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Category: PhD

What to show in outline Dynamic View

I am working on the dynamic view for Author and the way it’s designed is to only show headings but I am using our User Guide as an example and there are not a lot of headings apart from level 1, there are quite a few lists though. This is what it looks like and it’s much too empty.

I should pause and mention I think we should no longer have a horizontal table of contents, only this, since this will also have the brain storming capability and too many views will be confusing.

A question then becomes: Should I show lists in the dynamic view, or ‘make’ the user use heading? Bullets left, headings right, where it’s clear that bullets take up much less space:

Here bullets are shown in the dynamic view, without bullets but with original body font:

The design we will do will not show bullet lists but this will be an option for the future. There will be a top horizontal bar however, to clearly distinguish level 1 headings from all other headings, like this:

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The Pinch

Liquid | Author was developed first on a Mac, with the margins of the wide screen used for clippings of text and when that project technically didn’t work out and I lost my programmer I started it from scratch on iOS. I wanted to make it as native to a multi-touch environment as I could and I did not like the idea of the Table of Contents (ToC) being different from the headings, as it has to be in an analog environment. Therefore I came up with the notion of using two fingers in a vertical pinch in motion to collapse the document to hide all body text and only show the headings, in effect collapsing into a Table of Contents. This was added to the current Author and works well.

With the next step of this word processing experiment being the Dynamic View it seemed natural that the user should pinch out–as opposed to in–to pivot into the dynamic view. Last week this was implemented and even I, who came up with the idea and who think of little else, got finger-confused; I simply forgot which way to pinch?

The solution to this looks like we’ll keep only pinch in and allow the user to toggle views while pinched in, to see a timeline, ToC, freeform etc. but the point is that the experience is entirely different from the idea.

This is important because it highlights the importance of experimentation and testing. What is not invented yet is truly an unexplored landscape so we can not map it further than we can see. We need don’t need a map, we need goals and paradigms guiding us. As they (could say): “A use interface plan never survives contact with the user”

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View Changes

Having been ‘playing around’ with a build of Liquid | Author with both pinch-in for Table of Contents and pinch-out for Dynamic View even I have problems with muscle memory of which way to pinch for what, so we will only have one pinch for all the views: Pinch-in for TOC/DV etc…

Once in the pinch view, the user will be able to toggle between different layouts, including:

  • Single Column (traditional TOC)
  • Multi Column (each with level one locked to the top with each column being showing sub-headings. This is the key initial view, with the user being able to add nodes freeform anywhere and then attach them to the column
  • Citations View of all the cited documents plus any they drag in from the desktop
  • Timeline View where citations and (in the future) other timeline data is put on a timeline, with an option for having a second axis for author etc.
  • Freeform View where the user can brainstorm
  • Etc., to be decided in the future.


New Basic Layout

There will be no visible toolbars. On mouse over there will be a heading at the top or bottom, as described below.

When the user drags a heading towards the top (where the level one headings are locked), a guide line appears, to indicate that these are in a special area:

Note also that there is more space over the level 1 headings to let a user easily click and drag a level 1 heading and move it away from level 1 or left or right, without spawning the top menu, so the top menu is only spawned if mouse-overed above that.


New Toolbar and Behaviour

There will be a new toolbar at the top–accessible only in Dynamic View mode–with icons for layout in Dynamic View mode, which are the ones we currently use, as chosen buy Jacob, but centered and on the toolbar.

The toolbar at the bottom will have a text change to change the font for the word count into the same font as the rest of the bar and put the number first).

The toolbars will now be slightly darker than before and will have a drop shadow, as shown below.

The toolbars will only appear on mouse over that area (or tap in iOS) but not together, only on mouse over top for top bar and bottom for bottom bar, this image is for simplification:




Transition Animations

Here are three transition animations to consider the feasibility of when for going through the different Dynamic Layout views when the user does two finger horizontal swipe, all mocked up in Keynote.

The first one is an object move effect:

Object Cube Swipe:

Object Cube Flip:

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