Rockbox Technical Forums

Rockbox Development => Feature Ideas => Topic started by: dumbo777 on March 23, 2011, 11:20:14 AM

Title: user interface suggestions
Post by: dumbo777 on March 23, 2011, 11:20:14 AM
The good news is that Rockbox has added many features and one can do many things with this application.

The bad news from a user interface perspective is that users must do many things to play songs.  The current user interface has become so cluttered that nothing is intuitive, which raises a very high bar for the user manual to clearly explain things that the current manual does not meet.

Rather than making the user manual even longer to explain everything clearly, I recommend a radical simplification of the user interface so that it is far easier to just playback songs via track, album, genre, or other simple tag.  Place all other functions behind the appropriate menu that a user can avoid to just play songs.

A typical user interface test is to hand a device to a profient tech user who is unfamiliar with your device, and see if they can figure out how to do simple things without reading a manual.  I love the intent and performance of rockbox, but the current user interface fails this basic test.

If Rockbox is content with the current number of users and new users are not a priority, then there is no need to do this, but this would be vey helpful in attracting new users.

thanks for considering this.
Title: Re: user interface suggestions
Post by: gevaerts on March 23, 2011, 11:41:57 AM
The current user interface has become so cluttered that nothing is intuitive,

That's of course because nothing is intuitive.

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Rather than making the user manual even longer to explain everything clearly, I recommend a radical simplification of the user interface so that it is far easier to just playback songs via track, album, genre, or other simple tag.  Place all other functions behind the appropriate menu that a user can avoid to just play songs.

This would mean making the database the primary interface. A majority of developers don't use the database at all. You'll have a very hard time convincing people that this is anything other than a regression.

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A typical user interface test is to hand a device to a profient tech user who is unfamiliar with your device, and see if they can figure out how to do simple things without reading a manual.  I love the intent and performance of rockbox, but the current user interface fails this basic test.

Does it? I don't remember having to read the manual to play audio when I started using rockbox.

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If Rockbox is content with the current number of users and new users are not a priority, then there is no need to do this, but this would be vey helpful in attracting new users.

Basically most developers don't care much about the number of users. We want rockbox to be something we enjoy using. If other people like it too, that's a bonus.

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thanks for considering this.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I know what I said above may sound a bit harsh, and I don't want to make you feel unwelcome, but I also don't want to mislead you about what I perceive the project to be about.
Title: Re: user interface suggestions
Post by: AlexP on March 23, 2011, 11:54:05 AM
The current interface is somewhat cluttered, but purely because there are so many options.  If you feel that the manual is lacking, then please supply us with patches to make it better.  We spend a lot of time on it, and feel that it is pretty good compared to most projects - however it could always be better.  Rather than just saying it is bad, how about helping make it better?

The database will not become the default user interface.  A large majority of developers don't use it, and not forcing people to use a database type system is what many people like about Rockbox.  If have my music organised how I like it thanks :)

I also managed to play music without the manual.  What does sometimes confuse people is the freedom; we sometimes get questions such as where to put the music because people are so used to being forced into doing what manufacturer X thinks they should do.

Anyway, of course improving things would be nice, but hiding everything away and forcing the database on people isn't the answer.
Title: Re: user interface suggestions
Post by: Llorean on March 23, 2011, 12:47:17 PM
Quote
Rather than making the user manual even longer to explain everything clearly, I recommend a radical simplification of the user interface so that it is far easier to just playback songs via track, album, genre, or other simple tag.  Place all other functions behind the appropriate menu that a user can avoid to just play songs.

I'm curious what things aren't behind menus that are making it have overwhelmingly too many options. If you start the player, you'll find the choice to browse the file browser or database, either of which leads to your songs. You'll also find options to get to the menus where the settings are. Isn't this having the remainder of options behind appropriate menus?

It's not like the player starts into a huge list of every possible setting.
Title: Re: user interface suggestions
Post by: bluebrother on March 23, 2011, 02:57:47 PM
I'm curious what things aren't behind menus that are making it have overwhelmingly too many options. If you start the player, you'll find the choice to browse the file browser or database, either of which leads to your songs. You'll also find options to get to the menus where the settings are. Isn't this having the remainder of options behind appropriate menus?

It's not like the player starts into a huge list of every possible setting.

That's exactly what I though when I read this thread. Oh, and we had some "simplification" in the past: the player did start up in the file browser, so you can immediately navigate the the correct folder and play the file you want. I don't see any way to make this simpler. But since people want a main menu Rockbox now starts in the main menu, not the file browser anymore. You can set the file browser as startup screen though.
Title: Re: user interface suggestions
Post by: JdGordon on March 23, 2011, 05:53:31 PM
The *only* thing I think is worth talking about is renaming the "database" menu item so techno-drongos undestand what it is
Title: Re: user interface suggestions
Post by: Machete234 on March 25, 2011, 01:44:40 PM
I think the menu isnt cluttered at all and if you dont want more options use the OF.
Wanting more options is the reason to install rockbox.

The options itself seem to be in the right place for me.
Title: Re: user interface suggestions
Post by: Yotto on March 25, 2011, 02:44:11 PM
The *only* thing I think is worth talking about is renaming the "database" menu item so techno-drongos undestand what it is

Just don't name it "My Music." :)
Title: Re: user interface suggestions
Post by: Llorean on March 25, 2011, 02:59:11 PM
My preference for it, if it were to be renamed, is "Library" since that's in line with some other programs, and also doesn't limit it by using the terms 'music' or 'audio' so it shouldn't need to be renamed if video or other media gets included in the future.
Title: Re: user interface suggestions
Post by: gbl08ma on March 25, 2011, 04:59:33 PM
My preference for it, if it were to be renamed, is "Library" since that's in line with some other programs, and also doesn't limit it by using the terms 'music' or 'audio' so it shouldn't need to be renamed if video or other media gets included in the future.
I agree. If the GSoC project explained in the wiki that involves adding support for more video formats and creating a "framework" (no idea how to explain it better with my own words) for playing both audio and video (including mixed playlists, etc.) ever gets implemented, probably it makes sense to list videos in the actual Database, right? It could still be named as Database (and I have nothing against that name), but Library is much more commonly used and is "techno-drongos"-compatible :)
Title: Re: user interface suggestions
Post by: gevaerts on March 25, 2011, 06:21:07 PM
I have to say that I don't like "Library", because for me it seems to imply that that's the primary place to find my audio, which it isn't.
Title: Re: user interface suggestions
Post by: Llorean on March 25, 2011, 07:09:26 PM
It may not be for you, but for a lot of our users used to other systems it probably is.

I don't want to speculate about the popularity of our database, but I *suspect* that those people who prefer a file view can see something like "Files" and "Library" (or perhaps "All Files" and "Media Library") and recognize that they can browse the files on their player directly.
Title: Re: user interface suggestions
Post by: bluebrother on March 26, 2011, 06:26:23 AM
It may not be for you, but for a lot of our users used to other systems it probably is.

_If_ we rename the Database to Library people will also expect to see videos in there, and other file types that are handled by viewer plugins. Until the Database can also index those files calling it "Library" seems wrong (and misleading) to me.
Title: Re: user interface suggestions
Post by: Llorean on March 26, 2011, 06:32:59 AM
I don't know how "Library" would create such an expectation where "Database" doesn't.
Title: Re: user interface suggestions
Post by: JdGordon on March 27, 2011, 03:20:01 AM
_If_ we rename the Database to Library people will also expect to see videos in there, and other file types that are handled by viewer plugins. Until the Database can also index those files calling it "Library" seems wrong (and misleading) to me.

I'm not sure how you drew that conclusion but if it were true we could call it "Audio Library" without that fear.
Title: Re: user interface suggestions
Post by: bluebrother on March 27, 2011, 03:30:42 AM
I'm not sure how you drew that conclusion but if it were true we could call it "Audio Library" without that fear.

It's just how the word "feels" to me. Could be very well because of me not being a native speaker :)

Anyway, "Audio Library" sounds like a good solution to me. Though I don't see much point in renaming the Database at all.
Title: Re: user interface suggestions
Post by: gbl08ma on March 27, 2011, 06:25:09 AM
I only think the name of the Database should be changed to "Library" (not "Audio Library" or "Video Library"), when the database (or whatever it might be called) is able to index video (and possibly picture) files, and mix audio and video in the same time. This has a lot to do with a GSoC project that's proposed for this year in the wiki (and I just hope someone does it :) ).
Title: Re: user interface suggestions
Post by: soap on March 29, 2011, 04:57:51 PM
How is "Audio Library" better than "Audio Database"?  I thought the primary objection to "Database" was that it was not obvious that it was a place where one's music could be found.
Title: Re: user interface suggestions
Post by: sandwich600 on May 11, 2011, 04:23:51 AM
As a tech-head but Rockbox newbie, this was my experience after starting to use Rockbox a month ago:

Basically, the OP is correct.  The brilliance of Rockbox is masked by the complexity of the interface.  After 2 days I thought Rockbox sucked, even after I read the entire manual.  After 7 days I thought it was brilliant.  That change happened becuase I finally worked out how to do the good stuff.

It has been said on this thread that the Project is not interested in new users.  If that is true, then fair enough, that ends the conversation. If not, then some small UI tweaks (rather than a full overhaul) could make the software more appealing to Joe Bloggs, and (dare I say it) to more advanced users too.
Title: Re: user interface suggestions
Post by: torne on May 11, 2011, 05:19:41 AM
We're not interested in making changes to get new users if they make anything worse for existing users; this is different.

If you can suggest specific UI changes which don't compromise the functionality, we are interested to hear them; it's just that most things that new users suggest *do* have downsides for experienced users...
Title: Re: user interface suggestions
Post by: Multiplex on May 13, 2011, 07:21:39 AM
After 2 days I thought Rockbox sucked, even after I read the entire manual.  After 7 days I thought it was brilliant.  That change happened becuase I finally worked out how to do the good stuff.
I don't understand the suggestion that Rockbox (or any suitable complex/useful piece of kit) should be 'intuitive' - many people use a particular device several times a day without thinking about it - but took weeks or months of generally paid for lessons to get to grips with the thing - A Car!

It something that is very useful to us and will change our way of life so we spend the time, and money, to get a certain level of proficiency in the operation of it.

So what's the difference with Rockbox, a computer (generally), your word processing package, etc. ?
Title: Re: user interface suggestions
Post by: Tuffdog on May 16, 2011, 05:54:12 PM
I would just like to see an easy hold to add song as next song in setlist, with no extra menus in between. Also the text editor could do with just button presses, not rotating the scroll wheel to select letters (even less characters or seperated by pages would be nice) on the Fuzes.
Title: Re: user interface suggestions
Post by: Chronon on May 16, 2011, 07:49:01 PM
I haven't really played with this, but you should be able to assign "insert" or "insert shuffled" to the file browser hotkey.

You can load your own custom keyboard layouts, which might help you. 

We have also had some discussions about ways to improve text input, especially on targets with scroll wheels.  I do like the idea of being able to page through different sets of symbols.  If you search you should be able to find what has been discussed already.