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 Post subject: Sneak Preview: NextSTART Preferences using the new UI.
PostPosted: Sat Dec 12, 2009 9:10 pm 
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Note that I'm running that from the IDE, so the buttons and controls are not being 'skinned' by the OS.

What you can see below are the new Preferences pages for NextSTART. This is still work in progress, mind you, so subject to change:

Image

I'm not happy with the new NextSTART logo (it's a modification of an icon made by someone else), so this one is more of a 'place holder' than the real thing. I might actually like it better if it had color, the idea is that it should be a 'stylized' version of the Windows flag in the Start Menu button. If any of you feel like making a different but somewhat similar version of this logo and then send it to me, please feel free! :D

By looking at the tab headers, you can see that I merged everything related to menus into a single tab (e.g. Menu Editor and Menu Settings) and everything related to Task Management (Tasklist+Systray and Startbar) also into a single tab. Every related setting is thus self-contained in a single tab, making navigation and finding settings a lot simpler.

Image

Image

These two tabs are pretty similar to their counterparts in the new WorkShelf UI.

Image

I actually like the new General tab a lot, that monitor image gives it a lot of style. The monitor actually dynamically reflects the aspect ratio of your main monitor (4:3, 16:9, etc...) and, when you use the sliders to reserve screen space, the reserved areas appear on the monitor's screen using the color selected for the UI, blending in very nicelly. :D

Image

Image

The Hotspots Manager tab was one of those tabs that needed a complete revamp. In previous versions everything was pilled up together, making it very difficult for new users to understand what was going on.

The new tab is an order of magnitude simpler, making it easy to see at a glance how many hotspots you have defined and what they do.

Note that the text with details about the currently selected hotspot is merely descriptive, as a major usability change consists in new hotspots now being defined using a 'Hotspots Wizard' (I don't have screenshots yet because I'm still working on it).

For instance, when you click on the 'New' button the Hotspots wizard pops up. The first page of the Wizard asks you what you want to do (for instance, 'Show a menu made with the built-in Menu Editor), how you want to do it (e.g.; by Clicking on a hotspot button in the Desktop), if you want NextSTART to perform that action when it launches, and what hotkey you want associated to the hotspot.

Assuming the previous example, clicking Next would then make the Wizard show you a page from where you can select your menu from a list of existing menus previously built with the Menu Editor, followed by another page where you can select everything related to that menu (i.e.; menu title, menu initial position, horizontal or vertical, z-order, etc, etc...).

Since I selected a 'hotspot button in the desktop' as the activation method, the last page of the Wizard would then display all the settings related to that button, such as icon to display in the button, icon size, button size, tooltip or caption text, etc...

I think this will make it a lost easier for new users to understand how hotspots work and how to create new ones.

Image

This is the page related to NextSTART menus. As you can see, only the most used and important settings are listed here which makes the panel quite simple. This is also the place where you can access the Menu Editor from.

Furthermore, the inclusion of a Menu Titlebar Actions section (settings which were previously buried in General -> Mouse Settings) makes it clear to the user that he can actually roll menus up and down, change their z-order, and even rotate them by clicking the titlebar and endcaps of menus.

It is a shame this was not obvious in the first place, especially because NextSTART supports menu titlebar buttons (like those maximize, minimize and close buttons on application windows) to do all these actions, but few skins actually display them in menu titlebars.

Image

Image

As you can see, no functionality has been lost. The least used menu settings have just been moved into a secondary dialog.

Anyway, please feel free to offer any feedback. :D

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Last edited by winstep on Thu Feb 11, 2010 2:35 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Dec 13, 2009 5:48 pm 
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Looks great as usual Jorge :D , unlike you I actually like the icon without colour.

Best regards

gjbth


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Dec 14, 2009 9:07 am 
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Thanks! :D

Guys, now is the time to give some feedback on the new UI. Once final decisions have been made it will be too late - this is your chance to have a voice in the final outcome, so speak up! :D

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Dec 14, 2009 9:11 am 
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Looking good :)
I like the icon's single colour scheme - more effective than having more...


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Dec 15, 2009 7:35 am 
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Finished the Hotspot wizard and I'm pretty happy with it - in my opinion it makes the task of understanding, creating and editing hotspots a lot easier.

First I made some changes to the main Hotspots tab in Preferences, adding an explanation of what hotspots are and what they do. The detailed description of the currently selected hotspot now also includes an icon of the item:

Image

As you know, a hotspot can perform one of the following actions:

1. Display a Menu Showing the Contents of a Folder
2. Display a Menu Built with the Menu Editor
3. Run a Program
4. Run an Internal Command
5. Display a Menu Showing the Currently Running Applications
6. Apply an Existing Theme
7. Display a Menu showing all existing Themes
8. Display a Menu Showing the Contents of a Virtual Folder
9. Show a Media Player Control Menu

In addition, a hotspot can be activated in one of the following ways:

1. Left Clicking on Hotspot
2. Middle Clicking on Hotspot
3. Right Clicking on Hotspot
4. Bumping Top Left Screen Corner
5. Bumping Bottom Left Screen Corner
6. Bumping Top Right Screen Corner
7. Bumping Bottom Right Screen Corner
8. Bumping Top Screen Edge
9. Bumping Bottom Screen Edge
10. Bumping Left Screen Edge
11. Bumping Right Screen Edge
12. Middle Clicking Anywhere
13. Hotspot Button on the Desktop
14. Button in the Quick Launch Area
15. Hotkey Only (new feature)

The hotspots manager in the old UI was a single page with lots of changing settings piled on top of each other and important settings buried in secondary dialogs. A major mess, in fact.

The new UI replaces the old hotspots manager with a handy and simple to use Wizard:

Image

In the first page of the wizard you decide what you want the hotspot to do and how it should be activated. The following pages of the wizard are thus dependent on what you choose here.

For instance, for the Hotspot 3 (Show Start Menu) in the Hotspots preferences tab above, the next page allows you to select the Internal Command you want to run:

Image

Note how much easier it is to select the Internal Command from a large list of commands rather than from a single combo box. The icon associated to the currently selected Internal Command is also show here.

Since hotspot 3 is associated to a hotspot on the Desktop (Left Clicking on Hotspot) clicking Next brings us to this page:

Image

Since hotspots applied to the Desktop and other windows are, perhaps, the most difficult hotspot activation methods to understand, a detailed explanation is provided on this screen.

Hotspot 3 requires no more information, therefore the user could now click on Finish to finish defining this particular type of hotspot.

Hotspot 0, on the other hand, opens the main NextSTART menu and is activated by clicking on a hotspot button on the desktop. For this hotspot (Display a Menu Built with the Menu Editor), the second page of the wizard would allow us to select the menu we want to display:

Image

Notice not only how all existing pre-defined menus are displayed in a large list box, as the contents of each menu are displayed when that menu is selected. This makes it much easier to indentify the menu you are looking for.

Perhaps an interesting idea, once I finish the new Menu Editor, is to add a button allowing the user to access the Menu Editor directly from this page. This way pre-built menus could be created and edited 'on-the-fly'.

Now, there are six types of hotspot actions that open a menu: Display a Menu Showing the Contents of a Folder, Display a Menu Built with the Menu Editor, Display a Menu Showing the Currently Running Applications, Display a Menu showing all existing Themes, Display a Menu Showing the Contents of a Virtual Folder and Show a Media Player Control Menu.

For all of these the Wizard will now display the Menu settings page:

Image

All the settings required to display the menu can be found here.

Specific themes can be attached (hard coded) to specific menus, so selecting a particular theme has been made much easier by displaying a thumbnail for the currently selected theme.

Note also that initial menu coordinate boxes are no longer used: the user can simply drag the menu to a new position when it appears.

Hotspot 0 is activated by a Hotspot button on the Desktop. The last wizard page for this hotspot now allows you to define the properties of this button:

Image

Again, button coordinate boxes have been abandoned, the user can just drag the button to the position he wants it and the new coordinates will be remembered.

The following is the second wizard screen for a 'Run a Program' hotspot (such as hotspot 5 in the Hotspots Preferences tab above):

Image

Hotspot 5 is associated to a Quick Launch button in the taskbar. This is the screen the wizard presents next with the properties of that particular Quick Launch button:

Image

Finally, we have the screen for the 'Apply an Existing Theme' action:

Image

for a 'Display a Menu Showing the Contents of a Virtual Folder' action:

Image

and last, but not least, for a 'Display a Menu Showing the Contents of a Folder':

Image

Comments?

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Dec 15, 2009 10:31 am 
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really looks amazing Jorge, :D :D :D :D :D its so good you can have five out of five smiley's

Since the coordinate entry for hotspot buttons has been removed, will there be any other method of aligning several buttons.

I use a row of Hotspot buttons and the coordinate entry allows me to align everything precisely. In my defence I am an AutoCad user, so I have a fetish for precision.


Best regards

gjbth


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Dec 15, 2009 10:39 am 
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Well, you can still drag the hotspot buttons so they stand right next to each other... Is it difficult to align them correctly like this (this is a serious question)?

If it is I suppose I could come up with some kind of, errr, what's the name of that feature where, if two windows are really close to each other, they kind of 'attract' themselves?

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Dec 15, 2009 11:06 am 
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Just ignore me Jorge, :) as I said it's some kind of fetish for precsion, probaly need to see a doctor about it.

For a CAD user postioning objects by coordinate entry is second nature.

'Snap' is the term you are looking for.

Best Regards

gjbth


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 15, 2009 1:04 pm 
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Thanks!

Anyway, now that I finished the new Hotspots tab, I was looking for alternative ways to do the NextSTART Menu Editor and I came across the KDE Menu Editor:

Image

You can learn more about it and how it works from HERE.

I think this Treeview would be a great alternative, and make the NextSTART Menu Editor a lot easier to use. Each item next to a + sign in the left panel of the above image is a menu, and thus the whole menu structure can be viewed in a single panel. Not only that, I would add drag & drop support so you could easilly move items from one node in the tree to another (i.e.; from one menu into another) or simply move items around.

This would also open the doors for a resizable Menu Editor window.

What do you guys think?

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 15, 2009 2:00 pm 
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@The Hotspot wizard: Nice job! And now that you got that method for internal commands, would it be possible to use for example ctrl+click on another command, and have from the selection all in 1 hotspot (IE: In your example you got Start Menu selected, but ctrl+click on "Show Taskbar" would make it so when the hotspot is activated, your taskbar is shown as well as your start menu. Bad example but gives an idea of what I'm talking about). It'd be an easy method for that. You could then add at the bottom another field called "Other Commands" and let the user specify which other commands he wants to run as well.

@Menu Editor: I absolutely love the KDE in Linux. Too bad that Windows is the platform for PC games, and I can't be bothered constantly switching to Windows. I game a lot and thus it would be a bit of a waste of time to constantly switch when I want to play games (L4D2, Borderlands, etc).
But I also like how it works. It looks good and is still functional.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 15, 2009 3:49 pm 
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Your idea's for the menu editor get a big thumbs up from me. Being able to see the entire menu structure in one pane combined with drag and drop would be a huge jump forward.

:D


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 16, 2009 11:33 pm 
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Hotspot wizard looks...well....AWESOME!

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Dec 17, 2009 5:59 am 
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Thanks! :-)

Very early preview of the new NextSTART Menu Editor:

Image

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 18, 2009 6:55 pm 
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And here is pretty much the final thing:

Image

Note how you can even Undo and Redo changes. :D

Still tweaking a few things though...

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 19, 2009 3:22 pm 
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Outstanding :D


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