Maptool Concepts: The Next UI, Look, and Feel

Progress reports and musings from the developers on the current gaming tools.

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jfrazierjr
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Re: Maptool Concepts: The Next UI, Look, and Feel

Post by jfrazierjr »

n3phrit wrote:Reality in this setup is, that me as GM have 1/3 of the screen covered with chat window and 1/3 with macro toolbar; using only remaining 1/3 for map and tokens.


Just playing devils advocate here, but assuming you (the player) knows what each macro does(which also assumes you don't have custom made macro button tooltips for those who DON'T know what each macro does), why us the macro window at all? Every macro is available from the right click menu.

Now, I DO agree that this is not an optimal solution since the right click menu is cluttered with tons of stuff most players will either never use or rarely use when compared to macros. Similar to what Az was saying about a radial menu, what if the default right click action was to ONLY show the macros? Then, perhaps a right click with a modifier key such as shift or ctrl, etc would open the full existing right click menu we see today. Perhaps even opening the sub-levels on right click when the top level "Macros" is the only menu item... For those who know exactly what their macros do(in game terms), this would be a great benefit in speeding up play for players and still allow for more visible screen real-estate( I typically, use the autodock-autohide feature for my macro windows). This also builds into the permission system Az has been thinking about...

Of course, other options for the chat and init windows are also decent suggestions.
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Rumble
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Re: Maptool Concepts: The Next UI, Look, and Feel

Post by Rumble »

n3phrit wrote:Reality in this setup is, that me as GM have 1/3 of the screen covered with chat window and 1/3 with macro toolbar; using only remaining 1/3 for map and tokens.


Quick question - why have the windows open all the time? I generally go to autohide/popout when I use my netbook (admittedly rare). The only window open all the time is Chat, which is kept as narrow as practical. Is it simply because of the delay incurred waiting for the window to open?

On a small screen, even with a new interface, I'd expect most things would be hidden until needed (much like the popup tabs work now).

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Re: Maptool Concepts: The Next UI, Look, and Feel

Post by n3phrit »

Quick question - why have the windows open all the time? I generally go to autohide/popout

We play massively automated adventures and almost every aspect of the game is macroed so I can focus on storytelling. I developed full framework so my players have only 2 macros: Diary and Attack, everything else is either linked from Diary (Inventory, stats, skills etc), either run by me (GM) - and that is huge. I use macros to move NPC on my maps and many other stuff. It is simply not convinient enough to use autohide (I experimented with this quite a lot, but I find it annoying, it often collapses before I click what I need - missclicking on notebooks is quite common - especially in dark).
Autohide is simply not how people use to work. It is like when you have light switch - you have to click when u want turn light on and click again to turn it off. Autohide use to turn off the light right when you are on stairs :)

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Jector
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Re: Maptool Concepts: The Next UI, Look, and Feel

Post by Jector »

Azhrei wrote:I'm still a big fan of dynamic radial menus.


This is actually where I was wanting to go. Fewer buttons with expanding choices on mouseover or clicking. Got some rough sketches that need polishing.
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kristof65
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Re: Maptool Concepts: The Next UI, Look, and Feel

Post by kristof65 »

I'm not sure I'm grasping exactly what a "dynamic radial menu" is - can someone point me towards what you mean?

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Azhrei
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Re: Maptool Concepts: The Next UI, Look, and Feel

Post by Azhrei »

Radial menus are circular. They're pretty popular in many PC-based games such as Baldur's Gate and such. I think the first time I saw them was Riven, the sequel to Mist. (Boy, that's a long time ago!)

A dynamic menu is one that is populated differently depending on the situation.

A context menu is a menu that contains options relevant to whatever object the popup menu refers to, so "dynamic" adds to that by changing the contents of the menu based on where the object is positioned or how the object was selected (left click vs. right click), or any other criteria.

I'm wondering how the UI would change when used on a touchscreen. There are a few people here already using MapTool on a touch surface but they haven't spoken up in this thread (yet). But suppose you had a large iPod Touch or iPhone or other touch-sensitive screen -- how would you want MapTool to support that? I'm thinking of mouse gestures and two-finger movements (like the iPhone zoom of pressing with two fingers and then spreading them apart).

And what about those using a projector with MapTool? Maybe it would be nice if the mouse could "snap" to objects when moved close to them? That would allow a pointing device that being moved in a shaky manner to snap to a token or object.

I know that documentation is never high on a developer's list, but perhaps some kind of F1 context-sensitive help that was tied to the code itself? So as new code was written a little one-line description would be included as well and the F1 Help could scan that to give the user a few hints about what they could do currently...

As has already been said, some way to create custom toolbars/menubars that allow normal macro buttons to be dropped on them. Include a menu-building capability and a tree structure of buttons could be created. Add some way for those toolbars to be context-sensitive and perhaps users could build their own menus (radial or otherwise) by dropping a toolbar onto a token?

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Re: Maptool Concepts: The Next UI, Look, and Feel

Post by kristof65 »

azhrei - thanks for the overview. I knew the terms radial and dynamic, I'm just having a hard time visualzing them in use I guess. So what I probably should have asked is can someone point me towards some screen shots of them in action? I've never been much of a video game player, so I'm not real familiar with implementation of the concept.

Embedding the help in the code like that sounds like a great idea - even 1 line of info info could be enough to enable others to expend on the documentation.

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Re: Maptool Concepts: The Next UI, Look, and Feel

Post by Rumble »

Kristof65, It just so happens that I decided to get into the spirit of things and do up some radial-menu type things (actually, more like an interface based on the interfaces to Sketchbook/Artrage that I put up earlier). I'm no GUI designer, and obviously there are things missing, but throw this into the mix:


mt-mockup.png
mt-mockup.png (722.08 KiB) Viewed 3253 times


In this, the conceit is that you clicked (or right-clicked) on the Orc, and it brought out that gray menu with the icons on it. The icons are random images (could be something like Speak As, Macros, Properties, Move, or whatever).

Otherwise, the radial menu in the lower right has the major tools in it (but could be altered so it showed a different set of functions; or collapsed entirely to a small button in the corner); the buttons on the left are movable and expand/collapse different windows (as you can see, only Chat and the Preview Map are active). Stuff like that.

Despite my protestations earlier on, I could get behind this, if only because I've used something much like this and it works very well.


Edit: I don't know what that random red dot in the window frame is. Probably an accidental click with my paint tool!
Last edited by Rumble on Wed Feb 03, 2010 9:46 am, edited 1 time in total.

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kristof65
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Re: Maptool Concepts: The Next UI, Look, and Feel

Post by kristof65 »

rumble - thanks, now I'm seeing it. I like what you've come up with.

One question though - the radial menus - would they have to be icons, or how would they work with text, such as macro labels?

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Re: Maptool Concepts: The Next UI, Look, and Feel

Post by Rumble »

kristof65 wrote:rumble - thanks, now I'm seeing it. I like what you've come up with.

One question though - the radial menus - would they have to be icons, or how would they work with text, such as macro labels?



Heck, I dunno. Icons are a bit obscure, actually - words are better, so long as their reasonably short (or, you design the menu to work with text - buttons with a line to the token, or something like that). There are all kinds of possibilities. This was just one based on imagegoogling "radial menu" and picking one as a template.

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Re: Maptool Concepts: The Next UI, Look, and Feel

Post by neofax »

Ever use Fantasy Grounds or NWN? Both use radial menus. They are OK, but first you have to figure out that the program uses radial, fine - low hurdle. Not very fun if you have arthritis or carpal tunnel as you have to hold down the button to slide to the menu you want and if it is like NWN, it may have multiple levels on the radial menu.

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Re: Maptool Concepts: The Next UI, Look, and Feel

Post by Rumble »

neofax wrote:Ever use Fantasy Grounds or NWN? Both use radial menus. They are OK, but first you have to figure out that the program uses radial, fine - low hurdle. Not very fun if you have arthritis or carpal tunnel as you have to hold down the button to slide to the menu you want and if it is like NWN, it may have multiple levels on the radial menu.


Actually, as mentioned, FG's interface was a turnoff, and radial menus are one part of that collection of things I didn't like. I'm not necessarily advocating them here (though, I suppose I could get used to them); I just wanted to show off my l33t gimp skills. I prefer a right-click menu of normal functionality (as in, it stays open when I click it, and so forth).

The radial menu in the lower corner, though, isn't a hold-the-button down thing. If you've ever used Sketchbook, they are fixed in place. Now, in sketchbook, you're supposed to manipulate them with a stylus, and you do have a single level of radial popups for each control (part of the beauty of it is that with a stylus, you just touch the control and flick the stylus in the right direction to activate the relevant tool).

But that's not necessary - it could basically serve as a collapsible toolbar kind of thing, off in a corner where it's unobtrusive. Alternatively, they could be click-persistent radial menus, so at least you don't have to hold the button down.

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Re: Maptool Concepts: The Next UI, Look, and Feel

Post by 71gamer »

I would really like the resources to be less cluttery--three things come to mind, inspired by Adobe's attempts to simplify the workspace--

first off would be to have some sort of tabbed panels, if we could have dockable panels a la photoshop, it would simplify the UI greatly. Being able to stick together less-used items would really kill the clutter a lot.

I would also love to see some sort of "save workspace" feature, like get a layout you like and save it, and be able to call those layouts up in a menu--when I am mapping and building tokens, I have a total different setup on-screen than when I am running a game.

My last super duper UI wish list item would be to have some sort of 'hide all' key, sorry for the additional adobe ref, but in Photoshop, you can hit Tab, and it hides all panels. that might be a little overkill, but there's times when I just want to claim all my real estate and have a look at the screen.

A few other minor wishes would be a way to select drawn items, a tool to draw non-square shapes better without my wiggly freehand mousing, and make it easier to deselect the textures in the drawing tool.

All that being said, this app is a WONDERFUL app, and I have been able to do more with it than I EVER hoped, keep up the good work guys. I wish I know how to code, I'd volunteer some time.

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Re: Maptool Concepts: The Next UI, Look, and Feel

Post by Jector »

Got a couple minutes to hammer out a draft before going to work (yuck). I don't like how rough this is but I've gotta jet soon and wanted to get this out before I left for a day.

The top circles would have the normal menu items. I'd like to make a metal texture work for them but that may end up being to busy with text on the banners. They would have shadows on the overlapping circles and background.

The separate circle on the right would be the interaction tools. It would have all the tools arrayed around the top of the circle with the active one displayed on the smaller circle within it. On mouseover or clicking the active tool, the bottom of the circle would appear or rotate into view with the subtools.

Image
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Re: Maptool Concepts: The Next UI, Look, and Feel

Post by dorpond »

Interesting concept Jector! I can't wait for the final mockup!
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