Alo Sarv
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Developer's Diary

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Transfer, Library, Statistics and Settings pages

After reviewing and discussing the transfer page with our designer, we reached the conclusion that the filter-bar can completely be dropped from transfer page; the size and type-based dropdown/filters were deemed unneccesery, the network-based filtering is not "hydranode style" (since downloads aren't owned by any specific network), and filtering by type will become obsolete anyway as soon as I get to introducing improved downloadlist, which groups all downloads intro three groups - complete, active and inactive. The filtering functionality will most likely return in slightly different way though - accessible via a keyboard shortcut and/or button, will display a small bar/box near the bottom of the list similary to firefox's "search-as-you-type" feature.

Also, the bottom buttons on tranfer-page were reconsidered, and Clear button was dropped from the listing. Reason is that the other 4 buttons - Pause, Stop, Cancel and Resume, all act similarly - alter the state of selected downloads - while Clear button behaved completely differently, leading the test subjects to confusion. Also, the name Clear looked lot like Cancel, which further introduced confusion; and last, but not least, the name Cancel is used generally in dialogues to dismiss modifications and close the dialog, but here it has a different purpose. Hence, it was renamed to "Remove", which is more straight-forward and avoids confusion.

Library page got a thorough discussion as well; basically, the main purpose for the library is to provide means to manage and use the downloaded media; that means listening to music, playing videos, burning/riping and so on. One point that raised was that this would largely duplicate what Windows Media Player already does, altough it would do it better - support any kind of formats for burning; playing everything without needing separate codecs (most likely using VLC engine) and so on; however, implementing all that will take a lot of time, so while this has been planned since the start, it won't see the light of day anytime soon due to other things having higher priority currently.

However, with that in mind, it turned out that the library page became entirely useless - just as useless as eMule's "shared files" page - there's simply no reason to go there if you can't do anything useful there except view your files. After some brainstorming, we realized that there was actually one subset of features that had been discussed in the past and which actually falls under the same category - namely, release/share manipulation. Basically, "release" is same as "sharing", except "release" is an active activity, while "sharing" is passive activity. Making Hydranode releaser-friendly and providing tools to aid both regular users as well as power-users perform releases has been planned since the start, and the library page is the right location in the UI for this functionality.

So the bottom line is that the library page (possibly renamed in the future) will serve two purposes - for downloader, it is a location where to view, sort, manage, play and burn the downloaded data; for those wishing to share content with others, either via passive (ed2k, gnutella) or active (bittorrent, ftp) means, it will provide means to do so in an effective way.

The statistics page got kicked completely from the interface. There's simply no justification for an entire page to contain only statistical data. The need for some statistics data is still present though, and this will be satisfied on frontpage (small graphs and such); extended statistics, if deemed nessecery, will simply become new tabs on the System page. The bottom line is that Statistics isn't an important component of the interface to justify button in the main navigation, but the functionality will still be available via other means, so as to avoid endless complaining of stats-freaks.

As I mentioned yesterday, I did initial layout of Settings page; after reviewing it with our designer, and doing some trivial corrections, it's ready for viewing, so here it is in it's current incarnation:

You also notice I added placeholder icons to the top toolbar; seems we'll be using 16x16px icons there after-all instead of the originally planned 24x24 icons, since 24x24 would simply be too large there and waste precious screen space.

Madcat, ZzZz

Nice GUI, KISS style ;-)

VLC integration? Nice idea, specially for Windoze users (aka average user of P2P apps).
VLC seems too portable, has a giant compatibility with multimedia files, supports reading directly (not needed to motify them) the ed2k incomplete files and runs equally great on most platforms.

Did you think about general-use (or not file-sharing) P2P networks? Freenet (Frost, Flinks, Everything Over Freenet...),Entropy I2P and Tor are the best examples. I'm sure you did it, but it could be nice some explanation about the GUI design and say why is "prepared for the future".

I'm sure Hydranode will be an impressive killer app soon. ;-)
Looking at the shared paths management I realise I'd like to have more options. One thing I'd really like would be the option to de-tick some checkbox, temporarily unsharing the particular directory but without deleting the hashes etc. (e.g. I want to powershare certain files, so I put them into a different folder and unshare all the others). Also nice but more complicated would be the ability to set a default priority per shared directory (which one could change later per file from a detailed shared files view). Last but not least show some more information. It always comforts me to see that I have XX gig and XX k files shared :)


P.S.: Maybe we could also color code files in a detailed shared files view, based on available sources and/or shared ratio? Oh and how about exporting the MetaDB to recover from crashes etc?

So many ideas... ^^
I really should read your posts to the end before posting *sigh*

About the 'library' page: I like the idea of it being releaser oriented, because I think that will be the audience HN caters to. What I don't like is the media center sort of thingy. I already have a burning software I'm very comfortable with, the same goes for media players so I simply don't need that kind of functionality in my p2p downloading app (at least not in the way it's implemented in, say, KCeasy). Give me the option to specify the path to VLC and use my separately installed copy of it. No nasty redistribution issues.

Why not use tabs instead of your button bar? You're already using tabs, to label the pages, it seems. This is kind of redundant.
I have to agree with the tabs. Technically, this is already works like tabs, why not make them sort of tabs, so its clear whats going on?

As for the filter, i stay by my word that it should stay as a always visible part, in all lists containing files (transfer, search and library). A consistency of such an incredible useful function will provide a very professional and highly accessible feeling to the application.
I disagree with handling everything with tabs. There should be the buttons on the top for the general windows, and handle subwindows with tabs.
A couple of points that spring to mind:
1) Why to we have to call it 'US English' is it not just 'English'
2) Sca is right, don't scrimp on the statistics too much, I like to see things about the client that give me comfort that is it doing stuff when I'm not looking ;-)
3) Tabs are cool and a neat way to navigate an interface. Not to many though.

Yep.. I killer app in the making.
Some thoughs:

1) A button at the right to send the interface to the system tray and not to the taskbar.

2) Buttons Apply, OK and Cancel.
Save/Restore defaults should be used?
I'm glad you decided not to integrate some kind of media player into Hydranode (at least not yet). I like to have applications as unbloated as possible. If I want to check the files I downloaded the already installed version of VLC works perfect. I also see no need to add things like burning support, web browser or other bloat you see in some p2p programs.
I never use it, except for one rare case: when i forgot what i share, or where i put something..
or put something to powershare ;)
For VLC integration: follow eMule way! provide a way to tell what is the location of VLC. (That's all i ask ;))

(ps maybe read it automaticly from: HLM/SOFTWARE/VideoLAN/VLC/(Default) ? )

(I guess it's written here how to do it:

1st: i LOVE small compact design...
2nd: The usual user is blind and stupid, for him only a HUGE colorful icon.. eMule i think did a good work.

But i love them O:)
I love see how good i was ;)

About it i can simply point out to:

"We have really everything in common with America nowadays except, of course, language."
Oscar Wilde, The Canterville Ghost, 1882

But i'm not mother language in English so i could point out difference now ;)

Other: Yes to the tray Icon
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