Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 17th Jun 2015 13:51 UTC
Windows Windows is an old and complex operating system. It's been around for a very long time, and while it's been continuously updated and altered, and parts are removed or replaced all the time, the operating system still houses quite a few tools, utilities, and assets that haven't been updated or replaced in a long, long time. Most of these are hidden in deep nooks and crannies, and you rarely encounter them, unless you start hunting for them.

Most. But not all.

There's one utility that I need to use quite often that, seemingly, hasn't been updated - at least, not considerably - since at least Windows 95, or possibly even Windows 3.x. Using this utility is an exercise in pure frustration, riddled as it is with terrible user interface design and behaviour that never should have shipped as part of any serious software product.

This is the story of the dreaded Character Map. I'll first explain just how bad it really is, after which I'll dive into the little application's history, to try and find out why, exactly, it is as bad as it is. It turns out that the Character Map - or charmap.exe - seems to exist in a sort-of Windows build limbo, and has been stuck there since the days Microsoft scrapped Longhorn, and started over.

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Horrible indeed
by avgalen on Wed 17th Jun 2015 23:56 UTC
avgalen
Member since:
2010-09-23

"non-scrolling with scrollwheel". Annoying and strange, although once you click a character the font-scrolling at least stops. But who would scroll through such a list hoping to find something anyway?
"advanced view". Also strange that this is needed, but at least it remembers this selection so after your first use it will always be "advanced"
"search". just searching for part of a name works, so "trade" would find your trade mark sign so would "mark" or "sign" but among way too many other options. try finding "at" for a better example

and then I am going to have to agree with all you said
* no ctrl+c / ctrl+v?
* no drag/drop? (yikes for that modal dragging)
* no recently used (even Words "Insert Symbol" has that)

It does seem to have grouping, although I will not try to pretend that I understand what "Ideographs by Radicals" are (my Japanese wife though...)
I have no problem with the spaces before colons, that actually looks more readable (though non-standard)
All the UI elements seemed decently aligned to me until I started to look more closely

Didn't you forget the biggest problem though? When you select a character it shows a zoomed in version that blocks the view of the nearby characters and doesn't go away when you press the ESCAPE key.

[quote]Whatever the cause, this is entirely inexcusable, and needs to be addressed.[/quote]
Why? I have asked around and nobody ever used this feature. I didn't even know it existed myself and thought you were talking about "insert symbol" in Word (probably even more horrible for anything but the simplest things)

[quote]For Windows 10, I deeply, deeply hope that Microsoft will give us a modern, universal version of the Character Map.... it's easily invokable from both the menubar and by pressing ctrl+cmd+space while in any text input field.[/quote]
"modern, universal" refers to apps and apps can't have system integration because of their sandboxed nature. Or in other words...don't hold your breath

No idea why I spend part of my night on this, but you are right...that thing is quite horrible...like most software that hasn't been updated in 10 to 15 years (by the way, that strongly supports theory 2: no update means no versionnumber change)

Bonus: Let's see if you can find and explain "because"

Edited 2015-06-17 23:57 UTC

Reply Score: 2