I've become something of a connoisseur of dreadful user interfaces.
They usually grow like pearls, when a programmer adds features to the software he's writing, and sticks the interface elements for each new feature wherever they fit.
From the programmer's point of view everything's fine, because he knows the software back to front and can remember where he's put everything. From anybody else's point of view, though, the interface looks as if a drunk reeled unsteadily around the window, dropping a checkbox here, vomiting up a drop-down menu there. If the program has a lot of features, then even if the programmer doesn't do anything really stupid, the interface can still be hilariously horrible.
It's possible for an interface to be inscrutable at first but pleasant to use after a relatively short learning period - look at Kai Krause's old Photoshop plug-ins, for instance - but developer-made interfaces that just growed like Topsy usually aren't like that.
...but there are some much more impressive examples.
Like this, for instance.
I had a directory full of MP3s that all had file names with a number on the front and a chunk on the end that I didn't want, and which all had underscores in place of spaces. I wanted to make the file names prettier.
To do a job like this on a PC, there are four ways you can go.
1: Rename them all by hand. Acceptable for six files, not acceptable for sixty, a tedious way to spend an afternoon for six hundred, a steady job for life for six million.
2: Write a little batch file, usually in some inelegant way like doing a dir >foo.bat and then editing foo.bat so that it ends up as a long list of "ren" commands. Or even uses "for", if you're fancy.
3: Use a proper Unix-style shell like Cygwin or something, that lets you do stuff like this in one operation on the command line, or at worst with a very small script. The standard Unix/Linux/whatever "mv" command can't do this in one line, but any decent shell should have a quite powerful "rename" command. More complex operations are likely to require you to know regular expressions, though.
4: Chicken out and just find a stand-alone file-rename utility.
Let's have another look at it, shall we?
When I first ran Bulk Rename Utility and saw this, I just sat there and laughed. That lower portion of the window contains, unless I've miscounted, 28 check-boxes, 21 text fields, 17 incrementable numeric-field doohickies each with two increment buttons, 14 drop-down menus, and 17 other miscellaneous buttons. And it's got a normal complement of ordinary menus up at the top!
The hell of it is, though, that this interface is actually very usable. It works, and it works well. I learned how to make it do what I wanted in, I don't know, maybe 30 seconds. It could probably be better, but it's by no means actually bad.
Bulk Rename Utility would be every bit the nightmare it appears to be, if it weren't for one very sensible move on the programmer's part: The interface shows you, in green, a preview of what your instructions are going to do to whatever files you've selected.
So I could instantly see that my search-for-"_"-and-replace-with-" " operation was going to annihilate all of the filenames altogether, and I said "huh?", and then I noticed that I'd accidentally put the search-and-replace terms in the "RegEx (1)" part of the interface instead of the "Repl. (3)" part, and I fixed that, and it was fixed.
Capitalising words in filenames is easy, too - just stare at the interface for 10 seconds to find the right bit of it ("Case (4)"), and select the option you want - "Lower", "Upper", "Title" or "Sentence" - from the menu. If those names don't immediately explain their function to you, the green preview will.
Bulk Rename Utility even deals elegantly with locked files. If you choose to abort the renaming procedure because a locked file can't be renamed (in this case, the file was still open in my music-player), Bulk Rename Utility gives you the option of reversing all of the renames it did before getting to the locked file.
Using regular expressions via this interface isn't much easier than using them on the command line, but there are umpteen other options for everyday, and some quite unusual, rename operations. If you're not doing something pretty darn complicated, you ought to be able to get it done with the standard interface.
An interface like this is still a usability disaster for a lot of people, though.
Pretty much anybody should be able to learn how to do complex rename operations with Bulk Rename Utility if they just spend a couple of minutes playing with it. OK, you might have to look at the help, or even download the manual in PDF format. But it's really not that difficult, even if you're not good with computers.
But your average computer-phobic person won't even try to use something that looks like this. The same explosion-in-an-interface-factory quality that cracked me up when I first saw Bulk Rename Utility has a much more negative effect on people who aren't confident about using computers.
Sometimes that lack of confidence is justified. It's still easy to find big-name software products, including whole operating systems, that just don't bloody work for some tasks, or that drop dead unexpectedly and then need a lot of work to fix. One of the standard things you hear from computer-phobic people is "I don't want to mess around with it, in case I break something". If that fear is based on a memory of a time when something really did break, then it'll be a difficult phobia to cure.
But many computer-phobics haven't had many, or any, experiences of this sort. They just don't know much about computers, and have decided that this means they will never know much about them. I find that attitude very frustrating - "give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day, try to teach a man to fish and he'll tell you you're wasting your time".
On the plus side, Bulk Rename Utility might actually serve as a sort of exposure therapy for computer phobias. Show it to the computer-hater, let them soak up how completely impossible it looks, then let them use it to rename a directory full of temp files. Whaddaya know - it's not that hard, if you just read the little labels and then see what they do!
The only thing wrong with Bulk Rename Utility for this purpose is that renaming multiple files isn't a task that ordinary users actually have to do very often. Ideally, you'd want a daunting-seeming, actually-easy-to-use program that greatly speeds up some painful task that ordinary users do often have to do.