Thursday, September 18, 2008

It's the little things that get to you

Lots of low to mid level networking hardware gets configured with web based interfaces. This is typical, whether it's an ap, a router, switch, firewall, or what have you. CLIs seem to be going the way of the dodo, at least for low-cost equipment.

One of the consequences of this is a deplorable lack of quality of the web interfaces. I've seen everything from help buttons that didn't react at all, to using an iframe to load documents from the company's webpage, to all sorts of illogical inconsistencies across the interface.

One of my pet peeves has always been IP configuration. During the initial configuration of the equipment, you've invariably got to change the IP address. You're doing this with a web based tool. You know that, once the IP address changes, you're not going to be able to get to the device on the old IP. Hyperlinks were invented in 1965. Why, in 200X, do so many manufacturers just make a link that says "Continue" and points them to the config root on the same IP? Doesn't that seem counter-productive?

Finally, I've encountered someone who said, "You know, maybe we could link to the IP address that this thing was changed to...". My new 3com Baseline 48port switch has this feature. I'm irrationally impressed by this small detail.

Like the title says, it's the little things sometimes...