Pano2VR 5 beta - new UI is slippery and confusing

Q&A about the latest versions
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cblane
Posts: 60
Joined: Fri May 21, 2010 2:25 am
Location: Nagoya, Japan
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Thu Oct 08, 2015 6:30 am

Sorry for the rant but when I see a a User Interface on one of my "go to" products with so many usability issues, I can't just say nothing.

First, I want to say that I really like some of the new features in Pan2VR 5 such as the animation and and improvements to the skin editor but neither of those require replacing the UI. The v4 interface was much more clean and to the point. You could see most of what you needed to see in the one page without a lot of distractions. (one of the things I liked about it much more than Panotour) The interface needed some streamlining but was much more usable than this makeover. Why throw out the baby with the bathwater?

Here are some examples of usability problems:

1. In v4 you could see the input file and its format at a glance. You could always find it in the same place.
in v5 you have to figure out that icon that looks like a mixer is for properties then you have to find it at the bottom of the column making sure it’s toggled correctly.

2. The information is displayed in frames that slide over and cover each other up. The frames are sometimes not even wide enough to display their information. Why? You can show a lot of information on a pane with all the flexible frames now but you have to scroll within the frames to see all of the information. Scrolling makes sense when the amount of text in the frame can vary by a lot (e.g., one sentence or a couple of paragraphs). In this case the amount of space is pretty well fixed so why use a frame that is too small for an already-known quantity by default?

3. Why do the top menu icons toggle everything in the information view? Usually when you select something from a menu it takes you where that menu item is pointed. Clicking the menu again shouldn’t change behavior the next time you click it. ( I understand modal behavior but this is not the right place to use it).

4. The whole UI is centered around the pano view which neither conforms to the author-defined FOV or even to a consistent XY ratio. You can resize the pano view at will but then the information around it can move around unpredictably. By comparison, the v4 UI had an abundance of space. The pano view for patching and adding hotspots, etc. needed improvement but rather than an unwieldy pano frame in the middle of the information, how about opening up a new window or use a tab so it gets the screen real estate it needs but only when it is needed.

5. In v4 you could set up templates for Flash, HTML5, and several transformations and build them at the same time. In this UI you have to do it one-at-a-time as far as I can tell. Even if you have only created HTML5 output, it defaults to flash after making changes to a skin design.

6. Many of the icons are obscure or strange (e.g. what looks like a mixer console for settings or an animal skin for skin editor). A word label or word button would be much more clear (and look better). Is that a meat grinder or a pasta grinder that displays the output panel?

I like flexibility but, in this case, I would say it’s too much of a good thing. It seems that now I spend more time fighting with the idiosyncrasies of the interface than getting work done with it. If I had to sum up my impression of the new interface in a couple of words, I would have to say slippery and confusing.
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k.ary.n
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Joined: Wed Aug 15, 2007 1:02 pm

Fri Oct 09, 2015 6:48 pm

First, thanks for the rant! We are fans of rants and truly appreciate the feedback.

We understand the UI is a stark change and takes getting used to, but we do think your workflow will be faster in the end.

I'll try to address some of your points.
1. In v4 you could see the input file and its format at a glance. You could always find it in the same place.
in v5 you have to figure out that icon that looks like a mixer is for properties then you have to find it at the bottom of the column making sure it’s toggled correctly.
This info is always in the Overview pane. True, it might get lost in the pane shuffle. But you can undock it or use the keyboard shortcut to bring it up (which i think aren't working right now). But I have to ask...is this information you look at often?
4. The whole UI is centered around the pano view which neither conforms to the author-defined FOV or even to a consistent XY ratio. You can resize the pano view at will but then the information around it can move around unpredictably. By comparison, the v4 UI had an abundance of space. The pano view for patching and adding hotspots, etc. needed improvement but rather than an unwieldy pano frame in the middle of the information, how about opening up a new window or use a tab so it gets the screen real estate it needs but only when it is needed.
True. But have you tried using fullscreen view? Personally, I like to move everything out and only use what I need at that time. So, here's an example (never mind the blurry image...it's just an example):
fullscreen, no panels.png
fullscreen, no panels.png (820.44 KiB) Viewed 1064 times
In the image above I'm checking out my project and then I'm using keyboard shortcuts to move through the project (those shortcuts are working).

Also, when I want to add more hotspots (or anything else), I just choose the mode and the properties pane will pop up automatically:
fullscreen, hotspot mode.png
fullscreen, hotspot mode.png (707.81 KiB) Viewed 1064 times
5. In v4 you could set up templates for Flash, HTML5, and several transformations and build them at the same time. In this UI you have to do it one-at-a-time as far as I can tell. Even if you have only created HTML5 output, it defaults to flash after making changes to a skin design.
You can still do this. In any output, Alt+click the Gear button to output all. Just about every single button in the interface will give you information if you just hover your mouse over it. If you're a nervous nelly, you might miss them. ;). You can also copy outputs and save output template.
alt+click.png
alt+click.png (16.82 KiB) Viewed 1064 times
You can also save custom window layouts. I find these extremely valuable. Now, my wish is to be able to assign keyboard shortcuts to them for fast switching.

I hope that helps a bit of your frustration.
cblane
Posts: 60
Joined: Fri May 21, 2010 2:25 am
Location: Nagoya, Japan
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Sun Oct 18, 2015 5:57 am

Thanks for your response I am a big fan of of Pano2Vr so my input is coming from wanting to see a great product be a great user experience. In the cases, brought up, you have a way to do what I am referring to, the issue is that the way to do them is sometimes unorthodox or difficult to discover.

1. I know the information is always in the information pane. The issue begins upon clicking on an icon that is often associated with “search” in other applications then having the frames on the left shift around.. The tool tip says "overview" but it looks like a tab called “properties” is toggled… or is it “viewing parameters”… or is it “User Data”. After looking at it more it looks like “Overview is sliding up and pushing those 3 tabs up but still only showing part of its information. If I click on the thing that looks like a panorama then the map icon, the tabs disappeared… where did they go? By clicking on the menu icons, I can get then back but now they are displayed at the top of the column but squeezed in very tightly this time, not the same as they we displayed before even though I never moved them. I don’t specifically need to look at “Overview” often (it happened to be the first thing I encountered so I used it as an example) but when I do, I should be able to see the whole thing more easily. One approach to solve this would be to show the entire contents of each of the panes without scrolling but when the contents of the whole column become too long to view at one time, scroll the column as a unit. Then the menu icons, instead of shifting frames and tabs around, could simply navigate to the proper position in the column. The individual items in the columns could be collapsable (accordion style)

4. I think the full-frame view option is great but the regular view would be better if it occupied a set amount of screen real estate so the rest of the layout would be more stable. It seems like opening full-screen in a new window or tab could offer the best of both worlds.

5. This is a good example of where the functionality is there but it is now obscure. Generating all was the default behavior in the previous version and now it is only accessible by using a keyboard shortcut referenced only in a tooltip. I ran into the same problem as last time and forgot that it was only documented in the tooltip and had to refer back to this thread to find it again. In the current UI its not clear which output formats have already been generated. These could be displayed in a collapsable list like described in #1. You could add a Generate all button to the top output label area

I had another issue about losing the top menu with the icons and not being able to bring it back (different thread in this forum). The answer was to right click on the top of any information pane to see a list of what can be viewed and to check it there. This is another case where the functionality is there but hard to find. This could simply be addressed by adding “view” to the main menu next to “window” and putting the checkable list there.

Many of the images used for the icons are ones I wouldn't normally associate with their actions, would it be possible as an option to have text buttons? This would be much faster than waiting for tooltips.
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