Sorry I'm a little late on this. I meant to post some thoughts about a couple of the presentations that I attended while at the Dev Days software conference a couple of Friday's ago. I'll try and have my next post up sooner.
The presentation that I want to talk about in this blog post is the keynote for the conference. It was presented by Joel Spolsky. It concerned UI's and the choices that those UI's present to their users. If you don't know much about Mr. Spolsky, you should read his blog. He has a lot of interesting points when it comes to building better software.
Back to the keynote and the choice issue. The main point of Mr. Spolsky's presentation was that for every feature that you introduce to your software, you will inevitably introduce choices to your user, either through message boxes that pop up, or through dialogs boxes that are full of options. If you want to eliminate choices, eliminate some of the features. However, if you eliminate some of the features then you are probably eliminating some of the customers that can use your product. So, based on that assumption, eliminating features probably isn't something that you really want to do, because eliminating customers is somewhat bad for business. Therefore you need to have features in your product, and you should think about the choices you are going to have your users make, and make sure that they are presented in a clean manner.
After seeing the presentation, I have thought more and more about the UI for the Storyboard Designer tool. Our UI is good the way it is now, but software is always evolving. We are really close to our first release, so it's a little late to be making changes to the UI at this point but I have started running over certain areas of our tooling in my head and thinking about whether or not certain choices need to be there. After release I hope that I can play around with different ways of getting the user to input information and then show the Crank Software team what they look and feel like. At that point though, the team will have to make a choice. Whether to stay with what we have, or go with what I present.