File structure in a web project / usability concerns

Hi everyone!

I'm having a major usability problem in IDEA 6.0 rather compared to IDEA 5.0. Any suggestions are welcomed!

Consider a typical web project, with the file structure like:
project/WEB-INF/web.xml
project/WEB-INF/src
project/WEB-INF/src/(100+ more classes)
project/index.jsp
project/more.jsp
project/blocks/ajax_block.jsp
project/(100+ more jsp files)

Working on the project is usually divided into:
a) working with servlet sources (business logic and data model tier)
b) working with JSP templates (presentation tier)

In IDEA 5.0, I've been using "Project" and "Packages" tabs to switch between these contexts. "Projects" showed all the JSPs and "Packages" showed the packages heirarchy tree. Both tabs had separate tree controls with their own expand/collapse states handled and saved independently, which was very useful. Working with "Packages" tabs didn't affect "Projects" tab, and vice versa.

In IDEA 6.0, there's no more any tabs, since they were replaced with "View as:" combobox.

The irritating thing with the combobox is that the corresponding trees become affected by each other. The worst use-case is as follows:
1. Switch to Projects view
2. Navigate to some directory which corresponds to the domain you're working with, like "admin/blocks"
3. Switch to Packages view
4. Navigate and select a deeply lying class like com.company.project.common.model.Entity
5. Switch back to Projects.

Huh! The carefully-selected tree position in Projects view is lost. The view is instead cluttered with project/WEB-INF/src/com/company/project/common/model tree structure, which is completely useless (I use dedicated "Packages" view to browse classes, thanks).

Am I missing something? Should I use another approach for developing web applications?

(I won't even mention that the new combobox control is less usable then tabs per se, requiring "point-click-point again-click again" logic to make a simple switch instead of trivial point-and-click when using tabs. I've always appreciated IDEA's outstanding usability, so the whole issue is quite strange for me.)

Thanks!

3 comments

I agree. It is a very strange degradation in usability.

It has nothing to do with being a web app either.

The whole "losing your place" when going back and forth between views is very frustrating.

I try to avoid the "Projects" view now as it is never where I left it.

(I also agree switching is a pain with the multiple clicks and selections)


I'd like to see dedicated "Project" and "Packages" tool windows (and move all the other crap somewhere else) --- and NOT synchronized.

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I'd like to see dedicated "Project" and "Packages" tool windows (and move all the other crap somewhere else) --- and NOT synchronized.


Exactly, that'd be the best.

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I've been complaining privately about the same thing. In general the move from tab to tree in certain places is a step backward, requiring more user clicks and scrolls to get to one thing. Tab used to get me there quicker.

Tree saves space, but in places like the settings (classic view) popup, the old tabs are sorely missed and there were still plenty of space and there were only two tabs anyway (project structure and ide settings).

I do however agree with the developers that, n the project view, the scopes and favorites necessitate the drop-down. Otherwise the tabs would be too crowded. I have a handful of favorites and I see why it's a dropdown.

The old library management UI was better too. It was more intuitive than the new click-and-select-from-pop-up thingy. The same thing with the run configuration screen.

The use of trees and tabs should be revisited in those places.

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