entry entitled “Default Printing” (or something to that effect) now reads “General Everyday Printing,” which, while a little confusing in itself, is a lot less TechnoSpeakish than using “Default…”, since non-software-development professionals don’t generally know that word.

ASP.NET Forum Tags: Semicolons as Separators?

Ummm… OK I know Microsoft is trying to give the illusion of being user friendly and all, but when the delimiter for tags that categorize a post on the ASP.NET developer forums, they chose semicolons.

Is it just me or is that a ludicrous choice? Why not a space (my preference – a la delicious) or a comma?

In addition, there is no example visible to show you what the legal delimiter is! You have to miraculously divine what it wants, or let it show you what it wants, as I chose to do.

To find out what the delimiter is, I had to do the following:

  1. Open the “Select Tags…” dialog.
  2. Select two (short) tags. (I notice lots of other folks thought that a space would be a logical delimiter too…!)
  3. Close the dialog.
  4. Oops. Closing the dialog didn’t populate the text box with my selections. Awesome.
  5. Trying again… Open the “Select Tags…” dialog.
  6. Select two (short) tags, this time at the end of the list where I notice OK and Cancel buttons (yes – you heard that right. The buttons are embedded in the list itself… and at the bottom of the list, no less! They’re not on the dialog “window.”)
  7. Click OK.
  8. Observe that text box has the new selections delimited by semicolons.

The auto-populating text box is another usability nightmare deserving of its own article, but I’ll let someone else write that one up. ;)