Usability: Performing Single Tasks Seems Disjoint?

Discuss the current and future development of Max.
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Do you like the multiple progress dialogs? (5=like, 1=dislike)

(5) Yes. (They are better than what any other programs use.)
1
5%
(4) Moderately Like. (They may not be the best, but they are pleasant to see/use.)
3
16%
(3) ---. (Post some likes and dislikes below.)
2
11%
(2) Moderately Dislike.
3
16%
(1) No. (They feel odd to see/use when ripping or converting.)
10
53%
 
Total votes: 19

floatinglist
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Usability: Performing Single Tasks Seems Disjoint?

Post by floatinglist » Tue Jun 13, 2006 4:30 am

I've posted a feature request, and, rather than copying and pasting, I'd like to link to it:

http://sbooth.org/tracker/view.php?id=133

(Maybe this will encourage more use of the issue/bug/feature tracker.)

Does anyone else feel that the process of ripping a CD or converting files with Max is a little disjoint? In the feature request, I talked some about involving the use of less windows in a task. For instance, currently, ripping a CD involves the CD info window, 2 or more progress windows (and maybe even a trip to the preferences pane).

What do you think of the iTunes ripping framework? There, when you press the rip button (or select tracks to convert or copy--any time you perform the task of adding something new to the library), the track stays in the same place on the screen, there is something indicating if the track is active (waiting or completed), and there is something indicating when everything is finished (when the task is finished). I wonder if something like this where the user knows where to look for the track (and see its progress) and is shown that a single task (changing a list of files) is being performed--if something like this would help doing things in Max seem more intuitive/natural/cohesive.

What other usability ideas are floating in the air now?

I'll leave a quick poll, too, about the multiple progress dialogs. Maybe they are a positive feature for most people!

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Fuga
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Post by Fuga » Tue Jun 13, 2006 11:06 pm

Criminy! How can so many view this poll and not vote?

33 views and 4 votes

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sbooth
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Post by sbooth » Thu Jun 15, 2006 4:07 am

I think this could turn out to be a very productive discussion! Much of Max's architecture is a result of the way it evolved from a simple cd ripper onwards. I think UI improvement is something that would be worth investigating.

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Fuga
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Post by Fuga » Fri Jun 16, 2006 4:12 pm

With the addition of flexibity in preset formats I think the GUI is decent for now. I'd still like, and have posted feature requests for, more ease in managing output locations.

However, I have been tempted to post a poll asking how many, like me, believe/wish the one feature necessary, before Max takes its rightful place, is EAC quality ripping. No other feature/need comes close, at least for me.

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Post by maya » Sat Jun 17, 2006 2:04 am

Fuga wrote:With the addition of flexibity in preset formats I think the GUI is decent for now. I'd still like, and have posted feature requests for, more ease in managing output locations.

However, I have been tempted to post a poll asking how many, like me, believe/wish the one feature necessary, before Max takes its rightful place, is EAC quality ripping. No other feature/need comes close, at least for me.
Agreed!
“Unless you’ve seen KISS live, you don't understand the band.” —Paul Stanley, KISS. (2003).

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Post by kefa » Sat Jun 17, 2006 8:37 am

Fuga wrote:With the addition of flexibity in preset formats I think the GUI is decent for now. I'd still like, and have posted feature requests for, more ease in managing output locations.

However, I have been tempted to post a poll asking how many, like me, believe/wish the one feature necessary, before Max takes its rightful place, is EAC quality ripping. No other feature/need comes close, at least for me.
I'd second that given that I'm going to the trouble of ripping to FLAC the most important thing for me is to get a bit perfect copy.

btw. I have a workaround for me for the output locations for me: create a couple of symbolic links using the ln command. I guess it would be more convenient to set this up via Max itself.

hybrid:~/Music/Max Rip Output dan$ ls -al
total 32
drwxr-xr-x 5 dan dan 170 Jun 14 19:42 .
drwx------ 8 dan dan 272 Jun 9 17:10 ..
-rw-r--r-- 1 dan dan 6148 Jun 14 19:42 .DS_Store
lrwxr-xr-x 1 dan dan 46 Jun 9 17:17 FLAC -> /Users/Shared/Music/Squeezebox Music/Originals
lrwxr-xr-x 1 dan dan 49 Jun 9 17:19 MP3 -> /Users/Shared/Music/iTunes Music/Transcoded Music

Hermie
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Post by Hermie » Sun Jun 18, 2006 3:23 pm

Me too! Secure Ripping a la EAC if possible, please. I don't have any problems with coughing up some $$ for a fair shareware price either.

I already donated to Cog and would really like to be able to post some rips that people will actually download. They won't without a Log and the knowledge that the app rips secure...

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Fuga
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Post by Fuga » Sun Jun 18, 2006 4:04 pm

hybrid:~/Music/Max Rip Output dan$ ls -al
total 32
drwxr-xr-x 5 dan dan 170 Jun 14 19:42 .
drwx------ 8 dan dan 272 Jun 9 17:10 ..
-rw-r--r-- 1 dan dan 6148 Jun 14 19:42 .DS_Store
lrwxr-xr-x 1 dan dan 46 Jun 9 17:17 FLAC -> /Users/Shared/Music/Squeezebox Music/Originals
lrwxr-xr-x 1 dan dan 49 Jun 9 17:19 MP3 -> /Users/Shared/Music/iTunes Music/Transcoded Music
:shock:

English, please? Hehe. Aw, I can wait for Max.

Just glad to know it's doable.

floatinglist
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Post by floatinglist » Sun Jun 18, 2006 5:09 pm

Fuga wrote:
hybrid:~/Music/Max Rip Output dan$ ls -al
total 32
drwxr-xr-x 5 dan dan 170 Jun 14 19:42 .
drwx------ 8 dan dan 272 Jun 9 17:10 ..
-rw-r--r-- 1 dan dan 6148 Jun 14 19:42 .DS_Store
lrwxr-xr-x 1 dan dan 46 Jun 9 17:17 FLAC -> /Users/Shared/Music/Squeezebox Music/Originals
lrwxr-xr-x 1 dan dan 49 Jun 9 17:19 MP3 -> /Users/Shared/Music/iTunes Music/Transcoded Music
:shock:

English, please? Hehe. Aw, I can wait for Max.

Just glad to know it's doable.
This is in the terminal.

Symlinks are like the Finder aliases, but aren't the same.
(Geek speak: they are lower level, and, unlike the aliases, include the execute bits which allow you to navigate them in the terminal. They work in the Finder, too.)

If you know the terminal some, you can make your own symlinks if you need them desperately!

It looks like Fuga did this:
1) Set Max output to

Code: Select all

{fileFormat}/{the normal}
2) Opened the terminal, and typed this:

Code: Select all

ln -s [Full target directory] [Full Max output shortcut directory]
Read here (simple Google search result--nothing special): [url]http://help.hardhathosting.com/question.php/95[\url] about the ln -s command in terminal if you want.

It might work to do this easier way, too,
1) Open Finder to the target directory (e.g., /Users/Shared/Music/Squeezebox Music/Originals), open another Finder in the Max output directory, and
2) Drag the Originals directory icon (at top of finder) to Max output directory
3) Press [Apple]+[Option]
4) Release

This should create an alias (which should work in Max). You can rename the alias like you can rename any other file or folder. Rename the alias to what Max uses for the fileFormat, and you're set. Repeat with any other formats you wish to use.

(Hmm. Why hadn't I though of doing this yet? Usually, I do this manual thing: set iTunes to never copy music to its folder, rip CDs with Max, drag and drop the MP3 encoded files into iTunes, then drag and drop the encoded files to the permanent home.)

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Fuga
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Post by Fuga » Sun Jun 18, 2006 6:17 pm

Nice try, floatinglist! And I will play with it some. Until then, I do as you describe at the end - just a lot of drag/drop. I just wish for something a bit more elegant. With Max already doing so much it's hard to keep in mind it's not even a v.1 yet!

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jiho
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Max UI suggestion

Post by jiho » Mon Jul 24, 2006 8:35 am

Apparently having many windows seems deprecated in the poll answers. I also think a monolithic interface would be more appropriate for Max. In addition I think it would be neat to be able to set ripping and encoding parameters directly in the main window, without having to open the prefs. Here is a new interface suggestion, with legends written on it.
Ripper and encoder settings are accessible. Encoder "profiles" could streamline the workflow. Track information is displayed and edited a la iTunes which is not too bad and has the advantage of being known by the user. Eventually this could call Tag also.
Please feel free to comment this.
PS: I can send the NIB file though I still have problems with hidden portions (like ripper settings which require bindings with active ripper pop up button).

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JiHO

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sbooth
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Re: Max UI suggestion

Post by sbooth » Tue Jul 25, 2006 3:11 am

jiho wrote:Apparently having many windows seems deprecated in the poll answers. I also think a monolithic interface would be more appropriate for Max. In addition I think it would be neat to be able to set ripping and encoding parameters directly in the main window, without having to open the prefs. Here is a new interface suggestion, with legends written on it.
Ripper and encoder settings are accessible. Encoder "profiles" could streamline the workflow. Track information is displayed and edited a la iTunes which is not too bad and has the advantage of being known by the user. Eventually this could call Tag also.
Please feel free to comment this.
I really like several aspects of this design! There are one or two things that I'm not the hugest fan of, also. I'll start with my positive impressions:
  • I like the ability to select the ripper- it more closely follows the Apple HIG and removes something from the preferences that may not belong there
  • I like the way one can select encoders and save them as sets. This seems it could simplify things greatly for many users.
I don't really like the way a user would have to open an additional window or drawer to edit metadata. Personally, I think I would like to see something like the existing CD window with all of the common metadata easily accessible. A click on the encode button would pop a sheet dialog into view, containing the ripper selection and encoder selection panels.

I guess it is important to define the way a "typical" user will use Max to make audio from CDs. I see the progress like this:
  • Insert the CD
  • Download metadata from cddb or MusicBrainz
  • Download album art
  • Tweak the metadata
  • Rip + encode
I guess I feel that the metadata should be a central part of the window that corresponds to a CD, since it represents a real object that has these properties.

I'm a bit torn on the status/progress drawer- since Max is used also to convert files, a window is needed for displaying the status of conversion. Assuming that window is necessary (is it?), would it be logical to have only one "Tasks" window displaying the status of the ripping and encoding as well along with the conversion progress?

While I'm rambling, I can also see an argument for including advanced information on the sheet dialog I mentioned with the ripper and encoder selection. Similar to the way the new file conversion interface looks, where the output directory, tmp directory and file naming would be configurable as well. Basically moving a bunch of stuff from the preferences out of there.

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jiho
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Re: Max UI suggestion

Post by jiho » Wed Jul 26, 2006 3:36 pm

Thanks for the feedback. I'm glad you like this design.
sbooth wrote:I don't really like the way a user would have to open an additional window or drawer to edit metadata. Personally, I think I would like to see something like the existing CD window with all of the common metadata easily accessible. A click on the encode button would pop a sheet dialog into view, containing the ripper selection and encoder selection panels.
I guess it is important to define the way a "typical" user will use Max to make audio from CDs. I see the progress like this:
  • Insert the CD
  • Download metadata from cddb or MusicBrainz
  • Download album art
  • Tweak the metadata
  • Rip + encode
I guess I feel that the metadata should be a central part of the window that corresponds to a CD, since it represents a real object that has these properties.
I thought about how to present as much information as possible in as little space as possible. I completely agree with you on the fact that metadata is central in Max and I actually follow the exact steps you describe each time I use Max. My "arguments" in choosing this interface (simple table without the CD wide info as is currently present in Max) were:
1. Displaying cd wide info induces a lot of repetition when browsing at the track level (= displays "same as CD") and the track level is the level where the user probably want to make changes.
2. Most info is correctly retrieved in CDDB which reduces metadata editing tasks (tough metadata is central, metadata editing might not take so much time/UI interaction)
3. When little metadata editing occurs it is often in the track title (changes capitalisation, correct spelling mistakes etc.) and this can be done here given that the text in the table is editable (=a la iTunes)
4. Given point 2, mass metadata editing is probably not very frequent and I thought it was better not to clutter the main interface with mass metadata editing functionality and have a powerful tool in a separate window when mass metadata editing is necessary. I find iTunes multi-file metadata editing intuitive (it's basically the same that single file) yet powerful. The repetitions of "Same as album" in current interface of Max don't look really good to me.
Now, I am not completely satisfied with this however because:
- when the name of the album or artists in a non-compilation album have to be edited for a small error, the only way to do this directly in this interface (i.e. without opening an additional window) is to repeat the edit on each line. Faaaar from optimal. I don't know about thee extendability of SPTable class but if data could be expanded in the whole collumn given a small UI interaction (like double click on a cell) this would be very slick
- adding genre is not provided in the main interface... but it could be just another collumn. I just thought is was a bit to much on such a small space. But if Max is to be truly one-windowish then the window could be made fullscreen and more information could be put in the table.
sbooth wrote:I'm a bit torn on the status/progress drawer- since Max is used also to convert files, a window is needed for displaying the status of conversion. Assuming that window is necessary (is it?), would it be logical to have only one "Tasks" window displaying the status of the ripping and encoding as well along with the conversion progress?
Actually I never converted files with Max before but I tested it now and I think that the file conversion interface should be a bit more elaborate. Namely: it should look like the CD ripping interface, with a greyed "Ripper" box. Indeed, one might want to edit metadata provided in original files before conversion (think at downloaded files with crappy metadata). So the "Convert files" command should open files in a new window just like this one and functionality there should be the same. The progress at the bottom of this window would refer to the tracks being converted.
sbooth wrote:While I'm rambling, I can also see an argument for including advanced information on the sheet dialog I mentioned with the ripper and encoder selection. Similar to the way the new file conversion interface looks, where the output directory, tmp directory and file naming would be configurable as well. Basically moving a bunch of stuff from the preferences out of there.
I thought about the naming thing afterwards. Indeed I think it should be included in the main interface, under Ripper and Encoder boxes. I think it should not be part of encoding profiles. what do you think?

what about this:
Image
"Format specifier" is something like {Track Number}, {Format} and so on. BibDesk (a bibliography app) uses this kind of stuff when filling pdf files related to a specific bib item: they can be named "Year/Author_Title.pdf". This is similar to what is done in prefs but Bibdesk uses a dropdown menu for this (instead of buttons) which is smaller yet usable enough.

floatinglist
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Post by floatinglist » Fri Aug 11, 2006 7:00 am

The mockups look great for one reason: there is a single screen where the user can do everything one would ordinarily do. Well, it's an attempt. It seems that all users would want some type of progress list and status indicator (answering the question 'is it finished--can turn off my computer yet, or do I have a few more hours?'). The other things which should be included seems like guesswork and listening to users over time.

Maybe the list could eventually let people select which meta-data are shown in the columns (as is done in iTunes) while keeping a decent default set. I mostly use the list view in Tag, but occasionally use the first tab (which shows all the data for a track). Perhaps we should take a cue from Apple and use something like its Get Info dialog for those who don't want 20 columns of meta-data. (I don't know the pros and cons of using a pop up versus a drawer for this.)

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