It’s been a little while since the last piece of code made it to github, or a sketch has been drawn up. Nevertheless, a proper first release that’s working and useful would be nice some day. So I began thinking that perhaps I took a too big of a piece to chew. With that, it’s back to square one and rethinking what should be in and what should be out. Here is a step back with a refactoring mentality, along with a working draft of what this tool could be for the first release. Thoughts?
Ok I admit I hit a roadblock and so I thought to use this blog as a means to seek help. I want to make form elements resizable and draggable at the same time but when I run the ‘makeresizable’ and ‘makedraggable’ functions on form elements, they break. The functions are over at lines 4138, 4155 in http://github.com/fluidia/fluidia/blob/master/engine/js/base_jquery.js. To replicate the breaking, please download the code from github or have a look at stage. Then add a form element such as a button or textarea onto the canvas, followed by selecting it, and finally try to resize it. The element becomes resizable and draggable but broken as the resizing handles get out of sync with the form element. I’ve been trying to solve this for a few days and seem to not be getting anywhere.
Interested to get involved with an open source project? We are actively seeking a PHP developer to help build a web services API. Yes, Alex is still here integrating the backend code with the front end, but we thought one more pair of eyes would be nice. We are creating PHP functions to serve the requests from the fluidIA jQuery based client. A few hours each week is all it takes.
Some helpful experience:
- PHP 5
Please let me know.
I’ve been meaning to make sketch or concept submissions a bit easier for a while now. Finally I managed to link a posterous.com account to the Sketches & Scenarios category which will allow anyone to submit fluidIA ideas in the form of text scenarios, images, video, audio, etc. I’ve explained how to submit such content right here, along with an appropriate email being listed visibly. The email is an image to hopefully minimize spam. Currently I have to moderate all posts, but if I see that you are a frequent contributor, I can also add you to the white list.
Secondly, I’ve also reorganized the RSS Feeds & Update section. There are now two core RSS feeds. One light one for general announcements, and another one with every blog category for people interested in the design and development process along with some rough ideas.
Something just stirred over at the stage. This new version is pretty much what I tested with last week. The version contains the experience threads idea (which as indicated by the user testing still needs quite some work). The other thing which I believe I fixed finally is the interaction of copying and pasting. Items should now paste appropriately for the two main copy modes “New Master Object” and “Instance of Master”.
Next week I’ll also be flying over to the Netherlands for my graduate presentation. Uhm… what’s next? I will be looking out for UI and UX type of work on a freelance basis, and will plan to continue fluidIA for at least 2 days a week. So the project is not going away anywhere. Sometime in August I will also plan a vacation, so the summer and the graduation has only slowed down the project temporarily. Looking forward to continuing working on this with you all.
Another wave of four evaluation sessions finished. The full document with more detailed observations can be grabbed from here. The video of the third session is also available below (click on HD for higher quality):
The biggest findings in the third testing cycle included the following:
- State and Idea controllers. In this iteration, users have become less informed as to how to create new states and ideas. The footer has decreased the visibility of the actionable instructions (holding X or Z) which users found more difficult to identify. Once pointed to the HOLD interactions, users were able to create and edit states and ideas. A second problem for states was that the state switching buttons still were not differentiate enough in terms of their selected and unselected states.
- Experience Threads. Most users really felt the feature was interesting; however there were a few problems. For one, after completing a thread, users felt a need for closure and to play back or test a created thread – a feature which was missing. Secondly, users had some hard time finding the “snapshot” tool which was hidden under a sub menu. Thirdly, conceptually, experience threads felt to users as if they were bigger than the existing tools, and should be brought out more into a separate position or location. Fourthly, due to a lack of feedback, users did not really know in which thread they were currently in.
- Selection. Any currently selected item that is selected has diminished visually. As a result of not knowing clearly what is selected, more users have deleted items unexpectedly as well as tried selecting items which were already selected. The visual indication of currently selected items (and its sub child items) should be made stronger.
- Instance and Master. Even though now the master edit mode requires an explicit toggle, some users still expressed confusion as to which edit mode they were actually in. A stronger indication is required in the next iteration. After the introduction of this explicit Master Edit Mode, users still expressed a need to get out of this mode in with more certainty that their changes were being saved.
- Inheritance. Although the idea of inheritance was understood by users. To most it was still not identified and required guidance to be actually found.
- Auto grouping. Most users understand the parent – child relationship (“drawing inside” feature), however they do not know how to adjust or change that relationship. For example, users expressed the desire to move an object into a different object (thus changing the
Thanks to Avi, Dana, Verne and Mehdi for participating!
Just finished doing another wave of four evaluation sessions. The full document with more detailed observations can be grabbed from here. The video of the first session is also available below (click on HD for higher quality):
The biggest findings in the second testing cycle included the following:
- State controller. Users are mistakenly led to believe that the small radio buttons, and not the larger rounded boxes, are used to change states. Radio buttons appear more dominant on a dark background and therefore are the first thing which is clicked when intending to change states.
- Deleting. Although the delete key is often found when intending to delete an item, this action has been numerously found to be preceded by right clicking or pressing the backspace key. The right click is expected to bring up an action menu where a delete command might be found.
- Auto nesting. The ability to establish parent and child relationship definitely requires learning and has been learned successfully in all tests. Although users learn the nesting feature pretty quickly it is still a new convention. Some users still make mistakes in the very few minutes of using the tool.
- Text edits. Users have been found to draw a text field and begin typing right away with the expectation that the text will be recorded. Currently the interaction requires double clicking first.
- Grid or Canvas Size. Numerous users requested either a grid or some ability of easing the alignment of objects to each other.
- Priority. Although users perceive the quick way of setting tone variations to objects with the help of key presses (1-5), they do not necessarily feel that priority has to be associated with tone. More so, at least twice, the priority control has been mistakenly believed to be a layering controller that sets the Z-level of objects.
- Master Instance. Users think this the two master / instance buttons are a toggle which would affect the object’s display inheritance properties in the workspace. However, it is still difficult for users to grasp that the two buttons are only edit modes which affect the upcoming edit action. Users also continue to wonder how to affect the instance inheritance or “break the relationships” with the master. It would seem that the side buttons are too far away from the inheritance checkboxes. More so, the inheritance checkboxes have once been potentially perceived as a down arrow. The master and instance controller buttons are also distant from the inheritance controller which also cognitively disconnects them. In this test cycle, 2 users still were able to make instance exceptions, and 2 achieved it with difficulty, which leads to believe that there is considerable improvement from the first cycle.
- Pasting. A lack of feedback has been observed when an object is to be pasted into itself. FluidIA currently prohibits this to protect the workspace from looping, but does not provide any indication for this. At least one user also mistakenly believed that inside of the paste menu, the “new master” paste mode would create an instance suggesting a stronger need for differentiating the two paste modes.
- At least three users said they really liked the line text feature which allowed them to quickly represent low fidelity text.
- At least two users requested the ability to resize multiple selected objects at the same time.
- Ideas. Although users were able to create new ideas for objects, their model of thought remains closely connected with presenting ideas at the page level. At least twice, when asked to create new ideas, they have created a new page in which they would paste new instances. This is possibly related to the concern of making ideas more visible, which the creation of pages allows for.
Thanks to Matt, Jon, Brad and Iain for participating!
Quick update on recent development work over on the stage area. Just began early developments of the Form Tool controller allowing users to drop in various input fields, checkboxes, and such. The way it works right now, is that users can either press the form icon, or hold F to insert elements into a selected object.
I’m looking to run another user testing session between May 12 and 15 and I’m looking for volunteers. It will take an hour and I could come over with all the equipment. Please let me know if you are interested in participating. Last time I did 4 separate evaluation sessions and they really opened up my eyes. Hoping to get inspired this time around as well. Do let me know if you are in Toronto and want to help out …
Another stage update. This time around the following has been changed:
- “Drawing Inside” indicators now hint not only where the user is about to draw, but also remind whether the user is about to draw inside an instance or master (using blue or orange arrows)
- It is now possible to draw inside objects which have multiple instances on the same screen.
- Workspace colour hinting has been reworked to help indicate which child elements of a selected item belong to either the instance (orange border) or the master object (blue border)