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RE: [Bug-gnubg] Good beta release! (Suggestions)

From: Richard Anderson
Subject: RE: [Bug-gnubg] Good beta release! (Suggestions)
Date: Sun, 16 May 2004 16:09:57 -0700

Thanks for your prompt response!  I think UI design is a very important and
interesting area of software design - have you read Jacob Nielsen's
Designing Web Usability?  I think it might be useful to do a general review
of the gbg UI based on user feedback - if you put a survey form on the web
page I bet you could gather some interesting statistics on what people like
and don't like.

Comments embedded below.

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Øystein Johansen [mailto:address@hidden 
> Sent: Sunday, May 16, 2004 1:13 PM
> To: Richard Anderson; address@hidden
> Subject: RE: [Bug-gnubg] Good beta release! (Suggestions)
> >===== Original Message From "Richard Anderson" 
> ><address@hidden>
> =====
> >1. Add two buttons to the Game Record window that act like the two 
> >arrow-question mark buttons, except that they take you 
> forward/back to 
> >the nearest move where your move was not the same as the best rated 
> >move.  (The arrow-question mark buttons skip past moves that 
> were not 
> >best but with an equity / MWC difference below the tutorial 
> threshold).
> There is a work-around. If you set the analysis doubtful 
> threshold to 0.0001, The "next marked move" button will stop 
> at any move that's not top ranked.
> You can set this threshold at the menu item "Settings->Analysis"
This doesn't work for my installation.  If I try to enter 0.0001, it gets
truncated to 0.00.  Even if it did work, this would require resetting the
threshold after every game, reviewing the moves, the resetting the threshold
for the next game.  Better to add two scroll buttons for this function or
maybe a threshold entry box on the Game Record window that affects only the
scroll buttons, not tutorial mode.

> >2. There should be a pop-up display of a progress bar and estimated 
> >time left when the program is doing rollouts or any analysis 
> that take 
> >more than a few seconds on a modern desktop computer.
> I think it already is.

I don't see a progress bar when I do Analyze->Analyze game/match/session.  I
don't see a progress bar for the Analysis window Eval function, just an
back-and-forth moving slider in the lower left with no estimate of the time
left.  I do see a progress bar with estimated time left for the rollout
> >3. Currently, the Game Record window only shows the analysis for the 
> >user's moves if tutorial mode is on, which prompts the user when he 
> >makes a mistake.  There should be an option to show the user move 
> >analysis without the prompting.
> Try to analyze the whole match: "Analyze->Analyze match". 
> That will analyze the match for both players.

I tried the Analyze->Analyze game, but it works incredibly slowly, several
orders of magnitude slower than using tutorial mode.  Some parameters must
be set differently for this function and tutorial mode.

I still think a better solution is to allow a floating point threshold for
tutorial mode or an option to activate tutorial mode without prompting.
This would let the user go back over his moves as soon as the game is over
with no waiting or extra mouse clicks.
> >4. If a move is selected in the Game Record window and the Rollout 
> >button in the Analysis window is clicked, a rollout window 
> opens but I 
> >see no way to initiate the rollout.
> Hmmm..... Can it be that you rollout setting is set to 0 trials?

Yes it is, this seems like an odd default value.  Perhaps the default could
be set to a more reasonable value?
> >8. There should be more fine-grained control of the threshold the 
> >tutorial mode uses for flagging bad moves. Instead of 
> discrete levels, 
> >how about a floating-point threshold based on the equity 
> difference / 
> >MWC difference and related to the annotation symbols:
> >
> >Tiny (any move that is not the same as the highest ranked) 
> Minor (?!) 
> >Moderate (?) Major (??) Insane (???)
> Hmmmm....maybe.

I think this would also be a good idea for the play skill level, although
there are already eight levels here.  The relative level of "supremo" vs.
"grandmaster" and "casual player" vs. "intermediate" are not obvious.

> >9. The Analysis window should have a Stop button that halts the Eval 
> >function.
> I think you can stop any operation by pressing the 
> "Stop"-button in the toolbar.

You are correct.

> >10. The dialog box that pops up at the beginning of each game (You 
> >rolled a 3, gdb rolled a 4) doesn't add anything of interest 
> and should 
> >probably be eliminated.
> Yes, maybe an idea. However, you can get rid of this dialog 
> box if you turn the the message panel on. "Windows->Messages"

Does this turn off any other messages?  Most of the messages I've seen are
useful.  Again, I can't see how the "You rolled a 3 ..." dialog has any use
to anyone, why not eliminate it?

> >13.  There's a UI bug in the interaction between the Game 
> Record window 
> >and the main window.  When I scroll back to a previous game, then 
> >scroll forward to the current position, select the current 
> move and try 
> >to roll the dice by clicking in the board, nothing happens.  The 
> >workaround is to then select the previous move and re-select the 
> >current move; then clicking on the board rolls the dice.
> Hmmm... I can't recreate this at my computer.
> Are you sure you click on the current position and not on the 
> opponents previous move?

Sorry, I wasn't clear.  I use the double arrow scroll button to move back
one game, then forward to the current game where I am on roll. Then I
click-select my next move, which is an empty move box and click on the board
to roll the dice.  Nothing happens.  Then I click-select any previous move
in the game and re-click-select my next move.  Then clicking on the board
rolls the dice.  I am running Win XP Home.

> >14. On the Analysis window, the two buttons labeled "..." would be 
> >better labeled "Set" or "Settings".
> You're right, but there is a space problem as well. I see 
> some GUIs uses a triangular arrow down for these kind of 
> things. Do you think that would be better?

"Set" and "..." are the same number of characters, so I don't think this
would cause a space problem.  "..." is not very intuitive.  A triangular
arrow is not as intuitive as "Set", "Setting", "Opt" or "Options".

What is the difference between clicking "Eval" and "0" here?

> There is a tooltip text which says: "Modify rollout settings" 
> and "Modify evaluation settings"
> >15. The Eval function on the Analysis window should cache 
> its results, 
> >as should the rollout function.  Currently, selecting the 
> 3-ply button, 
> >then the 4-ply button, then the 3-ply button needlessly 
> repeats the previous run.
> There is a cache for each evaluation. It doesn't cache deeper 
> plies, but speeds up evaluations if it hits intermediate 
> positions in the cache memory. 
> You can increace the cache memory by clicking 
> "Settings->Options->Other".

This doesn't seem to help the scenario I discussed above.  I think there
should be a cache dedicated to the Analysis window so that the user can run
the 3-ply and 4-ply once and then click between them with no recalculations.

Actually, I'm not all that sure that there needs to be both an Eval and
Rollout function on the Analysis window.  Rollout is more useful, perhaps
Eval could be dropped.

> >18. I like the look and feel of the play, especially the 
> sound effects.  
> >One exception is that I don't like the sounds is makes 
> during startup 
> >and shutdown and don't see the need for them.  How about eliminating 
> >these sound events?
> The sounds are the wav files played in the /sound directory. 
> Maybe you can alter these files. The sound can be turned off 
> by selecting. 
> "Settings->Options->Sounds" and then uncheck the "Enable 
> sound effects" 
> option.

Why would the user want to hear a sound when the program opens or closes?
This only happens when the user initiates the action.  Sounds are best used
for  alerting the user to unexpected events or notifying him that a
long-running function has completed without the distraction of a pop-up.
Simplicity, simplicity!

Richard Anderson

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