Preliminary thoughts for the next Unified UI

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duds26
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Re: Preliminary thoughts for the next Unified UI

Post #41by duds26 » 10.03.2009, 20:31

ElChristou wrote:We have Tx to Guckytos a first idea of our eventual target: "people who are interested in space and astronomy and want to be able to visit things in 3D"

That represent a very large range of people/needs/habits.

What we can do immediately is cutting this in two, hobbyists and professionals. No problem with the Pro, they are easy to spot. The Hobbyist will be all people who's professional field is not linked to astronomy, astrophysics, space exploration and so on. Eventually we could do a subgroup of them with educators vs the others. But for now let's try to work with these two basic groups.

Can we try to do a bit of thinking to understand the differences between these 2 groups?

I start:

A Professional need efficiency. A professional need to see what he is looking for quickly without losing time. The logic in the steps to go from an idea to a visual result must be crystal clear. For the Pro (shorter!), considerations about design or estheticism is the last of the preoccupation. The Pro do have already some habits. If he can find the same feel and touch than other software he is used too this is great. The pro of course have needs linked to his particular field, but this point cannot be discussed without the Pro himself.
What else?

The Hobbyist need to dream. The Hobb (shorter!) need possibilities. The Hobb is curious, want to discover and to learn. The Hobb need a smooth experience, the steps to navigate throw this possibilities should be logical and not too complex (don't forget the Hobb can be aged from 7 to 77!). Design or aestheticism can be used to improve the global experience. The Hobb can lose track and lost himself in whatever corner of the frame we are proposing, that's not a problem.
More?

Efficiency, hm somehow virtual textures comes up in my mind.

And about the fictional versus no fictional, please don't make celestia restrictive for addon developers and start a flamewar about it here.
Instead allow the addon's to have a property that says what is real and / or fictional and have a setting for displaying only real and or fictional stuff.

As it's now, celestia needs a more intuitive and flexible addon system and improvements in UI and visualization in general.
(Labels and background labels, things like the visibility issues are not good for Celestia)
It's usable for people who have some computer skills but not yet for everybody that could be reached.

About making celestia more interesting in the long run.
Making an option that in the right-click menu, there can be downloaded addons about the selected object?
Preferably with minimal user intervention, streamlined experience.

And when celestia is installed (when the installation procedure is finished) provide an option to go to the celestia motherload.
Addon's make Celestia interesting, making addons easy installable will make Celestia even more enjoyable and interesting.
Making visible that there are addons, stimulate people to right-click on objects and discover stuff.
People must be showed that there are hundreds of addons that enhance Celestia.
And installation must go more streamlined than it's now to attract a broad, not very computer savvy public.
(Addon manager?)

There are already stuff like AltTexture for showing a planet with alternate textures and stuff.
Why not make a whole AltUniverse possible with a few simple clicks?
Being able to set a few parameters (based on addon meta data and sorts every addon installed)
on a whole universe in celestia and save it to a configuration file would be a awesome.

AltUniverse > OnlyRealStuff, OnlyFictionalStuff, Everything, Star Trek Universe, ...
This would be a neat solution for the Fictional vs Real supporters.

Don't make or say we need to make multiple interfaces before we have to.
Unification is a beautiful thing in interfaces, so is simplicity and consistency.
Both the professional and hobbyist want to have efficiency AND possibilities.
Last edited by duds26 on 21.03.2009, 17:39, edited 3 times in total.

scaddenp
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Re: Preliminary thoughts for the next Unified UI

Post #42by scaddenp » 10.03.2009, 23:32

ElChristou wrote:
What we can do immediately is cutting this in two, hobbyists and professionals. No problem with the Pro, they are easy to spot. The Hobbyist will be all people who's professional field is not linked to astronomy, astrophysics, space exploration and so on. Eventually we could do a subgroup of them with educators vs the others. But for now let's try to work with these two basic groups.

Can we try to do a bit of thinking to understand the differences between these 2 groups?


Nothing to do with interface, but what I think a professional needs is a means to ascertain source of data. This makes it easier to ascertain accuracy etc. Celestia could assist this by enforcing metadata in the files it uses. Displaying this in the interface would be good but not essential. Another way of helping with fictional versus real objects.

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ElChristou
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Re: Preliminary thoughts for the next Unified UI

Post #43by ElChristou » 13.03.2009, 20:40

scaddenp wrote:Nothing to do with interface, but what I think a professional needs is a means to ascertain source of data. This makes it easier to ascertain accuracy etc. Celestia could assist this by enforcing metadata in the files it uses. Displaying this in the interface would be good but not essential. Another way of helping with fictional versus real objects.

Yep, limit of knowledge, uncertainties and data purity are hot topics; for now it's off topic because some discussions and decisions must be taken before including that at UI level...
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fsgregs
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Re: Preliminary thoughts for the next Unified UI

Post #44by fsgregs » 13.03.2009, 22:42

My own personal view of Celestia has dramatically changed since I first discovered it in 2002. At that time, it was a nice solar system simulator. It did a nice job of taking you to planets and some of their moons. Graphically, they were good! However, although you could go to a star or a galaxy, there was nothing to see but a big blob of light. The program had just a few primitive spacecraft. That of course, was due to its early development process. Every project has to start modestly.

There was the main problem of how to operate the program, what keys to press, and what to do when you got there. Once you learned the keystrokes, one could go to Jupiter and speed up its rotation, but ... then what? There were no scripts or accompanying documents to explain what you were seeing. It was a beautiful graphical representation of the planet, but ... that can take you just so far.

It became clear quickly that what was needed were (1) more destinations to go to and more objects to see, (2) scripts, educational activities, tours, written guides, etc. that could guide a user through the world of Celestia, (3) lots more add-ons of real and perhaps fictional object types.

As a teacher, that need became evident immediately. I tried using Celestia in front of a student audience, but it did not work out as well as I wished. My students did not want me to be using it as some kind of static video clip. Rather, THEY wanted to use it themselves. They wanted to fly through space ... to personally visit a planet or a star or a black hole or nebula supernova cloud, or spacecraft, real or imagined. Once they got there, they wanted to know more about the place. So ... this is Venus ... OK ... tell me about it!

As a result, I began working on development of some Celestia guides. I wrote the Users Manual, which provided a user all he needed to know to operate every keystroke. It was long to read, but at least it helped the novice to understand Celestia. It still does so. More importantly, I recognized that what was needed were a set of educational guides that not only took a user to an interesting place, but explained what they were seeing when they got there. Unfortunately, many many places of interest in the universe were still not part of Celestia. There were no nebula, supernova, pulsars, near-earth asteroids, Oort cloud ... only a few spacecraft ... very primitive galaxies, no globular clusters, etc. Celestia could go back or forward in time, but the scene never changed. There was no early Earth or ice age earth, or primitive moon, or swelling red giant about to swallow Earth.

The beauty of the development team's vision, however, was the versatility Celestia could have within it. When I discovered I would like to take users on a journey back in time to witness the primitive planet Orpheus crash into a primitive Earth, form an orbiting rubble ring, and then re-coalesce into a new Earth and new moon, I was able to work with some gifted Celestia artists to create that exact event via add-ons. Don Edwards created some absolutely magnificent scenes of what Mars could look like in the future, when we attempt to terraform it. Cham had developed spectacular rotating pulsars and Black Holes. Jestr and Jack Higgins designed over 20 real spacecraft models. Fridger has created a whole new world of galaxies, and now ... globular clusters. Runar's stupendous fictional worlds, ElChristou's meticulous models, Linuxman's unbelievable add-ons from the world of StarWars, Reiko and fungun's beautiful add-ons from the world of StarTrek ... these are what bring Celestia to life. The existence of a sound version of Celestia has even given it the ability to take a viewer into space choreographed to music ... a true space ballet.

The problem still remains, however, of what to do with all these add-ons!. There are over 500 add-ons for Celestia at least, and the list grows daily. Even when you put a few into the extras folder, what you do with them needs some hand-holding. Without a script ... or set of cel:URLs embedded in an educational document or webpage to guide you, a user has no idea how to operate Selden's wonderful Hale Telescope add-on ... or locate and visit a theoretical Earth of 4 billion years ago.

I have always been an advocate for the novice user. Celestia is so wonderful because it can take anyone, anywhere into space ... and show you its wonders with awesome clarity and visual beauty ... provided they can be guided on where to go and what to do when they get there.

As such, I wholeheartedly support the extensive use of educational activities, guides and scripts and a focus on their use in any new developments for Celestia. Perhaps a formal scripts library available on the main Celestia website would be the next logical step, with some further means of selecting from them inside the program. They should not just be relegated to a page in the motherlode.

I will continue to develop new educational activities as well. The world of Astronomy is always changing.

Just my thoughts!! :)

Frank


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