[Etoys] A few notes on eToys interface - playing with latest eToys in olpc

Milan Zimmermann milan.zimmermann at sympatico.ca
Tue Apr 10 23:54:55 EDT 2007

Hi Yoshiki,

I really like it, it is on top, uses same symbols as the rest of sugar (not 
saying sugar picked the most descriptive symbols but that's another thing). 
With some explanatory popups this should be good. 

I think there is a good argument for it to be "not removable" (via halo) as 
you explained (certain things are good to be allowed to live forever :) ) 
Originally, I also thought it may make sense for it to be "hideable" in the 
sense of the operating systems start bars - but I have trouble imagining it 
not conflict with the sugar menu bar , I have not played with it for a while, 
does it still sort of "show" any time the mouse touches any border of the 

One suggestion and one note. 
	- The suggestion is, when user clicks on the "new project", it should show 
the new project mini-window offset from top by 40 pixels, because right now, 
the new project mini-window hides the left 3 buttons on the new menu. 
	- The note is (and really this is just a thinking process) - what if, the 
back button showed the image if the "previous project" - similarly to what 
the Thread Navigator did - something like this (attached) - (not saying I 
like it, just an experiment).

Thanks for working on it, more notes inline below v :

On 2007 April 10 03:31, Yoshiki Ohshima wrote:
>   Milan,
>   Your suggestions were great!  I kept silence, but I was attempting
> to solve some of the issues you raised.

:) - I wish to be in position to help, but last 2 months I barely found time 
to even play with etoys/olpc.

>   What we've been talking about is to have a Sugar-like menu bar for
> Etoys.  There are a few ways of doing it, but I now made one in
> Morphic.  Please update your image.

I did and I like it as I said above!

>   With the latest change, you now have a stationary menu bar that
> resembles the activities in Sugar have.  For now, the functionality is
> almost just copy of our nav-bar.  If the user is familiar with the
> browser activity of Sugar, he should have better chance to figure out
> how to go back in EToys as well.

yes, it is more intuitive I think. 

(BTW, what will the "reverted arrow" do?)

>   Some more things:
>   - I can think of adding "home" button to really go to the initial
>     screen.

I think that would really be helpful. I will ask my kids and some friends to 
play with the changes this weekend  - but they are older (16) so it's 
probably not representative.

>   - I'm planning to add the tooltip or baloon help for these buttons.

thanks that sounds great.

>   - I know that the viewer tab placement has to be fixed.

not sure what you mean  by "viewer tab"

>   - I have to say that the gray color looks horrible...  But for the
>     general audience, similarity to the other Sugar apps should mean
>     something.  (I would say that we can make it look a bit more
>     playful yet the overall button design inherits the design of Sugar
>     buttons.)

I agree with you including the color observation - but for consistency I agree 
it is good to keep it for navigation bar.

>   - The button size currently I use is too small compared to the other
>     Sugar activities.  It should be fixed.

Interesting - if that is the case, maybe using the backround of the menu to 
convey additional information (as in the attached) would help use the space. 
But it again would remove consistency with Sugar. 

>   Let me know what you think!

Good stuff :)

> -- Yoshiki
> >    - I think the largest potential issue is ease of eToys navigation for
> > someone who is running the system for the first time. I am thinking how
> > to modify the UI, without significant changes, to help a new user to not
> > "get lost" (for example by following a few projects from the cloud menu).
> > I think people's sense "not getting lost" is greatly satisfied when there
> > is a way to know "how to go back" - either one step back, or all the way
> > to the beginning. I realize this is where the "Navigator->Prev" is used,
> > but it is not very obvious for a first time user, mostly because it's
> > contents (the Prev button) is "hidden". I am thinking if the following
> > would help:
> >
> >          - By default, always show the "Navigator" toolbar
> > contents "expanded", so user can see the "New/Prev". This way it would be
> > more obvious how to go back. It seems to me this would be a nice
> > usability help for a small price
> >
> >          - Rename "Prev" to "Previous" or "Back". Add a more explicit
> > popup, instead of "Previous Project", maybe "This button will take you
> > back to the previous project"
> >
> >          - Add a "Home" button, to "Navigator". The "Home" button would
> > take user all the way to the clouds menu.
> >
> >          - The demo is "modifiable" which is nice for playing, but at the
> > same time it would be good if there was a way to revert it back to the
> > initial state. The book now has this option which I love.
> >
> >          - A bigger change, and probably overkill, would be at the time
> > of entry to any project, a popup would show for 5 second, something like
> > "Use the red Navigator button on the bottom-left to go back where you
> > came from". This would, at all times, give a small hint as to how to
> > navigate.
> >
> >    - In general, the popup help on various items could be more wordy. One
> > example, on "Supplies", instead of "A Source for many basic types of
> > Objects" popup, could be "Click here to find useful objects. You can drag
> > out objects to the area above and start using them". I do not mean this
> > one thing is a problem, but in general I find it helpful if popup help is
> > a bit more wordy, not sure this is the best for all ages though...
> >
> > 2) Next, about how to help more users to try OLPC eToys.  I am running
> > on "regular" Linux distro (non-olpc, Suse 10.2), by installing yum and
> > then following steps on this page: http://etoys.laptop.org/.  Perhaps a
> > note could be added to  http://etoys.laptop.org/, to explain that the
> > steps described there will allow running OLPC eToys on any (reasonably
> > recent) Linux system. (It was not clear to me, and I hesitated to install
> > the RPMs).  Also, I am thinking it would help teachers and interested
> > people to try OLPC version of eToys, if we add a few links on how to run
> > OLPC eToys on Windows, and Mac, maybe just a link to the Windows OLPC
> > emulation page.
> >
> > Sorry this is longer than I wanted, I really love the changes and
> > cleanup, great work,
> >
> > Milan
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