Colin Percival disagrees with Joel Spolsky on disabled menu entries.

Joel Spolsky has a remarkable track record of speaking truth to programmers on his blog: Joel On Software. Occasionally he says something with which I disagree, but usually it’s on a subtle point, or it’s an issue where his passion for doing things one way is motivated by his preferred platforms: Windows and the web.

Today Joel shared a very short and dangerous pronouncement on the use of hidden and disabled menu items:

“A long time ago, it became fashionable, even recommended, to disable menu items when they could not be used.

Don’t do this. Users see the disabled menu item that they want to click on, and are left entirely without a clue of what they are supposed to do to get the menu item to work.

Instead, leave the menu item enabled. If there’s some reason you can’t complete the action, the menu item can display a message telling the user why.”