Josh (the blog)

Hey there. I’m Josh, a SydneyCanberra-based maker of Internets. I don’t update this very often.


To apps that steal focus

I am jumping on the corpse of Adobe Acrobat Reader Installer.

I was reading a PDF document this evening and of a sudden there comes forth a dialogue (uninvited) proclaiming gifts. It was, of course, a ploy to make me download Adobe’s crap (I do not feel particularly inventive in my invective this evening — “crap” suffices to describe such software for the minute). For which I did not fall.

I dutifully selected “Adobe Acrobat Reader’tit.howhardisittomakeadocumentreaderyoudon’tneedtoupdateeverytwoweeks?”
and let it do its thing (being careful, as always, not to select anything unessential). It cruised along, I started doing something else (having dutifully abandoned what I was reading).

It (very sensibly) downloads in silence in the background, and doesn’t try and get my attention even when it finishes: it knows that I will pay it attention in due course. Indeed, I do. It begins installing (or, unpacking the installer).

Of a sudden, it decides it would be an opportune moment to steal focus whilst still on a progress bar dialogue in which the only button is “Cancel”. Okay. Point one: moronic time to steal focus, no user action is required. Point two: stealing focus can mean the user is about to do any manner of things in terms of key presses or mouse clicks. Point three: when the only user interface element cancels the operation that’s pressing this apparently-urgent update to a document reader (yes, it’s a freaking document reader — oh, hurry up everyone, let’s all go and patch Notepad. Dangerous security flaws! Watch out!), chances are users aren’t going to bother going back.

So, instead, I printed out the Adobe logo onto a sheet of 3-ply toilet paper and…. okay, perhaps not so literal. Suffice to say, I am presently in no hurry to install any more of their garbage. Stronger words could be used.