MS Projoket 2000

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You probably already knew that. So did I, but I never really got to experience the glory of its craptastical power until just now. Previously, the only time I used it was to open someone else's file, click “Print,” then close it–except printing is usually a lot more complex than that, involving checking the print preview, twiddling with some settings, and returning to the print preview multiple times in order to get everything to fit on the page.

Maybe I have gotten spoiled on the Mac human/computer interface, but Project's interface seems to be sub-par, even for a Microsoft product. You basically start by making a bunch of tasks and subtasks–your typical hierarchal bullet list. Most programs with this kind of functionality (including Word) let you indent and outdent with tab and shift-tab. This makes things easy because when you are typing in a list of fifty things, you don't have to take your fingers from the keyboard, find the indent toolbar button with the mouse, then return to the keyboard. In Project, it seems the only way to indent/outdent is by using toolbar buttons (or pulldown menus). There are NO keyboard shortcuts for this. Similarly, there are no keyboard shortcuts to expand/collapse a list. These are pretty common operations, and the bread-and-butter of what Project is supposed to do.

Half of the interface looks like Excel–a grid where you can enter lots of text and numbers. I needed to insert a row or two, so what do I do? I highlight the row, go the the little row number in the left margin, right-click, and select…wait, there's no “Insert Row” like in Excel. The Insert pulldown menu (there is a whole menu devoted to inserting, but not one for removing) tells me that the keyboard shortcut is the insert key. HUH?! In every other program in the operating system, the insert key is a TOGGLE. Much like Caps-Lock and Num-Lock, only without a fancy light, it switches between two states: insertion mode and overwrite mode. I have never seen it used as a stateless button, except for a short time back in the DOS era when someone decided ctrl-insert was easier and better than ctrl-v.

Posted in: Dear Diary

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