VLC and the Importance of Understanding how Entities Scale in User Interfaces  

I've managed several User Experience (UX) teams both large and small at Microsoft, and I'm often asked to give feedback on User Interface designs and there is one concept (among many) I frequently stress:

Understanding how the experience scales in response to the number of entities.

Entities in this sense are the concepts the UX promotes: “photos”, “contacts”, “videos”, “likes”

Scaling is not about how the experience is transformed as the number of entities grows and the consequent impact on the user.

The count of interfaces I've seen that are too tightly designed for a “magic number” of entities is staggering. By this I mean, that the design mock ups while extremely beautiful and functional don't take into account what the user will have to deal with: Two few entities or more frequently too many.

Here's a great example from the VLC media player that I encountered today and inspired me to right this post. (FYI  am a huge fan and use VLC every day)

Let's launch it, and click Media > Open File.



The following dialog will appear.


VLC is known for supporting many media formats ( Let's see how many by clicking on the Media Files dropdown (located above the Open and Cancel buttons)

Click on the image to see the fill thing.

Screenshot (2)


Fortunately I have a two-monitor system because the width of that thing is 2545 pixels!

How to catch these issues before they appear

I try to evaluate of any UX that shows entities under the following heuristic.

Ask your designers what happens when the user encounters these numbers of entities:

  • 0
  • 1
  • 10
  • 100
  • 10,000

At the very least, you'll force a discussion about what a user is likely to encounter and be more mindful about what your UX designs are optimized for.

Besides the visual layout, it's also useful in helping UX developers pick the right way of implementing the experience.










My Visio Presentation from the PowerShell Summit 2014  

My session wasn't recording last week, so I rerecorded the video and enhanced the content for viewing. Video and link to materials below




PowerShell and Visio Crazy Delicious (PowerShell Summit 2014) from Saveen Reddy on Vimeo.


Exporting the Contents of a Git Repository with PowerShell  

Recently I needed to export all the source code from a Git repository into a Windows fileshare (and once there other operations would be performed.

Below is the PowerShell script I used to accomplish this for a repository on GitHub.

$GITEXE="C:\Program Files (x86)\Git\bin\git.exe"

# Clean out destination folder
if (Test-Path $DESTDIR)
    Remove-Item -Recurse -Force $DESTDIR

# Clone from repo to folder
&$GITEXE clone --depth 1 $REPO $DESTDIR

# Remove non-source code files from the destination folder
Remove-Item -Recurse -Force ( join-path $DESTDIR ".git")

As a follow-up, if you do this you may need to ZIP up the results. Check out my previous post explaining how to create ZIPs easily with PowerShell.




Comic Neue  

My lst few blog posts have been about typography, so I'll continue the trend by highlighting a recent discovery. Inspired by Comic Sans, we now have Comos Neue ( by Craig Rozynski.

Available in several weights and styles, it may be exactly what you are looking for to maintain the friendliness of Comic Sans and still be very professional. It's also public domain and free.





Look up when you play an FPS. You might have missed some cool ceilings.  

From the original thread on reddit, Apparently I don't look up enough when I play Deus Ex: Human Revolution because I missed some really unique ceilings.

The full list is here: Below are three that I particularly liked. Click on the images to see a larger version.

(Speaking of the topic of looking up, I did much more of that in Dishonored –  which plays just like DE:HR –  because Dishonored's “blink” ability will naturally start having you look for destinations to perch on well above your current position.)