why is the UI so alien?

  • ferg

    ferg - 2011-03-12

    I love what this program does and would use it day in a day out but for its UI which makes it is almost unusable. As things stand I use it once in a blue moon when I just have to express some idea or other as a mindmap. I generally find I spend 75% of my time and 90% of my attention fighting with the user interface. I fight my way through to the end taking days to do what should be done in a few hours and the abandon the thing, mentally exhausted and drained. I cannot tell if the following are bugs or features.

    My key complaint is that controls should act consistently and that they should follow the same paradigms used by other applications.

    When I click on a node it should perform the same action all the time. It seems to vary depending on whether its a leaf or not or if its already selected or has children or not. It is maddening to click on a node with the intention of editing the text only to have some fold action occur and the screen to jump sideways. I totally lose the thread and forget about whatever I was about to do.

    I feel the cursor keys should move me about the map always! Not sometimes move me about the map and sometimes move the view window.

    The delete (back_space key in os x) should delete stuff, either characters or nodes. It currently randomly switches from deleting stuff to some kind of navigation feature. Very dangerous!

  • chrispj

    chrispj - 2011-03-20

    I would be inclined to agree. The interface is hard to use with a mouse. In fact, I can only use it with a mouse.

    I would add that although it's obvious a lot of work has gone into adding features to the product, I would have preferred that effort go into the map itself rather than all the features around it (e.g. the notes with its HTML editing - I'm sure it felt like a nice idea at the time and as a developer, but just takes up space). The back and forward buttons are another example of this. Who you use the mouse to click on a button to move the selection when they can click on the item itself.

    What I would like to see is more development around grouping things into themes (e.g. with colour - I know its buried under a menu somewhere but it's a bit too primitive) and making the maps more visually appealing and make use of space better.

    Or maybe I'm just too picky?

  • LogicDaemon

    LogicDaemon - 2011-03-20

    I'm using keyboard mostly, and I have to disagree with that whole interface is terrible.
    All functions of FM are done fairly easy with keyboard: adding, editing, moving, formatting. Except for free moving, which I don't reckon as important.
    For example, attaching yellow traffic light icon to node can be done this way: Alt+i, y. And I can do this even without pressing Enter after entering node text. Not sure if this is default however because I've done some configuring and carrying my config file with me.

    Using FM with mouse can be pain, but It's not even nearly like in old GIMP (when everything buried in long and multilevel  menus, and dialog window opens in the end, which causes PIA for when no keyboard shortcut known , because it takes much time and attention to find requested function). You just have to get used to it.

    IMO, these can be relief for mouse users and must be improved ASAP:
    * All often-used actions must require minimal of clicks and mouse movement, for example:
      - Adding node with mouse must be oneclick action (*one* click, preferrably w/o mousemove after mousedown).
      - {New nodes} functions must be moved to top of context menu. For now, "delete node" is higher then add!
    * All function which can be done several ways (counting only ways appear on screen while editing, i.e. not counting main menu and keyboard shortcuts) must get one monosemantic obvious way.
      - Example: There is icon pane (toolbar on the left), icon window (Alt+I) and icon submenus (in context and in main menu). This is way too much! How many are using context menu or main menu to insert icon?

    I believe that in next version interfaces (visual, mouse and keyboard) must be redesigned using mind maps and ergonomic engineering.

    PS: Ability to open context menu with keyboard will be great.
    PPS: yEd is shining example of well done mouse interface, however it can't be used w/o mouse.


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