v10 Progress

I managed to create my account now. Thanks.

Success! 3DC v10 loaded fine this time. Going to give it a test.

Good to hear.

I just wanted to mention that at this point very little is set in stone. I’m pretty open to changes.

So far, so good – everything implemented so far seems to work as it should. At this stage there are bound to be some rough edges but v10 has not crashed on me yet. I like the extra work space that is available and the tools appearing according to context.

I am surprised that quite a few tools are available – smooth, extrude etc.

Only when I close v10 do I get a selection of error messages. All looking good otherwise.

Paul

Good to hear.

I have a lot of new icons to make. NOT fun. My least favourite job.

I’ll be putting out new releases quite frequently now. Hopefully I’ll have all the standard 3DC functions up and running for my deadling. Looks likely at this point.

So, one really nice thing about the ribbon interface is that you can put your commonly used functions on the “quick access” bar at the top. That means you can probably work with the ribbon hidden most of the time, which means a really large work space.

So far, all I’ve managed is to get it running on Win 7 64bit and load up some older models.
No crashes to report – looking good.

Will try it on Win 10 this week.

Good to hear PaulGausden.

Today’s goal is to get plug-ins working again. It has been a little bit tricky to decide how to do it since I no longer have menus to organize them. But I think this morning I came up with a plan that will work reasonably well.

I’m going to create another post for “user input”. There are certain things that I need to know about how exactly people use 3DC. I have a pretty good idea, but I need to know what 3DC buttons (and menu items) are used most frequently. This will let me set it up so that common functions are easily accessed.

For 8.1, I’m looking at:
-Drawing faces on faces and automatically having them intersect. So, instead of dividing edges, connecting points, or insetting you would need only draw where you want a face to be. Probably just cubes, and circles.
-Having draw snap to points and edges (optionally of course)
-I know there is more, but I can’t think of it right now.

Have just been trying out 3D 10 and it looks good to me. One question – is there an ‘undo’ function? I frequently prefer to use the ‘undo’ action rather than deleting from the layer panel. Ideally, it should be in the ‘cut’ copy’ and ‘paste’ panel.

BFM

Undo is up near the “save” button in the top left corner. This how it’s done with ribbon applications normally.

OK. Found it. Thanks Richard.

BFM

I’ve been playing with the new UI a bit, and there are a few things I’m concerned about. I’m going to leave the small bugs out of it since this is only an early alpha build, but rather I think some of the new concepts come at the cost of user experience compared to the old UI. Sorry for the wall of text.

The ribbon:

I don’t think you’re utilizing the ribbon to its full potential.

Ribbon in its essence is a fairly interesting piece of UI design. Its original purpose was to ease the navigation of endlessly deep menu structures in old Microsoft Office products by reducing nesting and also providing visual aids for identifying and locating commands. Take Microsoft Word 2003, for example. It had hundreds of commands, and many of them were hidden in the jungle of menus and dialogs. A ribbon was just a better way of organizing, categorizing and arranging those hundreds of commands more logically (the ribbon is basically a three levels deep tree.) Starting from tabs (the task at hand), and then further grouping commands that belong under the same topic. Good ribbon design minimizes tab switching (and along with it, also mouse travelling).

Ribbons also provide superior command placement opportunities compared to regular menus. Firstly, the vast majority of commands now have an icon associated to them. And their placement is 2-dimensional. Instead of memorizing the full “hierarchical address” of a command, the user can now utilize visual memory and can associate the ribbon item’s size, shape, and icon, in addition to its physical location, to find the command. The ribbon designer can choose to emphasize important or most used commands by using larger icons for them, for example. Also the reading direction (from left to right in our culture) can be exploited to minimize the time it takes to find what the user is most probably looking for.

The point is that the ribbon was designed to improve the UX for applications with lots and lots of commands. I’m not sure if 3DC falls into this category, but I guess things have changed since 2007 and the ribbon has “caught on” and is now widely used in simpler apps as well (such as Paint or Wordpad.) I have no problem using a ribbon in 3DC, but I do think it has too much tab swapping. Some tools, such as the Select, should be visible and accessible at all times, but now I have to either switch the tab manually, or Deselect first. I know that I can always place stuff like this into the Quick Access Toolbar, but it’ll get crowded fast (Orbit, Pan, Zoom all fall to the category I’d like to be able to access quickly at all times). Also, QAT buttons are small. It would help if there were assignable hotkeys for these commands.

Another solution is to place certain commands in all ribbon tabs, but this creates goofy duplication (that is already happening with some commands), and violates the “Order the important stuff according to the reading direction” rule.

I know it’s alpha and you’ve just gotten the whole thing in place, but I encourage you to explore more options regarding button size, placement, and ordering of the groups. Don’t be afraid to reduce the number of tabs if you can fit more commands in one – you can save space by placing items with small icons next to the important item with a large icon in each group. Here’s the official Microsoft guideline for ribbon design: https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/desktop/dn742393(v=vs.85).aspx

Waste of space:

Right now there’s two context specific UI elements: the ribbon context tab and a static “popup” that’s anchored to the top left corner. For consistency, I’d advice you only have one place that contains all context specific actions. I kind of understand why you currently have two though, as the popup contains stuff that cannot fit inside the ribbon. However, the floating popup will cover a portion of your viewport. To illustrate, select the 4-way layout and then activate the Paint tab. Even with a large monitor this will eat almost 1/3 of your top-left viewport (especially if you’ve activated additional panels from the ribbon.) At the same time, I have the Help visible in the right side-pane that’s eating space for nothing (I’m not interested in the Help.) I don’t see why that space cannot be used for hosting the stuff that’s in the popup. Moreover, the side-pane is static and won’t cover anything from any viewport I may have.

A few suggestions:

  1. Find a way to put the stuff that’s currently in the popup, to the ribbon (Microsoft Word 2013 has fairly rich set of controls that are hosted in the ribbon so spinboxes, comboboxes, or galleries should be acceptable in it)
  2. Have a static area that won’t cover any viewports and place everything in it; its contents can still be dynamic based on the task at hand
  3. Make the popup afloat, so that the user can drag it out of the way when needed

Missing stuff:

I couldn’t find the Layer stack or Object hierarchy tree. It’s alpha, no problem, but I’m wondering where you planned on placing them… Since these are both lists and thus require relatively much vertical space, it makes sense to utilize a static side-pane to host them, further reinforcing my previous points.

Finally, here’s how to make 3DC crash:

1) Create a primitive (a cube will do)
2) Select a face
3) Apply the “Divide” operation from the ribbon
4) On the “Divide settings” panel, select type “Horizontal” from the combobox
5) Select “Standard” again from the combobox
6) You’ll get a “Run-time error ‘0’.” Closing the message box will cause the application to go unresponsive and then crash.

All this being said, I hope you don’t take the criticism personally. I really like 3DC, and just want to provide some insight about how I think you could improve the UX of this great product. Maybe even spark a healthy and constructive discussion. I’m sure it’ll evolve into something nice.

Yes, that was a long post. Constructive criticism is always welcome.

The ribbon is very much “static” in that very little can be added dynamically. You define it in XML and then compile it. So, moving parameters to the ribbon probably isn’t practical.

My goal in using the ribbon is to present the user with the functions most commonly used for the task they are working on, providing context specific functions only. So, for example there needn’t be an extrude button if the user has a shape selected. Ideally you would almost never change tabs while modelling for instance (the build tab). If I have failed to do that then I don’t properly understand the work-flow of modelling. (Btw, there’s a bug right now with deselect that doesn’t hide the context tabs and return you to the build tab)

“The layers are still there. I forget, but I think you might need to enable “advanced” on the options tab.

A common criticism of 3DC is that there are so many buttons and who knows what is used pfor what. Using the ribbon solves this by providing only those items that are commonly used for the current selection. Advanced mode will provide the less common in addition to the most common, and enabling the old operations panel provides the rest.

It’s not a perfect solution, but it will make 3DC “more accessible”, I think.

At this point, I think it is a matter of finding the things that need to be made available and when they should be made available.

I’ll have to re-read what you said again and think a bit before I can comment more.

Oh, here’s something that would be useful: an example of having to bounce around between tabs to do something that you want to do. That would give me some idea as to where I went wrong.

Yes, I see the issue with four views in the typical arrangement. And yes, very little is set in stone at this point.

Oh, the help panel can be dragged off to the side, or a click on the divider will hide it. It can be clicked again to open it, or dragged open.

I really need a tutorial, don’t I?

A note: Orbit, pan and zoom are all accessible by the center mouse button/scroll wheel. No need to ever choose them. Shift center button is pan.

Like I said, I need a tutorial. But I don’t want to make it until the UI is done.

I don’t really understand the select button issue. Do you go betwen selecting faces/edge/points and selecting shapes? (that can be done by holding down 1, 2, 3, 4 while selecting btw) If so, I guess that means that you find yourself switching from the Build tab to one of the other non-context tabs at times. That shouldn’t happen.

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