I got a message on my computer today. There's a new version of Skype! It's only been 6 months since their last developer's blog post. I should know, I check every few days to see if, by some act of God or Management, they're forced to actually post something.
It seems even a new version of their product doesn't warrant a post. Nice to know they care.
Anyways, what's new with the new version? Why, it's a list of items that were new last July! How useful. They can't even post a changelog for the last two versions of their software. Why should I download the new version, exactly? Oh, yeah. Because I'd asked if they could fix a really annoying 'feature'.
On to why the software itself sucks:
The Drawer is a software feature that Apple put into OS X way back at the beginning, but stopped shipping years ago. I don't remember an exact date, but it's been at least since OS X 10.5 that it hasn't been a standard GUI element. That means Skype goes out of their way to include this horrible bit of code that everyone agrees sucks. Let me show you what it looks like:
Want to see what that window should look like? It's possible!
All you have to do is press a button every single time you open a new chat window. You open a chat, the drawer opens. You then click the button and the drawer disappears. Your conversation loses focus, you close the window. Then a new message appears, but before you can respond to it the window opens, and then takes the time to open up a new drawer. It's not like the computer itself is slow, the drawer is actually programmed to take time opening for maximum annoyance effect.
As an added bonus, the overall Skype app ends up taking up a huge amount of space on screen. How much? Here's an image of it (click for full-size):
Notice that I'm told I'm chatting with 'archerjb' no less than three times in that screenshot.
Okay, so, why don't I just send a message to Skype and ask them to add a button to disable the drawer? I have. In fact, I've done it several times. I've seen that several other people have as well. It's one of the most commonly asked features on the Skype forums. It's a simple bit of code to either disable it by default or make a button for it. I've seen other Skype employees even write messages saying they'll 'forward that request to the developers'.
Why haven't we seen any progress?
I suspect it's because the Skype for Mac programmers seem to love the drawer. They have posts on their forums praising how useful it is. They're the only people saying it's awesome. That tells me they have very little oversight. That's not a good thing.
In case you're wondering why I chose to post this rant, it's because blogs have a really nice habit of getting picked up by search engines. Maybe if it gets seen, it might force them to fix their piece of crap. I have no delusions that my individual opinion matters, but bad press is bad press. I like to think that somebody at Skype Googles 'Skype' once a day, and they'll come across this and tell someone to get them in line. I'm not horribly hopeful, though.
Oh, yeah, one bit of sad praise: At least this time the main Skype download link has the updated version. Last update, they didn't include it. So anyone downloading Skype got an outdated version right off the bat. On top of that, the 'check for updates' feature in the app itself didn't find the updated release. You had to read their biannual blog post to get it. How convenient.
The saddest part about all of this? Skype is still the best VoIP client available.