Panther: Dialog box for crash reports

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
March 2nd, 2004 • 4:56 am

Here’s another example of Apple’s current carelessness and inconsistency when designing pieces of UI for Mac OS X.

Panther (Mac OS X 10.3) has a new feature which causes a dialog box to automatically appear whenever an application crashes, regardless of whether it’s a piece of Apple software or a third-party application. This dialog box lets you automatically send a crash report to Apple, which will then presumably be entered into a database and reviewed by Mac OS X developers:

Dialog for crash reports

This is, of course, a commendable move. The problem is with the UI of the implementation. As you can see, this dialog features a pulsating blue button labelled “Send to Apple”. As far as I know, the convention in Mac OS X is the pulsating blue visual effect is used to highlight the default button in a dialog box, i.e. the one that will be triggered by default when you press the Return or Enter key, no matter where your cursor is in the dialog.

The trouble is that, if you press the Return or Enter key in this dialog (i.e. while the cursor is in the top field labelled “Problem Description” where you can type additional information for Apple), Mac OS X… inserts a paragraph break in the text.

I realize that there is an ambiguity in situations where a dialog box contains fields where more than one paragraph/line of text can be entered. In such situations, there is sometimes a distinction between the Return key and the Enter key in the Mac UI. The Return key inserts a paragraph break, whereas the Enter key is used as a shortcut for the default button in the dialog.

But that’s not the case here. Both the Return key and the Enter key fail to work as shortcuts for clicking on the “Send to Apple” button. The only way to activate that button is, well, to click on it with the mouse. In that case, the button should not have the pulsating blue effect.

9 Responses to “Panther: Dialog box for crash reports”

  1. Dan Wood says:

    The other silly thing about this dialog box is … well, that it assumes that all software is Apple’s. What good is a Send to Apple report if the software — dare we say — comes from a third party?

  2. Pierre Igot says:

    Presumably because some third-party application crashes might still be caused by bugs in Mac OS X itself.

    But one also would hope that, if the crash is caused by the third-party application, Apple ensures that this information will be shared with its developers…

    (The other thing I don’t like about this dialog is that, once you click on the “Send to Apple”, there is no visual indication of the sending process and of whether it was successful or not. The dialog box just disappears after a while.)

  3. MacDesigner says:

    It wouldn’t surprise me if this info never actually reached Apple. More like a placebo to make you feel better about application crashes.

  4. Paul Ingraham says:

    Kind of like pushing the “walk” button at a controlled intersection. ;-)

  5. jen says:

    i can’t even get the thing to send. i click on the blue spot but nothing happens. nice…

  6. Allan Bonadio says:

    ha! I’m a Mac developer and I’m writing a tech support note to my customers and I’m talking about this very dialog. I have no idea where the report goes if you click Send to Apple. I only send to Apple when it seems that Apple software crashed.

    Apple’s developer site has no info that I can find. Google brought me here.

    PS: for us programmers, the actual crash report is excellent. I would encourage you to copy and paste it into an email to the proper SW vendor.

  7. Pierre Igot says:

    Allan: no idea where the report goes either… All I can see in the console log is:

    2004-06-01 08:58:11.842 CrashSubmitter[531] Crash report submitted!

    It’s better than the Safari bug report, which used to fail completely! (They fixed that later on…)

  8. Michael Herrick says:

    I’m a developer and we actually received an email from Apple in which they told us exactly how to fix a crash that was bringing down our software under Panther. Users had reported it to Apple with this dialog. We had actually already fixed the bug, just in time for Panther release, but I was still blown away by this attention. It DOES go somewhere and people DO read it.

    But I wish there was a way I could patch into that dialog box with a plist entry and have it directed to us (in addition to Apple).

  9. Pierre Igot says:

    Thanks for confirming that these reports are actually being used. They are getting quite a few from me :).

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