UI Feedback Wanted

  • Hello everyone,

    I'm writing an application that will have many plugins, displayed in a
    table on the left, and each plugin will have a set of users, displayed
    in a table on the right. The view provided by each plugin is displayed
    in the middle. My question is, how would you do this? The way I'm
    currently doing it, which you can see in the screenshot, can take up a
    lot of screen real-estate and I don't like that. Previously I would
    have put the users table in a drawer but those have more or less died.
    Any ideas?

    Thanks, Alan

    --
    My blog: cocoalatte.info

    // Things I've said -------------------------
    "Maturity resides in the mind."
    "Silence is the Universe's greatest gift."
    "When the World realizes that personal beliefs are not something to
    argue or fight over, it shall evolve."
  • On 01.09.2007, at 19:09, Alan Smith wrote:
    > I'm writing an application that will have many plugins, displayed in a
    > table on the left, and each plugin will have a set of users, displayed
    > in a table on the right. The view provided by each plugin is displayed
    > in the middle. My question is, how would you do this? The way I'm
    > currently doing it, which you can see in the screenshot, can take up a
    > lot of screen real-estate and I don't like that. Previously I would
    > have put the users table in a drawer but those have more or less died.
    > Any ideas?

      Errr... what screenshot?

      Also, can you give us some more information on what your app will
    actually do, and what those "users" are? I'd think that showing your
    info as a graph (where plugins may add one or more nodes in the
    graph, as boxes with custom content, custom icons or whatever makes
    sense) might be a better idea here. FWIW, I also count a design like
    an automator workflow as a graph, because it's a very simple one with
    nodes showing UI elements.

      Would something like that fit your app?

      By the way, there's a Mac-GUI-Dev mailing list at <http://
    groups.yahoo.com/group/mac-gui-dev/> that may be a better venue to
    discuss things like this.

    > // Things I've said -------------------------
    > "Maturity resides in the mind."
    > "Silence is the Universe's greatest gift."
    > "When the World realizes that personal beliefs are not something to
    > argue or fight over, it shall evolve."

      I think you're the first person I've seen who quotes himself ... :-p

    Cheers,
    -- M. Uli Kusterer
    http://www.zathras.de
  • Alan Smith wrote:

    > I'm writing an application that will have many plugins, displayed in a
    > table on the left, and each plugin will have a set of users, displayed
    > in a table on the right. The view provided by each plugin is displayed
    > in the middle. My question is, how would you do this? The way I'm
    > currently doing it, which you can see in the screenshot, can take up a
    > lot of screen real-estate and I don't like that. Previously I would
    > have put the users table in a drawer but those have more or less died.
    > Any ideas?

    1. Don't know where the screenshot you're referencing is.
    2. If the "they" in "they have more or less died" means drawers, I
    don't agree. They still work fine and are used by several 3rd party
    apps that I use regularly. If they're the right choice for you, use
    them.
  • Apple has pretty much replaced them in all of their apps. Their
    adoption by third parties is, from my experience, dwindling (and was
    never particularly widespread).

    -- Finlay

    On 01/09/07, Alan Smith <alanrogersmith...> wrote:
    > Hello everyone,
    >
    > I'm writing an application that will have many plugins, displayed in a
    > table on the left, and each plugin will have a set of users, displayed
    > in a table on the right. The view provided by each plugin is displayed
    > in the middle. My question is, how would you do this? The way I'm
    > currently doing it, which you can see in the screenshot, can take up a
    > lot of screen real-estate and I don't like that. Previously I would
    > have put the users table in a drawer but those have more or less died.
    > Any ideas?
    >
    > Thanks, Alan
    >
    > --
    > My blog: cocoalatte.info
    >
    > // Things I've said -------------------------
    > "Maturity resides in the mind."
    > "Silence is the Universe's greatest gift."
    > "When the World realizes that personal beliefs are not something to
    > argue or fight over, it shall evolve."
    >
  • Hello,

    Thanks for looking guys, sorry about the screenshot. You can view it
    at http://cocoalatte.info/screenshot.png. If you had any questions the
    picture should be able to answer them for you.

    A note about the users, the selected user in the table will be
    considered the "active" user. It will be used to authenticate any
    calls to websites that the plugin may make.

    Peace, Alan

    --
    My blog: cocoalatte.info

    // Things I've said -------------------------
    "Maturity resides in the mind."
    "Silence is the Universe's greatest gift."
    "When the World realizes that personal beliefs are not something to
    argue or fight over, it shall evolve."
  • Hello Alan,

    Sunday, September 2, 2007, 9:52:50 AM, you wrote:

    AS> Hello,

    AS> Thanks for looking guys, sorry about the screenshot. You can view it
    AS> at http://cocoalatte.info/screenshot.png. If you had any questions the
    AS> picture should be able to answer them for you.

    Don't use drawers, they have to much useability problems. Make a fast
    shortcut to hide the sidebars. Unfortunately everybody has to come up
    with it's own solution at the moment.

    --
    Best regards,
    Lothar                            mailto:<llothar...>
  • Alan Smith wrote:

    > A note about the users, the selected user in the table will be
    > considered the "active" user. It will be used to authenticate any
    > calls to websites that the plugin may make.

    How often during a session would the application user typically be
    changing which user is selected in the table?
  • Gregory,

    Good question… I don't really know… I can't see why a user would have
    more than one account for each service (How many del.icio.us accounts
    do you have?) but Pukka has this functionality so I thought someone
    must use it. If you don't think many people have more than one account
    per service and that including such functionality is a waste of time
    and effort please let me know.

    Peace, Alan

    --
    My blog: cocoalatte.info

    // Things I've said -------------------------
    "Maturity resides in the mind."
    "Silence is the Universe's greatest gift."
    "When the World realizes that personal beliefs are not something to
    argue or fight over, it shall evolve."
  • It would seem to me that if you want to employ an account switching
    mechanism the simplest and most effective option would be a popup as
    found in Mail, not a large widget such as a table.

    - brian

    On Sep 2, 2007, at 6:37 PM, Alan Smith wrote:

    > Gregory,
    >
    > Good question… I don't really know… I can't see why a user would have
    > more than one account for each service (How many del.icio.us accounts
    > do you have?) but Pukka has this functionality so I thought someone
    > must use it. If you don't think many people have more than one account
    > per service and that including such functionality is a waste of time
    > and effort please let me know.
    >
    > Peace, Alan
    >
    > --
    > My blog: cocoalatte.info
    >
    > // Things I've said -------------------------
    > "Maturity resides in the mind."
    > "Silence is the Universe's greatest gift."
    > "When the World realizes that personal beliefs are not something to
    > argue or fight over, it shall evolve."
    > _______________________________________________
    > MacOSX-dev mailing list
    > <MacOSX-dev...>
    > http://www.omnigroup.com/mailman/listinfo/macosx-dev
  • On 03.09.2007, at 03:37, Alan Smith wrote:
    > Good question… I don't really know… I can't see why a user would have
    > more than one account for each service (How many del.icio.us accounts
    > do you have?) but Pukka has this functionality so I thought someone
    > must use it. If you don't think many people have more than one account
    > per service and that including such functionality is a waste of time
    > and effort please let me know.

      If you have access to the WWDC session videos, there's at least two
    sessions where John Geleynse talks about usability, and how to lay
    out a GUI. One of the things he outlines there that you may want to
    take to heart is that screen real estate is limited, and you should
    lay out your UI (and particularly your main window's UI) by
    importance and frequency of use. I.e., put the stuff users think
    about the most when using your app (i.e. the main metaphor) into the
    main window, and make it the biggest item, then pick the next most
    important concept, and go on like that.

      One of the examples is iTunes, where he says that songs are most
    important, so make it a huge song list. Then people want to organize
    their stuff in lists of songs (which also include devices like iPods,
    which, after all, can also be seen as lists of songs since they're
    containers for songs), so that's the second list. Then the next most
    important things are a few buttons with the most common actions,
    which are placed near the items they apply to, and since iTunes is a
    Music player and can be collapsed into a minimal play-control window,
    he also puts in a big "what's playing now" area.

      The rest of the stuff he deems as less important and he dumps them
    into the menus, and into secondary windows.

      You should do the same. Don't just take every feature and dump it
    in a window. Think about who is going to use your app, and how. Then
    make sure common actions are really quick and easy to do. Imagine
    iTunes required you to open a separate window and click a button to
    skip a track there and close it again, every time a song came up that
    you don't want to hear right now. On the other end of the scale, how
    often do you enter your iTMS login, or change the equalizer settings,
    or specify whether the mini player should float on top or not? Those
    are things you probably set once and then leave that way, or at most
    change every blue moon, so it's OK to require a few more clicks to do
    those.

      If one of your competitors has a particular feature, don't just add
    it willy-nilly. That's not good business sense. Either it's a good
    feature, and you want to add it for a reason, then you'll know how
    important it is. Or the author of that app made a mistake: In that
    case you don't want to copy his mistakes. Instead, you want to make
    sure your app distinguishes itself by not having a useless feature,
    and take advantage of being able to simplify your UI that way. And
    then you have a leg up on the competition, because you aren't
    confusing your users with things they'll never use.

      Find out how people use that feature, and you'll know how to
    implement it.

    Cheers, M. Uli Kusterer

    --
    My blog: www.zathras.de/blog.htm

    // Things I've eaten today ----------
    "One sausage"
    "Cereals in milk"
    "Noodles with tomatoes, tomato sauce, ground meat,
    herbs, salt and pepper"
  • Thanks everyone!

    I think I have a couple choices:

    1) Put a borderless pop-up menu with the users in it to the right of
    every plugin table item.

    2) Put a "divider" at the bottom of the plugin table and below that
    put a pop-up with the users in it.

    I like 2 more than 1 but that doesn't mean that's the better option.
    Which way do you think I should go?

    Peace, Alan

    --
    My blog: cocoalatte.info

    // Things I've said -------------------------
    "Maturity resides in the mind."
    "Silence is the Universe's greatest gift."
    "When the World realizes that personal beliefs are not something to
    argue or fight over, it shall evolve."
  • On 3 Sep 2007, at 06:52, Alan Smith wrote:

    > 1) Put a borderless pop-up menu with the users in it to the right of
    > every plugin table item.
    >
    > 2) Put a "divider" at the bottom of the plugin table and below that
    > put a pop-up with the users in it.

    2 probably wastes fewer pixels -- you don't have an unused column (a
    column of a single popup is definitely wasted!).

    David Dunham    A Sharp, LLC
    Voice/Fax: 206 783 7404    http://a-sharp.com
    Efficiency is intelligent laziness.
  • Totally agree with Uli on this one.  I've recently started working
    with a web-site development app called  Freeway Pro.
    (www.softpress.com).  This uses the concept of "actions" to (for
    example) manipulate a graphic on a web page.  Previously, these
    actions were implemented as plug-ins but are now part of the main
    app, but that's beside the point.

    The key point is that the list of available actions take no space at
    all in the main window.  If you want to apply an action to a graphic,
    select the graphic, bring up the actions dialog, and you'll then see
    a small + button from where you can select an available action and
    add it to the list of already applied actions for that graphic.  The
    bottom line is that it's a simple, elegant interface which doesn't
    get in the way of what you're doing most of the time.

    If you must show your list of available plug-ins all the time (why?),
    then consider using a popup list.  At least that way, you use only a
    relatively tiny amount of screen space.

    Dave

    Uli Kesterer said:

    > One of the things he outlines there that you may want to
    > take to heart is that screen real estate is limited, and you should
    > lay out your UI (and particularly your main window's UI) by
    > importance and frequency of use. I.e., put the stuff users think
    > about the most when using your app (i.e. the main metaphor) into the
    > main window, and make it the biggest item, then pick the next most
    > important concept, and go on like that.

    <snip>

    > You should do the same. Don't just take every feature and dump it
    > in a window. Think about who is going to use your app, and how. Then
    > make sure common actions are really quick and easy to do.
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