Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Travel passport online in Russia!

Finally they saved us from standing in long lines and millions of forms fillings when you need to get social services from government. Now you can fill up millions of forms online. Yep, that's great. My travel passport gets expired soon so I decided to obtain a new one online.

I went to gosuslugi.ru where I were asked to sign up. I entered my ID number (well, it's not ID in terms of USA but close at some precision) and they said they will send me activation number by post mail. "Ok" - I thought and after couple weeks I've got a letter with activation number.

Then I activated my account. It was tabbed UI.  First tab "enter ID and activation numbers". Second tab "pick up a password". Third tab: "you see a message that account is activated". So due to some reason they skipped a second tab. They said my account was activated and now I can use it. "Ok" - I thought and tried to use it with empty password. That didn't work. Fortunately, they allowed me to pick up new passport after usual procedure with confirmation by email. "Ok, great" - I thought - "let's move further".

I was ready to fill up the form to request a new travel passport. That was a big form, yep, really big form. I should point who I am, my birthplace, my existing passports, all my jobs and etc, shortly speaking all my biography.

That was a bit unusual UI. I need to choose where I want to pick up the passport when it's ready. You can imagine how Russia is big and how many places to pick up the passport it could have. These options weren't sorted by cities. I listed them one by one looking for a proper one. My wife suggested to start from the end (she had experience to get the travel passport online, well, she didn't get yet) and - oh happiness - my option was in first dozen of options from the end.

I'm not sure why but my browser shows enabled and disabled controls on this web page the same way (I assume that's page styling). The required control elements are marked by red asterisk, this applied to enabled and disabled controls both. Usually when you choose a value in combobox then some controls gets enabled or disabled. So what I did? I clicked any form control to make sure I don't miss anything important.

What UI control would I use if I need to ask a question with answers "yes" or "no". First of all I think of checkboxes. These guys decided to use comboboxes with three options: yes, no and empty (default). I guess they did this because they wanted to make sure the user chooses something and don't skip the question by mistake. Well, this point makes sense but obviously it's not user friendly.

Every region in Russia has a number. So, Irkutsk where I'm located is 38. How many people knows this number and how many people think about the number where they are asked about their region? I'm pretty sure if you have a car then you know the number (because the car number contains a region number). But I'm not sure your answer would be 38 if you were asked about the region you are located. What do I say this for? They have a combobox with options like "38 - Irkutsk region". What do I do when I want to choose my region from list of options? I focus it and start typing "Irk" and etc and expect that I choose the Irkutsk region. Yep, that doesn't happen because they used numbers as prefixes. I run through all options and find a needed one and only then I understand what all these number mean and why I wasn't able to find Irkutsk by typing.

Ok, let's move next. I was asked to point all jobs I had (period, company name, job title, address). They provided a button "add item", by clicking it the new row appears and you can describe next job. They provide neither button "remove item" nor UI to change items order. But I was lucky and typed everything correct.

Finally I reached the form end. I didn't attached my picture yet but clicked on checkbox "Sign the form", I guess that should be similar to the statement "all information I pointed above is true".  But to all appearances it wasn't right guess because I've got an alert message saying that I can sign the form in Internet Explorer browser 6.0 or higher only. I'm Firefox user. I'm Mac user. I don't have IE. I hung for a couple minutes thinking in pretty warm way of site developers. And then I saw the last-hope button "save the form on your computer", I clicked it. The form was cleared and I didn't noticed anything else. Firefox downloads dialog doesn't have anything downloaded. Downloads folder is empty.

I think it's too much for me to repeat these steps today if I find IE 6.0 or higher. I'll fill up the form next time.


  1. Xa-xa-xa!
    It's funny ;-)

    But they become better.
    I've got a travel passport in July 2012 through the same site using Firefox & Kubuntu. Hopefully, everything was o'kay. Moreover, I've got a password in one day instead of two weeks. They offered to get it in the main office of "Sibir telecom".

    1. Слава богу, что все меняется к лучшему :) Огорчает только, что не делают все хорошо изначально.