Needs UI Improvements

May 31, 2010 at 6:54 AM

Hi mate, your idea is cool, I had it myself a couple of times but never actually finished any of the started projects :)
This was mostly because I ended finding other tools that helped me on this and currently I'm using Fenses from Stardock to organize my Desktop. 

What I think this is missing are other ways of seeing the same thing.
Implementing new Views will make this way better.
I'm talking about maybe:

  • Tabular View
    • Where each tab is a category and inside you can see the folders and files icons
  • MainMenu View
    • Like the name says, something like a main menu that lays down on the desktop and you can navigate.

I think these are small developments that will greatly improve this tool.

Coordinator
May 31, 2010 at 7:49 PM
Try Version 1.6 - I've spent hours on it today, a lot of code changes needed for a simple GUI Change! I hope you like the new Mini-Menu I've added.
Jun 1, 2010 at 8:22 AM

Hi mate!
That's way better, you picked the idea! :)

Now for a step further is to change that minimenu in a way you can either:

  • reduce clicks to open a link (comboboxes are not that user friendly)
  • be perceptible for the use that he is opening a folder or a file

For that I think you could:

  • add tabs per category
    • As mini.-menu drops down I think that tabs lay better on the bottom
  • display the link icon with a small label on the bottom like the ones showing on the desktop :)
  • Adding a new link would be easy as dragging the actual file system object to the category tab contents

I also have some ideas for more advanced features:

  • Right-clicking a tab would show a context menu that would allow:
    • Open All
    • Delete All
    • Rename Category
  • Right-Clicking an icon would allow:
    • Open
    • Delete
    • Rename
    • Move to group 

Better stop now... :))

What do you think?

Alex

Coordinator
Jun 1, 2010 at 9:14 AM
I see what you mean, combo boxes can be annoying... I do like the ideas, but I'm trying to keep the mini-menu as simple as possible - more complex tasks are to be done in the main application - but I will add some more functionality. I like the 'Move to group' idea, although I think tabs on the mini-menu might make it a bit crowded, so I'll find something else to replace the combo boxes. I couldn't work out how to put icons/pictures in the List box (but I do like the idea); the link was helpful, but the software is written in VB 2008! And one other thing - the Mini-menu does work? because I tried it on another computer and it didn't work, but it could just be that computer. If you have any more ideas, please don't hold back! It really helps when I get feedback from users.
Jun 1, 2010 at 10:45 AM

Yeah it works although I had to close it because of the height of the area where you identify the mouse hover to show it.
It's just too big, you must redice it to 1 or 2 pixels max, the user must really put the mouse on the top of the screen to show it otherwise you'll end up showing it without wanting. 
It happens to me when I have my Google Chrome window maximized as tabs are right on the top!

"I think tabs on the mini-menu might make it a bit crowded"
 it may be... I just think it depends on how many tabs the user wants to create and the size of them.
Event their appearance matters here.
I think the ideal implementation would be a single line of icons per tab and have the tabs centered on the bottom. If only one category no tab should appear.

Get files icons
http://www.geekpedia.com/tutorial219_Extracting-Icons-from-Files.html
http://stackoverflow.com/questions/616718/how-do-i-get-common-file-type-icons-in-c  (see VirtualBlackFox's code)
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/319350

Coordinator
Jun 1, 2010 at 2:57 PM

Yeah, I noticed while I was uploading 1.6 that it pops up when I moved my mouse onto the title bar... but in the debug version I've reduced it from 20 pixels to 5 pixels. I've got Google Chrome as well! So it is noticeable when I go to change or move tabs.

I know exactly how to get a file's icon, and for folders I'll use the default Folder Icon. But the problem is, I can't display the icons in the list box, I'm looking into list view, but not much so far.

Do you have any other ideas of what could replace the combo boxes? I still think that the tabs would make it a little crowded and untidy...

Jun 1, 2010 at 3:45 PM

You can OwnerDraw the ListBox items:
http://www.c-sharpcorner.com/UploadFile/sahuja/OwnerDrawListBox11212005014826AM/OwnerDrawListBox.aspx

As for other ideas instead of the tabs I can't figure out none that wont involve adding clicks to the operation.
This kind of tool is something between what's on your desktop and what's on the Programs start menu.
On the desktop we don't have any additional clicks other than item selection, but on Programs to group things it takes 3 clicks minimum + selection and possibly a scroll on Windows 7 Start Menu style.

On your menu, with a tab and a list of items it will only take 1 click + selection to get something done and will only add a row at the bottom with the tabs.

Can't think of anything lighter. 

Coordinator
Jun 1, 2010 at 4:14 PM
I will see if I can find a way of using tabs. The link was good, but like I said before, it's written in Visual Basic 2008, and so far I can't find anything that allows me to add a picture/icon to each item.
Jun 1, 2010 at 4:43 PM
Edited Jun 1, 2010 at 4:47 PM

I've done this before but I don't develop in Windows Form in a while now.
I recall that you must set the DrawMode to OwnerDraw and handle the DrawItem event of the listbox.

Setting that draw mode will skip all inner drawing methods of the listbox, this means that all items will appear blank.
On that event you have the 'e' argument that exposes the Graphics property with all the GDI+ tools to draw whatever you want on each item. 

In this link you can see what I said in C#:
http://www.c-sharpcorner.com/UploadFile/sahuja/OwnerDrawListBox11212005014826AM/OwnerDrawListBox.aspx

Anyway, where are you planning to use this? On the minimenu or the main application? 

Edit:
I think I misunderstood here something, you're saying that your code is VS2008 VB.net? Sorry about all those C# samples mate! :)

To draw an image I believe you can use the following insite your DrawItem event handler:

e.Graphics.DrawImage(myImage, new Point(0,0)); 

There's also a DrawString or something like that to write text.

Coordinator
Jun 1, 2010 at 5:51 PM
I was thinking of using it in the main application, but I could also use it in the mini-menu. I'll give it a try! Thanks!
Jun 1, 2010 at 7:13 PM

I don't see where you can use a Listbox in the MiniMenu...
It will make its height too big to be usable.

IMHO I think you must keep it simple, small and requiring as less clicks as possible to open a link. 

Coordinator
Jun 1, 2010 at 8:59 PM

Well if I can't think of anything else, I could use Listbox... the Listbox could expand when the user moves over it - I've done it before to save space in a picture viewer. And I completely agree - it should be simple, small and as quick and easy to use as possible.

Jun 2, 2010 at 1:04 AM

Won't that make the same effect as a MainMenu?
Using the MainMenu control may also be another option, being each top level node the Category and each child the links.
Thinking about it a bit it could also be fun to automatically add the childs of a folder link... :)

As for the expanding listbox... hummmm... don't know, doesn't feel that much of a good UI experience... 

Coordinator
Jun 3, 2010 at 12:07 PM

Well, I've changed the Mini-menu so the combo boxes open when the mouse hovers over them, I've reduced the distance to 2 pixels. I've threaded the Main program and the Mini-menu to make it slightly faster and more responsive when opening bookmarks. What do you think of it now?

Jun 3, 2010 at 5:15 PM
Hi mate. Can't start minimenu. It never shows and windows reports it stoped working. I have no idea of what could be wrong. I'm running it on a Windows 7 x64 Ultimate machine.
Coordinator
Jun 3, 2010 at 5:54 PM

Ah.... that happened on the other computer I tried it on... I have an Idea, I'll put a download on when I've finished!

Coordinator
Jun 3, 2010 at 6:11 PM

I've put up a download called 'Mini menu Test' - a simplified version, download it and run it, it should work. (Note - to stop it, use task manager)

Jun 3, 2010 at 8:38 PM

Hi mate.
I've tried it and it works now.

Still you have some problems...
If a window is maximized the menu doesn't appear.
What exactly was improved on the menu? The ComboBoxes are still there and I can't really find any UI improvements. 

Coordinator
Jun 3, 2010 at 8:52 PM
Edited Jun 3, 2010 at 8:52 PM

It doesn't appear because that was a dummy one I made to find the problem. The improvements are in the code (get it working before improving it). In the main upload, I've put the new one in - one of the new features is that it pauses 300 milliseconds when the mouse is in the open area (1 pixel from the top), so if the mouse is momentarily there (e.g. moving a tab in Google Chrome), it won't show. I will start on the improvements of the mini-menu, now that it's working. The tab idea does sound good, I'll see if I can add it - the combo boxes are a little annoying...

It turns out the problem was the background (if the new version work on your computer) - it should be fine now.

Jun 4, 2010 at 2:23 PM

Hi mate, it works now.

I see you have put some effort on the comboboxes experience. They now drop on mouse-over but still it doesn't feel right this way.
Like you said, it annoying. I don't really feel tempted to use this as is.

Still on the comboboxes, they don't refresh right.
If you and them selected on a category and you add a new link to that same category you have to switch categories and back for the new link to appear on the MiniMenu.
Same thing on the categories, if you add a category MiniMenu won't display it on the combobox. This time I think you actually have to restart MiniMenu to get a chance to select that new category.

Yet, I don't think you should waist more time fine-tunning this UI as it isn't appealing.
It's still easier for me to have the links on the desktop or on the programs main menu.

Sorry if I'm a pain :)
It's just that I like the idea and you have everything working except for the UI.

Cheers mate!
Alex 

Coordinator
Jun 5, 2010 at 4:53 PM

I've now improved the main application's UI - like you suggested, it gets the associated icon and displays it with the name. I haven't improved the Mini-menu, but I would like to make it more appealing and usable. What do you think of it now?

Jun 5, 2010 at 5:14 PM

Yeah! It's way better isn't it? :)
Now, I really don't plan to use this "Advanced" interface much. I just don't want to have to open a windows before I open the thing that I really want to open!

Anyway, your effort is turning this application into something much better now.

Keep up! I'm looking forward for the MiniMenu enhancements :)

Coordinator
Jun 7, 2010 at 8:15 PM

I've finished the new Mini-Menu (1.3). I've got it down to one double-click to open a bookmark! What do you think of it now?

Jun 7, 2010 at 11:56 PM

The idea is not bad, you just need to figure out a better way to pop the ListView. That white rectangle is just for testing right?! :)
I'm having some trouble finding a good way to have categories "list" from where to pop the links ListView...

What do you have in mind? 

Coordinator
Jun 8, 2010 at 3:13 PM

I don't quite understand what you mean by 'a good way to have categories "list" from where to pop the links ListView', but the white rectangle is the listview control - it just expands when you hover the mouse over it, which is the easiest way to expand it without clicking anything. It's a lot better than the combo boxes!

Jun 8, 2010 at 4:53 PM

Hi mate.
This implementation doesn't feel right.

If you have 3 categories the ListView that pops have a scroll on the right that you can never reach because the popup closes before you can click it.
Still if you have multiple links and multiple categories this isn't usable... you can't expect the user to move the mouse over a white rectangle that means nothing and to scroll through all categories and links list that will get big easily.

Remember the advise I gave you some threads above, this must be better than an icon on the desktop because you can organize things under categories and also must be better than the Programs Menu because you'll need less clicks... also never forget UI intuitiveness... 

Coordinator
Jun 8, 2010 at 6:09 PM

I agree, it should be simple and quick to use, yet everything I try never seems to work! How about Tabs to select the category, and the listview to view the bookmarks?

Jun 8, 2010 at 7:07 PM

Tabs always seemed the better option to me...
It's a single click away and it's not very expensive when it comes to UI required space.

Maybe bottom tabs on the minimenu and the listview with the icons would look & feel nice.
You can also make the listview itself drag&drop aware, this way there's no need for extra drop areas.

The WindowsForms TabControl lets you ownerdraw the tabs look but it's not that good when you put the tabs on the bottom.
So you may test the interface with the default TabControl but sooner or later you'll have to change it for something better looking and more functional.
I leave you 2 links here for you to have a look:

http://www.codeproject.com/KB/tabs/magictabcontrol.aspx
http://www.codeproject.com/KB/miscctrl/yatabcontrol.aspx

Coordinator
Jun 8, 2010 at 8:24 PM

I'm working on the new version; will publish it tomorrow afternoon (major UI changes!)

Coordinator
Jun 9, 2010 at 4:56 PM

I've uploaded a Beta version of Mini-Menu in the downloads section. Do you think the UI changes are too extreme?

Jun 9, 2010 at 5:29 PM

Hi mate, the installer is throwing an exception and doesn't install anything.

Coordinator
Jun 9, 2010 at 5:45 PM

What does the Exception Say?

Jun 9, 2010 at 5:58 PM

Nothing, just says Application Stopped Working.

Behind it shows a messagebox that says the installation was successful by it wasn't.
Is it supposed to start the minimenu automatically? 

Coordinator
Jun 9, 2010 at 6:03 PM

Yes it is... It could be the New UI... I'll change the UI back to the original, but I'll leave the controls. I'll just be a minute.

Coordinator
Jun 9, 2010 at 6:13 PM
Edited Jun 9, 2010 at 6:14 PM

I've removed the new UI, so basically it now has a new control layout. It is just the .exe, but it should work now (Note: you may have to run 'Remove' on the old Beta setup to remove the DLL that the old beta required). Remember that this is still the beta version!

Jun 9, 2010 at 6:48 PM

Better!
Now you can remove all those controls on the right, enable drop directly on the ListView and make the "Folder Bookmarks" button smaller and put it at the same level of the tabs.

A ListBox with more than 3 links causes vertical scroll... not pretty... ideas?
I think I would prefer horizontal scroll.

I think that once this is done it's just a matter of making it prettier :)

 

I also have some new/advanced ideas to implement once the current are done.

  • Special categories where adding a folder or a file to that category cases the actual Folder/File to be moved to a defined location 
  • Add new categories by right-clicking on the tabs area and choosing opting from context menu (same for delete and rename)
  • "Open All" option on the category tab context menu
Coordinator
Jun 9, 2010 at 7:08 PM

Wow... weird - while I was waiting for you to reply, I added those features! (Well, not the horizontal scroll) The right-click of the tabs idea is already in the main application, so all I had to do was copy the code. I like the 'Special Categories', maybe with defined Features. I was thinking that maybe the categories could have an custom image/icon to make it easier to find the category.

Jun 10, 2010 at 4:35 PM

"I was thinking that maybe the categories could have an custom image/icon to make it easier to find the category."
Yeah, that's a good idea... some peaple also find it useful to have a color per category, like having a user defined color per tab.

To overcome the vertical scroll
You could implement a way for the user to change the minimenu width, a horizontal resize like we do on a window but always keeping the minimenu centered on the screen.
As you may implement this you may also let the user resize it vertically but make save the user defined size so that we don't have to set it every-time the application starts.

Icons and Font sizes
This may be another good customization. Making things smaller or bigger will help the user to set the best environment to him.

Special Categories
I really like this idea as it would help many people to actually organize their desktop.
The main improvement would be, when dropping a file or folder, to an option to either Move or Copy to that category.
Copy would do exactly what it does now and Move would actually move the Folder or File to the category user defined folder.

Coordinator
Jun 10, 2010 at 6:20 PM

I was thinking colours may be easier, as it doesn't require extra image files. I think that changing the icon size may also work. I have an idea similar to yours - if a folder bookmark is selected, the user can drag-and-drop files/folders to either be copied or moved to the folder. Do you think this would be a good idea?

Jun 10, 2010 at 10:54 PM

Yeah! That's a great idea!

The only thing is that you may need to give the user the notion to where he is dropping things, if to the category itself or to a folder.
I never done that, I don't know how easy it may be to evaluate on mouse up if the underneath listview item (if any) is a file or a folder and display a context menu with:

  • Copy to [Category Name]
  • Move to [Category Name]
  • ------
  • Copy to [Folder Name]
  • Move to [Folder Name]

Personally I don't like the implementation of what I just said... I just wrote it because I don't have a better idea right now and maybe this can lead you to something better :)

A word on user experience:

Take a careful look on how windows explorer deals with this kind of file drop to within other files or to a folder.
This is how users are used to deal with this kind of procedure so you don't want to break this kind of convention.

Users are lazy when it comes to leaning new ways of doing the same thing, that's why there are standards.
Breaking the standards on your application will most probably make most users go away without much thinking.

Coordinator
Jun 13, 2010 at 7:28 PM

Sorry about the long wait - I've been really busy with other things recently. I've almost finished the next version, I should be able to release it tomorrow.

Jun 13, 2010 at 10:13 PM
No hurries mate, I was also out this weekend to get my eyes some rest :) I'll be waiting for that new release tho!
Coordinator
Jun 14, 2010 at 4:01 PM

I've Finished Version 1.6.3, and I've added the drag-to-folder idea - it works better than I expected! Could you also check the Instructions in 'Help' make sense? Thanks in advance.

Jun 14, 2010 at 5:22 PM
Looks good but it's giving me errors... I cannot drop anything inside the ListView neither on the minimenu or the advanced window. On the MiniMenu it says nothing, just disappears with all items on the category, if I change category and back the original item appear, not the new dropped one. On the Advanced window a messagebox appear saying: "Error - Load Bookmarks failed." and nothing is added to the ListView. Another thing is those big buttons on the minimenu. Those are icons and people is used to double click the open those. That space is more useful if made available for the ListView to be a little more wide. For the same functionality you already have the Open on the context menu. And the button to open the advanced window is also secondary, you can put it in the context menu as the last item after a separator. If chosen Advanced from the context menu from within a category ListView it should open the advanced windows with the corresponding category selected. I think I already mentioned it before... on the minimenu the user should be able to resize it, specially horizontally but vertically would be nice too. :)
Coordinator
Jun 14, 2010 at 6:57 PM

I don't know what's causing the errors, but I have an idea. The Cause should be logged in the Error Log file (a simple text file). If possible, could you find this file and post it's contents so I can find the problem. It's located In 'C:\Documents and Settings\<UserName>\Application Data\CPascoe\Folder Bookmarks\Data\Error_log.txt'

Jun 14, 2010 at 10:18 PM
Sorry for the delay mate. Here are the contents: <Folder Bookmarks MiniMenu - 1.3.0.0><08-06-2010, 00:45:59> System.ComponentModel.Win32Exception: The operation was canceled by the user at System.Diagnostics.Process.StartWithShellExecuteEx(ProcessStartInfo startInfo) at System.Diagnostics.Process.Start(ProcessStartInfo startInfo) at Mini_Menu.MM_Win.Open() <Folder Bookmarks - 1.6.3.0><14-06-2010, 18:09:15> System.NullReferenceException: Object reference not set to an instance of an object. at Folder_Bookmarks.FB_Win.NameFilter(String& InName) at Folder_Bookmarks.FB_Win.LoadBookmarks(String CatName) <Folder Bookmarks - 1.6.3.0><14-06-2010, 18:09:50> System.NullReferenceException: Object reference not set to an instance of an object. at Folder_Bookmarks.FB_Win.NameFilter(String& InName) at Folder_Bookmarks.FB_Win.LoadBookmarks(String CatName) <Folder Bookmarks - 1.6.3.0><14-06-2010, 18:21:45> System.NullReferenceException: Object reference not set to an instance of an object. at Folder_Bookmarks.FB_Win.NameFilter(String& InName) at Folder_Bookmarks.FB_Win.LoadBookmarks(String CatName)
Jun 14, 2010 at 10:21 PM
For some reason the text isn't being displayed formatted anymore here in CodePlex. You can add me at MSN if you want: alexcode@netvisao.pt Please do not use this email for email purposes as it's no longer active.
Coordinator
Jun 15, 2010 at 3:42 PM

I can't see to find any problems - it works fine with me... Could you try again and if you have the same problem could you post it here?

Jun 15, 2010 at 4:01 PM
There are no download links available!
Jun 15, 2010 at 4:12 PM
I completely deleted all files, even from the AppData, and used the Folder Bookmarks 1.6.3 Setup Same error occurs when dropping something into the ListView. This drop feature worked until now so it must be something you've done recently. I can add a link "manually" to a category using the Advanced interface and clicking on Add Bookmark... this works just fine. Will you post the code? I could debug it here to find out what's happening. <Folder Bookmarks - 1.6.3.0><15-06-2010, 17:04:52> System.NullReferenceException: Object reference not set to an instance of an object. at Folder_Bookmarks.FB_Win.NameFilter(String& InName) at Folder_Bookmarks.FB_Win.LoadBookmarks(String CatName) <Folder Bookmarks - 1.6.3.0><15-06-2010, 17:05:09> System.NullReferenceException: Object reference not set to an instance of an object. at Folder_Bookmarks.FB_Win.NameFilter(String& InName) at Folder_Bookmarks.FB_Win.LoadBookmarks(String CatName) <Folder Bookmarks - 1.6.3.0><15-06-2010, 17:07:47> System.NullReferenceException: Object reference not set to an instance of an object. at Folder_Bookmarks.FB_Win.NameFilter(String& InName) at Folder_Bookmarks.FB_Win.LoadBookmarks(String CatName)
Coordinator
Jun 15, 2010 at 4:25 PM

I feel so stupid!!! The problem was ONE LINE OF CODE IN THE WRONG PLACE!!! Don't worry, I've changed it - and fixed a few other bugs while I was at it! I'll upload it in a minute!

Coordinator
Jun 15, 2010 at 4:36 PM

I've just uploaded the fixed version should be better now :)

About the buttons on the Mini-menu - do you think it would be a good idea if the buttons were invisible and the list box extended, but when the mouse hovers over the buttons they appear again? So they wouldn't have to click anything to hide or unhide them?

Jun 15, 2010 at 6:34 PM
Yeah, it works now and looks great! About the buttons... I don't like to hide stuff but I don't quite understand what you're suggesting. I still think that 2 small icon buttons on the top right corner representing Advanced Options (flywheel) and close (cross) would do pretty good. To put the buttons there you just have to place them there, anchored to top right and do a "bring to front" so they can appear on top of the tabcontrol :)
Coordinator
Jun 19, 2010 at 1:53 PM

I've been on a break from coding for a little while, have changed Mini-Menu to make the List box wider and added an improvement - in the previous version, if the user tried to bookmark a file/folder that had the same name as an existing bookmark in the category it would ask them if they wanted to replace it, but now it adds a number to the end (like in windows explorer when a file is copied). It may be a small improvement, but it still makes it a bit better.

Jul 9, 2010 at 9:15 PM
Hi mate, sorry I lost track of this for a while. How's it going? I just installed the latest version and it looks pretty good. Congrats!
Coordinator
Jul 11, 2010 at 7:10 PM

I've run out of ideas... I'm trying to make it as easy as possible to request new features, but people just aren't asking for anything.