New screenshot and some questions

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matt
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Sat Nov 22, 2008 4:22 pm Post

Hi all,
There are still numerous things (current list has 16 + testing) to be done before the next Aeon Timeline release, so it will be at least a fortnight before you see it, probably a bit longer.

But here is a screenshot of the progress. Scroll to the end of the post for my questions if you want to skip the guided tour.

header_bar_screenshot.jpg
header_bar_screenshot.jpg (291.52 KiB) Viewed 2421 times


The things to notice are:

1) The collapsing time units - so that the early years are displayed by decade, while there is a month view around the important bits. Hitting the refresh toolbar item will cause it to recalculate the best zoom level for each part of the timeline. I did have it doing this automatically, but found it disconcerting to have it jump around as you add or shift events.

2) New header and footer bars, as per Antony's suggestion.

3) Tagging - each event now has a series of tags. Some of these can be setup as 'Hot Tags' (another tab in timeline settings does this), which means they are displayed along the header bar. Clicking these buttons (multiple can be selected at once) narrows down the events shown to be only those associated with a particular tag. With these tags activated, you can still add events (which automatically take on those tags) - this is prevented with the toolbar filter.

4) Show/Hide 'Entity' menu, and also delete entity button (which produces a dropdown menu) have been added to the header bar also to make controlling these easier.

5) 'Entities' (formerly characters) now have a type (Person, Minor Person, Place, Technology, etc. - currently a list of about 8, but I will probably make this customisable later), and can exist quite happily without a creation event.

6) If you look closely, you will see the label in the Inspector has its own name now. These are now fully customisable, as per Scrivener.

7) The footer bar is a little bare at the moment with just the zoom and a non-functional event count. But this is where other tools will go to toggle between standard and 'story-arc' view, when that gets implemented.

-----------------------------------------

My main reason for posting the screenshot, though, is to get feedback on a couple of questions:

* should the header bar extend all the way across the window to be above the inspector, or should I leave it as-is?

* are there any other useful items that could go into the header or footer bars?

And a final, unrelated question: I will probably implement some customisable GUI parts for small screens before this next release (such as how wide is the event display bit, what size font for the time margin, etc.), as well as make it remember the last window position and state of the binder. Are these things that belong in user preferences (and thus be the same for every document created on the computer), or could you see some benefit to having them saved per document?

I am leaning towards Preferences, but just wanted to see if others would prefer it the other way.

Thanks,
Matt

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Sat Nov 22, 2008 7:59 pm Post

Matt --

I'd say carry the header all the way across. It looks better that way, and leaves more room for hot tags, which could quickly be a problem on small screens.

A tag selector/creator in header or footer bar?

GUI settings okay in the Prefs as far as I'm concerned.

Glad to see that "entities" don't need creation events.

A few other items I'm late getting to:

I thought that in the first beta, I was able to double-click on a year, type in a new value, and see it take. In this one, I can't do that. It's a nuisance, having to click back a year at a time for a major change. Any way around that... and was I just imagining it in the previous iteration?

It would help de-clutter if lines for minor characters disappeared before their entry and after their exit (though of course this gets back to a creation event).

Agree with Antony that on a 17" screen, there just isn't enough room for a full stable of characters.

I've noticed that Aeon sometimes wants to skip January, insisting that April is the third month. It does accept a correction the second time.

Could the "live" event line be thicker rather than haloed?

Phil
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antony
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Sun Nov 23, 2008 12:28 am Post

Bravo! Looking good :)

[1] I like the header bar confined to the central pane, as it is. It makes it clear that the controls apply to the main timeline, so there's no confusion over whether they're associated with the inspector. If there are too many tags to fit in the bar, a flyout double chevron to the 'next page' of tags, a la Things' tag bar, would be sufficient.

[2] I would still prefer to see the Filter field in the new header bar, and a Search field go in the toolbar (i.e. where the Filter bar is now).

(Now that I think about it some more, is there actually still a need for Filter now that we have tags?)

[3] With the GUI prefs, how about two buttons: "Apply to frontmost document" and "Set as default for new documents"? NB I have no idea how feasible that is from a coding perspective! But the ability to set global new-document defaults, then tweak them for an individual document without destroying the defaults, would crack that nut very handily.

Phil's suggestion for a tag creator/selector in the header bar is good, but I fear the bar would become very crowded. How about instead adding them to the contextual menus? So right-click on an event and one of the options in the menu is "Tags ->" which then gives a flyout to all existing tags, plus a "New tag..." option (which brings up a dialogue). I don't think that would be too complex from a user's POV, though obviously it creates more work for you...!
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Sun Nov 23, 2008 12:29 am Post

Oh, and I'd still like to see the selected event 'pop out' rather than be highlighted—or perhaps, as Phil suggests, just make the event line thicker. Either way, the visibility/contrast isn't enough at the moment.
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Sun Nov 23, 2008 1:47 am Post

PJS wrote:A tag selector/creator in header or footer bar?


There is a tags field in the Inspector - you can create new tags simply by typing them into that field. They will be added to the global list, but not automatically added to the visible list in the header bar. To setup the tags visible in the header bar, you can click on the little 'Edit tags' icon in the header bar (this just links to a tab in the timeline settings).

That tab in timeline settings allows you to edit and delete tags, and also select which ones you want visible in the header bar (with a checkbox).

PJS wrote:I thought that in the first beta, I was able to double-click on a year, type in a new value, and see it take. In this one, I can't do that. It's a nuisance, having to click back a year at a time for a major change. Any way around that... and was I just imagining it in the previous iteration?


You should be able to change the year by typing it in, yes. As far as I am aware, this should be working fine in the latest released version (I assume you downloaded 0.1.2)... it is definitely working in the next version though.

PJS wrote:It would help de-clutter if lines for minor characters disappeared before their entry and after their exit (though of course this gets back to a creation event).


I will look to make the lines faint for entities up until they are created and after they are killed. But as you say, this won't be possible for entities with no start/end dates.

PJS wrote:I've noticed that Aeon sometimes wants to skip January, insisting that April is the third month. It does accept a correction the second time.


I will double check this - I think it was a bug I picked up that has since been corrected.


Matt

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Sun Nov 23, 2008 1:54 am Post

antony wrote:Bravo! Looking good :)

[1] I like the header bar confined to the central pane, as it is. It makes it clear that the controls apply to the main timeline, so there's no confusion over whether they're associated with the inspector. If there are too many tags to fit in the bar, a flyout double chevron to the 'next page' of tags, a la Things' tag bar, would be sufficient.


See above post regarding how the tags work. What I forgot to mention is that if the tags bar fills up so they cannot all be displayed, it automatically reverts to a pull-down menu instead.

antony wrote:[2] I would still prefer to see the Filter field in the new header bar, and a Search field go in the toolbar (i.e. where the Filter bar is now).

(Now that I think about it some more, is there actually still a need for Filter now that we have tags?)


The filter is still necessary to allow you to filter based on characters, and any tags that are not set to display in the header bar. It can be added to the header bar, it is just a question of whether it is better to have room for more tags, or have some of that room taken up by the filter.

Alternatively, there is probably more room in the footer bar, but I feel it would be a little out of place there.

antony wrote:Phil's suggestion for a tag creator/selector in the header bar is good, but I fear the bar would become very crowded. How about instead adding them to the contextual menus? So right-click on an event and one of the options in the menu is "Tags ->" which then gives a flyout to all existing tags, plus a "New tag..." option (which brings up a dialogue). I don't think that would be too complex from a user's POV, though obviously it creates more work for you...!


See my reply to Phil. Tags can be added in the inspector for a given event. They will get an auto-complete dropdown in the token field for existing tags, or can enter their own and have a new tag created automatically. Tags have their own tab in timeline settings.

I do intend to create a right-click menu when you click on events, to make it possible to bulk-change Labels etc. but I haven't done this yet.

antony wrote:Oh, and I'd still like to see the selected event 'pop out' rather than be highlighted—or perhaps, as Phil suggests, just make the event line thicker. Either way, the visibility/contrast isn't enough at the moment.


I will see what I can do with this. By pop-out, you were suggesting adding a shadow or something like that, right? Do you have a picture of anything that looks like you are talking about?
(I am a complete non-graphics person, so I wouldn't know where to start to get that look, even in PhotoShop).

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Sun Nov 23, 2008 12:28 pm Post

Curses, the forum ate my reply...

matt wrote:See above post regarding how the tags work. What I forgot to mention is that if the tags bar fills up so they cannot all be displayed, it automatically reverts to a pull-down menu instead.


OK, sounds like a good solution.

The filter is still necessary to allow you to filter based on characters, and any tags that are not set to display in the header bar. It can be added to the header bar, it is just a question of whether it is better to have room for more tags, or have some of that room taken up by the filter.

Alternatively, there is probably more room in the footer bar, but I feel it would be a little out of place there.


I've seen a few apps with search/filter fields in the footer, and I don't like them. It just doesn't feel right to me, admittedly for no real reason I can articulate.

When I first suggested moving it to a header bar, of course, tags weren't being displayed ;) I think I'd still prefer to have it there, though, even if it meant the tags would often revert to the dropdown. It makes it feel more immediately relevant to the contents of the central pane.

I will see what I can do with this. By pop-out, you were suggesting adding a shadow or something like that, right? Do you have a picture of anything that looks like you are talking about?


Just go into iCal, select Day or Week view, and click on an event. iCal uses two methods to highlight the selected event—intensifying the background colour (not an option in Aeon) and rendering a dark dropshadow around the event. The dropshadow makes it feel like the event is 'popping up' from the calendar sheet and is highly visible.
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Mon Nov 24, 2008 8:50 am Post

How does this look for suitable contrast?

selection_contrast.png
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Mon Nov 24, 2008 9:57 am Post

Ooh, I think that looks great.
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Mon Nov 24, 2008 2:56 pm Post

Yes, looks very good.

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Mon Nov 24, 2008 3:32 pm Post

Very nice.
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Thu Nov 27, 2008 6:58 am Post

Matt,

Just adding my cheers. Really like the direction you're headed with this. Like Anthony, I've plugged a real story into the the current beta, and after working with it for a while I have to tell you that I am becoming a convert to the vertical layout (contrasted to my earlier post about horizontal GANNT). I think the drop shadow works nicely to highlight, and also wanted to say thanks for changing calendar to grey from black. Much easier on the eyesight. :)