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Thomas

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[Friday 4th January 2013 at 10:57 pm]
Thomas

boggyb
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It occurs to me that the programs and sites I find most useful are the ones which fundamentally haven't changed in the past 5 years. Like Outlook Express, or the Semagic Livejournal client, or even the Livejournal website itself (though the current administration may be about to break "upgrade" it).

The ones I find least useful are the ones which keep on changing. Like Facebook (wherein the RSS feeds disappeared about a week ago), or TortoiseHG (which threw away a perfectly good GUI and replaced it with one without several useful features), or cPanel (which has taken a simple login page and epically broken it).

This isn't really an anti-change rant, but more of a rant about poorly thought-out changes that overcomplicate and break things. The cPanel one is a good example: their login page now does all sorts of weird AJAX stuff which while appearing slightly more responsive actually slows down the login process (by a not-insignificant amount if you're on an even slightly sluggish connection - that extra AJAX request will cost at least twice the round-trip delay to the server), and also stops it working on some browsers. TortoiseHG removed a very useful and well-implemented feature that allowed you to selectively commit portions of a file, and instead suggest that you use the shelve feature. This has the opposite behaviour (allows you to selectively revert portions of a file), has a rather confusing interface, and requires you to remember to unshelve your changes afterwards. And Facebook... every time I go to their site they've taken some useful bit of behaviour and hidden if not outright removed it.

On the other hand, Outlook Express just continues to work (the highest praise any software can aspire to), Semagic continues to receive updates adding new features while not breaking existing ones, and my Livejournal friends page still looks and behaves exactly how I want.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: pleaseremove
Saturday 5th January 2013 at 11:14 am (UTC)
I take exception with your point about Outlook express... it has changed... massively... you just never moved to the newer versions. Facebook and Livejournal are websites... they cannot run multiple versions (well, not in a real world environment). Outlook Express has moved on, you are the one that hasn't.

While clearly whenever features that we rely on get moved around, removed or broken it is annoying and I for one hate a lot of the changes to Facebook in recent years, I think your core analogy is flawed.
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[User Picture]From: boggyb
Saturday 5th January 2013 at 1:00 pm (UTC)
Okay, I'll accept the one about Outlook Express. Though I don't recall Windows Live Mail (or whatever it's called in Windows 7) behaving that much differently to Outlook Express.

But with Facebook and LiveJournal, while they can't run multiple versions of the site there is a significant difference in how the two sites are run. With LiveJournal, the look and feel of the site up until recently (I'm aware of the current grand redesign) has been largely unchanged, and while they've added new features they've done so in a way that doesn't break existing behaviour. Facebook, on the other hand, keeps on rearranging the site every time they add a new feature and in the process usually breaks whatever existing feature is being replaced/superseded/enhanced. Livejournal also announces new features via the news journal which all new accounts are subscribed to, while if Facebook has an equivalent it certainly doesn't notify you by default.
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[User Picture]From: pleaseremove
Sunday 6th January 2013 at 2:14 pm (UTC)
https://blog.facebook.com/

I agree Facebook is without any doubt a real pain. There are a shed load of features that I love/used all the time that have been removed in the last year alone.... The only reason it doesn't cost them significant user base is because the mobile site/apps are the main way people interact with the site and they are not so bad and because said significant user base has more to lose by leaving than by re-learning.

Also for ref Windows Live Mail while clearly coming from OE, is certainly a very different beast,
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[User Picture]From: boggyb
Sunday 6th January 2013 at 3:06 pm (UTC)
That blog hasn't been updated since last year (assuming that the posts are actually displayed in a sane order). I've done a little more searching and found a Facebook page which contains no news whatsoever, a well-hidden Facebook newsroom which looks like it may actually be useful, and the Developer's Blog.

Of course, none of them mention that the RSS feed for status updates has gone.
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