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andi06
June 8th, 2015, 08:31 AM
First of all let me make it clear that when I talk about the design of the interface I'm referring to usability and not to the colour of the buttons. Design of the interface is never going to win any votes in a beauty contest when its up against bouncing raindrops, but improvements in usability, some of them very simple, could greatly increase productivity, especially in Surveyor and especially for route builders. Surveyor is a essentially a CAD Editor and to be brutally honest its not a very good one. In the main this is less to do with what it can and can't achieve and more about how the various tools are implemented and accessed.

I know that a fundamental re-design of the interface is out of the question right now but there are some very simple changes that could remove the worst of the irritations from using the software. Without being too arrogant I'm a professional designer who has been using various kinds of CAD software for over twenty five years so I do know what I'm talking about here.

Major Interface Irritants - No Particular Order

1. Tool selection: if you are deleting track and then switch to the scenery tab, the chances are that you will still be in a deleting frame of mind. This is a natural consequence of the way that people use tools. Yet the mode selection is reset with every tab change. If delete is set it should be retained until the user changes mode - the same should be true for other appropriate functions.

2. Window Selection (may be a windows only issue): Its currently necessary to pre-select a window before you are able to do anything with it. So you have to click twice to do anything (except to close the window itself) This may be necessary for game windows but it is certainly unnacceptable for the Launcher and CM windows to behave in a way which is totally at variance with operating system conventions. It becomes an intense irritation for multiple CM windows - to drag OS windows out of the way you click and hold and drag. Do this with CM, even dialogues, and absolutely nothing happens. If you insist on keeping this behaviour then CM just has to be multi tabbed with modal dialogues. Finally although you can't operate the CM menus or HTML buttons in game until you have pre-selected the window, the mouseover indications (which are supposed to mean that something will happen if you click) are shown even when the window itself does not have OS focus. If I can mix my metaphors this is a pig's ear in spades.

3. Launcher Instances (may be a windows only issue): If I minimise a game window and a launcher window and do something else for a few minutes then its very easy to forget the minimised processes and double-click the TANE icon again. Nothing appears to happen and eventually I work out that the processes are minimised. So I restore the original processes and carry on. Some time later when I quit the game altogether these accidental icon presses come back to haunt me. New Launcer windows have been waiting in the wings ready to spring into life as soon as the previous instances have closed. Surely the Launcer should be a single instance window. If it isn't running then double clicking should start it up. If it is already running but is hidden then a double-click on the icon should restore the existing instance and set focus to it.

4. Properties Editor: The property object window is capable of altering the appearance of objects on screen. In some cases pressing links will ask the user to select trackmarks or signals from a list for instance, which either needs a good memory or the ability to read the trackmark name from the screen. Yet as soon as this (or any other) modal dialogue is opened darkness descends and it becomes impossible to see what is going on with the object selected or with the route in general. I would say that there is a good case for editors like this (as well as the surveyor object picklists) to be floating OS windows rather than internal browsers so that the increasing number of users with two monitors could place the dialogue on another display while editing the route on the main monitor but that may be too much for now. Please can you stop darkening out the route when browser windows open.

I know that some or many people agree with what I'm saying here (and these are not the only examples of this kind of thing) but I do feel like a voice in the wilderness. This isn't a me-too kind of forum but I would appreciate some support from those who do agree - if only to prove that its not just me being ratty.

WindWalkr
June 8th, 2015, 08:46 AM
It becomes an intense irritation for multiple CM windows - to drag OS windows out of the way you click and hold and drag. Do this with CM, even dialogues, and absolutely nothing happens.

I'm not seeing any problems with this. Which version of Windows are you using?

chris

WindWalkr
June 8th, 2015, 08:49 AM
I'm not seeing any problems with this. Which version of Windows are you using?

Actually, nm. I am using a prerelease build so it's feasible that it's already been fixed. I'll have to ask somebody to check on an older build.

chris

clam1952
June 8th, 2015, 09:45 AM
1. Not an issue for me in fact I would prefer it didn't go to delete to avoid deleting something without thinking, I tend to just click the relevant selection automatically without thinking about it.

2. Agreed, although I've got used to it. (Win7 Pro SP1)

3. Again agreed, keep getting caught out. I've pinned the task manager to the task bar so I can check and dispatch them quickly. These multiple instances if left seem to have a detrimental effect on Frame rates over time and I think may be the reason for the vanishing assets problem posted elsewhere. Not every one ventures beyond Tasks to see what's actually still retained in memory and in a perfect world shouldn't need to anyway.

4. Just had that niggle this morning changing some ATLS settings, darkening the screen is not helpful when you also need to check something, plus to add, although you can move around the route in the gloom, the camera angle is locked.

Pencil42
June 8th, 2015, 10:49 AM
IMHO, although it would be more work, I'd prefer to see a 'select the item, then select the operation' model instead of what we have now. I'd much rather be able to pick a building (and have the outline be highlighted or something indicating the selection), and then select the move tool / hotkey as opposed to selecting the move button, then clicking on the building and having something else move instead.

I completely agree on items 2-4.

Curtis

pcas1986
June 8th, 2015, 05:58 PM
1. This catches me out a lot because the follow on actions don't necessarily accord with my intentions. The one that bugs me most is that having used the tool to discover what an asset is, the software then assumes I want to place a copy of that asset on the layout. I'd rather not recommend any particular action because I'm not a route builder. It may be worthwhile do a poll on preferred actions.

2. This I agree with.

3. This has happened to me quite a few times when I've lost sight of the launcher window or icon. Perhaps a different icon for the launcher might help?

4. I agree with this. While we are discussing the Properties Editor, why does it take so long for this to appear? It was the same for TS12.

ianwoodmore
June 8th, 2015, 08:12 PM
I'm constantly switching between windows while doing repairs.

I do hundreds a day, and yet because TANE is non-conventional as far as clicking I lapse back into conventional behaviour and actually have screamed in rage at the blankety-blank behavior of TANE.

I even re-checked my WIN 8.1 settings yesterday to ensure one click operation was selected.

I've made wrong diagnosis as a consequence of TANE behaviour.

I've raised this as an issue from Day 1 of TANE beta testing.

I fully support ANDI's statements.

martinvk
June 8th, 2015, 08:28 PM
1 - agree it is annoying to have to reselect the previously selected mode but not always. Will have to keep track of how often each behavior is more needed.
1a - what's really annoying and a right PITA is the assumption that just because I ask what something is, that I want to place anther one right away. Often I just need to identify one of several similar objects.
2 - mildly annoying but have gotten used to it based on other programs that behave in the same way.
3 - definitely a pain.
3a - Also need an on screen indicator or task bar icon to show that TANE can still be in memory for several seconds after closing. Like the TaDDaemon in TS12.
4 - Have not noticed yet.

A really good list of things to correct on the GUI side of T:ANE.

andi06
July 8th, 2015, 05:17 AM
In 77010 the need to select a window twice has been fixed, a vast improvement.

However the dubious practice of darkening the display behind a modal dialogue continues. In some cases (such as when taking a screenshot and sometimes during save or saveas) the screen darkens when the modal dialogue is shown but the full light of day is not restored when the dialogue is dismissed. It is therefore necessary to quit the game session after taking a screenshot.

Not good.

andi06
July 8th, 2015, 05:51 AM
In the Release build, run a length of track on an empty board, place a 10 car consist, go to Quickdrive and drive it off the end of the track.

The Quickdrive rule gives you two message dialogues (which is one too many to start with) telling you that your train has derailed. But even if you opt for 'Don't show this message again', the rule will insist on showing both messages for every traincar - leaving you with 20 message boxes to dismiss and a loss of the will to live.

What's worse is that when Trainz crashes it quite often loses your user settings, username, surveyor options, messages you don't want to see again, whether or not 'chat' is available, whether the spline circles spin and so on. You will see plenty of posts on the main forum complaining about this, and quite rightly so.

User choices such as these need to be made much more secure defaults which don't get lost at the drop of a hat, and there needs to be an easy and documented way of saving and restoring them.

WindWalkr
July 8th, 2015, 06:11 AM
However the dubious practice of darkening the display behind a modal dialogue continues. In some cases (such as when taking a screenshot and sometimes during save or saveas) the screen darkens when the modal dialogue is shown but the full light of day is not restored when the dialogue is dismissed. It is therefore necessary to quit the game session after taking a screenshot.

These two aren't related. The darkening behind a modal dialog is deliberate. I understand your concerns with it, but we don't consider this as a bug- though I do agree that it could be improved for your specific use case. The darkening after a screenshot occurs is a fault in the post-processing system. You can work around it by going into the developer post-processing settings, which triggers a refresh of the post-processing parameters.



What's worse is that when Trainz crashes it quite often loses your user settings, username, surveyor options, messages you don't want to see again, whether or not 'chat' is available, whether the spline circles spin and so on. You will see plenty of posts on the main forum complaining about this, and quite rightly so.

As per your last post about losing settings, the issue is the fact that you've managed to severely corrupt both the master database and the backup copy. We need to identify why this is happening in order to make any progress here. We certainly don't consider this to be normal behaviour that we need to work around.

chris

andi06
July 8th, 2015, 06:20 AM
the issue is the fact that you've managed to severely corrupt both the master database and the backup copy. We need to identify why this is happening in order to make any progress here. We certainly don't consider this to be normal behaviour that we need to work around.

I don't disagree with this in principle but the loss of settings, however caused, happens far too frequently (and has always happened on occasion even in past versions which were much more stable) The consequences for the user are intensely irritating and the ability to reload from file would be a very friendly nod in our direction.

Mick_Berg
July 10th, 2015, 01:56 PM
In the Release build, run a length of track on an empty board, place a 10 car consist, go to Quickdrive and drive it off the end of the track.

The Quickdrive rule gives you two message dialogues (which is one too many to start with) telling you that your train has derailed. But even if you opt for 'Don't show this message again', the rule will insist on showing both messages for every traincar - leaving you with 20 message boxes to dismiss and a loss of the will to live.

What's worse is that when Trainz crashes it quite often loses your user settings, username, surveyor options, messages you don't want to see again, whether or not 'chat' is available, whether the spline circles spin and so on. You will see plenty of posts on the main forum complaining about this, and quite rightly so.

User choices such as these need to be made much more secure defaults which don't get lost at the drop of a hat, and there needs to be an easy and documented way of saving and restoring them.
Sorry, but I have to "Me Too" that one! (Or maybe its punishment for derailing your train:-)
Another comment,
It seems that no interface designers, from Microsoft on down (or should I say up), can grasp the concept that the best chance of offering the choice you want, will be to leave it where it was before.
I agree with everything everyone has said.
The most annoying "prediction", for me, is going from "get object" to "add object" automatically.
Since its so easy to "get" the wrong thing, I often end up adding the wrong thing and having to "undo".
Mick Berg

BuilderBob
July 10th, 2015, 05:57 PM
1. Tool selection: if you are deleting track and then switch to the scenery tab, the chances are that you will still be in a deleting frame of mind. This is a natural consequence of the way that people use tools. Yet the mode selection is reset with every tab change. If delete is set it should be retained until the user changes mode - the same should be true for other appropriate functions.

I can't agree. The problem here is that the same tool options don't exist for all tools. The current action of remembering the most recent action for that tool is more consistent and pretty much as likely to be what the user actually wants to do.


2. Window Selection (may be a windows only issue): Its currently necessary to pre-select a window before you are able to do anything with it.

Absolutely needs to be fixed. Windows sometimes requires a selection before the action, but the extent to which it has been applied in T:ANE is ridiculous. It makes the application inconsistent with every other Windows application that I use.


3. Launcher Instances (may be a windows only issue): Surely the Launcer should be a single instance window. If it isn't running then double clicking should start it up. If it is already running but is hidden then a double-click on the icon should restore the existing instance and set focus to it.

AFAICT there is no reason that the launcher should not be forced to single-instance form, but I don't see this as a big issue.


4. Properties Editor: I would say that there is a good case for editors like this (as well as the surveyor object picklists) to be floating OS windows rather than internal browsers so that the increasing number of users with two monitors could place the dialogue on another display while editing the route on the main monitor but that may be too much for now. Please can you stop darkening out the route when browser windows open.

As a 2-monitor user that would be a feature I would love to see. Some indication of mode is required, but the existing darkening seems a bit excessive.

Dap
July 18th, 2015, 10:10 PM
The most annoying "prediction", for me, is going from "get object" to "add object" automatically.
Since its so easy to "get" the wrong thing, I often end up adding the wrong thing and having to "undo".


I must ditto this comment. I am not a sophisticated user and am usually easy to please, but this is one characteristic of Surveyor that ticks me off.

David