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PostPosted: Tue, 02-10-12, 11:52 GMT 
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Recently, I have returned to do some more work on celestia.Sci's User Interface (Qt). About this important aspect I would certainly appreciate comments and / or further suggestions.

My extensive coding concerned mainly the toolbar and the Preferences dialog. Actually, for this work with Qt widgets I always use Qt Creator with it's very useful integrated Qt Designer tool.

Let me start by a comparison of the latest SVN version of Celestia's Qt interface and the results of my UI work with celestia.Sci:

Image

Please note:
  • First of all, I designed a set of new icons. Given their small size on the toolbar, such a task is always a challenge. On 64x64 pixel, it is pretty hard to create intuitively understandable graphical messages! But I think I succeeded pretty well:

    I used only TWO colors throughout: A darkened version of Celestia's (blueish) text color AND a signal red to conspicuously mark the feature that is to be controlled by the respective icon.

    I suppose you can see well the red orbit, grid, marker, ecliptic line and constellation lines (Cas). The orbit, grid and label (A) icons now all have respective menu entries that are displayed by clicking on the black arrows to the right of the respective icons. These entries are shown in turn in some screenshots further below.

  • The 4 grid types are now moved into the menu of the grid icon. This shortens the toolbar entries and creates a more systematic look without increasing the effort of access to a particular grid type.

  • A neat feature that I systematically implemented is that on all icons (including those with menues) the ON | OFF state can be toggled by clicking on them! So suppose you activated certain orbits for some special purpose. Then a simple click on the orbit icon hides ALL these orbits. Another click gets you back at the previous orbit selection.

    This feature is certainly handy for orbits, grids and labels.


Here are a few screendumps with various opened toolbar menus shown:

You may cumulatively toggle the selected grids (sometimes more than one!) by clicking on the red grids icon!Image
Image

You may cumulatively toggle the selected orbits (usually more than one!) by clicking on the red orbits icon! Image
Image

You may cumulatively toggle the selected labels by clicking on the labels icon!
Image
Image

You can also see that the various activated icons are darkened. In the last image
e.g. the Planet, Moon and Minor Moon labels are checked. Also activated are the marker and constellation icons.

For the "constellation boundary" icon (B) to the right, I am still lacking a good idea within only 64x64 pixels ;-).

In a subsequent post, I'll present my modifications of the Preferences dialog.

Enjoy,
Fridger


Last edited by t00fri on Tue, 02-10-12, 17:01 GMT, edited 8 times in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue, 02-10-12, 12:45 GMT 
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Pretty hard to comment such delicate topic without manipulating the UI... Your red signage system is fine and do the job very well. For your boundary icon, you could perhaps rework the constellation's one and use it for both purpose, with red constellation in first case and red boundary in the second case...

A long time ago I made some mockups for ChrisL regarding an exclusive complete new UI for Celestia; if you want I can send you the picts, it may gives you some ideas...


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PostPosted: Tue, 02-10-12, 13:29 GMT 
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Christophe,

thanks for your comments. I know for testing a UI one needs the "real feel"...I hope it won't be too long.

ElChristou wrote:
Pretty hard to comment such delicate topic without manipulating the UI... Your red signage system is fine and do the job very well. For your boundary icon, you could perhaps rework the constellation's one and use it for both purpose, with red constellation in first case and red boundary in the second case...


Good idea for the 'B' icon ! I'll try it, yet 64x64 is really small and actually sometimes they are reduced to 32x32.

Quote:
A long time ago I made some mockups for ChrisL regarding an exclusive complete new UI for Celestia; if you want I can send you the picts, it may gives you some ideas...

If you don't mind giving them out of hands, I'll be glad. On the other hand, it's perhaps also good to try and go "beyond Celestia" from the start, since with time the celestia.Sci UI will HAVE to look increasingly different from a Celestia UI. Not only because of icons, but because there are many new settings like
  • color profiles,
  • optional overlay plots of data base entries,
  • various statistics options for these plots,
  • settings to display parameter uncertainties,
  • settings to display multiple star property of stars in info popup (from adding double star catalog info) etc.

that have no counterpart in Celestia.

Regards,
Fridger


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PostPosted: Tue, 02-10-12, 14:09 GMT 
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What about a specific thread for the future UI? Such topic is pretty vast by itself, specially if you want to discuss the "philosophy" behind Celestia.Sci -> target? Professionals only? Vulgarization for general public? Such thread could be used to define precisely the specifications you want here, then once this is done and well done, the mechanisms and details can be tuned...

Concerning the old mockup, keep in mind it was at the time of the changes to Qt, it was of course based on Celestia's existing UI and it's add-on management, so not much in common with what you want. Now it was a test to give an exclusive UI to the soft, with it's own graphic specifications (color chart, style)... It's from this point of view you may perhaps think (or not!) about something specific to your tool. I send you this by email in a moment.


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PostPosted: Tue, 02-10-12, 14:29 GMT 
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ElChristou wrote:
What about a specific thread for the future UI? Such topic is pretty vast by itself, specially if you want to discuss the "philosophy" behind Celestia.Sci -> target? Professionals only? Vulgarization for general public? Such thread could be used to define precisely the specifications you want here, then once this is done and well done, the mechanisms and details can be tuned...


Good idea! I'll open a separate UI discussion thread ASAP and move that UI here stuff over. Tonight we have guests for dinner. So it may take a little while...

Quote:
Concerning the old mockup, keep in mind it was at the time of the changes to Qt, it was of course based on Celestia's existing UI and it's add-on management, so not much in common with what you want. Now it was a test to give an exclusive UI to the soft, with it's own graphic specifications (color chart, style)... It's from this point of view you may perhaps think (or not!) about something specific to your tool. I send you this by email in a moment.


That's what I figured. Since we have extensively collaborated in the past, I guess I have a good idea of your general likings in this respect... (most of which i DO share!)

Fridger


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PostPosted: Tue, 02-10-12, 14:50 GMT 
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A quick photoshoping on a 64x64 icon: using your basic idea, for the constellations could become:

Image

then for boundaries:

Image


Note that this is far from being the exact replica of Cassiopeia's boundarie!! :wink:


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PostPosted: Tue, 02-10-12, 14:55 GMT 
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ElChristou wrote:
A quick photoshoping on a 64x64 icon: using your basic idea, for the constellations could become:

Image

then for boundaries:

Image


Note that this is far from being the exact replica of Cassiopeia's boundarie!! :wink:


Excellent Christophe! I was afraid that adding the boundary will make the icon TOO busy. But NO, it looks fine and you balanced the shape of the boundary to profit from the empty space! Also to use the blue color for making the "anti-feature" is great ;-)

Thanks,
Fridger


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 Post subject: re
PostPosted: Tue, 02-10-12, 20:14 GMT 
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you could remove the time icons

other that when i fixed the svn code to get them to show up

I have NEVER USED THEM

personally they are just in the way

<k> and <l> are mush easier than a mouse

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 Post subject: Re: re
PostPosted: Wed, 03-10-12, 10:31 GMT 
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John Van Vliet wrote:
you could remove the time icons

other that when i fixed the svn code to get them to show up

I have NEVER USED THEM

personally they are just in the way

<k> and <l> are mush easier than a mouse


John,

same with me: I never used these time icons before I started with re-coding the UI. In fact, they are handy after getting used to a bit. Also many people don't like remembering key shortcuts. The time icons use symbols that everyone knows basically from operating players. In fact there is more to these icons than just replacing <k> and <l> : there is from left to right
  • Reverse Time
  • 10x Slower
  • 2x Slower
  • Pause Time
  • Set to Real Time
  • 2x Faster
  • 10x Faster
  • Set to Current Time


Finally, if people don't like the time bar they can just disable it with a click in

main Menu->View->Time

Then the toolbar looks like so:

Image

And if you prefer do work without NO toolbar at all, you can disable the 'Guides' part as well in

main Menu->View->Guides

So I think things are set up quite flexibly

Fridger


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PostPosted: Wed, 03-10-12, 13:06 GMT 
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ElChristou wrote:
A quick photoshoping on a 64x64 icon: using your basic idea, for the constellations could become:

Image

then for boundaries:

Image


Note that this is far from being the exact replica of Cassiopeia's boundarie!! :wink:


I now followed your idea and designed & implemented the boundary icon. Have a look.

Image

It is a very tight affair, since actually in a realistic toolbar, the icons are rescaled to only about 32x32 pixels. I had to reduce the Cas constellation size by 4 pixels in order to fit the boundary around with 1 pixel outer space. Also a slight redrawing of the boundary pattern was required.

Let me know if it's barely recognizable on some monitors!

EDIT
Actually here is an alternative design for the constellation / boundary pair of icons:
Here, the boundary polygon does not cut the 'Cas' constellation name.

Image

EDIT 2

Here is another alternative, where the boundaries have a quite different shape also avoiding to cut through 'Cas'.

Image


Please, let me know which one you prefer!


Fridger


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PostPosted: Wed, 03-10-12, 15:37 GMT 
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I prefer the first one, with the name inside. (I would have used, Crux, which is simpler, but I am in the Southern Hemisphere...).

I have to say that I like the toolbar, colors and functionality.

Given that today's screens are much wider than taller, have you considered putting the toolbars on the side instead of the top? They might be less obstrusive. Perhaps they can be moved with the rugged handles I see there, as in many other applications. In that case, check that they work well also when displayed in a vertical arrangement.

Guillermo

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PostPosted: Wed, 03-10-12, 15:43 GMT 
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As I know by experience this quid of exercise is quite tedious, here they are in 32x32; at this scale, a simple reduction don't do the job, one need to rework the icons with some tweaking on sharpness, contrast, etc...
Now beware, apparently the active zone is 32x31so it may contract the 32x32 file resulting in something bad (at this scale a reduction by 1px can be fatal to readability). Here is a mockup within the button's frame to show you the precise effect:

Image

the two pngs :

Image
Image

"Cas" could be a bit darker, anyway don't forget the eye must focus on the red detail! I would not worry about cutting "cas", even better perhaps I would remove it completely! Let me know what you think...


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PostPosted: Wed, 03-10-12, 16:03 GMT 
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abramson wrote:
I prefer the first one, with the name inside. (I would have used, Crux, which is simpler, but I am in the Southern Hemisphere...).

I have to say that I like the toolbar, colors and functionality.

Given that today's screens are much wider than taller, have you considered putting the toolbars on the side instead of the top? They might be less obstrusive. Perhaps they can be moved with the rugged handles I see there, as in many other applications. In that case, check that they work well also when displayed in a vertical arrangement.

Guillermo


Thanks.

the W of Cassiopeia is indeed the best known "compact" constellation in the Northern hemisphere after the Big Dipper (with whom I actually started). The latter is too elongated, though.
Also to gain a little more space, I have to use the diagonal of the icon image.

As to the placement of the toolbar, the user is entirely free. A great feature of Qt. No problem to place it to the side or even anywhere on the desktop. You spotted that handle already.

Fridger


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PostPosted: Wed, 03-10-12, 16:10 GMT 
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ElChristou wrote:
As I know by experience this quid of exercise is quite tedious, here they are in 32x32; at this scale, a simple reduction don't do the job, one need to rework the icons with some tweaking on sharpness, contrast, etc...
Now beware, apparently the active zone is 32x31so it may contract the 32x32 file resulting in something bad (at this scale a reduction by 1px can be fatal to readability). Here is a mockup within the button's frame to show you the precise effect:

Image

the two pngs :

Image
Image

"Cas" could be a bit darker, anyway don't forget the eye must focus on the red detail! I would not worry about cutting "cas", even better perhaps I would remove it completely! Let me know what you think...


Unfortunately, the degree of definition of your custom 32x32 looks rather less on my monitors. Also the degree of reduction varies presumable, depending on resolution etc?

By far the best definitions I get, if I retain my original (maximized) constellation icon without drawing the boundary at all, while for the boundary icon, I reduce the CAS constellation like in your examples quite a bit, drawing the boundary maximally according to your proposition.

What do you think?

Fridger


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed, 03-10-12, 16:32 GMT 
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t00fri wrote:
By far the best definitions I get, if I retain my original (maximized) constellation icon without drawing the boundary at all, while for the boundary icon, I reduce the CAS constellation like in your examples quite a bit, drawing the boundary maximally according to your proposition.

What do you think?


Give me a moment! :wink:


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