Things I would like to see in “Office 14”

1. Unicode VBA

Seriously, Microsoft, what part of “internationalisation” and “Unicode” did you not understand? Unlike your majority of US-based coders, we Asians often need to work with multiple languages. Just Japanese+Chinese+English is enough to completely break the programming experience in Office 2007. Yes, it was 2006, but that’s no excuse to stick with code-page stupidity when the Apple and Linux people had moved almost anything-GUI to Unicode already.

Nobody wants to switch regional settings and reboot the computer just to set a couple of fucking button captions in VBA, m’kay?

2. One, Unified Set of Widgets

Just who decided to have Form Controls and ActiveX Controls? Tell you what, chances are that, if a geek like me can’t be bothered to learn about two different sets of widgets, most users can’t be bothered either.

3. A Real-Programmer-Style VBA Reference

A bunch of disconnected explanations about Ranges and shit is not what I call a “reference.” Just because you call it “VBA” and “macro” programming doesn’t give you an excuse to disregard types. You may document the VBA object model as though type-safety does not matter, but the VBA runtime would still give me a big, obvious “Your types don’t match. You are stupid. And I won’t tell you what type you gave me either. Now fuck off and get lost.” when I don’t give it the type it expects because, hey, you guys never told me what exact type that method returned.

One thing about Mac OS X that annoys me.

Keyboard input methods – this is one thing that has been bugging me since my switch to Mac OS X.

Actually it is more like 3 problems.

The first one is the way I have to cycle through input methods using Cmd+Space and Alt+Cmd+Space. I know 4 languages (Chinese, English, French, and Japanese) and as a result use 7 keyboard layouts/input methods daily (English, French, Simplified Chinese Pinyin, Traditional Chinese Pinyin, Cantonese Pinyin, Hiragana, Katakana). Cycling through the keyboard layouts and input methods is becoming tedious. I still prefer the Windows way, where I can assign a keyboard combination (e.g. Alt+Shift+1) to each keyboard layout and input method.

The second problem is the lack of official support for non-West-European input in the X11 environment. All attempts to build, install, and use UIM or SCIM have been unsuccessful.

Finally, the Traditional Chinese Pinyin input method seems to be a bit quirky. Sometimes it tends to feed out the wrong character. For instance, typing “zhang1” gives me “章” among the candidate characters, but if I select that character, the input method sometimes feeds the “杖” character instead.

Apple, please tackle these problems in the near future. I believe it will do you good in expanding your market in East Asia.