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#1 Matt Simerson

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Posted 26 September 2005 - 10:37 PM

First, let me start by saying that I love Accordance. It's a wonderful program and as a systems engineer and programmer, I have a real love for well designed software (and hardware). When using Accordance on my G5 and 23" Cinema display, it's just about perfect. However, when using it on my PowerBook, the "generous" use of vertical screen real estate leaves precious little room left for bible text. Here's a screen shot showing what I mean:

Attached File  accord1.png   41.33KB   84 downloads

I propose making a few alterations.
1. Move the "search within" popup menus up to the same level as the "search for". It's a very logical place for them and reads quite well as English: "Search for Words or Verses within every [Verse|Chapter|etc] of [range].

2. remove the word "History" and move it's contents into a search popup icon menu (see image #2) in the search entry window, as is done in Safari. Pull up Safari and look at the Google search pane, to see exactly how it works. It retains all the desired functionality, removes screen clutter, and requires less mouse travel.

Attached File  accord2.png   37.85KB   73 downloads

3. Move all the search results entities into the space immediately below the search entry field as show in image #2. With these changes, the top search entry pane uses 33% less vertical screen space. On my PowerBook, that's quite signficant and means I can see that much more scripture.

4. Currently, if you squish the accordance window down to a very narrow horizontal layout, many of the search interface elements disappear, including the "Search for Words or Verses" radio buttons. That means you have to stretch the window out, execute the search, and then scrunch it back down. That's not exactly ideal.

Instead of dropping interface elements into the bit bucket, when the horizontal space doesn't allow enough room for them to display, move them into a popup menu so they are still accessible. In image #3 below, the next interface element to move to the menu should be the bible version you are searching. That way, the most commonly used element (words or verses) is fully visible.

Attached File  accord3.png   24.15KB   67 downloads

With this change, you would click on them funny looking gray things and there are all the search and result options that can't fit in the horizontal screen space.

5. The instant details window. It's great, but I can never quite find the right spot for it on my PowerBook screen. If it's at the bottom of the screen, it needs to be large enough to show three lines of text, and wide enough to fit the longest line. This is mandatory, because if you happen to make it too narrow, the results are truncated. If it's too short (vertically), you'll never see the extra lines of text. Worse still, you won't even know they were there as there are no visual cues to inform of you this. At the very least, something should appear that lets the user know more results are available if they resize the window.

I think that instead of having instant results appear in a static window, it would be much nicer to have them displayed on a translucent layer. I'd prefer it immediately below the cursor and pointing to the hot spot, similar to how Apple's Dictionary.app works. For an example, see image #4 or pull up TextEdit and type in a few words. Hold down Command-Control-D and mouse over a word.

Attached File  dictionary.png   19.3KB   61 downloads

6. Speaking of Dictionary.app, it sure would be nice if the dictionary service provided with Tiger worked in Accordance.

So, now that I've risen a number of rungs up the "how to annoy a programmer" ladder, by critiquing his baby, is there anyone else that thinks these ideas have merit?

Matt

Edited by Matt Simerson, 26 September 2005 - 10:39 PM.


#2 Denes House

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Posted 27 September 2005 - 07:24 AM

1. Move the "search within" popup menus up to the same level as the "search for". It's a very logical place for them and reads quite well as English: "Search for Words or Verses within every [Verse|Chapter|etc] of [range].

This is a good idea.

4. Currently, if you squish the accordance window down to a very narrow horizontal layout, many of the search interface elements disappear, including the "Search for Words or Verses" radio buttons. That means you have to stretch the window out, execute the search, and then scrunch it back down. That's not exactly ideal.

Instead of dropping interface elements into the bit bucket, when the horizontal space doesn't allow enough room for them to display, move them into a popup menu so they are still accessible. In image #3 below, the next interface element to move to the menu should be the bible version you are searching. That way, the most commonly used element (words or verses) is fully visible.

This is also a good idea.

5. The instant details window. It's great, but I can never quite find the right spot for it on my PowerBook screen. If it's at the bottom of the screen, it needs to be large enough to show three lines of text, and wide enough to fit the longest line. This is mandatory, because if you happen to make it too narrow, the results are truncated. If it's too short (vertically), you'll never see the extra lines of text. Worse still, you won't even know they were there as there are no visual cues to inform of you this. At the very least, something should appear that lets the user know more results are available if they resize the window.

I think that instead of having instant results appear in a static window, it would be much nicer to have them displayed on a translucent layer. I'd prefer it immediately below the cursor and pointing to the hot spot, similar to how Apple's Dictionary.app works. For an example, see image #4 or pull up TextEdit and type in a few words. Hold down Command-Control-D and mouse over a word.


Currently, Instant Details works with just a rollover. If it were a popup translucent window, it would be annoying to work as a rollover. Maybe if it was Command-rollover, with an option to make it a more permanent window, say by Command-double-clicking the word? Because sometimes it is useful to have the "Instant" part of the Instant Details box...
Denes House
"When wealth is lost, nothing is lost; when health is lost, something is lost; when character is lost, all is lost." --Rev. Billy Graham

#3 David Lang

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Posted 27 September 2005 - 10:40 AM

Matt,

I appreciate many of the suggestions you've made, and your desire to save on screen real-estate. The irony is that many of your suggestions would result in something quite similar to the interface which Accordance had prior to version 6.

In previous versions of Accordance, we used a minimum of screen space, but there was little explanation of what each control was for. In version 6, we made some tradeoffs with respect to screen real-estate in order to make Accordance less cluttered, more clear, and less intimidating for the new user. Believe me, we thought long and hard before making that tradeoff!

With respect to the specific changes you suggested, the range and field pop-ups were originally placed along the top of the window. We moved them into a collapsible More Options section to reduce the number of options confronting the new user.

Likewise, we considered removing the OK button and placing the History pop-up within the text entry field, but decided against it for two reasons. First, whenever you change your search argument, the OK button pulses to give a visual cue that your search results no longer match your search argument. Second, the icon pop-up menu in the search entry field has had different functions in different programs. In Safari, it pulls up the History. In iTunes and pre-Tiger versions of Mail, it brings up a list of search "fields." This lack of a consistent function, combined with the fact that there was room for a History pop-up with a label above the OK button led us to go with the current layout.

In anything more than a simple one-trick pony program, the challenge of interface design is to create something which is neither overwhelming to new users nor inconvenient for power users. With the More Options section, we "hid" some features from the new user without making them too difficult for the power user to access or even leave open all the time. Unfortunately, this costs the power user some screen real-estate.

Fortunately, there are some nifty little tweaks slated for version 7 which should minimize your frustration. One will allow you to leave the More Options section closed all the time, while still making it easy to access all the options which it contains. Another will make the Instant Details box less obtrusive--a feature inspired by the following forum discussion.

In the meantime, there are other things you can do to maximize your vertical screen space. I use a 14 inch iBook, which, though larger than the 12 inch models, has the same screen resolution, and I never feel cramped for space. This is partly because I keep my OS X dock on the right side of the screen rather than the bottom, and I usually keep the More Options section closed until I need those options.

If these don't work for you, try using the command-B keyboard shortcut to hide the instant details box whenever you don't need it. Or reduce the size of the text in the Instant Details box so that you can reduce the size of the box itself.

Hope this helps. I know I haven't responded to all of your suggestions, and some of them I want to chew on a little more. But I do hope I've explained some of the rationale behind the current layout, and given you some hope that version 7 will give you more options for maximizing screen space.
Sincerely,
David Lang
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#4 Matt Simerson

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Posted 27 September 2005 - 12:38 PM

In previous versions of Accordance, we used a minimum of screen space, but there was little explanation of what each control was for. In version 6, we made some tradeoffs with respect to screen real-estate in order to make Accordance less cluttered, more clear, and less intimidating for the new user. Believe me, we thought long and hard before making that tradeoff!

With respect to the specific changes you suggested, the range and field pop-ups were originally placed along the top of the window. We moved them into a collapsible More Options section to reduce the number of options confronting the new user.


Intead of making it a trade off, why not make it user selectable? For those that care about screen real-estate, let us condense the display so that it uses less space. Then have the default option set for the new users.

Personally, I think the easiest approach (long term) is to make all the search and result interface elements mobile, so that the user can drag them around and arrange as they please. Then you set up a "default" layout for the new users and everyone is happy. Some folks might even find it useful to have "sets" of layouts, so they can have one for "presentation", another for "PowerBook", and yet another for "Cinema Display".

Likewise, we considered removing the OK button and placing the History pop-up within the text entry field, but decided against it for two reasons. First, whenever you change your search argument, the OK button pulses to give a visual cue that your search results no longer match your search argument.


That "feature" has no value for me, and I suspect the same is true for most others. Nearly everyone using a modern operating system expects to type enter before their input is acted upon. This is the rule, and with notable exceptions (spotlight, itunes, etc), that's the way most input fields are. I don't require a big pulsing "OK" button to inform me that the search isn't active yet. I would like the option to get rid of it.

Second, the icon pop-up menu in the search entry field has had different functions in different programs. In Safari, it pulls up the History. In iTunes and pre-Tiger versions of Mail, it brings up a list of search "fields." This lack of a consistent function, combined with the fact that there was room for a History pop-up with a label above the OK button led us to go with the current layout.


Could you at least allow me to turn off the word "history". After seeing the popup element one time, I know what it's for and will never again need that clue.

Fortunately, there are some nifty little tweaks slated for version 7 which should minimize your frustration. One will allow you to leave the More Options section closed all the time, while still making it easy to access all the options which it contains.


Will there still be a visible cue available so that if I have defined a range, it'll be immediately apparent that I've restricted my search results? The other reason I prefer the all in one line approach is that I can glance at that single line and know exactly what I'm seeing the results for, even I defined a range yesterday and have since forgotten that fact.

Another will make the Instant Details box less obtrusive--a feature inspired by the following forum discussion.


I look forward to that, and having user specific (instead of installation/machine specific) preferences. :-)

Matt

#5 David Lang

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Posted 27 September 2005 - 02:16 PM

Intead of making it a trade off, why not make it user selectable? For those that care about screen real-estate, let us condense the display so that it uses less space. Then have the default option set for the new users.

Personally, I think the easiest approach (long term) is to make all the search and result interface elements mobile, so that the user can drag them around and arrange as they please. Then you set up a "default" layout for the new users and everyone is happy. Some folks might even find it useful to have "sets" of layouts, so they can have one for "presentation", another for "PowerBook", and yet another for "Cinema Display".


Matt,

I wish I had a nickel for every time I've heard "make it a user option"--which, being translated means, "Okay, I understand not many people are asking for this, but I'd still like to have it." ;)

Making every possible variation "user selectable" does not avoid the necessity of making tradeoffs. On the contrary, it takes time and resources away from other features and enhancements which would be of benefit to a wider range of users. We have to consider such tradeoffs whenever we decide what features to implement, what features to drop, and what features to put off to a later revision.

[The visual cue provided by the OK button]has no value for me, and I suspect the same is true for most others. Nearly everyone using a modern operating system expects to type enter before their input is acted upon. . . . I don't require a big pulsing "OK" button to inform me that the search isn't active yet. I would like the option to get rid of it.


Matt, in response to my suggestion that you will be able to leave the More Options section closed and yet still access the options within, you express this concern:

Will there still be a visible cue available so that if I have defined a range, it'll be immediately apparent that I've restricted my search results? The other reason I prefer the all in one line approach is that I can glance at that single line and know exactly what I'm seeing the results for, even [if]I defined a range yesterday and have since forgotten that fact.


You're exactly right that a visual cue is needed so that you know exactly what you're seeing the results for. That's precisely why we retained the OK button. Let's say you perform a search for "Abraham," and then realize that you want to find both "Abram" and "Abraham." You change your search argument to "Abra*m," but before you hit return you get called away from the computer. You come back hours later, look at your search argument, and wonder why "Abram" wasn't found by your search. That's why we left the "big pulsing 'OK' button" there. It tells you that you never hit enter to update your search results.

With respect to the Range pop-up menu, try selecting a range other than [All Text] and then closing the More Options section. You'll find that we've already left a visual cue that a range has been selected. :)
Sincerely,
David Lang
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http://www.accordancebible.com

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