October 23, 2016
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Make Faster Applications

  • November 19, 2002
  • By Mack Male
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As a developer you naturally want your users to enjoy using your application. If your program is slow and tedious, users are going to look at alternative products. So how do you create the right impression?

One way to create a speedy appearance is to actually improve your code. Avoid using Variant variables, passarguments ByVal instead of ByRef, use constants whenever you can, instead of procedure calls, use inline procedures, etc. These code tweaks will speed up your application.

Another way, which should be used in addition to the above, is to create the illusion of speed. There are many different ways to do this, however well touch on a few here to get you started.

A really good trick, and one of my favorites, is to simply hide forms, instead of unloading them completely. This is useful if you know youll need to use the controls and variables on that form. They will stay loaded in memory if you just hide the form. Obviously there is a downside to this trick, more forms means more system resources are used. If you dont think it will be that big of a problem, hiding forms is an excellent way of making your application look fast.

Although distraction is a bad thing when you want the user to do something, such as enter some sort of essential information, it can be a great help in making apps appear faster. By adding an animation and a percentage bar, you let the user know something is happening. The user will always be more patient when he/she knows the machine has not locked up. The download screen in Microsoft Internet Explorer 5 is an excellent example of this. The animation across the top with the percentage bar and fluctuating information below. It keeps the users attention until the process is finished.

Another trick that can be used in conjunction with the above is to preload things. If you need to check for a files existence or something similar, you process it while the user waits for the percentage bar to finish. That way the information does not have to be loaded later, and the user will not notice the extra time it took to retrieve the information earlier than needed.

There are many more things you can do to make your applications appear faster. There are numerous studies that show what relaxes the mind and keeps the user patient. For example, yellow letters on a black background is supposed to be the easiest for our eyes to read. The color scheme of your application is also important; a consistent one will relax the user where an inconsistent one will annoy the user!

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