Skype 4 Window Resize Is Feature Not Bug, Allegedly

// May 27th, 2009 // Usability

I’ve been using the latest update to the Skype Windows client for a while now, and in general I think it’s a very nicely evolutionary improvement to the UI – I’m very glad to be rid of the 20-30 chat windows I used to have scatterred around the place.

There is one ‘feature’ that annoyed me though – you could resize the window, but a chat would always be 410px wide – something easier to demonstrate with a picture and some super-professional captioning in red:

Skype chat resize bug

Suddenly our team‘s development productivity dropped – after upgrading Skype, you could no longer meaningfully drop a stacktrace into a chat and get any feedback that wasn’t along the lines of “that’s a mess, I have no idea what you’re sending me”.  Lots of people I know had got seriously frustrated about this.

After a quick chat with the Skype support team (based in Hungary, if anyone’s curious – unlike the dev team who are in Estonia, and sponsoring our latest MoMo Estonia meeting) I discovered that this is in fact a feature designed in.  If you want to enlarge the text you can, but only by dragging the left or right side of the text field at the bottom of the window wider – logical, in a way, but completely unintuitive as I know a lot of technical users who got annoyed but did not work this out.

I can’t quite say why Skype felt the best default for the app would be to create lots of dead space, rather than just reflow the text as the window was resized as it used to, but I’d strongly recommend them to reconsider that choice in future!  In the meantime, the best workaround is to maximise your Skype window and drag the text field out to full width – the chat will now resize when the window does.

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