Might as well post a mini-rant.

You’ve seen this application, right?

Windows 7 Starter Charmap

Charmap from Windows 7 Starter. Undoubtedly it looks the same on other versions of Windows 7.

I’m a Linux and OS X guy. I haven’t used Windows for a long time. The last Windows version I used full-day was Windows 98SE, and I later got a used Windows XP laptop that sort of refused to start up again. Now I have a netbook with Windows 7 Starter. Yay!

It was kind of disappointing to see that charmap.exe still looks the same as it did in Windows 98SE.

Dammit, as far as my foggy brain can tell, it still looks the same as it did in Windows 3.1 when it was first introduced. Or something.

I’ve grown used to the gucharmap utility in Linux, and OS X’s character picker. Both of those allow me to search characters by Unicode name.

I know what the English speakers are thinking. “DUH. Windows Character Map has progressed beyond Windows 3.1 era, dammit! You can search for stuff. You just click on the ‘Advanced view’ checkbox in the bottom.”

And whadda ya know…

Windows 7 Starter Charmap (Advanced)

…it’s a search box.

Do you want to know what kept me from clicking the checkbox?

The checkbox didn’t say “advanced view”. Had it said that, I might have figured this out on my own.

It says “Näytä lisätiedot”, which translates back as “Show additional details”.

Usability geeks might have said that a checkbox that says “advanced view” is an affordance. Over the years, I’ve been conditioned to think that “advanced” modes might have some stuff that the basic modes don’t.

But the Windows translators, in their infinite wisdom, chose another affordance. When I see a checkbox that says “Show additional details”, I interpret that as “clicking that thing will show additional Unicode details, like related characters or stuff - that’s not what I’m looking for, usually, because I’m not that much of a Unicode geek”.

So why is search functionality hidden in “additional details” page?

gucharmap, the equivalent character map utility in GNOME, chose another path. It has menus. With a search function right where you expect it to be.

(Dunno why I’m ranting this much about this detail. It’s just kind of infuriating that a sloppy translation work can totally hinder use…)