You Know What I Hate?

Programs that display bogus progress bars. You know the kind I mean: a bar chart sort of graphic appears, showing you how "close to completion" is the process you have launched. But how often do you see these things go to 90% in a second or two, and then stall on the last "10%" for another minute? My iPhone does this all the time when sending text messages.

I know what the programmer did: from his point of view, sending the message involves, say, ten steps. So he advances the progress bar 1/10 of the way upon the completion of each step. The problem is that the first nine steps are all internal to his application, while the tenth one, "transmit the message over the network," is not under his direct control, but is likely to take far more time than the previous nine steps combined. Ok, that's not his fault, but it is his fault that he purports to be 90% done with the operation, when, in fact, 99% of the operation (in terms of user time) has yet to happen. Just drop the bar if you can't really predict how long something will take!


  1. I was told the early IE versions used a logarithmic progress bar. It could be worse - it could be asymptotic!


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