Comment on cri de cœur by Darren

Fun story related to VT’s implementation of banner. A couple years ago (ish) I noticed a particularly obnoxious interface used to download a course roster file:

1) The page had separate sets of instructions for “mac” and “pc” for a process (downloading a file) which should be OS-agnostic
2) The instructions required the user to manual change the name of the downloaded file to end in ‘.csv’
3) The default name of the file was some undecipherable mix of letters/numbers that was probably related to the database ID and/or some session key.

Of course, there was no obvious feedback form to offer suggestions, so I exploited some personal connections to eventually get a hold of a URL to the banner support ticket system. I submitted a ticket which included a suggested fix (just adding a couple of HTTP headers to the response would get the browser to interpret the correct data type as text/csv and pre-fill the file “save as” dialog box with a sensible file name based on instructor name and CRN).

My suggestions were eventually implemented, but when I asked my contact about it, they said it had raised quite the kerfuffle at the IT office. One of the managers lambasted my contact: “How did a student get access to the ticket system? Students shouldn’t have access to submit support requests”

So not only are these online systems that we are forced to use so very bad. Those that maintain them seem to actively avoid getting any kind of meaningful feedback from those that use them.