.Mac: HomePage could use some work

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
September 24th, 2004 • 12:19 am

If you are a .Mac subscriber and try to use Apple’s HomePage service, which automates the process of creating and maintaining publicly accessible web sites on your iDisk, you will encounter problems that are quite shameful for a company that prides itself on the user-friendliness of its products.

For example, yesterday I went to create a new site within my iDisk. I clicked on the “Add” button underneath the list of existing sites, and was taken to a “Create a site” page asking me to enter the site name (and a password if necessary).

The page specifies the following:

Site names and passwords are case-sensitive, must not contain spaces, and can consist of: – letters (a-z or A-Z), – numbers (0-9), marks (- _ . ! ~ * ‘).

That’s it. But if you try to enter a site name and password, you will also discover that the password cannot have more than 8 characters (which is not specified anywhere), and that the site name cannot contain any accented letters.

Now, I know it’s obvious that a URL cannot accented characters. But it’s not obviously from this page that the site name is going to be used in the URL for the site. (It only becomes obvious on the next page, when the creation of the site is confirmed and the URL is given.) And the specification “letters (a-z or A-Z)” is ambiguous enough. It doesn’t specifically say that accented characters are not allowed.

What’s worse is what happens if you do use an accented character in the site name and click on “Create Site“. Instead of telling you anything, HomePage simply… reloads the “Create a Site” page. There is absolutely no indication that the site was not created, and no indication of what the problem might be. Apple simply presents you with a new “Create a site” blank form!

This is unforgivable, I am afraid.

Also interesting to note is the fact that the buttons used on that “Create a site” page are still old Aqua gifs that date back to the days of Mac OS X 10.0 (where buttons looked even more like gum drops). It’s particularly striking given that the rest of the page is in brushed metal, and that the padlock icon on the page has a definite Jaguar/Panther look to it.

I am afraid that this HomePage service still needs some work…

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