Jason's Blog

Archive for December 28th, 2006

I hate Entourage

by on Dec.28, 2006, under General, Reviews, Technical

Flat out, HATE the application.  I use it because I have to since the campus has the huge exchange system, and to do any kind of calendaring support in a reasonable way, I'm stuck using it, but  I hate using Entourage.  The application itself is relatively slow to respond at times (I'm on a 1Ghz G4, 512MB ram system atm), the interface is HORRIBLE.  It feels like someone slapped a huge number of buttons in random locations trying to get things to work.  For example, there are a huge number of buttons with text that appears and disappears as the window resizes.  Instead of perhaps giving you the option to just hide the text, or choose to display it under the icon, etc, they try and squeeze stuff in.  Finding which menu sets the preferences for the toolbar is kludgy at best (I'm not sure there is a preference other than to use small or big icons), rather than ANY other application on OS X which makes use of "Preferences->Toolbar" or right mouse clicking on the toolbar to set preferences. 

Note, this is just ONE aspect I hate.  And it's only the toolbar.  The interface for browsing your email, one of the absolute most important parts of the interface leaves me wanting to strangle the engineers who developed this.  First, it would be nice if it decently supported threading – something every major mail application has supported in one fashion or another for years.  Yes, there is "group by conversion" which barely works half the time (watch what happens if people send blank subjects or the same subject lines).  Further, watch what happens when you change your sorting methods, and you're trying to delete email.  Instead of handling this, i.e. when you sort ascending by date (then grouped by thread), instead of moving you to the next unread message, it moves you to the previous email message.  Reverse the order, and the behavior reverses itself entirely.  OS X Mail at least works the same way – you hit delete in either ascending or descending order, and it moves in the same direction – towards the top of the list.  Here's another gripe – delete a "Conversation" (again, Microsoft's attempt to do threads under a different name no one uses), and you completely lose the focus in the listing of your email and have to start over.  Instead of allowing mouse movement, you have to either click on a message, or use the home and end keys.  THIS IS HORRIBLE DESIGN>

Overall the interface just feels like it's legacy code from the OS 9 days, and is so complex with no cohesion that it makes it difficult to use.  I'm stuck with it because I have to, but more and more, I think I'm going to have to find a way to get rid of Entourage.  If the Exchange webmail worked at all decently with FireFox, I'd stop using Entourage and switch to webmail entirely.  Interface design is VASTLY more important than people could ever realize.  How many clicks does it take to do something.  Is there keyboard shortcuts available?  Things like this make a person who has to use such an application in a day-in, day-out basis vastly more efficient, and less frustrating.  This is why Microsoft is failing, and OS X succeeding – Apple understands interface design and making it usable in a way that Microsoft has NEVER understood.  I just can't wait for the day Microsoft figures this out… until then, I'll use Entourage only because I have no decent alternative.

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