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bkonia
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« on: November 11, 2015, 08:43:23 pm »

Here are some suggestions to improve inShort:

  • Currently, inShort's biggest weakness is that the user has to arrange objects on the canvas manually. Overall, I like inShort better than Flying Logic, but this is one area where Flying Logic excels. It saves a tremendous amount of time to not have to think about where to position your objects. Flying Object automatically positions all objects on the canvas using an optimization algorithm, which determines the most efficient layout. And when you add or remove relationships, it automatically repositions objects.

  • In addition to positioning objects automatically, Flying Logic also adjusts font sizes automatically, so your title text always fits in the box. I'd like an option in inShort to either adjust the font size automatically, or adjust the object size automatically. Personally, I think it looks better to maintain consistent font sizes and adjust the object sizes, but I guess it's a matter of preference.

  • Creating new objects and linking to new objects is still too slow and cumbersome. The Quick Editing control is helpful, but it doesn't allow you to choose which type of object you want to create. So after you create the new object and link, you have to manually edit it to change the object type. When creating a new object via the Quick Editing control, I'd like it to popup the object type menu and allow you to select the object type. Also, when using the Quick Editing control to link from a Decision object to a new object, the first link you create should automatically originate from the first option of the Decision object (for example, "Yes"). The next link should originate from the second option, etc....

  • When multiple objects are selected, the property card should apply to all the selected objects. So, for example, if you want to change the tint of a bunch of different objects, you should be able to select all the objects, then apply the tint. Currently, it only applies the tint to the first selected object. I realize you can sort of work around this using Groups, but I don't want the objects grouped, as they're not logically related. I just want to apply a tint to remind me of which objects need attention.

  • Also, when applying a tint, it chooses a random color each time. Why? This makes no sense and forces the user to manually edit the tint each time to make it consistent. I don't want a million different colored objects on my canvas. I just want to use one or two different tints. Rather than using a random color, the user should be able to specify a default tint.

  • Sorry to keep harping on tints, but I think you should get rid of the darkness slider control, as this is redundant to the darkness slider control within the color selector and creates confusion when selecting and applying colors. For instance, I save a color to the palette in the color selector. Then, I decide I want the color slightly darker, so I adjust it using the inShort darkness slider. However, this slider only applies to the selected object. So the next time I apply this color to an object, it won't match the color of the first object, unless I manually adjust the darkness slider to the exact same position as was set in the first object. There are too many moving parts. The color selector already has a darkness slider, so why create another one?

  • It would be convenient to have a keyboard shortcut and/or toolbar button to duplicate an object in a single step, rather than having to copy/paste it.

  • Currently, you have to align objects one-by-one, using the alignment guides. There should be a function to select multiple objects and then click a button to align them all to a selected edge.
« Last Edit: November 11, 2015, 09:01:39 pm by bkonia » Logged
shortki
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« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2015, 08:21:21 pm »

I have seen quite long ago this mechanism of automatic layout of a diagram, even thought to make a similar one, but then abandoned this idea. For a relatively small comfort in the construction you have to pay the freedom of layout — it's too much.
First, with the free layout you can build a more compact and readable diagram.
Second, the automatic layout is in fact uncomfortable when you have to rebuild a scheme somewhere in the middle of it, then a minor addition or removal of one link or object can greatly change the appearance of the whole diagram, which is discouraging. This is particularly problematic if you need to share diagrams with clients, and the new diagram looks completely different, though changes to it are unimportant.
Third, with the free layout you can easily use the mechanism of groups that logically divide the objects by areas of the diagram.
This is enough, but if desired, one can bring a few more theses in favor of free layout.

A scheme that is replete with fonts of different sizes is difficult to read and looks unprofessional. Adjustment of the font to the size of the object is one of the worst such examples, increasing or decreasing the font size may be reasonable only to introduce a notional emphasis into the diagram — to highlight important or mute details.

I will add the ability, when creating a new object using the Quick Editing control, it will be possible to hold Alt in order to select the type of object.

Simultaneous editing of the attributes of a selected group of objects is in my plans, but there are quite a few alterations there, so this task is not top priority.

The system color panel has a rich functionality, you can save the colors you want in it (up to 20 slots) and quickly assign them to your objects — just drag the desired color to an empty slot. In addition, there is a ready-made set of fixed limited palettes there. It is quite a handy tool for the work.

What you call darkness is actually transparency, color does not paint the object but only tones it (this is necessary in order to distinguish the states of the object). The transparency setting is not a parameter of color and changes the conditions of its application to an object, so it cannot be selected in the color palette and must be specified separately.

As for me, I never faced the necessity of frequent duplication of objects, and you are the first user to mention it. I'll think about it, perhaps I'll include it in my plans.

Alignment of objects can be helpful — added it to the improvement plans.

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bkonia
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« Reply #2 on: November 15, 2015, 09:09:45 pm »

I have seen quite long ago this mechanism of automatic layout of a diagram, even thought to make a similar one, but then abandoned this idea. For a relatively small comfort in the construction you have to pay the freedom of layout — it's too much.

OK, then how about an option to automatically re-optimize the link paths when objects are moved? When you initially create a link, inShort does a reasonable job of finding the shortest path, with the least amount of nodes. However, when you move an object, instead of redrawing the links from scratch, it seems to add additional nodes to the path, creating ridiculously complex and inefficient paths.

Also, in the link property sheet, I'd like an option to specify visual properties of the link, such as color, thickness, and line style (solid, dashed, etc...). Among other benefits, using different visual styles would make it easier to distinguish between links that cross over one another, in complex layouts.

Finally, I'd like to have a Description box in the link property sheet that would allow the user to enter a detailed description of what the link represents. If the user enters text in this box, it could display a note icon on the link, which if moused over, would display the description text like a tooltip. I'd also like to have this note icon and tooltip appear when mousing over an object that contains long description text. It would be more convenient to simply mouse over the note icon to read the full description text, rather than having to go to the object's property sheet each time.

Quote from: shortki
A scheme that is replete with fonts of different sizes is difficult to read and looks unprofessional. Adjustment of the font to the size of the object is one of the worst such examples, increasing or decreasing the font size may be reasonable only to introduce a notional emphasis into the diagram — to highlight important or mute details.

As I mentioned in my message, my preference would be to have the objects resize automatically to accommodate the title text. It's annoying when you enter title text and then have to manually resize the object to display all the text. There should be a setting to have inShort grow and shrink objects automatically when title text changes. This could be a default setting in the application preferences and could be overridden in the property sheet of any individual object.

Quote from: shortki
I will add the ability, when creating a new object using the Quick Editing control, it will be possible to hold Alt in order to select the type of object.

That would be helpful, but I'd still like an option to make this the default behavior. I don't use the automatic object selection at all, as I find it almost never selects the object I want. Therefore, I don't want to have to hold down the Alt key every time I use the Quick Editing control.

Quote from: shortki
What you call darkness is actually transparency, color does not paint the object but only tones it (this is necessary in order to distinguish the states of the object). The transparency setting is not a parameter of color and changes the conditions of its application to an object, so it cannot be selected in the color palette and must be specified separately.

I understand, but setting the transparency value via a free form slider makes it impossible to apply a consistent amount of transparency across multiple objects. I'd suggest that you:

a. Make the slider move in steps, rather than being completely free form.

b. Add a numerical indicator next to the slider, so the user can see the exact transparency value for the object.

c. Allow the user to enter the transparency value numerically, rather than using the slider.

Also, as I mentioned in my original message, I disagree with the idea of selecting a random color when applying a tint. It seems completely counterintuitive for a business application to encourage creating objects using random colors. The whole idea of inShort is to help the user become more organized in his planning and thinking. Using a different random color for each object would have the opposite affect, as if you accepted the random color choices, your diagram would soon be a chaotic mess. It's good that we have the option of saving colors to the palette, but most diagrams will only use one or two colors, so I'd like to have the ability to specify a default tint, which would include both the color and the transparency setting.

Quote from: shortki
As for me, I never faced the necessity of frequent duplication of objects, and you are the first user to mention it. I'll think about it, perhaps I'll include it in my plans.

The benefit in duplicating objects is it allows you to quickly create new objects with consistent visual settings
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shortki
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« Reply #3 on: November 16, 2015, 11:41:29 pm »

OK, then how about an option to automatically re-optimize the link paths when objects are moved? When you initially create a link, inShort does a reasonable job of finding the shortest path, with the least amount of nodes. However, when you move an object, instead of redrawing the links from scratch, it seems to add additional nodes to the path, creating ridiculously complex and inefficient paths.

Also, in the link property sheet, I'd like an option to specify visual properties of the link, such as color, thickness, and line style (solid, dashed, etc...). Among other benefits, using different visual styles would make it easier to distinguish between links that cross over one another, in complex layouts.

Finally, I'd like to have a Description box in the link property sheet that would allow the user to enter a detailed description of what the link represents. If the user enters text in this box, it could display a note icon on the link, which if moused over, would display the description text like a tooltip. I'd also like to have this note icon and tooltip appear when mousing over an object that contains long description text. It would be more convenient to simply mouse over the note icon to read the full description text, rather than having to go to the object's property sheet each time.

First on the links.

Everywhere in the application I try to stick to the rule not to change automatically what the user did. A link may be routed among other objects and have a rather complex shape, it is evident that in this case the displacement of one of the objects should not lead to a complete restructuring of the link. I agree that sometimes the application creates excessive nodes for the links, but it is easier to remove them than to re-lay the entire link.

The color and style of a link are widely used in the application to display the structure and status of the diagram, it is hardly worth making a mess here. Crossing of links is always made in the form of visual "bridges".

Finally, if you have need of the description for a link, this means that the diagram is incomplete. In the process diagrams, links play the role of resources/states, in the state diagrams, links describe processes, but in the process-state diagrams, a link is just a link, and its description exhaustively follows from its purpose.

In inShort, there are almost no random decisions, in the application I built a methodology and tried so that visual aspects followed it as much as possible. From the very beginning, I considered the possibility of visual differentiation of links, as well as descriptions for them, but, having considered all the pros and cons, rejected these elements. If I am offered a set of arguments stronger than "I'd like to", I will reconsider my decision, just as I introduced the toning for objects after reviewing several diagrams from users, where it was useful.
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shortki
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« Reply #4 on: November 16, 2015, 11:44:15 pm »

Also, as I mentioned in my original message, I disagree with the idea of selecting a random color when applying a tint. It seems completely counterintuitive for a business application to encourage creating objects using random colors. The whole idea of inShort is to help the user become more organized in his planning and thinking. Using a different random color for each object would have the opposite affect, as if you accepted the random color choices, your diagram would soon be a chaotic mess. It's good that we have the option of saving colors to the palette, but most diagrams will only use one or two colors, so I'd like to have the ability to specify a default tint, which would include both the color and the transparency setting.

Quote from: shortki
As for me, I never faced the necessity of frequent duplication of objects, and you are the first user to mention it. I'll think about it, perhaps I'll include it in my plans.

The benefit in duplicating objects is it allows you to quickly create new objects with consistent visual settings

On the colors.
Indeed, at first glance the random color looks a controversial decision, but consider the following conditions.

1. The presence of toning must be apparent,
(i.e., when the toning is turned on, a certain color should be initially)
2. When assigning a color, the program should not take on assumptions and attribute the object to any group present in the structure of the diagram.
(i.e., it must not automatically assign one of the colors previously used, because it means that the application, without user consent, attributed the object to one of the color groups specified before, which subsequently may lead to confusion).
3. Toning should be applied limitedly and only where necessary.
(i.e., one should not use a certain color of toning by default, which encourages excessive use of toning without the need).

Random toning solves all these problems, that is, a user sees that the toning is applied and it is necessary to adopt a sensible decision on the choice of color, or the diagram looks like a Christmas tree.

Regarding the transparency, I fully agree — at least, a digital gauge is needed.

In discussing the colors, the necessity of the ability to duplicate acquires new arguments.
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bkonia
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« Reply #5 on: November 16, 2015, 11:58:42 pm »

Everywhere in the application I try to stick to the rule not to change automatically what the user did. A link may be routed among other objects and have a rather complex shape, it is evident that in this case the displacement of one of the objects should not lead to a complete restructuring of the link. I agree that sometimes the application creates excessive nodes for the links, but it is easier to remove them than to re-lay the entire link.

OK, but in most cases, the initial link paths are created automatically by inShort, not the user. If you add a new link, inShort will route that link using the most efficient path between the two objects. I'm simply requesting an OPTION to have it automatically re-route links after an object is moved, again using the most efficient path.

Look Jury, you've created an amazing application and as the developer of the application, I certainly respect your opinions and understand your reasoning. However, I think you should also realize that some of your positions can be argued the other way and what works best for YOU may not be what works best for every user. I feel strongly about this link routing issue. Every time I move an object on the canvas, I end up with such a mess that I have to delete the link entirely and recreate it. This is not helpful, because sometimes I may have multiple links coming into an object, so I have to delete all of them and it's hard to keep track of what's connected to what after deleting a link.

I'm certainly not the only person who's complained about this. I've seen other similar complaints in the app store reviews. Clearly, you already have the algorithm to route the most efficient path, so why not give the user the option to have it re-route automatically after moving an object? Some users may like this behavior, others may not, but I think it should at least be an option in the preference settings.
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bkonia
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« Reply #6 on: November 17, 2015, 12:31:30 am »

Quote from: shortki
When assigning a color, the program should not take on assumptions and attribute the object to any group present in the structure of the diagram.
(i.e., it must not automatically assign one of the colors previously used, because it means that the application, without user consent, attributed the object to one of the color groups specified before, which subsequently may lead to confusion).

This really depends on the user and his individual approach. I know inShort is primarily intended as a project management tool, but there are lots of other ways it can be used. For instance, in certain diagrams, I disable the scheduling features and use toning to visually highlight which objects need to be worked on. I realize inShort has a built-in shading mechanism for this purpose, but sometimes I don't feel like using all the scheduling features, entering dates, specifying completion percentages, etc... Sometimes, it's all too much for a simple project and I just want to diagram the steps and use manual shading to indicate the incomplete steps. In that instance, I do want them all to be the same color, so for my intended use, it would certainly make sense to have a default color option.

I feel you're being a bit dogmatic with the current approach. Why not leave this up to the user? You can offer a default color option and one of the options can be "random".
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shortki
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« Reply #7 on: November 18, 2015, 08:58:40 pm »

Links: I will add to the link card a button that rebuilds the link but the ports' reference points will remain the same, I think it will help in our case.

As for the colors, I'll think. You correctly noticed that I am somewhat dogmatic in regard to diagramming. One of my goals is to ensure that an inShort diagram is easy to read by anyone familiar with inShort methodology, and for this purpose all that relates to the shape of objects and the use of colors, should be regulated. I want that you can open any diagram from another user and immediately know what the colors mean and not to ponder on what the author of the diagram had in mind. By the way, that another user can be you yourself in a year or two, wondering what the cornflower blue color of the resource means Smiley
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