The draggable toolbar: Why?

Why oh why did Microsoft decide that it was so important that you can drag the toolbars in Office anywhere you want? They can go top, right, bottom, or left, and they can even float. Even more puzzling, you can do the same with the menubar.

I can see how sometimes in some situations it might be handy to be able to float a toolbar. But then I can see so many other cases where unsuspecting users (the prototypical mother, perhaps) will drag their toolbar somewhere they don’t want it and not know how it happened and how to get it back. Of course, getting that damn toolbar to go where you actually want it, and where it belonged in the first place, takes good mousing skills as the bars keep jumping around on you.

This is my favorite example of a feature that’s more trouble than it’s worth. I’m not even talking about the time and effort it took to develop, and what it takes to maintain it—I’m sure those developers had fun. I’m talking about the cost for customers and users of administering their toolbars versus the dubious benefit they derive from it.

It’s a case where less software would be better.

The reason I’m posting this now is that FCKeditor, a browser WYSIWYG editor, has decided to imitate that feature. Not that you can actually drag the toolbars, thank god, but they have copied the tiny graphic that you use to drag the toolbars in Office, the one with the small horizontal bars stacked on top of each other. And they figured it was really important that people be able to hide the toolbar, like in the old Netscape. Just cut both, and everybody will be better off.

1 comment

This is absolutely correct. I have spent a lot of time getting the toolbars back in place in the otherwise excellent mail program Eudora.
By Torben Pind on Wed, Nov 09, 05 at 07:07 · Reply

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