Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tooltip fail

This rant is partly pointless, seeing as how the subject of it is Opera, a browser I have installed but rarely use.  This issue also affects Mozilla Thunderbird, which I use a lot, and it's very annoying.

What's the problem?  The tooltips for things.  In the theme I'm using in Windows, I have a dark window border and title bar, and the tooltip colors mirror that with a dark grey background and white text.  In the vast majority of applications (including, oddly enough, Mozilla Firefox), these tooltips show up perfectly fine.

In Opera and Thunderbird, they show with white text on a white background, making them unreadable.

What would a niche application usability rant be without screenshots to illustrate the issue?  Here we go! (read that in Mario's voice for lulz)

Tooltip in OperaTooltip in ThunderbirdWhat they should look like

I've searched all through Thunderbird's configuration, including its about:config, and can't find a setting that I can change that will actually fix the issue.  I've found a few that look like they should, but they don't.  Being that I don't use Opera much, I hadn't bothered to try and fix it myself until today.  Searching the internet, I came across a seemingly helpful page detailing Opera's configuration, which suggests that there's an option in opera:config that I can change.

Great, right?  So I open up opera:config, expand the color section, scroll down, and...


What the hell?

Searching around the internet some more I came across a thread in Opera's forums that suggests that the settings are only available on Unix-based operating systems.  What's the logic in that?  I need to configure them on Windows, dammit.

It's interesting to note that Opera does show the text that's in the tooltip in its status bar.  This is nice, but a fix for the actual issue is still needed.

Why don't I use Opera more?  Well, this issue is one reason.  I've spelled the rest out in previous posts, but I'll summarize here for the sake of completion.  There are no useful widgets (i.e. lack of community support), ad blocking is cumbersome (no centralized list, you have to build your own), and no script blocking (a necessity on the internet these days).

One final screenshot, showing the practical implications of the issue:

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