Philip (bluesmoon) wrote,

Applying for a US Visa

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

Tags: incompetent programmers, us visa, vfs-usa, webdev, webhallofshame
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