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Re[2]: [lmi] *.db4 GUI editor description

From: Vadim Zeitlin
Subject: Re[2]: [lmi] *.db4 GUI editor description
Date: Fri, 26 Aug 2005 00:05:40 +0200

 Hello again,

On Mon, 08 Aug 2005 16:57:29 +0000 Greg Chicares <address@hidden> wrote:

GC> On 2005-8-8 15:47 UTC, Vadim Zeitlin wrote:
GC> > 
GC> > On Mon, 01 Aug 2005 01:55:52 +0000 Greg Chicares <address@hidden> wrote:
GC> > 
GC> > GC> Yes, certainly, we should at least make obvious small improvements.
GC> > 
GC> >  I don't know if this falls under "obvious" and/or "small", but what about
GC> > removing "Chang axis" button and just allowing to change checkboxes value
GC> > "live"? I.e. initially you'd be able to select up to 2 checkboxes, then 
GC> > others would become greyed but if you unselected one of the 2 selected 
GC> > you'd be able to check another one and so on.
GC> I think that would lose an important behavior,

 Sorry, it's not very clear to me what exactly would be lost? I'd like to
keep the same behaviour as currently (again, I must honestly admit that I
don't particularly like it as a user but I just can't think of anything
better), I just wanted it a bit easier to switch the axis.

 Let me do an ASCII drawing of what you'd initially see with my proposal:

        Gender [x]              |                    |
        Smoker [x]              | gender/smoker grid |
        Class  [X] [choice]     |                    |

The capital "X" in "class" checkbox means that it's currently disabled (it
could also be completely hidden but this probably would be more confusing).
The "choice" field is a combobox allowing to select the value of class used
for the values in the grid.

 Now if you uncheck the gender checkbox you'd get this:

        Gender [X] [choice]     |                    |
        Smoker [x]              | 1D smoker "grid"   |
        Class  [ ] [choice]     |                    |

Which is just a transitional state: what counts is that "class" (and all
the other) checkboxes are enabled now and you can check them which gives:

        Gender [X] [choice]     |                    |
        Smoker [x]              | smoker/class grid  |
        Class  [x]              |                    |

So all that changed is that you don't have to use a special button to be
able to change the axis used but can do it on the fly.

GC> Now you see two editing modes.

 Of course, if you actually insist on having such "modal" interface, then
the current choice is better. But I'm not sure if anything is gained by
forcing the user to press the button before being able to change the

GC> >  Also, another "small" idea: the comboboxes for chooding the axis shown in
GC> > the grid could be shown in the corner of the grid itself.

 Again, maybe I should clarify that it's just a variation on the same theme
as above, except that the check (or maybe radio -- not sure which one is
better suited here) buttons wouldn't be needed: instead you'd be able to
select the 2 axis currenrly being used using choice controls. I can't draw
these choices inside the grid corner but I can draw them outside it:

        X axis: [Gender]        |                    |
        Y axis: [Smoker]        | gender/smoker grid |
                                |                    |
        Class:  [choice]        +--------------------+

Choosing "Class" in the X combobox would result in display changing to:

        X axis: [Class ]        |                    |
        Y axis: [Smoker]        | class/smoker grid  |
                                |                    |
        Gender  [choice]        +--------------------+

Actually I think that this is the approach I prefer because it avoids the
clumsy checkboxes and allows you to directly choose the axis you want to
use. And if you really want to have "Change axis" buttons we can always add
an "Apply" button near the X/Y comboboxes.

GC> I thought of the middle part of the screen--paired checkboxes and
GC> comboboxes--as a cohesive 'axis-selection' facility. Even though
GC> those controls represent two different kinds of 'selection', the
GC> checkboxes and comboboxes seemed to belong together.

 If we got rid of checkboxes, things would be even more cohesive though :-)

 Finally, I'd like to mention two other ideas. I'm far from sure that
 they're useful at all, but just in case:

- I thought of using colour-coding for some axis, e.g. display a single
  value in default (black) colour when the value in the cell doesn't depend
  on, say, "Gender" axis and display 2 values (red/blue for example) if the
  values are different for male and female. This obviously wouldn't work
  for more than 1, maximum 2, axis, but it could be quite convenient to use
  (we'd have a legend explaining the colour codes, of course).

- Another idea: what about using multiple grids? When you select a cell
  in the first one, you reduce the space dimension by 2 so it's now 5 which
  is still too big but we could show another control similar to this one
  (either to the right/bottom of the first one or in a separate popdown or
  just a dialog) which would allow to choose 2 more axis (from the
  remaining ones only). I'll stop here as, as far as I remember your
  explanations, most values depend only on 3-4 axis so 2 grids should be
  enough in most of the cases but, of course, nothing prevents us from
  using a 3rd control if necessary. If we were to do this, I'd suggest
  showing a value in the "top" grid only if it doesn't depend at all on
  remaining 5 axis and if it does, show "?" or "..." which would indicate
  that you need to "dig further" to see or edit this value.

 I think the best approach I see still remains the one with X/Y axis
comboboxes above but maybe, just maybe, the multiple grids idea is workable
(possibly combined with colour coding).

 Please let me know what do you think of all this and whether there is
interest in thinking about and discussing it further or if we should stop
here and just take the final decision.


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