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Usability Improvements

Suggestions for additional features for the module editor and Vassal engine.

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Usability Improvements

Postby jimbo » December 15th, 2008, 4:51 am

I'm a new user but so far I have probably put about 10 hours into playing with Vassal. I think I can offer some constructive thoughts on what I've noticed so far. I understand that this is a volunteer effort and I appreciate all that has been done so far to make such a useful product.

1. I find it hard to move around a large map. I played Afrika II with a friend this evening and we had to jump around a lot to different locations. There are a number of ways this can be improved. Click-dragging the map should be possible when the click is on an unoccupied map space. Zooming should be performed with the scroll wheel. I suggest that you mirror the mechanisms used at maps.google.com, as they are comfortable to many potential users.

2. To augment the above, it would be very valuable to have certain jump points defined for the map. For example, continuing with the Afrika II example, we know that we will want to jump to the Turn Record Track, the Axis Air Point Track, the port allowance tracks, etc, for each turn of play. Make a set of such positions and jump to them with a double click in the toolbar or in a palette window.

3. I would like to use Vassal to play very large games, such as Case Blue, but I'm concerned that it will be very difficult to find a particular counter when the time comes (e.g. divisional integrity). Why not have a palette of all pieces in play and jump to them on a double-click?

4. My friend and I became confused a few times when we tried to play online with each other. It looks like the server might have had some trouble this evening. That sort of thing happens. But what confused us was that a) there was no notification when my friend dropped from the session, and b) there was no obvious way to successfully reconnect. Every time we tried to reconnect, I could no longer see the pieces move when he was manipulating them on his end. Eventually, we determined that we should save the game on one machine, email it to the other user, and then load it up (but not select "new game" prior to doing so). I may have some of these steps confused, but if so just take the point that it isn't intuitive to handle such a situation.

I hope these thoughts are helpful. Thanks for Vassal.

Jim
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Usability Improvements

Postby Brent Easton » December 15th, 2008, 5:24 am

Hi Jim,

1. I find it hard to move around a large map. I played Afrika II with a
friend this evening and we had to jump around a lot to different
locations. There are a number of ways this can be improved.
Click-dragging the map should be possible when the click is on an
unoccupied map space.

Currently click-dragging is used to select multiple counters. Perhaps right-click-dragging should scroll near edges? or middle-click dragging like Acrobat? But the Mac users get left out.

See point 2 re map overview component.

Zooming should be performed with the scroll wheel.
I suggest that you mirror the mechanisms used at maps.google.com, as they
are comfortable to many potential users.

I believe that is already being looked at.


2. To augment the above, it would be very valuable to have certain jump
points defined for the map. For example, continuing with the Afrika II
example, we know that we will want to jump to the Turn Record Track, the
Axis Air Point Track, the port allowance tracks, etc, for each turn of
play. Make a set of such positions and jump to them with a double click
in the toolbar or in a palette window.


I tend to get around this problem in modules by taking copies of all these tracks and creating a seperate map(s) that contains them. They can then be easily accessed by a toolbar button.

Alternatively, you can have an 'Map Overview' component defined which allows you to quickly move to any part of the map. Contact the owner of the module if it does not have one.

However, the idea of a toolbar button to center the map on a set of co-ordinates is a good idea and I have added a RFE for it.


3. I would like to use Vassal to play very large games, such as Case
Blue, but I'm concerned that it will be very difficult to find a
particular counter when the time comes (e.g. divisional integrity). Why
not have a palette of all pieces in play and jump to them on a
double-click?


This is the 'Inventory' component that needs to be added to the module. It needs to be configured to suit the particular module, so cannot be added automatically. Speak to the owner of the module in question and ask to have it added.


4. My friend and I became confused a few times when we tried to play
online with each other. It looks like the server might have had some
trouble this evening. That sort of thing happens. But what confused us
was that a) there was no notification when my friend dropped from the
session, and b) there was no obvious way to successfully reconnect. Every
time we tried to reconnect, I could no longer see the pieces move when he
was manipulating them on his end. Eventually, we determined that we
should save the game on one machine, email it to the other user, and then
load it up (but not select "new game" prior to doing so). I may have some
of these steps confused, but if so just take the point that it isn't
intuitive to handle such a situation.

When you reconnect, you must right-click on the person already in the room and select 'Synchronize'.

B.


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Re: Usability Improvements

Postby jimbo » December 15th, 2008, 6:33 am

Thank you for your thoughtful reply.

Brent Easton wrote:Currently click-dragging is used to select multiple counters. Perhaps right-click-dragging should scroll near edges? or middle-click dragging like Acrobat? But the Mac users get left out.


With respect, I think right-click and middle-click are too awkward for an action so common.

I needed to pan the map the very first minute that I used the program. After 10 hours, I still don't need to group select counters. I'm sure it comes up, but less frequently.

So I suggest that the group select box be active only when a modifier key is held, and that way pan can be the default dragging action.

However, the idea of a toolbar button to center the map on a set of co-ordinates is a good idea and I have added a RFE for it.

...

This is the 'Inventory' component that needs to be added to the module. It needs to be configured to suit the particular module, so cannot be added automatically. Speak to the owner of the module in question and ask to have it added.


Yes! The Inventory component is exactly what I needed here. I added it to the module successfully, but I'll need more time to understand the grouping mechanism.

I think that the Inventory component meets my other need, in fact, because I can now easily jump to the turn track by double clicking on the turn marker in the inventory component.

When you reconnect, you must right-click on the person already in the room and select 'Synchronize'.


Ah! Got it.

Thank you.

Jim
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Usability Improvements

Postby mkiefte » December 15th, 2008, 3:33 pm

With respect, I think right-click and middle-click are too awkward for an action so common.

I needed to pan the map the very first minute that I used the program. After 10 hours, I still don't need to group select counters. I'm sure it comes up, but less frequently.

So I suggest that the group select box be active only when a modifier key is held, and that way pan can be the default dragging action.

You may also want to look at using the Overview Window in the Map Window.


- M.

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Re: Usability Improvements

Postby jimbo » December 15th, 2008, 7:56 pm

mkiefte wrote:You may also want to look at using the Overview Window in the Map Window.


I did see that and made use of it, but panning the map with the mouse would be preferred because the context is maintained. Jumping with a mouse click in the overview window requires some additional time for the user to see exactly what they are looking at in the main window.

Perhaps a nice baby step would be to allow the user to smoothly drag the rectangular box around in the Overview window, rather than jumping the rectangle to surround the cursor.

Thanks for accepting my suggestions.

Jim
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Postby shilinski » December 16th, 2008, 5:13 am

Alternatively, you can have an 'Map Overview' component defined which allows you to quickly move to any part of the map. Contact the owner of the module if it does not have one.


The one problem I have with the Map Overview window is that it is locked to the main map window so that I cannot move it. I find that it gets in the way of what I need to see, so I never use it for map maneuver. It would be very useful (to me) if it were a separate, autonomous window.
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Usability Improvements

Postby uckelman » December 16th, 2008, 10:06 am

Thus spake "shilinski":
Alternatively, you can have an 'Map Overview' component defined which allow
s you to quickly move to any part of the map. Contact the owner of the module
if it does not have one.


The one problem I have with the Map Overview window is that it is locked to t
he main map window so that I cannot move it. I find that it gets in the way o
f what I need to see, so I never use it for map maneuver. It would be very us
eful (to me) if it were a separate, autonomous window.


I intend to implement map dragging when we start the work using JOGL.
I'd like to convert the overview pane to be a roll-down pane which you
can position and resize.

--
J.

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