Monthly Archives: February 2009

Default Programs Editor: Examining the GUI and A look forward at version 2

Lately I’ve been working on figuring out what needs to happen for the next major version of Default Programs Editor. There will be some additional core functionality (such as protocol associations; that would solve things like this), but the main focus will be the User Interface- some of you will be pleased to know that there will be one this time, and it will be a lot better than the “Programmer Who Is Me Interface” of version 1.x. This was one of the major criticisms of the program, and I recognize that it was completely on target. After all, the user interface is the application. So as I’m working on version 2, I’ve got Microsoft’s very good Windows Vista User Experience Guidelines open at all times.

The core of the version 2 experience will be through Aero Wizards:

14-feb-09-wizard

The goal with the wizard UI is to decrease the number of decisions a user needs to make to do what they want to do. Command links are great for this. Command links have sub-notes to help smooth out the unavoidable jargon, along with mouseover image previews.

I’m also taking a close look at how induvidual peices of the UI communicate with the user. Here’s an example of the old version 1.x style of a list of file extensions:

14-feb-09-old-extension-list-format

This is sufficient to select a specific extension by itself, however, this is isn’t actually the goal of the list- it is to select a file type (file types can map to multiple extensions, as in this screenshot). Also, there is unwanted redundancy. If a user knew they wanted to select a file type and not just a single extension, this UI would proove confusing, as it only allows the user to select one item.

14-feb-09-new-extension-list-format

The new list addresses these problems first by swapping the columns- this puts the empasis on the file type. All the extensions that map to this type are now shown on the same line, eliminating redundancy. The search functionality is basically unchanged, searching for either a file type description or an extension will pare the list down as expected.

There will also be some kind of “Advanced Mode” as well besides the Wizard system, but I’m not sure exactly what that will entail as of yet. It will probably be similar to the 1.x UI, but with increased coherency, such as the new file types list.