[vlc-devel] Re: Mac OS X interface

Derk-Jan Hartman d.hartman at student.utwente.nl
Fri Jan 10 18:01:30 CET 2003

On donderdag, jan 9, 2003, at 22:02 Europe/Amsterdam, Niels Leenheer  
> After seeing the screenshots of the new interface and read the positive
> reactions I wanted to point out a few things which I think makes this  
> design
> less ideal to use. In no way I want to trivialize the work of David  
> Webber,
> because he obviously spend a lot of time working on it. However I do  
> think
> it can be improved in a number of ways.

I agree, see also my comments  
David, are you open to suggestions?

> Let me make it clear that I don't
> have the skills to work on creating the technical aspect of the  
> interface
> and neither do I have any experience in programming for Mac OS X.

I have, but i don't have the vlc knowledge or the artistic req. or the  
time to do so ;-)

> A consistant and user-friendly interface is one way to
> help achieve this.
In my eyes it is a requirement.

> The text 'VideoLan client * mac os-x' and 'www.videolan.org' are not  
> really
> needed and are in fact distracting. The user already knows he or she is
> using VideoLan because he or she can see it in the title of the window  
> and
> the menu bar. Repeating it 2 more times is cluttering the interface  
> with
> elements which are not really needed.

I agree full heartedly. I think the title bar should go. I like the  
graphic to much ;-)
Although the www.videolan.org part belongs in the 'About vlc' dialog

> I think the layout of the buttons can be improved a lot. Right now it  
> is
> simply confusing because it seems like everything is just placed at  
> random.
> Buttons which are related should be clearly displayed in that way.  
> Also the
> amount of buttons is simply too much. With this many buttons you need a
> different way to display the buttons to make sure it isn't confusing  
> the
> user.
Correct 100%

> One other thing that I noticed about the buttons is the fact that they  
> are
> raised above the metal texture of the window.

Good eye, i'm impressed i only saw it just now.

> Also the big rectangular play button is a very big departure
> from the careful design Apple tried to create with Aqua. Big  
> rectangular
> buttons are intended to be used in a completely different way.

> The box containing the current position in the movie is a nice touch,  
> but I
> think it is also not consistent with the general look and feel of  
> Aqua. The
> main reason for this is the size of the font, which is far too big.

I don't know i kinda like it. It makes it a little bit less boring.  
(The text shouldn't be selectable though)
I don't think it is really interfering with the user experience.

> To demonstrate all these items I created a mock-up of another way to  
> create
> the user interface.  I will explain the choices I made in a minute.  
> The file
> can be found at: http://www.phpadsnew.com/rakaz/vlc-2.jpg
> First of all I decided to limit the number of Aqua buttons to the most
> important features: Stop, Play and Pause. The buttons are lowered into  
> the
> texture and organised in a similar way to iTunes. If you look at the
> screenshot you will probably notice these three buttons are now the  
> most
> dominant feature of the interface. The Play button is slightly larger  
> than
> the Stop and Pause buttons and located in the middle of the group.  
> This way
> the Play button becomes the most dominant button in the group.

> The Slow-motion and Fast-forward buttons are closely related. The same
> applies to the Next and Previous buttons. All four of these buttons  
> are also
> related. So I decided to create one block which is split into two  
> separate
> blocks. You will probably notice I used a different, less dominant  
> type of
> button. Because of this these four buttons don't take the attention  
> away
> from the more dominant Stop, Play and Pause buttons.

I still think the play/pause buttons need to be integrated in one  
button. Just like with QT player and iTunes.
and i think our faster slower buttons need a different behaviour. It  
should be that it ff when you keep the button pressed. It shouldn't  
behave as a faster/slower button. This functionality should be real  
easy to implement. If you want to make it advanced than you could step  
up the speed with which it forwards/rewinds, every 2 seconds you hold  
the button.
I do agree that the current grouping could be improved. especially the  
current position of the stop button is terrible.
And the playlist and preferences buttons should indeed be square i  
Of course we also still need a volume control.

> I used a different widget for showing and modifying the current  
> position of
> the movie. This control is almost a copy of the QuickTime controls  
> which is
> also used in a slightly different way in iTunes. There are a couple of  
>  big
> advantage over the control: a) this widget is already known by the  
> users for
> controlling the position in media files. b) the old widget isn't  
> intended
> for showing a changing position, only for changing a setting (for  
> example
> the volume). c) related things are again grouped. Both the numeric  
> position
> and the visual representation of that position belong together.

There is one big disadvantage to that  widget. Officially it does not  
exist. It is not part of the controls specified by apple. This makes  
using this control extremely difficult and hard to implement.

> The result is a less cluttered, more user friendly and more  
> professional
> interface. It may look a little less high-tech, but in my opinion,  
> that is
> not what Aqua is about. Consistency is much more important. How to use  
> the
> interface is already known by existing QuickTime and iTunes users and  
> even
> if you don't know have any experience with these applications it is
> immediately clear what which button does.

It is also extremely boring (sorry ;-) I do think that we can divert  
from the standards. The color used for the icons in the buttons for  
instance is fine by me. And the graphic is also interesting.
Look at most mediaplayers (video and audio) almost all are non standard  
and 'skinned'. People like that. I think we should respect as much of  
Apple's guidelines, but the controller is really important and needs to  
show how 'cool' vlc is. We do not want to be 'just' another  
(media)player on the block. We want to be cool as well.

> Based on the suggestion I already made I would also recommend to  
> change the
> title of the window to simply 'VideoLan' or 'VideoLan Client'. The  
> title is
> indented for letting the user know which application is running. The
> addition 'Cocoa' is not interesting for regular users at all. The same  
> thing
> applies to the version number. If you need to know the exact version  
> number
> it should be listed in the applications about box instead. Again, this  
> is
> consistent with most other professional Mac application.

Agreed. Though i would suggest naming the windows function. I suggest  
something like: VLC - Controller or something.
I also think the red 'Close' button needs to be there. Even iTunes  
allows that. The Controller should be accessible by a Command-key and  
trough the 'Window' menu. This might also allow us to show the  
Controller over the full screen playing video.

> The title of the 'video' window is also different from what Mac users  
> are
> used to. Perhaps it is best to treat this window like a regular  
> document
> window and display the filename of the document instead. The addition
> 'QuickTime' may also cause confusion because users might think the  
> window
> belongs to QuickTime.


> Also a button for the configuration is in my opinion not really  
> needed. Mac
> users expect this in the 'Application' menu. Also most users won't  
> change
> the configuration that often, so placing it in a prominent place on  
> the main
> window will only clutter the interface.
In the case of vlc i kinda agree.

I would like to add that the Playlist could still use some work as  
well. I posted my suggestions on that earlier in the mail referenced  
way in the top.


Universiteit Twente
Derk-Jan 'The DJ' Hartman
ICQnr: 10111559
Mail:  mailto:d.hartman at student.utwente.nl
WWW:   http://home.student.utwente.nl/d.hartman/
Goto:  http://www.student.utwente.nl/~macsatcampus

This is the vlc-devel mailing-list, see http://www.videolan.org/vlc/
To unsubscribe, please read http://www.videolan.org/lists.html
If you are in trouble, please contact <postmaster at videolan.org>

More information about the vlc-devel mailing list