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Psistorm Ikura

Suggestions for a post-3.2, working UI

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First of all, let me say that LL has made some interesting steps with 3.2, back to the 1.x style of buttons and floaters. Now let me also say that I feel that 3.2 should not have been released. At all.

Because what does 3.2 do? It turns the sidebar into configurable buttons and merges the few basic mode additions in. It however, tries to turn things like the friend menu, optimized for a tall, vertical space, into a near quadratic floater. this is bad. It also turns away from a design method - the sidebar - which has been around for months since 2.0 got released. Again, bad. It also moves  UI elements around and destroys - imho - things that were good about the v2.0 design. once more, bad.

What should be done different? Let me say im very much in favor of the idea of configurable buttons, and lots of screen space, but some essentials are lacking here, and lacking bad.

  1. Window docking. Why isnt this in? 1.23 didnt have it. 2.x had the sidebar. 3.2 doesnt have it again. I would like to keep the sidebar-like behaviour personally, and would like the option for my floaters to always dock on one side of the screen if desired, when the button is pressed to make them show. Have the viewer remember those preferences for me. Docking the friend/group list etc would be very nice and simplifies things for me.
  2. Dividers in the button bars. Why arent those in? Let us place divider spaces to better organize buttons into themed groups.
  3. The local chat. Oh god what the hell. 2.x´s chat docked into the bottom bar and was very low profile. 3.2´s chat is... a floater with chatbar and chat window merged into some weird amalgamation that can not be seperated. Please for the love of pete give us the option to dock the chat into the bottom bar. just the bar, no frills, just like it was in V2. bar and up/down button for local chat window.
  4. Nothing was really changed. You merged the avatar selector  - ill get to that in a moment - and you made buttons configurable. Thats the glorious UI revamp that was talked about. You havent even touched the sidebar-to-floater design change at all. you just made the sidebar windows into badly crushed floaters. The build menu still is cluttered and very filled. Feature-richness is good, but this needs tidying up. If you want floaters badly, optimize them for space. And again, let us dock windows.
  5. The avatar selector. I know this is for newbies to select their basic avatar. But sit with me a moment, LL, and think about how fricken awesome itd be if I could use it to instead manage my outfits. I could visually see what my outfit looks like and switch to it. I think generating thumbnails when saving an outfit wouldnt be hard to do automatically, and really, itd increase the use people could get out of the avatar selector. Give us an option to dump the standard LL selections and instead bring up our own gallery of avatars.
  6. Mini location bar and "address bar". Ok, i will be honest. The address bar is imho the single most useless thing ive seen. Sorry to be so blunt, but for me, I wont ever type in a second life location, SLURL works just fine. I just dont need anything taking up  about 10% of my screen height just so i can see my current location in big letters and perhaps move elsewhere a tiny bit faster. I would much rather keep it optional like it is now, or work on a better, more compact way of handling landmarks. As for the mini location bar, please put it inside the menu bar. You can collapse the information shown in it if there is not enough room, with a mouseover showing the full name. So you would have your (I) button, your parcel flags, then the sim/parcel name and coordinates. If its too long, you truncate the parcel name string with a mouseover tooltip. Frees up precious screenspace, and removes that little sticking out bar. 1.23 did it, 2.x should do it too!
  7. Please leave us the option to select which corner the notification menu docks at. Top right, for me, is unintuitive and cumbersome compared to the previous location. Just leave us a choice here too, follow through on your maxime of customizeability.

So how would I sum this up? Basically the idea is to give us the maximum amount of customizeability. Let us configure the UI exactly how we want it. Someone wants a more 1.x based look? Sure. Someone wants floaters and to dock some things into the sidebar? Sure. And someone wants 2.x styled sidebar-like goodness? Sure! Dont just throw arrangeable buttons at us, which are really the most minor feature UI wise, then force floaters back on those who got used to the sidebar. Let us actually have a choice. Dont try and pull a "dazzle" on us two or three times in a row, introducing harsh interface changes without going the easy route, namely just letting us custuomize it.

Ive worked with SL for years, and earn my salary exclusively here. SL has great potential, but the UI as it stands with 3.2 needs more work. Just hold off on 3.3 or 3.4 and instead, do it right. Release a complete, finished concept, which allows your users to pick a 1.x, 2.x, or whatever style they want. Sidebar-floaters, docked windows, floating windows, docking chat, docking IM´s and notifications to different corners... there is so much potential, use it!

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I totally agree with you, as a Graphic Designer. I have done a fair share of usability in my time. The top bar I use for the home button and back/forward button also to see what sort of permissions that sim has. I love the customisability it's the only way in my eyes that you can please everyone. 

But we need more customisability. The chat not being dockable and just a floating window really doesn't work on my 13inch laptop. The fact that esc no longer closes IM windows and the interface for that takes up so much room on my small laptop so I wan't it quickly out of the way

I totally agree with the idea of docking. My small screen very quickly becomes filled from windows, being able to dock into a tabbing system exactly like V2 would be great, I loved how tidy the tabing system was I could open up the panel when I want something, then just hide it to the corner when I'm done without having to press the 'x' button on every window that I use. 

The main thing that is annoying me is the floating chat box, the rest I can sort of adapt too.

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See, I'm just the opposite. When exploring/socializing (haha, good one) I much prefer to have a very minimal UI. Sidebar could be configurable, and I don't know why they didn't. Some skins/TPVs allowed this on the v2 UI for a while. Unlike you, I do use the address bar all the time... it's faster for me than clicking through the places/landmarks floater. The point being - options are good, as you said.

In my opinion, the biggest flaw in the UI is that there's still too much wasted space. It got better, but there's still plenty of room for improvement. Especially when it comes to the layout of some floaters and positioning of some elements. For example the icons. They cannot be aligned left or right. Or the chat floaters. It's possible to tab the group chat/IM floaters, but local always stays separate. Why?

Then there's something at least one TPV used to have which I thought was neat: Chat range indicators on the Mini-Map floater.

It might be an idea to just put out a vote/call for features... it'd have to come from LL, and would have to be featured on the loading screen. That would of course mean TPV users wouldn't see it, but I'd say people who use TPVs will never use LLs viewer anyway.

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Personally, I think the UI changes in 3.2 are a major improvement. This is the first viewer since 1.23.5 that I haven't needed to add XML hacks (like the Starlight skins) to in order for it to be marginally usable.

No sidebar. Ding, dong, the sidebar's dead, and good riddance! No more having one hand tied behind my back when I need to multi-task. No more forcing one action at a time, lock-stepped modal content into a pop-out sidebar that couldn't be properly expanded to accommodate the content, and that ate up unnecessary amounts of on-screen real estate. I can put floaters where I want them, and in the size and shape I want, and that is where they reappear next time I want them. If I need more windows of a certain type open, like checking three profiles at once, it's easy to do. V2 started to allow you to open floater versions of what was in the sidebar, and even multiple windows for things like inventory. But the first instance (like if you clicked someone to open their profile info) kept opening in the sidebar.

New (old) chat floater. I'm overjoyed to have my text entry field following my chat floater, so what I am typing is right next to the chat that people near me are saying, and I am no longer having to glance back and forth from one area of the screen to another to maintain a simple conversation.

In 3.2, I 'dock' my chat floater, in the old style nearby chat display, without those space-wasting icon strips, at the top left of my screen, about an inch tall and half the screen's width. It doesn't interfere with any of my HUD's there, and it's easy to glance down at the 3D world or up at what I am typing or a hair higher to read nearby chat.

With the older V2, I had to keep the nearby chat floater at the lower left, where it interfered with my HUD's and made it harder to type and actually enjoy the virtual world at the same time. Maybe, for a perfect, flawless touch-typist, it worked for them to have the chat text entry welded to the bottom of the screen, and incapable of moving with the chat floater. Or maybe if the people that liked it there mostly use Voice, and only need text entry occasionally, having it hard-coded to one spot works. It certainly didn't work for me. 

You prefer chat popping up on the screen, and a chat bar at the bottom, without a scrollable record of what's recently been said? Have at it! The 3.2 chat bar can open with just the text entry field, and you can position it at the bottom edge and leave it there, just like it used to be in V2. What people say will appear on-screen or in chat bubbles or whatever your preference is, and evaporate after a period of time. Just like 2.x did. (The only thing you can't do is actually dock that floater in the lower button bar area, which would probably be a good option for people that like a disassociated chat text entry field.)

I agree with your suggestion for configurable dividers between the buttons, when docked on the edges. Being able to cluster them in logical groups is a wonderful idea!

The avatar selector is dead useless to me. Maybe if, as you suggest, we could configure it with outfits WE create, it would be worth having. I would only want to put some of my outfits into it though. I have way too many clothes and avatars to use a huge graphical representation for each one. In the current form, as a fixed list of library avatars, it's the first thing I throw away when configuring my preferences for 3.2.

I will also agree we should have a choice where notifications appear. I rather like top right, because it isn't appearing under the HUD controls for my furry avatar. But I see no reason not to offer choice there.

And honestly, for those that just love that modal sidebar, I see no reason why that shouldn't remain a configurable option. Just don't force everyone to do it that one way.

Second life is used in many different ways by many different people, for very different reasons. No "one size fits all" UI option will work for everyone.

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As someone who went back to 3.1, i am liking the OP's suggestions. The chat bar messup was one of the most glaring things that blindsided me about the change. Speaking was actually hard and alien to do. Likewise, i soon got rid of the buttons and tried to set up my top left task bar only to find that nothing would dock and it all stuck to the middle left and not top left. Messages in the top right was likewise alien, as the minimise button points down, as if clicking it will send things downward, not up.

 

Even the bottom bar of 3.1 looks damned elegant compared to the clumsy "building block" style of 3.2. It's like picasso suddenly getting into using crayons and trying to remake a famous painting.

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Psistorm Ikura wrote:

First of all, let me say that LL has made some interesting steps with 3.2, back to the 1.x style of buttons and floaters. Now let me also say that I feel that 3.2 should not have been released. At all.

Because what does 3.2 do? It turns the sidebar into configurable buttons and merges the few basic mode additions in. It however, tries to turn things like the friend menu, optimized for a tall, vertical space, into a near quadratic floater. this is bad. It also turns away from a design method - the sidebar - which has been around for months since 2.0 got released. Again, bad. It also moves  UI elements around and destroys - imho - things that were good about the v2.0 design. once more, bad.

What should be done different? Let me say im very much in favor of the idea of configurable buttons, and lots of screen space, but some essentials are lacking here, and lacking bad.
  1. Window docking. Why isnt this in? 1.23 didnt have it. 2.x had the sidebar. 3.2 doesnt have it again. I would like to keep the sidebar-like behaviour personally, and would like the option for my floaters to always dock on one side of the screen if desired, when the button is pressed to make them show. Have the viewer remember those preferences for me. Docking the friend/group list etc would be very nice and simplifies things for me.
  2. Dividers in the button bars. Why arent those in? Let us place divider spaces to better organize buttons into themed groups.
  3. The local chat. Oh god what the hell. 2.x´s chat docked into the bottom bar and was very low profile. 3.2´s chat is... a floater with chatbar and chat window merged into some weird amalgamation that can not be seperated. Please for the love of pete give us the option to dock the chat into the bottom bar. just the bar, no frills, just like it was in V2. bar and up/down button for local chat window.
  4. Nothing was really changed. You merged the avatar selector  - ill get to that in a moment - and you made buttons configurable. Thats the glorious UI revamp that was talked about. You havent even touched the sidebar-to-floater design change at all. you just made the sidebar windows into badly crushed floaters. The build menu still is cluttered and very filled. Feature-richness is good, but this needs tidying up. If you want floaters badly, optimize them for space. And again, let us dock windows.
  5. The avatar selector. I know this is for newbies to select their basic avatar. But sit with me a moment, LL, and think about how fricken awesome itd be if I could use it to instead manage my outfits. I could visually see what my outfit looks like and switch to it. I think generating thumbnails when saving an outfit wouldnt be hard to do automatically, and really, itd increase the use people could get out of the avatar selector. Give us an option to dump the standard LL selections and instead bring up our own gallery of avatars.
  6. Mini location bar and "address bar". Ok, i will be honest. The address bar is imho the single most useless thing ive seen. Sorry to be so blunt, but for me, I wont ever type in a second life location, SLURL works just fine. I just dont need anything taking up  about 10% of my screen height just so i can see my current location in big letters and perhaps move elsewhere a tiny bit faster. I would much rather keep it optional like it is now, or work on a better, more compact way of handling landmarks. As for the mini location bar, please put it inside the menu bar. You can collapse the information shown in it if there is not enough room, with a mouseover showing the full name. So you would have your (I) button, your parcel flags, then the sim/parcel name and coordinates. If its too long, you truncate the parcel name string with a mouseover tooltip. Frees up precious screenspace, and removes that little sticking out bar. 1.23 did it, 2.x should do it too!
  7. Please leave us the option to select which corner the notification menu docks at. Top right, for me, is unintuitive and cumbersome compared to the previous location. Just leave us a choice here too, follow through on your maxime of customizeability.

So how would I sum this up? Basically the idea is to give us the maximum amount of customizeability. Let us configure the UI exactly how we want it. Someone wants a more 1.x based look? Sure. Someone wants floaters and to dock some things into the sidebar? Sure. And someone wants 2.x styled sidebar-like goodness? Sure! Dont just throw arrangeable buttons at us, which are really the most minor feature UI wise, then force floaters back on those who got used to the sidebar. Let us actually have a choice. Dont try and pull a "dazzle" on us two or three times in a row, introducing harsh interface changes without going the easy route, namely just letting us custuomize it.

Ive worked with SL for years, and earn my salary exclusively here. SL has great potential, but the UI as it stands with 3.2 needs more work. Just hold off on 3.3 or 3.4 and instead, do it right. Release a complete, finished concept, which allows your users to pick a 1.x, 2.x, or whatever style they want. Sidebar-floaters, docked windows, floating windows, docking chat, docking IM´s and notifications to different corners... there is so much potential, use it!

Personally, I am really sick with all these viewers I've had to go threw since March.  It's been through at least 20 viewers, and this is a little nutz.  Just hire someone who can make a useable viewer already.  This is so unprofessional, it's not even funny.  Hire someone who knows how to build a viewer.  How hard can that be? 

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Well, they hired "Big Spaceship"; apparently a renowned UI design company. 2.0 was the result, which, even though it now is a good viewer, used to be really rough around the edges and plain bad.

What LL needs to do is actually listen in more to the community, and - sorry to say it - listen to the right people. Giving us the option to have things either way imho is the way to go. Not force someone into sidebar usage, but also not force people into floater usage. There are things that work better for some people than they do for others, and vice versa. This is why we need full customizeability.

Like someone said above. The changes I hate - the floating chat bar and lack of sidebar consistency - they love. Personally I found the IM icons absolutely space efficient. I can IM AND follow local chat at the same time now, a concept that was alien in 1.23 unless you wanted to have two massive chat windows open, stacked ontop of eachother.  V2´s instant messaging is much more advanced, and personally I can deal with large IMs a lot better than I could in 1.23.

Again, this is why we need change. And give constructive feedback. Let us have the option to use the UI in whatever way we deem best, trying to enforce anything on the users is pretty bad. It should be easily skinable, and should be coherent, thats the only real requirements a UI should fulfil for SL. Aside from that, it should just be flexible to the point of us being able to make it look the way we want.

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One item you mentioned has been of interest to me is the outfit folder features.   If you get enough outfits, you need dividers, or even better sub-folders to group the outfits. Getting both would be the best!   Since they are only sorted on spelling or recent, you can group them only with those capabilites  I have done my best to use a highly structured naming scheme to let sort help with the types of outfits in a logical way, but this only goes so far.    So for the UI experts in LL, we need a way to manage the aggregation of outfits in that folder.   When you have several pages of outfits in that folder, the interface could help more there.  

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I'm liking mine so far =)

i've been in the beta for two weeks now or so and i think i'll be downloading the new release to see what may be different..

i can always go back to the beta if i don't like something on the new release..

 

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I absolutely agree that the "Outfits" feature needs some sort of heirarchical orginization structure. I guess what we have now was designed by a geeky guy whose wardrobe consists of several identical blue jeans, black slacks, and khaki shorts, paired with a small assortment of t-shirts, polo shirts and one dress shirt and tie. For him, a dozen or so named outfits is more than he knows what to do with.

Me? I most likely have more pairs of shoes than he probably has ever had clothing items of all kinds combined. (And 2/3 of my forms have digitigrade legs, and can't even wear shoes!) I have over 80 avatar forms, not counting how I dress them. My "clothing" folder is nested 4 layers deep, at least, with 20 or so base categories, and categorized by things like which outfits can be worn with digitigrade legs and tails, as on my furry forms, or which ones require human-style legs and feet, and on which are copyable and which are no-copy... The current Outfits folder is only useful to me for a handful of very commonly used forms and clothing looks that I like to be able to switch between rapidly. It's worthless for 90% or more of my clothing and avatar inventory.

I would love to see the ability to organize outfits heirarchically, and to assign a thumbnail image to them, like the "Avatars" floater now does for library avatars, so I could quickly see and select the look I want from my wardrobe.

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