Demetra: UI / Usabilty gets worse

I'd like to raise my concerns about some UI changes in Demetra.
My overall impression is that the UI gets simpler (less buttons etc).
- with good intentions.
Yet, IMHO the effect is counter productive:
The newbie might see less components, but it's also harder for him
to discover features.
For the power user, features are a couple of keystrokes or an
additional dialog further away.

  • I used to be able to hit "Alt-F1, 2" to open the current file in the

packages view. Now the best I can do is hit "Alt-F1, right, 2"
(and it's not even indicated that I can press the "right" key, but
I take it that's an EAP issue).
The newbie cannot simply see which different views there are (tabs)
but he has to click on the combo box and explore it.

  • Similar argument for the tabs "Project" and "IDE" tabs that are now

gone from the main settings dialog (in classic view). It is an important
distinction.
Now all settings categories are treated the same. It's even worse because
the "headers" "Project Settings" and "IDE Setttings" are much less
visible (grayed text, no icons) than the actual categories.
Also some more details: To change the IDE error profile, I have to select
"Project Settings"->Errors->IDE Profile - strange.

  • It's even worse for the modules/libraries settings.

Many small issues here, that sum up to to a big difference.

- For example I think it's harder to choose another JDK. In fact I have to
click on "1.5" ans choose "Edit...". I really do not want to edit the
1.5 JDK. I want to switch to another JDK. So at the very least the list
item should not read "1.5 (java version "1.5.0_06") but more like
"JDK: 1.5 ...".
Still the previous UI had a dedicated component that very clearly and
prominently advertised that it dealed with JDK settings.
- I have to click on "Ad.." then choose between
"Jar/Directory"/"Project Library" etc. The previous UI did show
immediately
- Adding a source path is much less intuitive. For example I tried
to select a jar, and clicked on "Add" because I expected to see
an item "Source Folder...". No way.
Rather I have to click "Edit..."
(Again: how strange is that - I do not want to edit the Jar itself.)
So, up pops another dialog. I also have an "Add Jar..." here
(what's the difference to the "Add..."->"Jar..." in the main settings
window?). Hurray, finally I can Attach Sources. While selecting the
sources I have three modal dialogs on top of another. Oh my, Eclipse
is famous for nested dialogs, please do not follow that bad example.
In the end I don't even see the source folder in the main settings view.
(Missing source folders were a frequent problem when we shared a project
in a team, because the sources for 3rd party jars aren't shared.
So I can no longer easily check if I hjave a local copy of all the
sources at the right place.
Plus a couple more small issues...

Of course, it's your product, and you have to design the UI the way you
feel it's best. However EAP is for gathering feedback, so I thought I
give feedback on this early on.

To sum up my main argument in terms of usability lingo:
Affordance was way better in Irida, efficiency has also deteriorated.

13 comments

Thanks for the feedback Stephen. UI is probably thing where need feedback
most.
Well, all those changes are there for good reason, so
Project/Packages tabs etc: Until this change have been implemented we had:
project, packages, j2ee, j2ee deployment, favorites and scopes views all
displaying nearly the same stuff with different presentation. Some of these
views were in separate toolwindows as tabbed pane control is not scalable
enough to hold all of them. Moreover every view held its own state as to
expanded/collapsed items and selected elements thus if you're switching from
project to packages just by clicking tab you're nowhere near to what you'd
expected to be. Yet more favorites view is far from being actively used since
user tend to find himself end up in a project view instead after pressing
AltF1Enter, which is too deep in fingers.

So what we have now:
Combobox is scalable enough to hold all the views. (I won't agree tabs are
more explorable by newcomers tan combobox. After all, do you browse menus
to discover actions available?)
All 'explore project' views located in single toolwindow (except for commander,
probably), which is again good for newcomers.
Presentation is sticky: pressing Altf1enter opens most recently selected
presentation if possible. If you have selected favorites you'll stay there
until you navigate to something out of its scope.
Switching between views perserves state, which is again good for newcomers,
who might be unaware of Alt+F1 function.

I'll follow up with other items in separate message if you don't mind.

-


Maxim Shafirov
JetBrains, Inc
http://www.jetbrains.com
"Develop with pleasure!"


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Stephen Kelvin wrote:

I'd like to raise my concerns about some UI changes in Demetra.
My overall impression is that the UI gets simpler (less buttons etc).
- with good intentions.
Yet, IMHO the effect is counter productive:


I agree, some things have degraded a bit in their usability. One victim you
haven't mentioned yet are Intention Actions. Though certainly not super-obvious,
just clicking on the light-bulb to disable an intention was a great thing. I
don't understand why this has been removed, it could live together with the
context menu that was added.

  • I used to be able to hit "Alt-F1, 2" to open the current file in the

packages view. Now the best I can do is hit "Alt-F1, right, 2"
(and it's not even indicated that I can press the "right" key, but
I take it that's an EAP issue).
The newbie cannot simply see which different views there are (tabs)
but he has to click on the combo box and explore it.


I'm not sure if it makes a difference for a newbie whether to click through a
list of tabs or to go through a combobox. It's more clicks for sure, but what I
really dislike about the combobox is that is just looks ugly in this place. I'd
certainly vote for getting the old tabs back (project/package/j2ee) and add
another "Scopes"/"Custom"/"Misc" tab that can be used to limit the view to
certain scopes or whatever else might be added here.

  • Similar argument for the tabs "Project" and "IDE" tabs that are now

gone from the main settings dialog (in classic view). It is an important
distinction.


Yes, this doesn't look like an improvement. It replaced a single click to switch
between Project/IDE with the need to scroll and search. However I don't use the
"Classic" view :)

  • It's even worse for the modules/libraries settings.

Many small issues here, that sum up to to a big difference.


Yes, this has become quite unintuitive. For a new user, the initial project
setup has certainly become less obvious. Simple project configuration has always
been a strength of IDEA which might suffer a bit from this new UI that hides a
lot of functionality behind some simple buttons. However, I haven't used it that
much yet, so I can't say if other things have become significantly easier.

Sascha

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i agree. some features have been hidden and detoured. how to change the jdk isn't obvious anymore, and hiding the inspection profile dialog behind a label (you usually don't click on them) isn't a clever idea either.

i'd suggest to let the user choose the jdk by using a combobox instead of a simple list entry & edit button. the last entry in this combobox should be "add jdk". this way, the unwritten "you want to do something with it? click on it!"-rule would be adhered to.

the plugin dialog is, imo, much better than before.

as for the edit-button: it becomes clear what it does when you think "i want to edit the list entry", but most people will think "i want to choose another xyz". it doesn't match.

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as for the edit-button: it becomes clear what it does when you think "i
want to edit the list entry", but most people will think "i want to
choose another xyz". it doesn't match.


Generally no bad idea, but not thought to the end. What should happen, when
there's no JDK defined yet? Then the combo-box contains a "Other JDK..."
entry, but how to activate it?

BTW, there never should open a dialog (or something similar), when just
selecting an entry in a combo-box - a combo-box is no menu! Think about the
situation, that you are using the cursor keys to scroll in the combo-box and
suddenly the opens a dialog.

Tom

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you could simple scroll up and down like before, and activate the current entry by pressing enter.
if there's just the "other jdk"-entry, the dialog should pop up when you open the combobox.

i know i'm breaking the general "combobox = just a simple choice"-law here, but without those brave people back in 17th century, we would still be peasants obeying our kings.
revolutions may be risky, but if it's worth it...

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you could simple scroll up and down like before, and activate the current entry by pressing enter.
if there's just the "other jdk"-entry, the dialog should pop up when you open the combobox.


No, now I need to disagree with my previous posting. This would be a bad idea.

i know i'm breaking the general "combobox = just a simple choice"-law here, but without those brave people back in 17th century, we would still be peasants obeying our kings.
revolutions may be risky, but if it's worth it...


You are right with other things, but not with user interface design, which
is a very sensible area for such changes. If everybody thinks, (s)he needs
to invent her/his own behavior of interface controls, then soon the would be
chaos. You would not know, what happens when you click here or there. Users
would tend to not click anywhere, because something unexpected could happen.

Tom

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Classic View Settings
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I see in 5181, you changed it into a tree. The titles 'Project Settings' and 'IDE Settings' look better, but the icons are messed up. (See attached).
The good thing is that I don't need to scroll the icons anymore.

After digesting the new Errors settings panel some more, I still stick by my initial reaction that it is more confusing. The problem is that for new users is that:
(1) Errors now only shows up under Project settings.
(2) The meat of the functionality, i.e. selecting which errors and warnings to show and creating new inspection profiles, is buried one level lower. Front and center is now the Project Profile / Project Scope selection which is for advanced users.

I recommend that you have a Global Errors and a Project Errors, follwing the Global Code Style and Project Code Style paradigm.

Users that don't care about project-specific or project-scope inspection profiles can just use the Global Errors dialog which would be like 5.1 panel which has all the errors/warnings tree embeded in the panel.

I think that Jetbrains are trying to be too minimalist by trying to only have a single 'Errors' settings item.

I think one of the goal of settings UI should be to make it easy for users which don't care about project-specific settings beyond basic module/classpath settings. Make the users that want to set project inspection scope settings or project code style, etc. jump through more hoops instead.



Attachment(s):
5181_classic_settings.png
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Project Settings - Modules Classpath
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The new Classpath tab is growing on me, but I still have some issues with it.

+ I find the wording of the Add... menu confusing. (See attached picture). If you look at the wording:
Jar/Directory...
Project Library...
Global Library...
Aplication Server Library...

The wording makes it sound like "Jar" is different from "Library". It would be better to use the same wording.

I guess you did it like this because the Add Jar/Directory immediately pops up a file selector whereas the othere popup the configure project/global libraries dialog.


But I think the wording would be more consistent as

Module Library...

And also I would change the behavior so that instead of popping up the file selector immediately,
the Configure Module Libraries dialog should be popped up. This makes the behavior consistent with
project and global libraries.

The icon for module libraries should be the not the . The should
only show up in the configure module/project/global libraries dialog.

+ The configure module libaries dialog has some issues:
- empty title (See attached). Should say "Configure Module Libraries" to be consistent.
- Should have 'Create library...' instead of 'Add Jar/Directory. This will let the user assign
a name to the library, and makes module libraries consistent with project and global libraries.

+ It might help understanding to have a tab 'Module Libraries' in addition to the Classpath tab.

Searching Jira, I see this has already been asked for before:

Module Libraries: give same functionality as Project/Global Libraries (Jon Steelman)
http://www.jetbrains.net/jira/browse/IDEA-2204

+ It would be nice while you are already changing this stuff, if you could provide ability to
refactor a module library into a project/global library, or vice versa. Right now, if you first start
using IDEA and add libraries as module libraries, and then when you add your next module that needs those
same libraries, you find you have to go back and delete the module libraries and recreate them as project
libraries.

Action to 'Copy a Global library' to module or project area in 1 click. (Alain Ravet)
http://www.jetbrains.net/jira/browse/IDEA-2194

Module Libraries: allow promoting up to Project or Global level (Jon Steelman)
http://www.jetbrains.net/jira/browse/IDEABKL-3005

Right-click on JAR file to add as module/project library (Christopher Brown)
http://www.jetbrains.net/jira/browse/IDEA-3001



Attachment(s):
5181_modules_add_menu.png
5181_configure_project_libraries.png
5181_configure_module_library.png
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Alex, I have no problem with icons in tree view. (on Windows XP, LCD with resolution is 1280x800)



Attachment(s):
ClassViewTree.jpg
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I have a problem while creating a project which contains multi-modules in Demetra build 5181

http://www.jetbrains.net/jira/browse/IDEA-7059

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And I think it will be better if when I want to create a new library, I can add jar/directory, Javadoc and source code of the library in the same dialog (see attachment).



Attachment(s):
CreateLibraryDialog.jpg
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Hello alex,

We'd probably ended up with project and ide settings for errors if those
were the 2 only. We do have mapping stuff, which envolves multiple profiles.

-


Maxim Shafirov
JetBrains, Inc
http://www.jetbrains.com
"Develop with pleasure!"


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My Desktop is Windows XP SP2 1600x1200 LCD.

I found out it is a problem with the Look and Feel.
I had Look and Feel set to Windows. I also have checked Override default fonts by (not recommended) to Tahoma, Size 14.

I changed the Look and Feel to Alloy: IDEA Theme, and now the icons look correct; (see attached) Now the scroolbar is back!



Attachment(s):
5181_ide_settings_classic_view_alloy_theme.png
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