[Etoys] Some comments on the olpc Etoys (interface)

Yoshiki Ohshima yoshiki at squeakland.org
Mon Jul 2 00:54:16 EDT 2007


  Thank you for the comments and suggestions!

> In various parts of Etoys, there is balloon help,
> which is really nice, especially the programming
> tiles. But I think the balloon help for the
> interface
> is many times is too verbose.

  Ah, yes. I sometimes agree with it.  But, can you give us some more
your thoughts on *why* verbose balloon help is not preferable?

> New Project Button -> balloon text should only say
> "New Project" instead of "Start a new project"
> Save Project icon -> balloon text should say "Save a
> Project. Hold down button to reveal additional
> publish
> options" . Take away the "Click here to", and "Hold
> down _this_ button". In both cases the kid knows
> that
> it is a clickable button (all activities have
> clickable buttons on top), and which button the
> balloon text is referring to (the one bellow his
> cursor). This looks like how people used web links
> many years ago, "click _this link_ to go to my
> homepage".

  That would be a good observation.  Some of the help messages indeed
many years old!

> Find Project icon -> "Find a Project. Hold down
> button
> to reveal additional options".

  I would think that these are more or less reasonable suggestions.
Once our native speaker colleague gets spare time, this may happen.

> Undo icon - When I click it once, it undoes, then I
> click it again, and it Re-does? There should exist
> an
> Redo button next to this one instead.

  I'm not sure about this (having an extra button for redo),
especially because we don't have multi level redo.

> Flags icon -> "Change Language"
> Neighbourhood and Close icons -> I thought these
> where
> in the top frame. Or will etoys replicate the
> outside
> frame?

  As of 466, there is no close icon in the "top frame".  Share is not
in the "top frame".

> And the neighbourhood is way verbose. If the look
> for
> the badges are that unobvious that their function
> should be detailed here, then they probably need
> improvement? But won't they be XO icons with the
> friends colors. If so, kids by then will now what
> they
> mean. And extra help like "drag objects to give to
> your friend" could be in the badges themselves.

  These list shows the neighbors icons in their colors.  The ideal
situation is that an accompanying document explains what would really
happen, and then the verbose explanation becomes really unnecessary.

> Display icon -> "Select Display Mode", but not sure.
> For the interface, the text doesn't have to explain
> in
> detail every button's function, because most of them
> are not destructive, and so through experimenting
> kids
> will work them out.

  Or they simply ignore.

> I've noticed that when you create a new window, its
> thumbnail is colored, then when you go inside, the
> background is gray, and then out and it remains
> gray.
> Having multi-colored backgrounds for new Etoys
> projects was something that I found nice in the
> past,
> and even made the environment fun too look at. It
> would probably be the same for kids. If the problem
> is
> contrast, then couldn't you choose less saturated
> colors, so they became light green, light
> blues,etc.?

  The first one probably can be and should be fixed (i.e., the newly
created project thumbnail bear the background color of the project).
In regards to Multi-colored backgrounds... that would certainly make
the documentation effort harder.  (it would not be a bad idea of

> The color picker to choose a project's world color
> is
> very small and different than all the other windows
> (the button to "pin" the window is tiny, for
> example).

 Any color picker is really bad.  It should be fixed.

> I think trash should be present in new Projects.

  Can you explain why?  I usually delete the trashcan before publish a

> When you colapse a morph with the circle halo, it
> stays collapsed on top of the sugar bar, and uses
> different button icons.

  There is an argument for removing the collapse handle altogether.
What do you think?

> In the script windows, there are two buttons which
> show some repeated tiles, the chest button and the
> menu button. The ones they repeat are:
> Self title, random number title, button down?,
> button
> up?, repeat title.
> The chest icon doesn't follow the style of the
> neighbours.

  That is exactly correct.  The redesign of scriptor is on our list,
and making the header line similar to sugar-bar and our supply bin
would be a good idea.

> Also, in the Object Catalog, in the Scripting
> category
> there is repeat, button up? and button down? 

  Yes.  Is that bad?

> Finally, It would be really handy if there was a
> button which sent to the trash all of the method
> tiles
> scattered on the "desktop". While I'm doing a
> project/etoy, it becomes tiresome to have to allways
> trash
> them, so I just drop them anywhere out of the way and
> continue my thing.
> After a while I have a big mess of tiles on screen. I
> think kids may also behave like this in the beginning,
> when they are just messing with and trying new tiles
> (exploring?). But perhaps the Button tiles and
> "values" tiles could stay.

  I also see many kids delete a tile as soon as they drag out from a
scriptor.  What do you think if the multi-selection feature is easier
to use (such as, just click and drag the background to initiate
multiple selections)?

  Again, thank you for the comments!

-- Yoshiki

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