July 23, 2007

it's the little things

John Gruber over at Daring Fireball posted a short bit a while back about the Japanese concept of poka-yoke.

A fine example of this concept is illustrated in the differences between version 2 and the beta of version 3 of Apple's web browser, Safari. To make sense of the following screenshots, you also need to know that the keyboard shortcut to enter URLs is Command-L, and use a QWERTY-style keyboard.

Safari 2:

Safari 2

Safari 3:

Safari 3

The old version of Safari's shortcut to block pop-up windows was right next to the key sequence to move focus to the address bar. This would occasionally lead to inadvertent toggles of the pop-up blocker, leading to the occasional pop-up storm. Now the Safari shortcut adds in an extra shift key, reducing the likelihood that anyone would accidentally toggle the pop-up blocker status. It's not a major change, but it's one that pays off huge dividends in the user experience. Bravo, Apple.


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  1. One thing that greatly increased my frequency of accidental presses on this one is that Cmd-K takes you to the Google search field in Firefox. I use Firefox on a PC at work, so I'm pressing Ctrl-K in the browser all day. At home I use Safari, and I always expect that keystroke to take me to the search field.

    Why is the Safari application menu in your second screen shot in the form of an icon?

  2. These two screenshots are taken on different computers, and the one with Safari 3 also has FruitMenu installed, along with a few other 3rd party utilities (it's my primary computer). FruitMenu has a checkbox to allow the app name to be replaced with the icon (saves space, I guess). The other computer doesn't have all the utilities installed because it's not used on a regular basis.

  3. Thanks for the info; I didn't know that was a FruitMenu feature. I could use that menu bar space in some applications (I still use a 12.1" iBook as a secondary system, and there's not a lot of horizontal room).

  4. I'm very happy and grateful that Apple chose to update this key combo though IMHO, cmd-K shouldn't have been in shipping software in the first place.

  5. I hit cmd-K in Safari 2 all the time because the Finder uses cmd-K for Connect to Server. If I don't notice that the wrong window has focus, I smack it and nothing visibly happens, even though state has changed.

    I'm glad they've changed the shortcut so there will be fewer misfires, but it'd be awfully handy if invisible state changes like that were somehow made visible, e.g. with a growl notification.

  6. In Safari 2, I disable the key equivalent for toggling popups.. It's rare that I would want to allow them.

    Quit Safari and enter this in the terminal, on one line:

    defaults write com.apple.Safari NSUserKeyEquivalents -dict-add "Block Pop-Up Windows" "nil"

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