Making help more accessible

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greenmorpher
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Making help more accessible

Post by greenmorpher » Thu 12 Jul 2007 05:02

Hello Gerhard and Martin

I was just looking for the "show rulers" command and couldn't find it, so I went to "Help" and found it. But that only took me part of the way to it because it didn’t show the full path to the "show rulers" command.

I have had this hold me up with other searches of "Help".

I wonder whether you can amend the "Help" document so that it DOES show the full menu path to a menu item.

In the case of "Show ruler" it would be: View > Alignment Helpers > Show Ruler.

As you have stated yourself, you have applied your own logic to the naming of menu items and to the menu layouts. I have no argument with that, so long as the process of finding items is clear.

In this case, I went looking in Layout (where it might have appeared under "Alignment") and Layers (where it might have appeared under "Display") and Tools (because I think of rulers as tools -- they are part of my tool kit when I am making furniture or building something) or the New Document dialog (how you want your document set up).

And, of course, it is available in the Guides toolbar (which I didn’t see mentioned in the part of the Help I ended up in after searching on "show rulers" [incidentally, that shoudl be plural, not singular, since it shows both vertical and horizontal rulers). That is available from the View menu again (rather than Tools) as View > Toolbars > Guides (the word rulers needs to be mentioned, I feel -- what about "Rulers & Guides"?).

AND, equally of course, although I have that toolbar open by default, I simply didn’t "see" the rulers button. The toolbars, actually, are just a little small for easy viewing on my monitor.

Cheers, Geoff

Geoffrey Heard, Business Writer & Publisher

"Type & Layout: Are you communicating or just making pretty shapes" -- Revealed! The secrets of how you can use type and layout to turbocharge your messages in print. See the book at http://www.worsleypress.com

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Gerhard Huber
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Post by Gerhard Huber » Thu 12 Jul 2007 11:51

My online help shows on top of the "Show Rulers" help:

Previous Next
7. The Menus / 7.3 Functions in the Menu View
7.3.13 Alignment Helpers/Show Ruler

Here you can find out, where the function is:
Menu View - Alignment Helpger - Show Rulers

I don't see a problem.

Gerhard

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Koyaanis
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Post by Koyaanis » Thu 12 Jul 2007 14:44

I think the problem mostly stems from what we are used to on other editors. I grew up on computers using nearly every editor made at one time. Quickly going from one to the next to see what they can do. No two are the same, and much depends on what part of the world they originate from on what standard conventions they tend to adopt from one another.

At times I still have problems finding features in PL32, but instead of trying to remember what menu path it was under I just go to my Options > Usage > Tool-bars, and put that function on a tool-bar where it will be most intuitive for me to find it again.

So for the "ruler" function, I just put that on the top of my "Guides" tool-bar. Problem solved! :-)

This is what's so wonderful about PL32, if you don't like how things are laid out, you can customize your own workspace completely.

I wouldn't mind being able to add in some extra "Custom" tool-bars though, having only 1 is a bit limiting, so I tend to add in new features to the other ones. Like adding Rulers to my Guides tool-bar. Would be nice to have (for me) one for just Plugins, another for Special editing tools, Layer tools, etc.

There's also that Options > Usage > Context Menu, but I don't quite understand how to call up the commands that can be placed there. They don't appear on my mouse's right-click when working on any photo or layer, so I'm not sure what they are for. I'll figure it out someday ... :-) That customizable menu sure looks like it could be handy.

Well, silly me, I just found it! It only shows up when I right click on any part of the workspace EXCEPT an image! I guess I never right-clicked on the tool-bar border or background of the work-space before. Odd. But at least I found it. :-)

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Gerhard Huber
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Post by Gerhard Huber » Thu 12 Jul 2007 15:48

Koyaanis wrote:At times I still have problems finding features in PL32, but instead of trying to remember what menu path it was under I just go to my Options > Usage > Tool-bars, and put that function on a tool-bar where it will be most intuitive for me to find it again.
So for the "ruler" function, I just put that on the top of my "Guides" tool-bar. Problem solved! :-)
You could even rearrange the menus in PL32, but it's not so easy.

Koyaanis wrote:I wouldn't mind being able to add in some extra "Custom" tool-bars though, having only 1 is a bit limiting, so I tend to add in new features to the other ones. Like adding Rulers to my Guides tool-bar. Would be nice to have (for me) one for just Plugins, another for Special editing tools, Layer tools, etc.
You can use every other tool bar for your own functions. The name of the bar doesn't really matter, just remove the functions on it and put your own functions on the bar.

Koyaanis wrote:There's also that Options > Usage > Context Menu, but I don't quite understand how to call up the commands that can be placed there. They don't appear on my mouse's right-click when working on any photo or layer, so I'm not sure what they are for. I'll figure it out someday ... :-) That customizable menu sure looks like it could be handy.
Well, silly me, I just found it! It only shows up when I right click on any part of the workspace EXCEPT an image! I guess I never right-clicked on the tool-bar border or background of the work-space before. Odd. But at least I found it. :-)
yes, another way would be to press the middle mouse button (scroll wheel), this will work always.

Gerhard

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Post by greenmorpher » Thu 12 Jul 2007 15:53

Gerhard Huber wrote:My online help shows on top of the "Show Rulers" help:

Previous Next
7. The Menus / 7.3 Functions in the Menu View
7.3.13 Alignment Helpers/Show Ruler

Here you can find out, where the function is:
Menu View - Alignment Helper - Show Rulers

I don't see a problem.
Hiya Gerhard

The problem is I couldn't find it when I was in the middle of a piece of work.

It is easier to see and understand now I knows where it actually is and when you type it all one size in the window.

The problem is the layout in the manual (and I am truly an expert in this stuff) -- that first line "7. The Menus / 7.3 Functions in the Menu View" is in tiny type and is a link. I did not understand it to be a headline for the page I was looking at. My eye was captured by the big, black headline "7.3.13 Alignment Helpers/Show Ruler".

The second point is that "Function in the Menu View" does NOT mean in English ''Functions in the Menu named View". It actually means "Functions when you are in a view named menu".

So perhaps you could make that top line into two lines, make them bigger and bolder, and reword it to read "Functions in the View Menu". Actually, you don't need to say "Functions in", these words are redundant and just get in the way. Just say "View Menu".

In the same way, I would suggest you don't need to say "Alignment Helpers". Better to say "Rulers, Guides, Grids". Everybody understands what these things do, they are not computer terms or exclusively computer tools. Nobody needs to be told they are "Alignment helpers" -- everybody has been doing ruler, guide and grid stuff since kindergarten. So "Alignment helpers" is redundant; again the words just get in the way.

Cheers, Geoff

Geoffrey Heard, Business Writer & Publisher

"Type & Layout: Are you communicating or just making pretty shapes" -- Revealed! The secrets of how you can use type and layout to turbocharge your messages in print. See the book at http://www.worsleypress.com

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Post by Koyaanis » Fri 13 Jul 2007 06:32

Gerhard Huber wrote: You could even rearrange the menus in PL32, but it's not so easy.
...
You can use every other tool bar for your own functions. The name of the bar doesn't really matter, just remove the functions on it and put your own functions on the bar.
...
yes, another way would be to press the middle mouse button (scroll wheel), this will work always.

Gerhard
Thanks for these tips. That's what I have been doing for extra custom tool-bar space, just using the already existing ones. That works pretty well.

And thanks for that middle-button tip too. There's ao many little things like that which I have yet to find in PL32. And I've been using it steadily for over a year now. This is what I like a lot about PL32, because it's such a small file compared to other bloated editors, everything is efficiently contained in every nook and cranny. Like a Japanese Puzzle-Box of many depths, there's something behind every slide and drawer, if you can find it! :-) Now I'm going to wonder what other little goodies are hidden on middle-button clicks elsewhere in the program too.... LOL.

greenmorpher, there's a file in the \hlp\ folder called "MenuStructure.txt" that seems to contain the menu layout, as Gerhard just suggested could be changed (?). Perhaps you could come up with a menu structure that is more intuitive for you, and then offer it as a download somewhere for others to see if it is also more intuitive for other users? I tend to try to learn each program as the author intended. It helps me keep my mind flexible. But I'm always open for alternate options and ideas from others.

This too is what I love about PL32, you can change almost ANYTHING to how you'd like it. If you really really need to. (Like how I just learned to change the button icons for all my plugins on my toolbars.) PL32 has got to be the #1 most user-configurable editor on the planet. It's just not that easy for a beginner is all. And maybe that's a good thing. Just hard enough so a beginner won't screw things up. But the capability is there for someone with enough smarts so they do it right. It reminds me of Opera web-browser a bit. You can change almost anything in it to your liking, IF you learn how. :-)

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Post by greenmorpher » Fri 13 Jul 2007 08:13

Koyaanis wrote:[greenmorpher, there's a file in the \hlp\ folder called "MenuStructure.txt" that seems to contain the menu layout, as Gerhard just suggested could be changed (?). Perhaps you could come up with a menu structure that is more intuitive for you, and then offer it as a download somewhere for others to see if it is also more intuitive for other users? I tend to try to learn each program as the author intended. It helps me keep my mind flexible. But I'm always open for alternate options and ideas from others.
Thanks for the thought, koyaanis, I'll keep it in mind. But like you, I like to learn the program as the author intended. All I'm suggesting are a few little tweaks -- and stuff to do with layout, type, English and translation are among my special areas of expertise (I have worked extensively in high level translation environments).

But if I do something, I'll certainly let you -- and the forum, if it comes to that -- know.

By the way -- the ruler is in the "Guides" toolbar by default.

This introduces another problem -- inconsistency. At the top of the "View" menu we have "Toolbars" with a sub-menu, "Guides", which includes the rulers, guides, grids, etc.

But at the bottom of the same "View" menu, we have "Alignment helpers" -- which is the menu items incorporated in the "Guides" toolbar! Same stuff by different names.

My preference in layout for those two menu items would be to have them together. A menu item called "Rulers, Grids, Guides" which would be made up of the current "Alignment helpers" items PLUS the command to open the toolbar.

But adding to the confusion, in the View > Toolbars there are is the "Alignment" toolbar. This has nothing to do with the Alignment Helpers. Maybe it should, maybe not. The name is right, "Alignment" -- the same name shouldn't be attached to something else.

Another confusion -- I referred to the items called "Dialogs" in the View menu as palettes. That is what they are called in many other programs and, I think, commonly in the English-speaking computer world. A "Dialog box" is what comes up when you hit the print, menu, for example. I'm not defending the dichotomy, that's just the way it is.

BUT, apart from that, there are further problems in naming of these things within PL 32. In the View menu, we have "Dialogs" and "Lists". It would call BOTH these "palettes". In fact, the "Lists" are not really lists in the most common usage of the word, which is "a simple series of words or numerals", rather they are palettes of graphic elements.

BUT go one step further down in the View menu, immediately under Dialogs and Lists, and you get Show/Hide Panels third. "Panels"? I had "Hide Panels" showing in the menu so I tried it. Hello! All the Dialogs and Lists disappeared!

So we have three terms all meaning the same thing or some of the same things, and all meaning elements which are the same as the most common term for them, "Palettes", but rather than being all palettes they are called these other things.

Why not just call them palettes and be consistent -- both internally and externally?

I have no hesitation in praising PL 32 to the skies for its capabilities -- it is great -- but I sure get frustrated navigating around in it, and stuff like the same or similar words meaning different things, and different words meaning very much the same things, contribute to this.

Cheers, Geoff

Geoffrey Heard, Business Writer & Publisher

"Type & Layout: Are you communicating or just making pretty shapes" -- Revealed! The secrets of how you can use type and layout to turbocharge your messages in print. See the book at http://www.worsleypress.com

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Post by Hoogo » Fri 13 Jul 2007 22:07

Just to add a littel fun: Is a toolbar with a textfield in it still a toolbar or already a palette? And some palettes act as property pages, like the vector palette ;)

But you are right, a new beginner will have his difficulties with these inconsistencies and inaccuracies. Most tools have the channel-selector, but smearfinger has not. Rotating a layer is obvious, it's offered in the layer-tool, for rotating a selection you need the context-menu. The tools are on the left, their properties are usualy on the right, it took me a while to figure out that the properties change with the tool. And every 10th click did something terrible wrong or nothing, because I did not activate a layer, but check a layer. Double-clicking a curve in the Clut-tool is also not too obvious. And a lot, lot more...

And the bad (or good?) thing is that all these quirks turn invisible as you get used to the program. I think it's a good thing to write down all these problems when you are a beginner, they are invisible to experienced users.

But some of all the points one may find are quite logical, but they appear to be strange because one is used to a less logical programm (speaking in general, I do not mean especially you and photoline). Holding down Ctrl to select multiple items or Alt+F4 to close a window are anything but logical, but imagine a program that does things like that in a different way...

And then there is the rule to never touch a running system. At least my users like their system most when it does everything the same way as the day before - no matter if they personally asked for that improvemend a few weeks ago, that's too long ago to be remembered. And don't dare to correct an obvious buggy syntax-check for a textbox to keep your database tidy - users might have loved that bug in the last 5 years and have used it to create templates just for themselfes (and keep the database tidy in another way...) Change teh inconsistent caption of an menu.entry and wait for the user taht calls you because his printer doesn't print (because he can't find the entry that seeks the data he wants to print)

And then: What is easier to use: More menu-entries, but threfore more simple dialogues, or less menu-entries and more capable dialogues? I prefer the 2nd, and I suggest to improve the alyer-properties-dialog to use it for converting layers - that would make things more easy. But not too long ago someone suggested to split the layer-properties to get rid of these strange dpi-fields (I think that has been in the german section of the forum) - That would make things more easy... And both of us can give good reasons for it.

All in all: When I find something strange in the program I write it down, and after a few weeks the problem has gone. Maybe because something was changed, maybe because I changed the way I work without even noticing it, I don't care as long as everything is fine ;)

Btw: I don't know how theses palettes are usually called in german. I'm mostly used to the names "dockable dialogue" or "toolbar".

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Post by greenmorpher » Sat 14 Jul 2007 04:22

hoogo wrote:Just to add a littel fun: Is a toolbar with a textfield in it still a toolbar or already a palette? And some palettes act as property pages, like the vector palette ;)
But you are right, a new beginner will have his difficulties with these inconsistencies and inaccuracies. Most tools have the channel-selector, but smearfinger has not. Rotating a layer is obvious, it's offered in the layer-tool, for rotating a selection you need the context-menu. The tools are on the left, their properties are usualy on the right, it took me a while to figure out that the properties change with the tool. And every 10th click did something terrible wrong or nothing, because I did not activate a layer, but check a layer. Double-clicking a curve in the Clut-tool is also not too obvious. And a lot, lot more...[/quote]

Hey, double-clicking a curve in CLUT? Oh, yes, I know what you mean. As you say, not obvious -- but I found it by trying to make a change on the ltitle curve, and double-clicking in pure frustration! :)

The CLUT tool itself is pretty much brilliant, I think, and is one of the many good reasons I had for buying PL 32.
And then there is the rule to never touch a running system.
But in software, people keep changing stuff all the time. There is always the possibility of command duplication during a transitional period and/or of just leaking changes in one or two at a time spo that current users weren't frightened off. But frankly, I think PL 32 is so good that you could change EVERY menu command and not lose a single user -- provided those changes were in the right direction, towards terms they commonly used in other programs and towards consistency.

You are right, of course, hoogo, in saying that some commands and key combinations are not logical at all. Of course not. But if they are widely accepted and users know them from other graphics programs, from the word processor, database or spreadsheet they use every day, then it "appears" logical. Even if it isn't logical, it ought to be honoured because it is customary.

Cheers, Geoff

Geoffrey Heard, Business Writer & Publisher

"Type & Layout: Are you communicating or just making pretty shapes" -- Revealed! The secrets of how you can use type and layout to turbocharge your messages in print. See the book at http://www.worsleypress.com