AndreaKeymasterAugust 18, 2010 at 10:01 pmPost count: 880
This IMPRESSIVE list comes (as a surprise) from our new frien OUTDesigns. From now on is supposed to address him using the title of the Lord of the Tabbles.
The only thing I can say is:
WOW – WOW – WOW
– The first WOW is because this report came free of charge 😮
– The second WOW is because I didn’t know anyone could write so much about our software or any software in general
– The third WOW is because I couldn’t imagine anyone WOULD write so much about our software or any software in general
Below is the report, that comes in 3 parts:
Below are some observations, opinions, requests, ideas and strategies . . . kinda’ a little bit of everything . . . My mind simply "fires away" when I dig into a process like this . . . and should an idea pop into my brain, I immediately write it down and elaborate, as not to loose that thought. That said, should you find that anything is in need of further explanation (perhaps visually), I will be glad to create imagery to further assist you. Much of the feedback is based on "visual" observations of the program (I’m naturally drawn to visual programs). I’ve attempted to cover many areas for you, and tried to keep the explanations from jumping all-over-the-place as sometimes, my brush strokes can be broad (or at least I’m told). Besides, enhancements to the software itself, I’ve tried to offer some value in the areas of marketing the product. I’ve spent a great deal of time studying U.S. consumer buying-habits and impressions over the years, and I hope that all of this can be of some use to you and your colleagues.
This of course, is not a finite list . . . and I’ll keep adding information as I continue to work and familiarize myself with Tabbles.
Apologies if in my haste, that my grammar is a bit off . . . I wanted to get this out to you as several days have passed since first promising it. So, I only conducted a cursory spell/grammar check.
Suggestions for Enhancements/Options:
1. Color Chooser –
Obviously, as a graphic designer, color is very important to me. I appreciate the ability within Tabbles to use color as an organizational tool. However, I think it could use a bit of elaboration. Once completed, it could become a huge asset in the list of Tabbles functions. Suggestions to make this piece of the program stronger . . .
A. Color Selection Grid – the current color creator/chooser while OK, tends to slow things down with adding color. I appreciate the ability to slide and click to find a unique color for my Tabble, but when I’m in the "need for speed" – I’d like to be able to see a color-grid where specific choices are presented in a manner that would allow me to select the same color quickly, time and time again.
B. Eye-Dropper – which the user could drag across screen (anywhere across the screen . . . within the Tabbles program or not) in order to sample colors of folders, images or projects already in use as a way to match them.
C. Organization – Currently, Tabbles offers the ability to create Tabble colors as well as name those colors. But, no way to display those creations in an organized manner. The named colors are simply shown in an ever-lengthening list. The current system seems a bit crude. A cleaner, clearer look would improve this feature.
2. Fonts –
A. Text – add the ability for the user to add Bold, Underlined, italicized words to the Tabble.
B. Fonts – Offer the ability to change fonts. The standard Tabbles font seems to get lost at times. The ability to change the font would go a long way to help with organization.
C. Font Color – Add the ability to change the color of font used to label a Tabble. Black and white has its limitations – and right now the choice of black or white text is being decided by Tabbles depending upon the depth of a chosen hue. Already, there were times when my choice would have been the opposite. Besides, graphic artists don’t like those kinds choices being made for them.
3. Graphic Identifiers –
A. Icons – Offer the ability to personalize the Tabbles by importing icons to them.
B. Image Files – Offer the ability of importing .png, .jpg, .gif files, etc. in order to add to the ability to bubble-personalization.
C. Borders – Ability to manipulate border thicknesses of the Tabbles bubbles (or perhaps just a few selections . . . thin, default & thick) along with the ability to colorize.
Summary: Add the ability to enhance Tabbles with changeable fonts, colors and imagery and the combinations would be infinite . . . I can also see this as beneficial for users organizing their Tabbles to match other programs or systems which have already been established. The more Tabbles can do its job of organizing the user in a way which offers the least amount of disruption, the better. . . Personal Example: I’m a big Gmail user and I utilize the hell out of their "labels" as a way to organize and color-code my email categories. I have the same label and color combos created for several accounts – I always know where to look and where to find something immediately by its label color. Matching my "Tabbles to my Labels" 🙂 in Gmail would be insanely cool and keep my systems consistent throughout.
4. Inherited Characteristics –
A. Tabbles bubbles should have the ability to copy or inherit the identifying information or imagery of their parents – perhaps make this optional.
B. Along the same line, when a file is placed inside a Tabble-bubble its identifying information (file name, extension or representative image/icon) could instinctively inherit the visual characteristics of the parent-bubble (color, style, font ,etc).
5. A Quick-Look Inside –
As a way of offering a "quick glace" into the contents of a Tabbles Bubble, offer a function which displays a folder’s contents or stats in a pop-up window as the user’s cursor rolls over the bubble. Especially with the "Gallery view", which now shows almost no identifying information and when you do apply the cursor to a file, the pop-up supplies the user with "the usual".
6. A Quick-View Of the File –
Elaborating on #6 . . . Add the ability for Tabbles to read and display a brief snapshot-view of the actual file when a cursor is applied (not simply name, location, etc. as is shown now). The power in Tabbles is its ability to associate files with tags, however the result of this is often large collections of files bearing the same name or identifying information (especially for webmasters such as myself . . . I wind-up with 35 "index.html" files, 40 "aboutus.htm" files, etc. – and since Tabbles is a "visual" organization tool, it would make sense to offer a significantly more specific means of choosing the file you want. For me, that would be a visual representation of the actual file . . . the first several lines of a text file or a thumbed version of an html page file, etc.
7. A Quick-Look Outside –
The ability to add "descriptive" tag or a text group to each bubble (i.e. an "alt-tag" which will optionally display when rolled over by the user’s cursor).
8. Organizational Views –
Offer the ability to adjust bubble hierarchy view styles (Tree, stacks, columns, mappings, etc). . . perhaps a view with "connections" indicated like the image on the Tabbles home page (lines).
9. Bubble Size –
Enhance the system to manipulate the display-size of the bubbles. Small, Default and Large are OK, but the program’s "large" bubble isn’t really very large . . . and when selecting the "Gallery View", Tabbles seems to enlarge the users icons into big, pixelated, blurs. Graphic artists use various screen resolutions and need to be given the ability to compensate for how this influences the way bubbles display on the screen (preferable without user intervention).
10. Security –
Add an option to "secure" individual bubbles to prevent outside access, encryption, or to add an even stricter form of tagging . . . one for times when creating a rule won’t work. The bubble would only allow a file to be included inside the bubble if the user entered the correct password. This would be good for down-and-dirty additions or simply when creating an entire rule would be the long way around.
11. Protection –
The ability to lock and encrypt the bubbles (with a built-in password generator). You may have already added something to this effect with your "sharing" system. At this point, I haven’t explored your newest enhancements.
12. Tagging Rules –
Ahhh . . . the tagging-rules . . . how I love thee . . . lol! These little guys are a major reason why Tabbles has set-itself-apart from other file organization software . . . and while these are pivotal to the program, I’m already beginning to become overwhelmed by the number of rules I’ve created thus far. So now, I’m unsure whether I have created a rule which I need, or not. Like the "created colors", the rules are displayed in a rather unorganized manner. Simply in an ever-lengthening list . . . thus in my mind, defeating the purpose and mission of the software. Shouldn’t organizational software be completely organized itself? In my opinion, the systems/lists produced by the program should never add to the problem, but instead must to be presented in a manner which supports the mission of Tabbles at all times.
A. Rule Alts – I’d like to see the associated "rule" pop-up as an alt-tag when my cursor ran over the bubble.
B. Rule Views – the ability to organized the rules in the same manner as the program (or just have it happen by default). Add the ability for the user to select how the rules are to be shown (by file-trees, file types, folders, common-rules, colors, etc.)
C. Rule Colors – the ability to "color" the rules . . . or have them inherit the color of the bubble they "work for".
D. Rule Reports – Include the availability to print categorized rule lists.
13. Timing of the Rules Pop-Ups –
The length of time in which the pop-up field displays in the lower-right corner of the screen is too short (even when the selected the length is set at "long"). As a new user, trying to read all those pop-ups and reacting before they slip away is challenge. Most of the time, I miss them or ignore them as I know how quickly they will slip away (and by doing so, I’m really not keeping myself organized). Perhaps an option to have them remain displayed until the user clicks on them individually?
14. Reporting –
Offer the ability to print Tabbles file lists, directory-maps, or create and display information graphically (create them as PDFs?).
Broadening the use for Tabbles . . .
Below, are simply a few added ideas that came to me during this evaluation process . . . use them or toss them. Some of these may cause you to think "is he nuts?" . . . but hey, there are no stupid ideas, right?
1. Organizational Templates –
Pre-designed "masters" created as various forms of folder-hierarchies offered as a "quick-start" to using Tabbles. Types could include; one designed for business, one for graphic designers, photographers, newbies, music collections, movie collections, sales organizations, etc.
To explain further: Say there was a predefined Tabbles organizational system for "teachers". It would have a system with Tabbles pre-defined as:
G. Parent Conferences
H. Team Meetings
I. Lesson Plans
The possibilities could be endless. Some of these (the more "generic" systems should be built into the installation package and offered during a set-up wizard, while others could be downloaded from a master "Tabbles Organization Library" on the your website. Perhaps, the users themselves could eventually create their own and upload them to the library to share with other users, thus encouraging forum contributions and collaboration.
The process: The user would select the Tabbles" predefined system nearest the filing-system they wish to create . . . apply it . . . and adapt it to their needs by changing the file names or adding sub-folders (dynamically would be nice) and let her rip! So, while Tabbles can by default, step-in and organize a messy hard-drive – it could also offer a way to develop new forms of file organization as the need arises.
I can see a whole "Library" of "File Systems" for "Tabbles" there. Allowing you to tap-into dozens (if not hundreds) of professional fields where a system such as Tabbles would be so very effective. Additionally, offering a predefined system would definitely help build an early sense of confidence and comfort for the user. Reducing the learning curve even further.
2. Perhaps a "Genealogy" version of Tabbles for those wishing to organize their family-trees.
3. A "Web" version of Tabbles which dynamically assists webmasters in the creation of site-maps, FAQ or Help Systems. I can see the program used in the same manner to create these Internet-based organizational systems as it’s used on a desktop. Resulting in a very unique user experience on a website as they click through the Tabbles bubbles on the FAQ page or other information. I’d like to see Tabbles as a Plug-in or Widget for different content management systems or admin-dashboards.
4. Add the ability to link Tabbles with a website in order to display data systems. As information or files are added, deleted or changed – the information changes dynamically on the website. Tabbles bubbles that become sort of like individual "drop-boxes" sending the information placed within immediately on it’s way to another person or uploaded to a server (FTP use?) . . . Again, you may already have this going with your "shared" Tabbles version. My apologies if you do (and congrats!).
5. Feedback Function –
I’ve always wondered why developers did not make it simpler to provide feedback. . . . Like a function-key which when hit, would create a simple pop-up window or WYSIWYG where the feedback or idea can be immediately entered – with options to "Save" locally for editing later, or to "Send" it immediately on it’s way to you and/or the Tabbles forum. You want feedback? . . . I bet this would get you fast feedback! . . . no logging-in or clicking through a forum (helpful for users unfamiliar with how to use them, and believe me, there are many who do not know how to use community-based forums). You would get a constant stream of fresh feedback as the software was tested. The tool could be available during beta-testing, and then removed from the final version of the software (or not).
A discussion concerning the Tabbles update-process – I’m going to explain the steps I went through last week when updating Tabbles, and the impression the process left with me afterwards. Ultimately, the best way to update the program would be if the entire process was automated. I can also say with confidence that programs , after I grant the OK to update, which proceed to download and install the update without interaction from me, give me extra confidence in a program and its development.
Here is what I had to go through to update the program . . .
A). Tabbles informed me an update was available through a pop-up asking me if I wanted to download the update (this was perfectly expected to me).
B). I responded by clicking "yes", but instead of commencing to download the update, my browser was started and I was taken to the Tabbles website page for the update. After clicking on the obvious button, a normal download began (this indicated to me that the update would need to be specifically installed by myself. While this is OK, the program did initially gave me the impression that selecting "yes" to the update request would be enough for Tabbles to do it all by itself. I am a big fan of software that takes care of itself. Don’t forget we are busy trying to organize ourselves, so a self-sufficient program only seems to make sense here.
C). Additionally, the update page of the Tabbles website declared in large, bold type that the update was free (even for GOTD members) . . . but, after closer inspection I could see a tiny, thin line of text below it stating that the offer had expired. Again, if the offer is expired, that’s perfectly OK . . . however, it’s not the best practice to tell your users one thing and then slip-in a tiny little addendum below. Now-a-days, consumers are pretty savvy when it comes to software purchases and they’re "looking" for one, single reason NOT to buy . . . and this could be it. This just doesn’t look good and makes the user feel that Tabbles marketing tactics may be less than honorable. I myself am of the impression that you and the Tabbles Team are completely in the up-and-up . . . but only say to warn you that others could easily get a different impression . . . and THOSE impressions are quite difficult to erase after they’re planted. Just remove the "free update" information, and you’ve fixed the problem.
D). Once downloaded, I clicked on the file to begin the update process . . . and after a few seconds I was greeted by a pop-up telling me that the "Tabbles" program and my "Program Manager" were preventing the update (hummm . . . Tabbles keeps itself from updating?). I proceeded to shut-down "Tabbles". However, I had no other programs open but my browser (which Tabbles opened for me). and I had forgotten to close this prior to the update. I then closed Firefox and re-started the update. But again, I was greeted by the pop-up claiming to be unable to update the files due to my "Program Manager" being open. I started my Windows® Task Manager in order to look for any open programs, tasks or services which could be the cause. But, I found none. So as a final resort, I restarted my computer. But, after restarting the update again (3rd attempt, for those who are counting, lol) the same pop-up came into play. So, in an attempt to simply end my agony and proceed with the update, I selected the "continue" button from the update’s pop-up window, and the yes, the Tabbles update continued on its way and finished . . . and although it had completed, I was left wondering if some files had been skipped by Tabbles during the update and whether I would need to re-run all of my "rules" or some other process to correct what had been skipped. To add additional information for you . . . I do use a shell program to keep my software collection easily within reach. I use tons of different software in my field and a "shell" helps a great deal. I use a program called Aston Desktop (Aston 2) and although this may fall under the category of "eye candy" for most, I myself have found a way to use it for vital organization (Windows® does a terrible job at organizing programs (this has been resolved somewhat with Windows 7® – But for those who haven’t updated their OS, I can confidently say most normal users are going to hang onto Windows XP® until it’s pulled from their cold, dead fingers). Anyhow, could this (the shell program) be the cause of the pop-up? Is Tabbles calling my shell program the "program manager" during the update? If so . . . you may wish to look into that and let users know they’re required to shut down any shells before updating.
E). Restarts . . . First impressions are everything in this biz (I’m sure you’re well aware of that) . . . and what I’ve noticed with most users is their distaste for software which makes assumptions or requires an action "after the fact". Warn the user ahead of time, that they may be required to restart their system after an update (and make it obvious, and in their face). Restarting your computer is almost unheard of these days. So, while I completely understand the need for such an action, it would be quite refreshing to be advised of this before the process begins. I have spent long hours reading through the user-comments on GOTD and other software testing websites as they give me insight to how to best market my services and products. Even though I do not develop software, I do have a couple very successful e-commerce websites (1 of which brought in 1.4 million dollars in sales in 9 months). So, I’ve noticed that "system-restarts" are a common gripe among users across the board. Now understand that most of these comments are from users with just enough knowledge of the workings of a computer and their OS to be "dangerous" . . . and whether these comments are logical or not, restarting your system after software updates seems to give software a bad name (as if the development that is rather behind the times). So, squelch it ahead of time by forewarning users.
In conclusion, my suggestion (if possible) that all updates require little to no interaction with the user, and if during the update process, Tabbles finds a program open, that it offers to "close" the program and continue on its way . . . instead of slamming on the brakes like it does right now.
"Auto-tagging rule editor" – pop-up window –
1. In the upper-right corner, I noticed the same gray-ish image (above and to the right of the search field).
2. Add a "copy" or "duplicate" option as a short-cut to creating tagging-rules which are similar – along with enough validation that if the user didn’t make at least 1 change to the "copy" then Tabbles wouldn’t allow the rule to be created. I could see this providing some definite time savings.
3. After the user "activates" a rule (turns blue – very nice!) – Allow him/her to right-click and be offered the same selections as at the top of the window ("copy" too).
4. If the user double-clicks on a rule – it shuold automatically open in the "edit" window.
5. Anytime "delete" is selected, a confirmation should pop-up before it’s removed – Followed by a "undo" option. While testing things here for you, I hit delete – a rule vanished – and I have no idea which one it was. Would have loved a chance to "undo" that one. I’ll figure it out somewhere down the line, I’m sure.
– Today, while "Tabbling" – I noticed a few weird things concerning what was displaying inside some pop-up windows. Here’s a list of what I noticed, and some related suggestions. Nothing earth-shattering of course, but a while back I was a proof-reader (for 10 long years) and my eyes are still trained to notice those sort of tiny details . . . and I figured, the more professional the Tabbles UI, the better for you, right?
While creating a new Tabble . . .
1. "Create a new tabble" pop-up window –
A – Capitalization
B – The letter "n" in "name" – and the letter "C" in "Color" and the "C" in "Create" (button) are underlined.
2. "New folder shortcut" tab of the "Create new tabble" pop-up window –
A – The letter "l" in "location" – and the letter "n" in "name" are underlined.
2. "New color" pop-up window –
A – The number "4" appears when cursor rolls over the "Create" button (some sort of alt-tag?).
3. "Edit color" pop-up window –
A – The number "4" appears when cursor rolls over the "Ok" button (some sort of alt-tag?).
4. "Select a Color" pop-up window –
A – The window title has "Color" capitalized while it is not on other window titles.
B – scRGB, sRGB & Hexadecimal Notation fields show no indication that a field is "active" when selected.
5. "Manage colors" pop-up window –
A – Color list should be at the very least, alphabetized (ascending/descending). Perhaps offering options options of color-organization which indicate color-relationships (I may have mentioned this in my other email).
B – located to the upper-far-right of the window (to the far right of the options) is what appears to be an odd gray-ish image.
C – "Delete color" option – #1 -When selected, pop-up window title states "Error" – perhaps it should state "Warning" as "error" indicates to me that there is a software/Windows® problem). . . . #2 -According to the "error" text – deleting the color will cause Tabbles to re-assign the Tabbles currently using it to another color (the 1st color). To me, that isn’t really helping with organization – when you think about it, it could really mess-up someone’s system. I’d suggest that this option is "re-thought" . . . maybe, not allowing the user to delete a color until all Tabbles associated with it have been assigned to another color. Perhaps not even showing the option at all as default – and when the user clicks or activates a specific color from the drop-down list (and that activated color had no Tabbles assigned to it), the option would then appear where it is presently.
Andrea is speaking again now:
I guess you now understand why I WOWed and why OUTDesigns earned the title of the Lord of the Tabbles :ugeek:
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