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[Solved] Streamlining entry


Posts: 11
Topic starter
(@jdhoule01)
Active Member
Joined: 2 years ago

There are two features that my wife and I find very annoying when entering new sightings.  

First, the pop-up window listing old sightings that now automatically pops-up with a mouse over requires a mouse move to make it disappear.  It obscures what we are actively trying to do - find the next species on the list.  We bring up the sightings entry list to enter sightings, NOT look for old sightings, and this 'feature' conflicts with what we have just told the program we want to do.  I can appreciate that some users might value this feature, but please restrict it so that it does not happen without intention on the part of the user.  For example, activate the pop-up with a right click, or pop up the list in such a way that it does not take focus from the entry window.  

 

Second, we enjoy the notifications that a sighting is new (lifer, country lifer, etc.) but extinguishing this window requires a precise mouse move and then a click.  We usually enter sightings for both of us simultaneously, and then we get TWO notifications, and each requires a move and a  click to get rid of.  So please consider these three modifications:

1.  The lifer notification does NOT become the active window, so entry can continue without interruption.

2.  The notification pop-up times out after say 5 or 10 seconds.

3.  When more than one lister shares the same notification only one shared notification pops up.

And finally, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE DO NOT ADD ANOTHER PERMANENT CHECK BOX ON THE ALREADY FAR TOO CROWDED MENUS.  Try to find ways to make the program easily to do what the user wants to do 99% of the time, and hide complex personalization choices in set-up menus.  

Thanks for considering these changes. 

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11 Replies
Jeff
Posts: 478
 Jeff
Admin
(@jeff)
Creator & Technical Support
Joined: 2 years ago

Hi David,

Thanks for posting. It matters very much to me that folks find Data Entry fast and efficient without distractions.

So, let's look at these issues here. I believe from your other post that you are currently at v5.3 build 10. So my responses will be with that version in mind.

Posted by: @jdhoule01

First, the pop-up window listing old sightings that now automatically pops-up with a mouse over requires a mouse move to make it disappear.  It obscures what we are actively trying to do - find the next species on the list.  We bring up the sightings entry list to enter sightings, NOT look for old sightings, and this 'feature' conflicts with what we have just told the program we want to do.  I can appreciate that some users might value this feature, but please restrict it so that it does not happen without intention on the part of the user.  For example, activate the pop-up with a right click, or pop up the list in such a way that it does not take focus from the entry window. 

You are talking about the Checklist Entry window here.

image

This popup only occurs when you pause the cursor over the Name column for more than 1.5 seconds

You say that you are actively trying to find the next species on the list. I am not sure what that means precisely. Perhaps it means that you have just checked the Seen checkbox for one row (e.g. Mallard) and are looking for the next thing you have sighted that day (e.g. Blue Jay). In that case, you should be using the Search field. It is the very fast efficient way of entering sightings, which is what you are on this window for, in general. 

image

Have you watched the Tutorial Video available from the button near the bottom-right of this window? This has a lot of useful info on how best to use this window and enter your sightings. I highly recommend it and all those users that have watched it, and let me know, mention how many things they learned about this window that they had no idea about previously. It will likely greatly improve your use of this window.

image

Now that you know that it is the fact that you are pausing for > 1.5s on the Name column with your mouse, does this help you use this window in a manner which does not interfere with what you are trying to do? In other words, if you simply keep your mouse off the Name column or don't pause it there, you won't see this, but if you need this data for review, it is quickly available. If you feel this doesn't help, please describe to me what it is exactly that you are trying to do that causes you to keep your mouse over the Name field and results in this popup. 

Posted by: @jdhoule01

Second, we enjoy the notifications that a sighting is new (lifer, country lifer, etc.) but extinguishing this window requires a precise mouse move and then a click.  We usually enter sightings for both of us simultaneously, and then we get TWO notifications, and each requires a move and a  click to get rid of.

Just a simple press of the ENTER key on your keyboard dismisses this window. Very fast and simple. You are just unaware of this.

Posted by: @jdhoule01

The lifer notification does NOT become the active window, so entry can continue without interruption.

This notification window has gone through numerous, numerous iterations of functionality, each with its own drawbacks. The best way to ensure visibility and quick response is to make it top-most, become active, and have the Dismiss button be the default button - all of this so that you can quickly press ENTER on the keyboard to dismiss it.

Posted by: @jdhoule01

And finally, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE DO NOT ADD ANOTHER PERMANENT CHECK BOX ON THE ALREADY FAR TOO CROWDED MENUS.  Try to find ways to make the program easily to do what the user wants to do 99% of the time, and hide complex personalization choices in set-up menus.

This is my credo that I try to live by with Birder's Diary development constantly. With increased functionality comes complexity and cumbersome settings. The two go hand in hand. I fret for hours and days over the simplest details such as those you bring up here. I go through dozens/hundreds of iterations testing myself and turning new features over to beta users for their feedback. As an end user, many folks are simply unaware of the path it took to get where it is now and the many lesser design decisions that fell along the way.

I appreciate that you took the time to post this and am interested in your responses to what I have written. Let me know. 

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(@jdhoule01)
Joined: 2 years ago

Active Member
Posts: 11

@jeff

Thanks for your response.  

First, as to the pop-up, our problem is not alleviated by what you told us.  We aware of the 1.5s hover.  It often takes longer than that to find the next species we want to enter, so that by the time we look back at the on-screen list, the pop-up is already obscuring some of the species we are likely to check next. When we have a checklist to enter, it is often in similar order to the checklist in Birder's Diary, so the pop-up is likely to cover just the species we want to find next.  In theory, we could learn to always move the mouse to the right, but this is not what we naturally do.  After several weeks of working around this annoying feature, we are still falling foul of this.  Instead of asking the user to arbitrarily learn things, make the program robustly do what the user is trying to do. 

Second, the Lifer pop-up window DOES prevent the user from checking sightings on the Sightings Entry checklist until it is dismissed.  We did not know about the enter key dismissing it, so that is useful.  However, in order to do that,  the user has to take their hand off the mouse, and then find and hit the return key, which is pretty much as distracting as having to mouse up and click on the 'Got it!' button.  When we have closely related species to enter, we want to just go down the list on the screen checking off species using the mouse.  Again, why ask the user to make an arbitrary extra key stroke?

Third, the search window is NOT an effective replacement for losing the ability to use the mouse.  In order to use the search box, you have to mouse down to that small box, click on it, then relocate the mouse hand to the keyboard, and then an often rather lengthy set of keystrokes to get to the right species.  When we have a good sense of where we are in the checklist order, scrolling and mousing is way quicker.  If we had to do all that typing for every species, we would go mad entering data.  

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Posts: 11
Topic starter
(@jdhoule01)
Active Member
Joined: 2 years ago

Thinking about this a bit more, I suspect that you have designed this entry system assuming that the user will exclusively use the keyboard for entering data.  The fundamental conflict is that we want to use scroll and click to enter data.  Click and scroll with a mouse requires only one hand for entry, so the other hand can track our location on a hand-written list of species in checklist order. It is MUCH faster than keyboard entry when you know the checklist order pretty well. I agree that your search window is very nice, but especially for world listers when the species begins with a common word like 'Yellow' it requires either a lot of typing, or a switch from keyboard to mouse (or up and down arrow keys) to select from the possible entries as they come up.  

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Jeff
Posts: 478
 Jeff
Admin
(@jeff)
Creator & Technical Support
Joined: 2 years ago

Hi David,

Sorry for the long delay in my response. I have been busy reviewing and testing and more testing. It has allowed me to discover how we got to the current functionality and the limits with MS Windows and the MDI interface (the multiple window interface; many windows in one main window) that BD uses. Trust me when I say that hours and hours of testing and different implementations went into the current design and functionality. This was one of the most frustrating pieces for me to implement and to attempt to satisfy the major design goals and needs. I have now relived all of those moments again. Ha ha ha.

I appreciate your use model and attempt to satisfy all users' potential and known use cases. In this situation, I am attempting to satisfy both Keyboard and Checklist Entry styles.

I agree with you that whenever possible, the user-interface of a program should meet the common user practices and not the other way around.

LIFER ALERT MESSAGES

image

There is a desire, by many users, to retrieve relevant and immediate feedback on new sightings (e.g. World, Location, Annual, Seasonal Lifer events) when entering sightings. There is a need to configure this as much as possible to meet users specific needs and wants in terms of the kind of alerts. It's a given that this alert be noticeable, not be hidden behind other windows, and require acknowledgement.

That last requirement poses a big problem. With the MDI interface, the only way to ensure that a window becomes visible and noticeable is to take focus and force a response. It's a pain, but it is the reality.

If you don't need the Alerts in Checklist Entry, you can disable them in a multitude of places. 1) "Mute Alerts" on the checklist entry window (note: fixed in Build 12, not working in Build 11), 2) "Don't Alert Me Anymore" on the Alert window itself., 3) Configuration in View | Options, Petey Tab. But, if these alerts are turned on, it will unfortunately grab focus and require a response. A pain in the butt if you are a mouse-centric user - I know.

With this said, I am open to any alternatives you may have in mind. 

Posted by: @jdhoule01

When more than one lister shares the same notification only one shared notification pops up.

I can't do this easily, as what triggered the notification for one user (e.g. Annual Lifer) may be different for what triggers it for another user (e.g. World Lifer). Now the message gets cumbersome and too long to read. Always trade-offs.

Posted by: @jdhoule01

The notification pop-up times out after say 5 or 10 seconds.

This sounds good at the outset. A little slider you put on that window with a checkbox that says "Timeout after X seconds". It will remember your settings. But this poses problems for multiple observers. So, it times out after say 1 sec on the first observer, displays the 2nd and that times out in one more second. And all the while, the BD main app is locked while waiting for it to time out. This will frustrate a lot of folks. Eventually, I have just complicated the Alert window by adding yet another configuration option to it and users will still end up dismissing the window(s) manually.

SIGHTINGS POPUP GRID

image

There is a need by many, when in Checklist Entry mode to be able to review past sightings for given species quickly and easily, just a quick popup grid in order of most recently seen.

The best and most common practice for this is a popup after a slight pause of the mouse over a relevant position on the row in question. Common Name seems to make the most sense. Most, in my experience, mouse-centric users tend to have their mouse over the SEEN column for scrolling and clicking on the Seen checkbox, so that seems to eliminate that column as the trigger column.

It seems that I was always displaying this popup grid even if you had no prior sightings of a species in a given row. Build 12 corrects this and ONLY shows the popup grid if sightings exist. So this may alleviate some of the issue for you, but certainly not all. 

I suggest a checkbox on the Checklist Entry window that remembers your setting and will enable/disable this feature. Does that work for you?

MISCELLANEOUS

Posted by: @jdhoule01

Thinking about this a bit more, I suspect that you have designed this entry system assuming that the user will exclusively use the keyboard for entering data.

I am not sure I agree with that statement. I try to accommodate both use cases. 


 Let me know. We will eventually make this better for you, I just need you to keep working with me to help find a good solution here for these pain points. I remain committed.

Thanks.

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Jeff
Posts: 478
 Jeff
Admin
(@jeff)
Creator & Technical Support
Joined: 2 years ago

Hi David,

Believe it or not, these little things keep cause me to lose more sleep than you! Ha ha.

image

This is to, of course, address the unwanted popups - unless you want them. Your setting is remembered from session to session.

fyi

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Jeff
Posts: 478
 Jeff
Admin
(@jeff)
Creator & Technical Support
Joined: 2 years ago

Well - I am embarrassed. After all this, the solution to what you asked for in the first place is indeed achievable. After more digging in the Microsoft Windows API, I found what was needed to achieve what we wanted.

Thanks David for continuing to push on this, and sorry for making it so hard on you. 

image

Here you go...

image

The new setting is remembered from session to session.

In addition, something I thought I had done a long time ago, but had not, now you can move the Lifer Alert window to anywhere you want it on your monitor and it will show up there next time; e.g. it remembers where you put it.

So now

  • you can put these alerts where you want to see them and they will always show there, AND
  • they will pop to the Front of other windows, but will NOT grab focus!!!

Sheesh. Sometimes the programmer needs a little push... no SHOVE!

Thanks again. Available in Build #12 - probably later today.

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Jeff
Posts: 478
 Jeff
Admin
(@jeff)
Creator & Technical Support
Joined: 2 years ago

In addition, in the Do Not Grab Focus mode, multiple observer Alerts are reported at the same time in the same window.

image
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Jeff
Posts: 478
 Jeff
Admin
(@jeff)
Creator & Technical Support
Joined: 2 years ago

FYI: v5.3 Build 12 is now available. It contains these changes. Please test and let me know if you find any issues.

Thanks

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Posts: 11
Topic starter
(@jdhoule01)
Active Member
Joined: 2 years ago

Dear Jeff,

Thanks very much for your work on improving the  Life Alert window.  The changes to the Lifer Alert window are great and work. 

The only inconvenience is that the Lifer Alert window now falls under the priority of the overall Birder's Diary window. The downside is that once we click the 'No Focus' button, the alert drops behind the Birder's Diary window, so is both not visible and no tada sound is heard. We can move it outside the program window area, for example to a second screen, where it functions nicely.   We could make the Birder's Diary window smaller, but this is not always functional.  Could the Lifer Alert Window retain a higher priority so it  can show up next to the Sightings Entry window, and over the Birder's Diary window?

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Jeff
Posts: 478
 Jeff
Admin
(@jeff)
Creator & Technical Support
Joined: 2 years ago

GACK! I had it working and then introduced a typo in the released version.

There are two different ways to tell it where to be in the stacking order, TOP or TOPMOST. I had mistakenly chosen the former instead of the latter on the released version.

Fixed in Build 13.

Let me know.

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Jeff
Posts: 478
 Jeff
Admin
(@jeff)
Creator & Technical Support
Joined: 2 years ago

Build 13 is now available. fyi

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