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[Solved] Improving usability of Add Sighting feature

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Posts: 59
Topic starter
(@jdhoule01)
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I noticed two things using the Add Sightings window that could be improved:

First every time Add Sightings is invoked it defaults to today's date.  Usually I want to add Sightings from a date close to the last date I used - sometimes the same day.  I would appreciate it if the date from the last use of the Sightings Entry menu was used as the date at next use. 

Second, if a Sightings Entry window is open, reinvoking the Add Sightings command brings up the Sightings Entry Setup window again, but whatever choices you make on this window  has no effect on the already open Sightings Entry list.  No repopulation of the list occurs. 

It would be great to have the reinvocation of Add Sightings with different choices bring up a second Sightings Entry window, as the View/Edit Sightings command does.  This would be very convenient for users who list several groups, such as birds and mammals, or odonates and butterfiles.  If multiple entry checklists are not possible, changing the setup list should replace the list in the open  Add Sightings window with the new choice of list or location.  

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Jeff
Posts: 954
 Jeff
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(@jeff)
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Joined: 4 years ago

Hi David,

Thanks for posting.

Posted by: @jdhoule01

First every time Add Sightings is invoked it defaults to today's date.  Usually I want to add Sightings from a date close to the last date I used - sometimes the same day.  I would appreciate it if the date from the last use of the Sightings Entry menu was used as the date at next use.

It seems to me that the most common use-case scenario to me is current date (or something close to the current date), instead of last-date-used.

When I am entering sightings, it is usually after I got back that day, or the next day; but rarely is it the case where it is tied to the last time I entered sightings. I wonder if this isn't just specific to your current situation - returning from a long trip with lots of sightings to enter - more than what is expected to be the most common use-case for most users.

Posted by: @jdhoule01

Second, if a Sightings Entry window is open, reinvoking the Add Sightings command brings up the Sightings Entry Setup window again, but whatever choices you make on this window  has no effect on the already open Sightings Entry list.  No repopulation of the list occurs. 

Are you using Checklist Entry or Keyboard Entry mode? Keyboard Entry mode has the Entry Setup button which does exactly what you are asking for, the ability to change the setup parameters.

If Checklist Entry mode, no changes occur. You need to close and open a new Checklist entry session/window.

Posted by: @jdhoule01

It would be great to have the reinvocation of Add Sightings with different choices bring up a second Sightings Entry window, as the View/Edit Sightings command does.  This would be very convenient for users who list several groups, such as birds and mammals, or odonates and butterfiles.  If multiple entry checklists are not possible, changing the setup list should replace the list in the open  Add Sightings window with the new choice of list or location. 

Checklist or Keyboard Entry Mode? I am assuming Checklist mode here.

You need to commit any current sightings in the Checklist Entry window, then start a new entry session. You can select multiple taxonomic lists to be represented in this Checklist Entry session (e.g. Birds, butterflies, etc.), but you currently cannot have multiple Checklist Entry Mode windows open at the same time.

Would multiple windows, each with its own taxonomic list, be better than one checklist window with multiple taxonomic lists represented on it?

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Posts: 59
Topic starter
(@jdhoule01)
Trusted Member
Joined: 4 years ago

I almost always enter sightings from past lists into BD.  I always have either an eBird or paper list to transfer into BD.  Could be recent, but often a month or more old. A compromise that would probably suit both the immediate enterers and the past enterers is to have today's date be the default when you open up BD, but have it retain the last used date within a BD session.  That way, everyone will get and stay near where they want to be after the first list.  

I almost never use keyboard entry.  I find it MUCH faster to enter in Checklist mode. 

The case I am referring to is when you have entered, commited and cleared your last set of sightings, but you leave the checklist entry window open.  The Sightings Entry Setup will allow you to make "changes" of location or taxonomy, but when you click continue, it has no effect on the open checklist window.  

I am aware that you can open two taxonomies in the same window, and that is sometimes nice. On the other hand, one can check conflicting lists, like BOTH Clements and IOC at the same time, and this is a case I fear.  Are you then entering in Clements, or IOC, or maybe both at the same time?   I have not intentionally done, this, but did I never do this? I am afraid that this may have been the source of some of my IOC vs. Clements list mess you helped find ways to correct.  In addition, I would prefer to open a mammal window for mammals, and a bird window for birds, etc. 

I just noticed that once in checklist mode, the Sightings Entry Window has no information about what setup choices were used.  It is possible to set up with birds of India, but then choose somewhere incompatible in the Locations, like California.  I just tried it and there is nothing to stop you from doing this, or from letting you know until you enter a species not found in the taxonomy.  Could this information be added to the title of the Window, or next to the locations pulldown?

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Jeff
Posts: 954
 Jeff
Admin
(@jeff)
Creator & Technical Support
Joined: 4 years ago

Hi David,

I very much appreciate this kind of feedback and love to tweak and improve BD at every opportunity. You have given me loads of great ideas over the years. Let's look at these.

Posted by: @jdhoule01

The case I am referring to is when you have entered, commited and cleared your last set of sightings, but you leave the checklist entry window open.  The Sightings Entry Setup will allow you to make "changes" of location or taxonomy, but when you click continue, it has no effect on the open checklist window.

Correct. If you need to change any settings, simply close the current checklist (after saving) and start anew. One extra mouse-click. Changing the functionality to save an extra mouse-click would probably be more effort than justified. I took a look at the code and it would not be a simple 10-20 extra lines of code, but require changes in multiple places.

Posted by: @jdhoule01

In addition, I would prefer to open a mammal window for mammals, and a bird window for birds, etc.

Unfortunately, this code was not designed and written for concurrency of multiple checklist windows open at the same time. Upon inspection, the effort would be big and fraught with complexities. Since this is the first request for this in 30 years, I think this one goes on the unlikely to implement stack.

Posted by: @jdhoule01

I just noticed that once in checklist mode, the Sightings Entry Window has no information about what setup choices were used.  It is possible to set up with birds of India, but then choose somewhere incompatible in the Locations, like California.  I just tried it and there is nothing to stop you from doing this, or from letting you know until you enter a species not found in the taxonomy.  Could this information be added to the title of the Window, or next to the locations pulldown?

Yes, that would be an easy update to include setup info on the Checklist Entry window somewhere. Of course, if you did get it wrong and found out half-way through your entry, easy enough to save your current sightings and open a new checklist for the proper location and pick up where you left off. So, this doesn't present a large issue to the user.

Posted by: @jdhoule01

A compromise that would probably suit both the immediate enterers and the past enterers is to have today's date be the default when you open up BD, but have it retain the last used date within a BD session.  That way, everyone will get and stay near where they want to be after the first list. 

I am still trying to find the best path forward on this one.

  • I have to believe that the 95% use-case scenario is a user entering sightings within a day or two of their outing. And usually a single outing, as opposed to multiples. So, current date remains best default guess. And especially so for first checklist entry session as you have stated.
  • Even with multiple outings to manually enter, is the last checklist date more likely to be closer to the next date (and provide value) than today's date? I wonder what percentage of users will get confused by a change in this functionality on potential 2nd or 3rd checklist sessions. I fear hearing more posts on that scenario.
  • Is this a matter of the effort it takes to correctly pick the date from the dropdown (2 mouse clicks in most cases). The example I come up with is, let's say you are entering 10 checklists. 1-Jan through 10-Jan, on 23-Jan. Whether we default to last-used-checklist-date or current-date, you still have to click twice (once to open dropdown calendar and once to click on the required date) to select the new date. So, I am having trouble seeing the benefit vs potential risks.

Let me know what you think on this last one especially; but all of the above also.

Thanks.

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Posts: 59
Topic starter
(@jdhoule01)
Trusted Member
Joined: 4 years ago

There are two inconveniences, and they are related.  1) If the date you want to enter is not in the current month, it can take many clicks to go to a past date. 2) If you don't close the checklist entry window you can go through the Sighting Entry window, but it has no effect on the actual checklist. 

So, yes, you solve problem 2 with just one click.  But then, you encounter problem 1 all over again - you have to reenter the date.  I have lists from past years that I want to go back and enter.   Now that the date function has been altered so that only day is conveniently alterable, the only realistic option is to X out the date and start over, since you would have to click past many months in each year to use the pop-up calendar.  To get to a date 2 years ago that is 24 mouse clicks on the pop-up date.  The year slider has such a wide range of years from 100 to 9999, that it is essentially useless.  

I often forget to close the Sightings Entry, and reinvoke the Entry Setup command.  Sometimes I can't see that the Sighting entry checklist is actually open because another window is in front of it, making me think I should go through the geography and taxonomy selection process all over again. Whatever reason I do this, it is annoying to make the selection, only to find that it has no effect.

So here are two or three hopefully modest modifications that can help this use case.

1) Reinvocatioin of the Sighings Entry Setup when a Sightings Entry Checklist is open makes the Sighthings Entry Checklist the active window, instead of bringing up the Sightings Entry Setup again.  An informational message could be added - like "Sightings Entry Checklist already open. Close if you want to change Checklist." 

2) I realize now that my suggestion for easily altering the day on the Sightings Entry has restricted options for choosing a past month or year.   I really like the ability to easily change the day, which should help anyone whether they are entering recent or old sightings. If the pop-up date slider were restricted to a human-lifespan relevant range of years, from say 1900 it might be usable.  Could the slider be replaced with  a directional widget that would click though months when pushed to one side for a few seconds, then click through years after those seconds has passed.

Another is to abandon the day-by-day modification. However, in the old mode, I found it very difficult to precisely grab the whole month, day or year, which was necessary to make the up and down clicker function.  I tended to grab a slash, or just one of the numbers. How about making each part of a date more grabbable? Could a click in the month part of the date select just that aspect of date? Could the boxes be separated by more space? 

3) You never responded to some of my suggestions  from Feb. 5 in this topic. One of those is to default to today's date when you open a new BD session, but then keep the entry date sticky within a session.  This would not trouble anyone entering curent sightings, and would alleviate date selection if someone wants to enter all their lists from 1972.  

A separate issue I mentioned in the Feb. 5 message is that you can now choose conflicting taxonomies to appear simultaneously in the Entry mode, like IOC Birds and Clements Birds at the same time.  What happens if you enter sightings after erroneously clicking on two such lists? Probably nothing good. 

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Jeff
Posts: 954
 Jeff
Admin
(@jeff)
Creator & Technical Support
Joined: 4 years ago

Thanks for the details David.

Let's go through these here.

Posted by: @jdhoule01

There are two inconveniences, and they are related.  1) If the date you want to enter is not in the current month, it can take many clicks to go to a past date. 2) If you don't close the checklist entry window you can go through the Sighting Entry window, but it has no effect on the actual checklist. 

Concerning #1, you have many options if the date you want is not in the current month, but what I would do is this very simple solution. When the Sightings Entry - Checklist window opens, the cursor is positioned right on the first position in the Date control. To go to any date, I simply type in mmddyyyy and done. For example, if the current date is today "02/29/2024", and I want to enter sightings for "08/01/2016", I simply type "08012016". Done. No positioning the cursor, no clicking the mouse, just 8 pecks on your keyboard. That is the design of this control. 

Concerning #2, you still have to go through the Sightings Entry Setup window, but when you click Continue, if you have chosen Checklist mode and the "Sightings Entry - Checklist" window is already open, you will now get a informational message asking you to first close the open window. Ditto for the "Sightings Entry - Keyboard" window and method. The reason we cannot do this check before the user clicks the Continue button is that we don't know which Entry Method the user will end up picking before clicking on Continue. The new informational msg will be in Build 29.

Posted by: @jdhoule01

So, yes, you solve problem 2 with just one click.  But then, you encounter problem 1 all over again - you have to reenter the date.  I have lists from past years that I want to go back and enter.   Now that the date function has been altered so that only day is conveniently alterable, the only realistic option is to X out the date and start over, since you would have to click past many months in each year to use the pop-up calendar.  To get to a date 2 years ago that is 24 mouse clicks on the pop-up date.  The year slider has such a wide range of years from 100 to 9999, that it is essentially useless.  

The answer for changing the date to anything other than a few days away from the current date is mentioned above, simply give the Date control focus (Alt+E on your keyboard to send focus there) and then type any ddmmyyyy you want on your keyboard. Much quicker than using the mouse or the calendar dropdown. In addition, if the date you need to enter is just a few months away but in the same year, you only need to type ddmm. Just 4 pecks on the keyboard.

Concerning the range of years from 100 to 9999. Yep, seems strange until you learn that this set of years was asked for many years ago by several customers. Why? They wanted to be able to assign certain sightings to special years with special meanings. For example, the year 1000 has special meanings for the Sightings in that year; they use a future date such as year 3000 for sightings that need reviewing; and so on for so many years. Hence, we have a range from 100 to 9999. We cannot change that now as it would certainly cause issues for many long time customers.

Posted by: @jdhoule01

I often forget to close the Sightings Entry, and reinvoke the Entry Setup command.  Sometimes I can't see that the Sighting entry checklist is actually open because another window is in front of it, making me think I should go through the geography and taxonomy selection process all over again. Whatever reason I do this, it is annoying to make the selection, only to find that it has no effect.

You will now get a popup message to this affect. But only after you click the Continue button. It will pop that window to the front of the stack so that you don't have to go searching for it among multiple open windows.

Posted by: @jdhoule01

1) Reinvocatioin of the Sighings Entry Setup when a Sightings Entry Checklist is open makes the Sighthings Entry Checklist the active window, instead of bringing up the Sightings Entry Setup again.  An informational message could be added - like "Sightings Entry Checklist already open. Close if you want to change Checklist."

Done in Build 29; but only after clicking Continue on the Setup window.

Posted by: @jdhoule01

2) I realize now that my suggestion for easily altering the day on the Sightings Entry has restricted options for choosing a past month or year.   I really like the ability to easily change the day, which should help anyone whether they are entering recent or old sightings. If the pop-up date slider were restricted to a human-lifespan relevant range of years, from say 1900 it might be usable.  Could the slider be replaced with  a directional widget that would click though months when pushed to one side for a few seconds, then click through years after those seconds has passed.

The year range on the slider cannot be changed per reasons stated above.

We have no other control over this 3rd party Date widget as you suggest.

The current interaction model is the following:

  1. Use the Spinner up/down arrows to quickly navigate forward or backward by one day.
  2. Use the Calendar dropdown to pick a date from a calendar. In the Calendar dropdown, the scrollbar at the bottom functions as follows:
    1. Clicking on the left/right arrows goes back or forward by one month.
    2. Clicking on the empty space in the slider goes back or forward by one year.
  3.  Type "mmddyyyy" into the widget to quickly change it to any date you want.

Posted by: @jdhoule01

How about making each part of a date more grabbable? Could a click in the month part of the date select just that aspect of date? Could the boxes be separated by more space? 

I don't have control over this widget as you mention. But, you can click anywhere in the widget and then use the left/right arrow keys on your keyboard to position the cursor easily where you precisely want it. Or, as mentioned above, use Alt+E to give the widget focus and position the cursor in front of the first character.

Posted by: @jdhoule01

3) You never responded to some of my suggestions  from Feb. 5 in this topic. One of those is to default to today's date when you open a new BD session, but then keep the entry date sticky within a session.  This would not trouble anyone entering curent sightings, and would alleviate date selection if someone wants to enter all their lists from 1972.  

I fear this change in behavior will throw some folks off and generate more pushback from other users than acceptance. If only because that is what they have been used to for many years and they don't want the change.

I think the best solution is simply "ALT+E, ddmmyyyy" for all situations that fall outside the usual case. I know you are a mouse-centric user. I am just having a hard time justifying this change when readily available alternatives are there. With that said, I generally fold to consistent pressure. 😉 

Posted by: @jdhoule01

A separate issue I mentioned in the Feb. 5 message is that you can now choose conflicting taxonomies to appear simultaneously in the Entry mode, like IOC Birds and Clements Birds at the same time.  What happens if you enter sightings after erroneously clicking on two such lists? Probably nothing good.

I can't come up with a scenario where this causes any issues. Can you? It's confusing for sure, but it will still do the right thing. It will build a checklist with all species matching the criteria with one tax list on top of the other. 

[All IOC Things]
[All Clements Things]

A tick on Black-bellied Whistling-Duck at the top will do the same thing as one at the bottom; enter a sighting for that species.

Let me know if you find something that needs addressing in this case.

SUMMARY

Long response. But these things get detailed and I want to give them the thoughtful response that shows you I really thought everything through.

The only change so far is in letting you know if you already have the Sightings Entry window open when you attempt to open another. (Build 29 when released)

Take care.

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