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[icon] Blue Swiss Cheese ( 브루 쉬쓰 치즈) - Applying for a US Visa
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Subject:Applying for a US Visa
Time:11:31 pm

So the vfs-usa website, which is where one has to go to apply for a US Visa, is designed by a bunch of idiots who are living in a universe 9 years in the past. They've built a site that works on Internet Explorer 5.0 which was released in June 1998, while the rest of the world has almost moved to 2008. Anyway, the real problems with their site... let's see if I have the energy to list them all.

  1. Their server is signed with an invalid certificate. That in itself should be very scary, but they probably don't realise it, because they've never used a secure browser.
  2. Their back end cannot process individual day, month and year fields, instead they need javascript to combine this into a MM/DD/YYYY field which their back end will process. My guess is that they used VB.NET and never once looked up the documentation on date and time processing.
  3. Their javascript that combines the day, month and year fields into a single MM/DD/YYYY field is faulty. They look at the .innerText property of an option list when the correct property to use is .value. .value has been the standard way to retrieve the value of an option since Netscape introduced Javascript, and yes, it was supported in the implementation of Microsoft JScript that was used in Microsoft Internet Explorer. The innerText property doesn't exist anywhere outside of Microsoft.
  4. They haven't got a clue about code organisation. The hidden fields that they use to store the MM/DD/YYYY values are scattered all over the page. It's almost as if each input field was added by a different developer with a different project in mind.
  5. They've never in their lives heard of <input type="hidden">. No, instead of that, they use <input type="text" class="HideControl"> and then use CSS to set .HideControl { display: none; }.
  6. If you try to retrieve an unsaved application, they don't tell you that no such application exists. No, instead they give you a screen that says "Please select the specific visa class you are applying for:", and that's it. There's nothing else on the page.
  7. Terrible Accessibility. As if making the site accessible to users of non-Microsoft browsers wasn't enough, they also, very happily, steal focus away from the current element. Select a radio button, and the page refreshes with a new bunch of fields. Select an option from a drop down list, and again the page refreshes. After refreshing, of course, there's no telling where focus has shifted. Just imagine someone trying to iterate through the drop down list with a keyboard.
  8. They can't spell. They have variable names like FC_Employement and FC_Attandence. My eyes bled while trying to debug their code.
  9. They have a DOCTYPE, but have no idea what it's for. Which is probably why it isn't the first thing on their page.
  10. Useless use of frames. The main content is inside a frame that is part of a frameset of two frames, which in turn is in a frameset of two frames. The content frame gets 100% of the height, as does its parent. The other frames have nothing useful in them.
  11. They haven't heard of the <ol> tag
  12. They do not know the difference between a slash / (which is used on the web), and a backslash \ which is used for paths on a Windows file system, so some of their paths will work on their local windows box, and when viewed through IE, but not on the web when viewed using real web browsers.
  13. After correcting the path, the guidelines document still returns a 404.
  14. &nbsp; is their favourite entity
  15. They have code like this: <p></p> all over the place.

Yes, I finally managed to submit the application using Firefox on Linux, but only after disabling the validation javascript and doing the date manipulations manually. It wasn't pretty, and for some reason greasemonkey wasn't helping me rewrite the SetDate function.

Does anyone know which company built this web site? I'd like to recommend against people using them to build their company websites.

Update: Another problem is with the generated PDF that they ask you to print out. I didn't notice it before, but on closer inspection, there are a few big problems:

  1. The state I live in is marked UNDEFINED
  2. Most multiline entries are clipped at two lines. As a result, the office address that I've entered ends at Street Name, and only two of my prior US visits are listed instead of all of them.

I don't know if this could be a problem or not. Will only know when I go for the interview.

Update 2: I've enabled anonymous comments for this post

comments: Leave a comment Previous Entry Add to Memories Share Next Entry


laruth
Link:(Link)
Time:2007-11-30 11:45 pm (UTC)
Nooo! That is terrible!

But it's good for me to have more examples of what not to do when it comes to usability and accessibility when I do my talks, so thanks for that ;)

(Reply) (Thread)

(Anonymous)
Link:(Link)
Time:2007-12-01 04:05 am (UTC)
wow... number 5 is awesome!
(Reply) (Thread)


toast0
Link:(Link)
Time:2007-12-01 05:15 am (UTC)
#5 is awesome (i also posted this anonymously on accident)
(Reply) (Thread)

(Anonymous)
Subject:VFS
Link:(Link)
Time:2007-12-01 06:03 am (UTC)
VFS is a part of Kuoni group
http://www.kuoniindia.com/trs_vfs.html

-Vid
(Reply) (Thread)

teemus
Link:(Link)
Time:2007-12-01 06:57 am (UTC)
I admire your patience. =D>
(Reply) (Thread)


anomalizer
Link:(Link)
Time:2007-12-01 08:45 am (UTC)
  • Their Captcha is case sensitive.
  • They feel an obligation to convert everything to uppercase on the client side
  • Telephone numbers are supposed to have only digits. /[+-() ]/ is not supported
  • Addresses are not supposed to have comma in them
(Reply) (Thread)


code_martial
Link:(Link)
Time:2007-12-01 09:59 am (UTC)
This is sadly hilarious. Or hilariously sad.
(Reply) (Thread)


fox2mike
Link:(Link)
Time:2007-12-01 06:36 pm (UTC)
Or both. :)
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)

astra1111
Link:(Link)
Time:2007-12-01 03:44 pm (UTC)
maybe u should put this post in an email and send it to VFS, it would be interesting to see the reaction that they have..
(Reply) (Thread)


bluesmoon
Link:(Link)
Time:2007-12-01 04:26 pm (UTC)
I did that before posting. They told me to use Internet Explorer 5 at 800x600 resolution.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)


praveenkumarg
Link:(Link)
Time:2007-12-01 08:32 pm (UTC)
wow!
(Reply) (Thread)


sameerds
Subject:how does one dispel such darkness?
Link:(Link)
Time:2007-12-02 05:30 am (UTC)
You mentioned using Greasemonkey to over-ride some scripts ... I guess something like this *could* be useful for me on the HDFC Securities website. They have actually put up a site that asks you to stop using your browser and shift to IE! The options I can see are:

1) Stop using HDFC Securities
2) Stop using HDFC Securities and tell them why
3) Tell them politely why I am considering action (1)
4) Tell them what is wrong with their website
5) Find a workaround

Being a rational man of peace with a great desire for helping others, I am of course interested in option (4). But how do I make it stick? What follow up should I keep ready? And what do I say to them in the first place?
(Reply) (Thread)


satyap
Subject:Re: how does one dispel such darkness?
Link:(Link)
Time:2007-12-02 03:06 pm (UTC)
I like option 3, Tell them politely why I am considering action (1), followed by 2 (Stop using HDFC Securities and tell them why) when (not if) they don't listen.

Also, you guys are (or were) prominent in the ILUG communities. Make loud noises.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)


kerneltime
Subject:Also..
Link:(Link)
Time:2007-12-02 07:35 am (UTC)
If you are in US you still need to get a HDFC DD to get a date and submit your papers 4 days in advance..
Though, this is still better than having to stand outside US Consulate since 4:00 am in the morning.. but by far US visa is the most painful than any other visa I have applied for (UK, Australia, Thailand, Singapore)
(Reply) (Thread)


code_martial
Subject:Re: Also..
Link:(Link)
Time:2007-12-02 10:58 am (UTC)
You don't have to stand outside the consulate since 4 am. You show up over there on time. You'll be allowed to jump the queue when your scheduled time arrives. I think queuing up is a nasty habit of people in our society that seems to have seen too much deprivation to not believe in the guarantee that they'll get what they're promised.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)


lawgon
Subject:Re: Also..
Link:(Link)
Time:2007-12-03 11:24 am (UTC)
queuing in India is a habit????? where did you get that crazy idea from?
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)


code_martial
Subject:Re: Also..
Link:(Link)
Time:2007-12-10 04:16 pm (UTC)
You're assuming that queues are always straight and/or orderly, but that's not always the case and not something that I intended to imply.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)


lawgon
Subject:Re: Also..
Link:(Link)
Time:2007-12-10 04:30 pm (UTC)
me scratches head in bewilderment
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)


code_martial
Subject:Re: Also..
Link:(Link)
Time:2007-12-10 05:09 pm (UTC)
Hint: a crowd is a collection of single node queues.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)


kerneltime
Subject:Re: Also..
Link:(Link)
Time:2007-12-03 04:13 pm (UTC)
I was referring to way back in time when there was no VFS or appointment facility... Yup currently, you only need to show up 10/15 min before your inerview time.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)


bluesmoon
Subject:Re: Also..
Link:(Link)
Time:2007-12-03 04:57 pm (UTC)
back in 2000, when I applied for my B1 in Mumbai, I turned up at line closing time. I was one of the last people in the line. I got a little paper token that said that I was in the line before 11am and gave me a number. Everyone who got the token was taken in for an interview - didn't have to stand in line after that. There was a little tent like structure with chairs that we all sat in to escape the rain. They called out ranges of numbers, and those people headed to the entrance and went in for their interviews. There was no need to turn up at 4am.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)


redobsession
Link:(Link)
Time:2007-12-02 06:41 pm (UTC)
so you're still in india?
(Reply) (Thread)


bluesmoon
Link:(Link)
Time:2007-12-02 07:14 pm (UTC)
yep - visa interview on the 11th.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)


inspirethoughts
Link:(Link)
Time:2007-12-03 02:16 pm (UTC)
Vow..thats terrible...s website used by billions of people and being maintained this poorly...been a long time visited this site though...

2, 5, 8 and 14 are hilarious...loll some body oughtta teach these people about webpage creation.
(Reply) (Thread)

ga_woo
Link:(Link)
Time:2007-12-04 03:51 pm (UTC)
There are only around a billion people in India.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)


murf43143
Subject:hahahahah
Link:(Link)
Time:2007-12-04 04:59 pm (UTC)
Hello from Reddit! Funny post man, sad and funny.
(Reply) (Thread)


bluesmoon
Subject:Re: hahahahah
Link:(Link)
Time:2007-12-04 05:07 pm (UTC)
welcome to my first reader from reddit, I guess :)
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)

(Anonymous)
Subject:Re: hahahahah
Link:(Link)
Time:2007-12-04 08:01 pm (UTC)
Even though this isn't the U.S. Official site I'd like to ask if anyone ever consider that those people who are applying for visa's don't have the most cutting edge technology?

Do you think there's a chance that if you lived in India you might have a 200MHz Pentium and be running IE 5 on a 13" monitor? Sometimes you have to code and build things so everyone can use them (I know, weird eh?). The code may suck but I don't think its very relevant to make fun of the sites minimum requirements.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)


bluesmoon
Subject:Re: hahahahah
Link:(Link)
Time:2007-12-04 08:06 pm (UTC)
Umm, perhaps you didn't understand. Those aren't the _minimum_ requirements. Those are the requirements. The site will NOT work on Firefox or any browser other than Internet Explorer.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)

(Anonymous)
Subject:Re: hahahahah
Link:(Link)
Time:2007-12-05 02:30 pm (UTC)
You're an idiot, right?
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)

(Anonymous)
Subject:Re: hahahahah
Link:(Link)
Time:2007-12-05 02:30 pm (UTC)
I mean, the anon guy above is an idiot, not bluesmoon
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)

(Anonymous)
Subject:Try out axis bank's online banking site!
Link:(Link)
Time:2007-12-05 09:49 am (UTC)
Seems it is fashionable to have a good looking site with very bad functionality. Axis bank's site (http://www.axisbank.com) has links for online banking (Personal Banking is what I tried). There are many many bugs. The first thing that you can notice - and you don't need any account for this - is the '- web1' part in the title! It doesn't work in FF (I tried Netscape actually). You can log in, but if you click some link, you will see an error showing some application security error. It doesn't look like a JS error, more like a server side error. You are not allowed to use the back / refresh buttons. You will again see the same application security error. I wonder what the "web 2" at the bottom of the error page means. (Also seen on the title of that page "Error - web2"). Plus loads of other errors. I don't think there is anything I can do. After seeing their website, I just fell in love with SBI's online banking site. Its wonderful in functionality.
(Reply) (Thread)


lawgon
Subject:Re: Try out axis bank's online banking site!
Link:(Link)
Time:2007-12-10 04:36 pm (UTC)
I have been using axis banks online site with firefox with absolutely no problem. And trying it in netscape and saying that it doesnt work in firefox is dumb.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)

(Anonymous)
Link:(Link)
Time:2007-12-05 10:39 am (UTC)
The real question here is, why are bothering trying to get *in* to the USA? :-P
(Reply) (Thread)


bluesmoon
Link:(Link)
Time:2007-12-05 10:40 am (UTC)
heh. good question.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)

(Anonymous)
Subject:What did you expect
Link:(Link)
Time:2007-12-05 02:36 pm (UTC)
The offshore outsource their web development so
what did you expect? Quality?
(Reply) (Thread)


bluesmoon
Subject:Re: What did you expect
Link:(Link)
Time:2007-12-05 04:06 pm (UTC)
I'm Indian, I live in India, and I build web apps, and I hold myself to a high standard of quality. Yes, I expect the same from everyone who develops web apps, else they should get a different job.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)

(Anonymous)
Subject:filter out dummies
Link:(Link)
Time:2007-12-05 05:45 pm (UTC)
In a way if you need explorer 5 to make the site work, it's probably intentional. The Us is not interested in people who apply for visas. Maybe they are just interested in those who are granted a visa, either by a Us company or some other worthy institution.

(Reply) (Thread)

(Anonymous)
Subject:UN-BLOODY-BELIEVABLE
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-05-26 08:26 am (UTC)
I'm not a techie, and have no knowledge of codes and suchlike, but even I'll vouch for the fact that the VFS us website is one of the most terrible that I've ever encountered!!! from trying to set up a new account with my HDFC receipt number to actually submitting the bloody application forms, I've been receiving error messages EVERYWHERE. It's driving me mad, and it's STILL not done..

the buggers who designed this website should be bloody banned from any further projects, let alone such important ones.

gaaah.
(Reply) (Thread)

[icon] Blue Swiss Cheese ( 브루 쉬쓰 치즈) - Applying for a US Visa
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