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Thursday, January 13, 2022

Jira is terrible. Really terrible.

 Jira is terrible. Really terrible. The functionality mostly fits the need but the interface is absolutely abysmal, floating below and just above the minimum threshold of usability.

Jira is used by programmers. Programmers work with text, we are text professionals, our days are spent typing and copying and pasting text. Yet Jira for some bewildering reason goes out of its way to make working with text impossible in its interface.

1. In Jira, you can't select text if it's a link. Jira activates the link. This is a violation of how links have worked in web browsers since Bill Clinton was President. A link is text which activates when clicked and not otherwise. There's a good reason for that: web pages contain hypertext, not buttons. You can't select the text label of a button, but you can select hypertext including links. Again we are text professionals, we select and copy and paste text all day long, it's the whole freaking career; to screw up your web pages so text can't be selected is unforgivable. This example is an unusable interface literally: I cannot in actual fact select the text of a link, it is impossible, this UI is below the threshold of usability.

2. The main body of Jira content is hard-limited in width. Like this website, Blogger, the content of the page is laid out in a column. This column I'm looking at holds about a hundred characters and that's fairly reasonable because in blogs we type paragraphs of text and we want nice word wrap like in a book. But what works for a blog emphatically fails for Jira because Jira does not display blog posts, it displays comments about computer code. That's what a Jira page is, it is a webpage containing a discussion about computer code. But computer code doesn't word-wrap, you have to scroll horizontally to see wide lines. That's no problem because we programmers have enormous screens, mine can display fully four hundred characters across. But not in Jira! No, no, Jira's tiny little column will display approximately sixty characters -- that's less than a TRS80 hobby home computer sold at Radio Shack in 1977. It is so preposterously skinny that it's hard to believe it was designed by a person whose intent was not sadistic. There is no way a thinking and caring person would ever sell to programmers a user interface which can only display fifty characters. Only malice explains a UI that bad. To scroll in those text boxes requires the manual manipulation of TWO scroll bars, not just one. This is hands down the stupidest way I've ever seen code formatted, ever, including when it's formatted using variable width fonts. It's just absolute trash. The Jira page should render as wide as I make the window, I'm not a dumbass, I am a computer professional I can handle that. But I shouldn't have to handle using two scroll bars to go back and forth between an 80 character line of code and the words discussing it.

3. I tried to fix #1 by disabling JavaScript. Jira shows nothing without JavaScript, just a frame with a loading animation. Web pages should use as little JS as possible in my opinion so to use it for literally 100% of the page is as bad as JavaScript usage can get.

4. Jira is a product sold to computer programmers. We work with text day in and day out. A standard way to interact with text is double click to select a word but Jira screwed up this universal gesture and redefined it to mean edit a page element. No. Double click means select word. Editing a page element is done by clicking a little pencil icon. To select a word in a Jira description, you must double click, then wait, then double click, then wait, then press escape. Only Jira could take something so useful and make it so painful.

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