Paul McAleer

Two BlackBerry engineers discuss the UI of an HTML textarea.

Paul McAleer

Engineer 1: Man, I tell you this browser rocks.
Engineer 2: It does! It’s better than that crappy RAZR! High tech!
Engineer 1: For sure. Check this out - I can enter text in an HTML textarea and it’s super easy!
Engineer 2: And you can use the trackball to move around in that textarea!
Engineer 1: That’s right! The trackball is maybe the best part of our whole UI and it works great with textareas!
Engineer 1: Hey, what happens if a user needs to move over just one letter?
Engineer 2: They use the trackball of course.
Engineer 1: Perfect! But you know it’s not that precise, right? Like if someone is scrolling to the right and misses slightly… like just nudging the trackball up or down a bit… what happens?
Engineer 2: Well, we bump them back to the top or bottom of the whole textarea’s content.
Engineer 1: Why?
Engineer 2: Dunno. That’s how it was coded.
Engineer 1: Huh. Well, do we have cursor keys or something?
Engineer 2: No.
Engineer 1: So… huh. This trackball isn’t precise enough to really support letter-by-letter movement in a textarea, but we’re going to use it anyway.
Engineer 2: Right.
Engineer 1: And is that right - textareas don’t wrap text at all?
Engineer 2: Uh… yeah, they don’t.
Engineer 1: So someone could enter a paragraph as one really really long line of text, find a mistake about 500 characters in, and lose their place if they don’t precisely nudge the trackball in the right direction while editing a typo?
Engineer 2: That’s right.
Engineer 1: What about letting them enter a full-screen text editing mode, where we expand the textarea to fit the screen, wrap text, and let them really control what’s happening?
Engineer 2: But it passed our unit tests.
Engineer 1: Ah well. We’ll fix it later.