Friday, September 17, 2004

iTunes' horrible UI

I recently got a PowerBook G4. I don't have a lot of experience with Macs, which is part of the reason I decided to get a PowerBook rather than an x86 laptop. Some of the differences between Mac OS X and Linux or Windows I find kind of interesting. Given the amount of adoration people seem to have for the Mac, I'm surprised at how many things are just plain broken, though.

For example, iTunes, effectively the Mac's "killer app", has an incredibly crappy UI. That isn't to say it's worse than other MP3 players. I suppose if you compare it to WinAmp or XMMS it isn't bad. It's more a matter of sucking less, than not sucking at all though.

Here are some of the things that drive me crazy about iTunes:

  • There two kinds of selections: checkboxes plus the normal "select" (highlight). Why? What are the checkboxes for?
  • I wanted to burn a CD. Where's the burn button? Sometimes that circular thing in the top-right corner is a burn button, and sometimes it isn't.
  • This is a general Mac screwup: shift and arrow keys always expand your selection. This means you can't select the first entry you want to select, shift-cursor down past the last one, and then curso back up to the actual last one you wanted.
  • Every other Mac app uses the option key for multi-select. So why does iTunes use the command key?
  • It isn't very smart when it comes to importing playlists. I finally discovered that the reason why my imported playlists were empty was because they used Unix-style pathnames (foo/bar/baz) rather than class-Mac OS style (foo:bar:baz).
  • iTunes copies everything into its own directory structure, completetly ignoring the existing organization scheme. For example: I keep my freely distributable songs in a separate directory from my other songs. In iTunes that organization is lost. Now that I've figured out the contortions necessary to make iTunes understand an m3u file, I can write a script to generate playlists from my directory structure, but what can normal users do?
  • What the heck is the deal with a song's title changing the first time you play it? iTunes spends a huge amount of time importing your songs, and actually copying them to a separate directory, but it doesn't have time to scan the ID3 tags during the import? The worst part is that it re-sorts, which means the song you just double-clicked on can end up moving off-screen.
  • If you delete the selected song, and then touch the arrow keys, the playlist suddenly jumps to the top of the list.
posted Friday, September 17, 2004 (0 comments)