JakubH

Some UX issues

14 posts in this topic

We are using Plastic for a while and we love the fact of Codice having usability as a priority. In our point of view, the user centered design is one of the key to success of Plastic. Although Plastic has many features, which other systems can only dream of, there are still things, which can be better (and sometimes, they are better in other systems already).
I want to highlight some (maybe minor) GUI issues we often face. I can provide deeper workflow behind them, but here are some of them in a brief:

Customizable views
What we miss a lot in Plastic SCM GUI is a possibility to select, which columns will be visible in each view. For example we want to see our attributes (and even labels) in a Changesets view, but on the other side we usually don’t care about GUIDs.

Vote for it here: http://plasticscm.us...mizable-columns

Attribute comment
We didn’t find a way, how to change a comment of an attribute. It is possible to rename it, but not change the comment!

Vote for it here: http://plasticscm.us...of-an-attribute

Properties/Info window
Copy a changeset number, author, date and copy or even edit a comment of a changeset is possible only from an Options/Properties window in a Branch Explorer or in a Changesets View. This window is not accessible in a History view, even though it seems to be only a filtered version of a Changesets view.

The button which reveals this window in a Changesets view should be more noticeable. Many of my colleagues miss that. Maybe adding a text label to it would be enough.

Vote for it here: http://plasticscm.us...sets-in-history

Slow scrolling
Several of my colleagues have noticed that scrolling with a mouse wheel in an Items view (and others) is slower than in other Windows applications. Usually one step of a wheel moves three lines at a time (the step is configurable in Windows Control Panel). In Plastic it is only one line per a wheel notch.

Scrolling in a Branch Explorer
In a Branch Explorer, a mouse wheel is only usable for zooming. But scrolling is as important as zooming. What about to add a CTRL or SHIFT modificator to allow scrolling? (The most common way is probably scrolling with bare wheel, and zooming with CTRL+wheel, but anything is better than nothing.)


Vote for it here: http://plasticscm.us...branch-explorer completed in 4.1.10.450

Default action in History (Graph)
I found myself many times to mistakenly open a revision of a file instead of showing a diff, when clicking on a changeset in a History or a History Graph of a file (not in a history of a directory or the overall history = Changesets / Branch Explorer). I think it would be more consistent to open always diffs by default.

Vote for it here: http://plasticscm.us...-history-table-


These are only some of issues we face. I've selected some small ones now and will post more complex or severe in separate topics.

EDIT: added UserVoice links.

Edited by JakubH
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Hi JakubH,

thank you for the time spent compiling the list! I really appreciate your feedback and I find them pretty interesting.

This ones are not complicated to be done, I'll speak with the team about them.

Can you please please insert them in the user voice system? https://plasticscm.uservoice.com Thank you!

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Ok, I've added it. But I have run out of votes, so other voters must push it.

Btw., I understand that big features like WebUI or Git bisync have bigger marketing potentiality, however these small things are those which makes people like us happy in the end. And happy people talk to friends about their source of happiness. ;-)

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Ok, I've added it. But I have run out of votes, so other voters must push it.

Btw., I understand that big features like WebUI or Git bisync have bigger marketing potentiality, however these small things are those which makes people like us happy in the end. And happy people talk to friends about their source of happiness. ;-)

I think the same thing! This is why I ended up using Plastic in the first place and I really feel happy at the end of day!

And now I can't see myself using any other tool.

I talk a lot about plastic and people usually ask me if I work for the company who develop the Plastic... :P

I'm out of votes, but as soon they come back, I'll vote for your request!

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I've gathered several other issues, so I thought, I can share it.


First, there is one small thing which looks banal, but is really annoying:

Bad selection

Wherever any code is displayed in Plastic (Merge tool, diffs, Annotate) I can select a text with a mouse and copy it. BUT the selection works a bit different than elsewhere. See the following picture:

post-1925-0-45509300-1367837260_thumb.png
If I click on the left half of a character and drag mouse to the right, I would expect that the character will be included in the selection. It is included in all application I've worked with, but not it Plastic. In Plastic a selection starts always with the next character after the one I clicked with the cursor. That is the reason, why I have problems every time I want to select a text in Plastic. It drives me crazy sometimes.

 

Vote here: http://plasticscm.uservoice.com/forums/15467-general/suggestions/4078723-fix-text-selection

Fixed in 4.1.10.493 Works pretty much like in every other Windows application now, thanks!


Now, a few small suggestions:

Recent checkin comments order

Sometimes I have a checkin comment, which I want to reuse several times. E.g. comments such as Merge from the main branch to my branch (just rebase). I don't need to type it again, just to select it in a recent comments list, unless it is shoved aside by newer comments. But this happens regularly, even if I have used it often. I know I can set up a longer list, but I think the recent comments list should work in a MRU fashion = Most Recently Used. So when I reuse a comment, it should jump to the first position on the list again.

 

Vote here: http://plasticscm.uservoice.com/forums/15467-general/suggestions/4078788-sort-a-history-of-checkin-comments-by-the-datetime Completed in 4.1.10.454

Order of changes types in Pending changes

I think that Added and private items should be the last in the list of changes; Moved and Deleted items should be before them. The reason is the Added and private items behaves differently than the other three types. (They are not affected by Undo changes, updates, merges,...) If somebody has several private items (for some reason) the Deleted and Moved items can be hidden after them and therefore missed.

 

Vote here: http://plasticscm.uservoice.com/forums/15467-general/suggestions/4078928-put-added-and-private-items-at-the-end-of-a-pendin

Annotate from the Merge tool

It would be very useful if I can view annotation right from the Merge tool during a merge. When I have to resolve a conflict, sometimes I need to know, who made those changes, when and why, to resolve it correctly. It would be amazing if I can find out this information for a specific line of code right from the Merge tool window. When I am resolving a conflict during a merge I often want to know, who, when and why make those conflicting changes to be able to select the right one.

 

Vote here: http://plasticscm.uservoice.com/forums/15467-general/suggestions/3533001-annotate-this-line

Remember column widths in Diff tool

Column widths can be changed in a Diff tool, but it is not persistent between runs.


And finally, some typos:

See the picture:
post-1925-0-52616500-1367840588_thumb.png

About box > Copyright 2006-2012 Codice Software – I assume there should be 2013 already Fixed

Check obliterate – shouldn't be mentioned, because it doesn't work (which is a pity a bit by the way)

  • Abbreviation of unlock. I bet it should be vice versa.
  • maybe some more, I don't remember yet

 

EDIT: added UserVoice links and some minor comments

EDIT: some are fixed now, thanks!

Edited by JakubH

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Wow Jakubh, you did a great job. Thanks for sharing your issues and suggestions!!  And please, keep voting on our UserVoice system. Feedback is always appreciated :)

 

Regards,

Carlos

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I want to say that I am very pleased with the work of the painkiller team. It was a great idea and I am very glad that some of my suggestions were fixed. Thank you!

 

There are still quite a lot of small issues, so I hope the painkiller team doesn't run out of fuel. ;-)

 

Today I bring a new portion of small issues we found in a daily work with Plastic. I have some bigger suggestions too, but I will add them separately later.

 

Wider checkin comments history

A checkin comments history drop down list is quite narrow and a lot of our comments don't fit there and end with ellipsis. When somebody use two or more comments with a same beginning, he or she cannot differ between them.

Vote here: http://plasticscm.uservoice.com/forums/15467-general/suggestions/4341433-wider-checkin-comments-history

 

Diffs from merge tool

When I try to solve a more complex merge I often want to see a diff between an ancestor and a source or between a source and a destination. I know that the merge tool theoretically shows all those diffs at once, but it is not so legible. It would be great if I can open simple diffs from context menu in a merge tool, as I can from an items to merge list.

Vote here: http://plasticscm.uservoice.com/forums/15467-general/suggestions/4341536-simple-diffs-in-a-merge-tool

 

Highlighting of a new line in diffs

I think it will be more consistent to highlight all added characters, even on lines which are all new. See the picture:
post-1925-0-60536800-1376906865_thumb.png

Otherwise it is more difficult to distinguish what was really changed. Especially for longer lines.

Vote here: http://plasticscm.uservoice.com/forums/15467-general/suggestions/4341482-highlighting-of-a-new-line-in-diffs

 

Invalid input in a new workspace dialog

If the entered data are invalid in a new workspace dialog, then a message box appears (which is good) and the dialog is closed (which is bad). Users want to return to the dialog and fix the item, not to fill it again.

Vote here: http://plasticscm.uservoice.com/forums/15467-general/suggestions/4341451-invalid-input-in-a-new-workspace-dialog

 

Modality of a checkin dialog from VS and Explorer

Checkin dialog (Pending changes) – when opened from a windows explorer or Visual Studio context menu – is modal and user cannot interact with other windows. There are also no context menus. The checkin menu item in popup menu of widows explorer lacks an ellipsis.

Vote here: http://plasticscm.uservoice.com/forums/15467-general/suggestions/2675742-vs2010-plugin-add-ability-to-click-on-item-in-pen

 

Checkin comment and Code review text boxes

A commit message text box and a code review text box does not have any scroll bar, does not allow scrolling with a mouse and does not allow Ctrl+A (select all text).

If there are more lines than fits the last line is not visible even though it could be seen partially. But I am afraid that it is a common windows feature. :-( Compare textarea in Firefox (good) with Notepad (bad):

post-1925-0-97652900-1376908190_thumb.png

Vote here: http://plasticscm.uservoice.com/forums/15467-general/suggestions/4341465-checkin-comment-and-code-review-text-boxes

 

Arrows for navigating through changes/conflicts

It is good that now we can navigate through changed/conflicting blocks using arrow even though there is only one changed/conflicting block. However when there is no changed/conflicting block those arrow are just confusing.

post-1925-0-83760800-1377507308_thumb.png

Vote here: http://plasticscm.uservoice.com/forums/15467-general/suggestions/4341473-arrows-for-navigating-through-changes-conflicts

 

EDIT: added UserVoice links and a picture for the arrows issue

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Thanks again for a nice review!! We really really like this kind of feedback and as you said we have been fixing and developing user requests.

 

Do you mind to insert the ideas in the uservoice page? https://plasticscm.uservoice.com Just to have tracking of all the requests and allow the rest of the users vote the favorite ones.

 

Regarding "Wider checkin comments history" -> 100% Agree :)

 

I suffered "Invalid input in a new workspace dialog" a couple of times, thanks for remember it to us! 

 

"Arrows for navigating through changes/conflicts" Ummm I didn't recall on it.

 

"Checkin comment and Code review text boxes" I agree, we should improve it.

 

I have one questions regarding the "Diffs from merge tool" idea, you are already seeing the differences between the Source Vs. Base Vs. Destination so why do you want to launch another window with the same information?

 

"Modality of a checkin dialog from VS and Explorer" We need to include context menu actions.... Regarding the fact that it's a modal window, we think it should be, why do you want to change it to no modal?

 

Thanks again!

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I've added UserVoice suggestions and links to them as usual.

I also added a screenshot to the arrows issue.

 

Regarding the "Diffs from merge tool": I agree that I see all the differences already, it is enough in most cases. It is just about highlighting. There are highlighted differences against a base file in a source file and a destination file and differences against a source file AND destination file in a base file. When I wonder what was changed between a base file and a source file only, it is not so easy to see, because also destination changes confuse that. When I want to compare source with destination directly and don't care about a base for while (changes in both of them may be very similar, the base file just add an unnecessary complexity in that case), it is also difficult.

It is not so big deal, but sometimes it would be nice to hide one of the file temporarily and see clean diff between the remaining two only.

 

Now for the "Modality of a checkin dialog from VS and Explorer": when it is modal, some of the actions which will be launched from a context menu wouldn't be accessible. For example: if I click on annotate, the Annotate window will appear within Visual Studio – behind the modal dialog. There is already a very similar suggestion in the UserVoice (http://plasticscm.uservoice.com/forums/15467-general/suggestions/2675742-vs2010-plugin-add-ability-to-click-on-item-in-pen) which mention the modality problem too. I've added my suggestion about context menu to this.

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Thanks for your feedback and adding your ideas to Uservoice!! As you said our painkiller team is working very hard.

 

Regards,

Carlos

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My Plastic SCM notes becomes quite big, so I'm going to flush it a bit and post a new batch of issues. Here it is:

 

Branch Explorer is a great view to understand what is going on in the version system. However, it lacks some useful features: it is not possible to search or filter the view (searching a changeset number is supported only). I have two suggestions here which would help us a lot (and I suppose that other users would find it useful too):

Show this changeset in Branch Explorer

Often, I found a changeset in a Changesets view and I want to see this changeset in the Branch Explorer to see easily where it was integrated to which branch etc. Now, I need to go to Properties, copy the chageset number, switch to the Branch Explorer and paste the changeset number there. It would be great, if I could just click on the changeset with the right mouse button and select Show this changeset in Branch Explorer.

Similarly it would be helpful for branches in a Branches view.

Vote here: http://plasticscm.uservoice.com/forums/15467-general/suggestions/5125136-show-this-changeset-in-branch-explorer

 

Filtering in Branch Explorer

It would be awesome if I could filter the Branch Explorer in the same manner as the Changeset view (simple filter and custom find command). The filtered out changesets will be hidden as they are when using Show only relevant changesets or History of an item as a 2D tree.

Vote here: http://plasticscm.uservoice.com/forums/15467-general/suggestions/5125178-filtering-in-branch-explorer

 

History vs. Revisions

History and History as 2D tree are very useful features. However, there is a problem with those views. They do not show the real history of changes of the item as user may expect. The history view is actually a list of all revisions of that file, which is not the same, because the same revision could be used more than once and in more places. I mean, when using Revert to this revision, an old revision is checked-in again, but this information is not shown in the “History” because no new revision has been made. Similarly, when there was a merge (or a cherry pick) between branches, a file change was copied to another branch, but you don’t see this important thing in “History”. Again: because no new revision of that file has been made. History as 2D tree has both of these limits too. (EDIT: Plastic 5 shows merges in the 2D tree history view already, however reverts ares still not there.) This leads to a big confusion among users – see these links for instance:

http://www.plasticscm.net/index.php?/topic/1939-file-revisions-and-tracking-them/

http://www.plasticscm.net/index.php?/topic/1860-missing-file-history-entry-after-revert/

http://www.plasticscm.net/index.php?/topic/1741-merge-not-displayed-neither-in-file-history-nor-in-file-2d-history/

So my suggestion is add all these information to History views two. Frankly, I don’t see any usecase where somebody doesn’t want to see it.

Vote here: http://plasticscm.uservoice.com/forums/15467-general/suggestions/5125228-show-full-history-of-an-item-in-history-view-and-

and here: http://plasticscm.uservoice.com/forums/15467-general/suggestions/3950398-show-merges-in-file-history-and-2d-history

 

Source and destination while diffing revisions

When selecting two revisions of a file and click on Diff selected revisions, the revision which is higher in the current view is taken as a source (put on the left in a diff tool) and the lower revision is handled as a destination (put on the right in the diff tool). I think more logic would be to use the older revision always as a source independently on the revision sorting in the History view. Note that this suggestion depends on the previous one because otherwise it might be not possible to decide which revision is actually older – revision A could be created before revision B but there has been a revert to revision A, so now revision A from the last changeset is newer than B. It depends on the user which changesets’ revisions he/she wants to compare.

Vote here: http://plasticscm.uservoice.com/forums/15467-general/suggestions/5125262-source-and-destination-in-diffing-revisions

 

Go to the commented line in Code review directly

First double click on a comment in a Code review tool takes you to the file containing the commented line and only the second double click takes you to the commented line. I don’t see the reason for such behavior; it is irritating actually. It would be nice, if the first double click takes you directly to the commented line without the need to switch to that file in a separated step.

Vote here: http://plasticscm.uservoice.com/forums/15467-general/suggestions/5125292-go-to-the-commented-line-in-code-review-directly-o

 

Reply in Code Review

Replying to a comment in the Code Review tool is very cumbersome. There are two options: add a new comment for the same line or edit the comment you want to react to. The first option is bad, because your comment will be added to the end of the comment list – so the reply is far from the comment it react too. The second option is bad too, because you are editing a comment by someone else and you need to add your name manually to identify yourself.

The solution seems to be quite easy – order comments according to files and lines to which they are connected to and then according to a timestamp of a last edit instead of sorting it according to a timestamp of a last edit only.

A button such as Reply to this comment for easy reacting would be nice too. Maybe you can indent comments to the same line of code too.

Vote here: http://plasticscm.uservoice.com/forums/15467-general/suggestions/5125323-reply-in-code-review

 

Undo in Merge Tool

An undo action (Ctrl+Z) is really needed in a Merge Tool. Especially when editing the result manually.

Vote here: http://plasticscm.uservoice.com/forums/15467-general/suggestions/5125338-add-undo-ctrl-z-to-merge-tool

 

Wrong indentation changing in Merge Tool

If a line of text is indented using tabs and the line is edited by typing in Result file box in a Merge Tool, then the indentation is modified to spaces. The indentation should not be modified!

Vote here: http://plasticscm.uservoice.com/forums/15467-general/suggestions/5125355-don-t-change-the-indentation-character-when-editin

 

Custom Open with context menu in Diff changeset

The custom Open with context menu (as it is in an Items view now) would be useful in Diff changeset too.

Vote here: http://plasticscm.uservoice.com/forums/15467-general/suggestions/5125376-add-custom-open-with-context-menu-in-diff-changese

 

Show branch names in Merge Tool (change the ellipsis postion)

There are only changeset numbers and base/source/destination titles shown in the Merge Tool (or any external merge tool). It will be very helpful if the names of branches will be shown too. When I merge one branch to another I do not remember (and care about) the changesets numbers and I might be not confident what the source is and what the destination is. The branch names would help me to figure out which version is which immediately.

The branch names are there actually, however they are hidden in case of a long path. So my suggestion is instead of:

Deselect Source: 'c:\Some\Long\And\Boring\Path\To\The\File\Which\Is\Not\So\Imp...:32387'
Select Base: 'c:\Some\Long\And\Boring\Path\To\The\File\Which\Is\Not\So\Importa...:31189'
Select Destination: 'c:\Some\Long\And\Boring\Path\To\The\File\Which\Is\N...\filename.cpp'

show:

Deselect Source: 'c:\Some\Long\And\Boring\Path\To\The\File\...\filename.cpp#/main:32387'
Select Base: 'c:\Some\Long\And\Borin...\filename.cpp#/main/PRJ_1234_my_branch:31189'
Select Destination: 'c:\Some\Long\And\Boring\Path\To\The\File\Which\Is\N...\filename.cpp'

Tooltips with the full titles would be useful too.

Vote here: http://plasticscm.uservoice.com/forums/15467-general/suggestions/5125390-show-branch-names-in-merge-tool

 

Confusing Finding elements to merge message

The merge tab in the client keeps displaying “Finding elements to merge...” while waiting for user to finish Merge Tool dialog. It should change to something notifying the user that it is not calculating something any more, but waiting for his/hers reaction. Otherwise user might overlook that the Merge Tool has been opened (because he/she might work on something else in parallel) and waits for the Plastic to finish, while Plastic waits for the user actually.

 

Save as from Browse repository on this changeset

Sometimes it would be useful to pick out a file in an old revision. What I want is to go to Browse repository on this changeset, select a file, click on Save as (in a context menu), find a destination on a filesystem and save a copy of that file there. However, only an open/run action is available now. Actually, it makes a copy of that file in a temp folder. It would be nice if there was an option to save it to a specified location. (I can probably make a Custom with workaround – copy it from temp to a desired location, but it is cumbersome.)

Vote here: http://plasticscm.uservoice.com/forums/15467-general/suggestions/5125416-save-as-from-browse-repository-on-this-changese

 

Bold values instead of labels

This is an UX fancy thing only, nevertheless it would be better to make bold values in Properties panel (in Branch Explorer or Changesets views) instead of making bold labels. The important thing is the value (e.g. 32095, repository@server:8087, etc.) not its name (e.g. Changeset number, Repository, etc.). It is usually clear what type of information it is even without the label.

 

Tabs titles

The width of a tab of a view in Plastic GUI is quite small, so a title doesn’t fit. Unfortunately, the beginning of the title which can be seen is not very helpful for some views. For example “User query: find c…” or “History of c:\User…”. If somebody opens more views of those types, he/she cannot distinguish among them without switching to them or waiting for a tooltip. Maybe changing the title in some way can help here:

Instead of: User query: find changeset where date > '1.10.2013' (1000 Items - 1 selected)”

I suggest:  Changesets: date > '1.10.2013' (user query, 1000 Items - 1 selected)”

Instead of: History of c:\Users\Me\Sources\SuperProject\foo.cpp (12 Items - 1 selected)”

I suggest:  History: foo.cpp (c:\Users\Me\sources\superproject\foo.cpp, 12 Items - 1 selected)”

etc.

 

(De)select source/base/destination button position

This is an UX tip only and I do not offer a solution. The button “(De)select Source/Base/Destination” applies to a merge block, not to a file revision but its current position suggest relation to a file version. I found that many of my colleagues had problems with understanding that in the beginning.

 

That should be enough for now. Hope I don't glut you too much.

 

EDIT: Add UserVoice Links. (Some still missing, I willl add them later.)

EDIT 2: Show branch names in Merge tool changed (they are there actually, just hidden sometimes)

Edited by JakubH

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The 2D tree history view is certainly better in Plastic 5, because it already includes the merges. However it still does not show reverts. And text history shows none of these two things.

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