The truth is this: It works.

Oh sure, the process may be slower than molasses in the winter. And the overall experience may be as frustrating as helping your parents with their email. But it really does work. Here is my example.

I was using the Google the other day and came across this Connect item: https://connect.microsoft.com/SQLServer/feedback/details/481566/policy-evaluation-screen-is-difficult-to-read

Yeah, that *is* me, submitting an enhancement request back in August of 2009. The “feature” of SQL Server Management Studio that was bugging me was this: “If i have a policy that contains a script i get prompted by SSMS with a screen that is very difficult to read due to the blue hypertext on top of a blue row fill color.” That pretty much says it all, but here is a picture of what SSMS  looked like back then:

Usability fail.

Not exactly what I would call “readable”.

And what did Microsoft do when they read my request? They quickly marked it as ‘resolved (won’t fix)’ and without any comment. One of the biggest issues people have with Connect has to do with poor communication received back from Microsoft. This is a perfect example. In this case ‘resolved (won’t fix)’ is not the right answer, but there is no option for ‘thanks, we can fix this for a future version, but not for the most current one’. So I named it “PBM Blue” because that’s what you do for problems in which there appears to be no solution, right? I would use “PBM Blue” often with members of the tools team at Microsoft. I don’t think they appreciated it very much.

If you read the stream of comments for the item you see that a month later I am told that there is little that can be done since they use default schemes (something that was told to be privately and directly from folks on the tools team as well, likely tired of hearing me yell “PBM BLUE” during the preceding MVP Summit). And I believed them, until 10 months later, when Clifford Dibble simply wrote “This will be fixed in the next major release SQL Server. The code was checked in today.”

So, we went from “It’s impossible! There’s nothing we can do!” to “Yeah, that’s done” in a ten month span. And then the wait began. I waited for the next major release of SQL Server. I wanted to see how they fixed this minor nit with SSMS. I waited some more.

And then I forgot all about it. Until two days ago.

That’s when I remembered that last week I did a video that used PBM. And I was using a policy that had a script. And I didn’t recall having an issue with readability. And I wondered why, so I went back and looked at it again and saw this:

Usability win!

Do you see what they did there? When a row is highlighted the text gets alternated to be white, instead of keeping it blue. This is functionality that has been around for…oh…decades. But for whatever reason when PBM was initially built this usability standard was overlooked. Well, I don’t know if it was overlooked. I wasn’t in those meetings. And Microsoft has some very smart folks working for them, so I doubt this was overlooked. But for whatever reason it didn’t get into the product the first time around, and it took feedback from customers to get this changed.

Don’t give up on Microsoft Connect. The process is not perfect but it can (and often does) work.