Friday, March 24, 2006

It's a small world

Okay, so earlier this week, I finally got fed up with a particular text box and decided to file a bug on the people who made it. It's the text box that is used in SharePoint Designer's New File / New Site dialog. It's my least favorite text box in the world right now; when you click on it and drag your cursor up or down, it selects everything to the left. I use that text box tons of times each day as I create new websites for testing things. Here's what happens:

1) The box contains the last thing I typed in there with a "2" on the end; that's our default new website name.


2) I want to change the name of the site but still save it on my desktop, so I click after the last \ and drag to the right.


3) But, then I inevitably pull my cursor too far to the top or bottom right at the end of my mouse stroke, and the bug kicks in.


4) And then, I type. If I type "NewSite," I end up with this:


So, that's really annoying, and it wasn't getting fixed, so I finally filed the bug. In the bug, where I describe how to reproduce the problem, I say "this will repro for any instance of REComboBox, but here's how you get to my least favorite text box in the world" and then tell them how to get to SharePoint Designer's New dialog.

The next day, I noticed that the bug was fixed and the fix was already checked in. Great!

Then, today, my manager's manager came into my office and said to me, "would you mind opening up a bug for me?" He then gave me the number, and it was this bug. "Now, do you really think it's appropriate to call something that people worked very hard to develop and test something like that? It sounds like you're saying that it's the worst text box in the world." "Oh, well, no, that's not really what..." "Some people were not happy that you said that. You should probably think more about what you're saying, okay?" I nodded and got ready to respond, and then he left.

I didn't mean that their text box was terrible; I meant that that one bug manifesting itself in that one textbox in all of Office drove me a little nuts. Seeing as someone was clearly upset enough to escalate this to my manager's manager, I figured I should send an apology email to the people on that team who were involved. So, I opened up that bug again, and started a new mail in Outlook, and started to copy and paste peoples' email aliases from that bug. First the developer. Then one of the testers. Hey, wait, I know her! I played Amun-Re with her last night. Then the test manager for the bug. Oh crap. She has the same last name as my manager's manager.

She was indeed kind of upset that someone from her husband's team said something so mean about one of her features. She accepted my apology and explanation.

Then I got a mail from the girl I played games with, who also didn't know until my email that it was I who filed that rude bug.

Then I got a mail from the developer who fixed the bug. "Oh, I didn't even notice you wrote that. If I would have read more closely, I definitely wouldn't have fixed it so fast."

And that's how one little accidentally rude comment in a bug database can insult your manager's manager's wife and the nice girl who you played games with and who brought you dinner on Thursday night.


Kerjo said...


Luke said...

Ya, I always try to avoid best/worst/good/bad when categorizing software doohickies. I like specific descriptions like, "likely to cause heart palpitations with use" and such.

Point well taken, though, its better to be generous with the praise and light on criticism.

Travis said...

Yes, I can certainly see now how someone could have interpreted that as criticizing the control class that powered that particular combo box, but that wasn't my intent...

Luke said...

Though I'm sure you were truly annoyed at the widget's behavior, I can also see your writing the phrase like that as part of the Travis vernacular, the Travis way -- which, almost always has a dose of humor thrown in. Thus, if I had written it, I'd imagine I'd chuckle at the phrase and move on. Yet, it would seem that this is one of those instances where people don't necessarily know each other, and a bug report does not contain any tonality of voice, so -- like so many other business communication misunderstandings involving the written word -- it's sadly important to cut out such things, I guess.