4.9.X Changes to Interface not helpful

Discussion of the version of HanDBase that runs on the iPhone and iPod touch devices. This includes the synchronization conduits as well.

4.9.X Changes to Interface not helpful

Postby benevision » Mon Sep 30, 2013 8:31 pm

Recent changes to the interface have made using HanDBase a lot less handy for me.
On my iPhone4s there is far less usable screen space for the various list views I rely on.

1/ In particular the new extra-large check boxes take up way more space to no discernible advantage.
I enter orders for my business into a database which displays the customer name and a series of check boxes for the products they order.
On the previous version of the software the Title column was 26% of list view with six old style check boxes displayed.
Now the Title column has shrunk down to 13% of list view with six new-style extra-large check boxes visible.
Allowing the text to flow into two lines is harder to read and does not compensate for this loss of width in my opinion.
Is there an option to turn this reflow off?

2/ The alphabet scroll bar almost overlays with the check boxes, so it is very easy to inadvertently select/deselect the check boxes whilst attempting to scroll, which mean I'm constantly checking and regarding-checking my entries in case they've gone wrong.
In the previous layout the far right column of checkboxes would even squish a little to avoid getting too close to the scroll bar, and it never overlayed it!

3/ The number of blank unused pixels at the left edge of the first column appears to have at least trebled, crowding the first column even more.

4/ In another list view I rely on columns of single digits. Set at "6% of view" they take up at least half as much width again as the older software at "6% of view", meaning I can only see 4 columns of data where before I could see six.

5/ The inability to hide the new ubiquitous Search field means the number of rows visible has shrunk from 8 to 7, reducing the amount of data that can be displayed at a glance even further...

If there was a way to go back to the previous interface I would be very glad to take it!
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Re: 4.9.X Changes to Interface not helpful

Postby dhaupert » Mon Sep 30, 2013 9:53 pm

benevision wrote:Recent changes to the interface have made using HanDBase a lot less handy for me.
On my iPhone4s there is far less usable screen space for the various list views I rely on.



Thanks for your feedback. Please see below:


1/ In particular the new extra-large check boxes take up way more space to no discernible advantage.
I enter orders for my business into a database which displays the customer name and a series of check boxes for the products they order.
On the previous version of the software the Title column was 26% of list view with six old style check boxes displayed.
Now the Title column has shrunk down to 13% of list view with six new-style extra-large check boxes visible.



You are incorrect with your assumption that the checkbox image size and field width has changed. I know they look bigger, but that is because the box itself uses up all of the space in the image. Prior to this version the graphic for the checkbox was the same size, but because the checkmark went outside the box in the old version the actual square was smaller, but there was the same overall dimension of the whitespace.

That said, you are going to see less usable space now that there is a small margin between each column in the List View. There wasn't previously and we had many bad reviews about how the text was laid out poorly and overrun. The margins added fixed this problem at the cost of some usable space on the screen.

Allowing the text to flow into two lines is harder to read and does not compensate for this loss of width in my opinion.
Is there an option to turn this reflow off?


There is not- it was not put in place to compensate for anything, it was added because many users requested it! That said, if there are many others like you who prefer a single line of text, I can always make that an option. I don't see the purpose since the row height did not increase- you're just getting more text in the same sized row- the standard minimum row height for a table cell on iOS.



2/ The alphabet scroll bar almost overlays with the check boxes, so it is very easy to inadvertently select/deselect the check boxes whilst attempting to scroll, which mean I'm constantly checking and regarding-checking my entries in case they've gone wrong.
In the previous layout the far right column of checkboxes would even squish a little to avoid getting too close to the scroll bar, and it never overlayed it!


The overlay is part of iOS7's use of transparency. The old version had it too but the index bar was not transparent. If you'll notice the table now extends to the very top of the screen and to the very bottom of the screen. This is part of iOS7 and not something I did or added. There is a way to block it from happening and some developers may elect to do it, but in my opinion the use of transparency was there for a reason and Apple has done a great job of explaining why it's there. Unfortunately it's not something I can turn off for one thing and not the others..
3/ The number of blank unused pixels at the left edge of the first column appears to have at least trebled, crowding the first column even more.

There was a zero margin before and it was actually Apple's review team that recommended the increased left margin. I found it odd because iOS7 is supposed to be edge to edge screen. I may be able to play with this, but there will definitely have to be some margin there.
4/ In another list view I rely on columns of single digits. Set at "6% of view" they take up at least half as much width again as the older software at "6% of view", meaning I can only see 4 columns of data where before I could see six.


This is due to the margin between rows as per above.

5/ The inability to hide the new ubiquitous Search field means the number of rows visible has shrunk from 8 to 7, reducing the amount of data that can be displayed at a glance even further...


Sorry about this- perhaps can revisit this in the future if others feel the same way, doing some type of auto hide or something, like the mail app used to do..
As an aside, the 3.7" screen devices are basically being obsoleted in the next year, and most people are using 4" devices which display a few extra rows, so this may become a non issue as you are forced to upgrade in the future.

If there was a way to go back to the previous interface I would be very glad to take it!


You sure can- that is if you have kept iTunes backups and have a copy of the prior version! Each download you have is signed for your apple ID, so I can't provide you with an old build, but should have you backups of your IPA files stored, you can certainly install these. Let me know if you need instructions- I know Brian in support has them around somewhere..

Sorry you are not happy with the changes. I know I can never please everyone but when every single review for the last few years criticized the UI, I knew I had to try. And I worked with some very reputable professional designers on this UI redesign for a change instead of going it alone. There have been a few others who didn't like the changes, but for the most part I've had tons of positive comments about the new version. I wish I could come up with a version that pleased everyone without having to have a million preferences which make testing and development very convoluted and redundant.

Have a great night!
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Re: 4.9.X Changes to Interface not helpful

Postby bjohnson » Tue Oct 01, 2013 8:23 am

Just for the record, count me as another user who is unhappy with the new UI. Despite all the reasons why, etc., I still see way less information on the screen than I used to. To me, that's the purpose of the app, to display information on the screen and allow me to interact with it. And, please don't tell me that I need to buy a new phone to run your app; just not going to happen. My 4s is still fine for the rest of my apps. Cheers,
Bruce Johnson
HDB Pro, ver. 5.7.6 (R1)
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Re: 4.9.X Changes to Interface not helpful

Postby dhaupert » Tue Oct 01, 2013 9:03 am

Hi,

I appreciate your feedback. I was not suggesting you go buy a new phone! I was just stating that phone screen sizes are getting bigger, and affording more room for more records to be seen, and cleaner, better spaced formatting, which makes things easier to read and discern. You can continue using whatever phone you like- as long as you're happy with it, why would I mind! In regards to less being shown on the screen, I'd argue that point to some degree. Yes, if you were not using quick search before, you have now lost a line in your List View, and yes there are a few pixels due to margins and spacing, and yes the navigation bar in iOS7 is larger than that of iOS6 (which is out of my control), but there is word wrapping to show more of a field in the same height to offset that to some degree.

I apologize that you are not happy with the changes- I know I can't argue someone to change their opinion. Just pointing out the reasons for the changes. I really don't spend hours upon hours trying to make things worse for customers! Quite the opposite, I'm providing an optional update for something that I will receive no additional revenue from you for. The update was responding to feedback from users over the course of 5 years of being on the App store and a general consensus among reviews and emails we get that the app had too much information crammed on top of itself, was to complex to do simple things like searching a database, etc. I realize not everyone agreed with that, nor does everyone like the iOS7 design principles Apple laid out. As you said, your iPhone 4s is just fine and can continue to run the prior versions if you prefer!
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Re: 4.9.X Changes to Interface not helpful

Postby bjohnson » Tue Oct 01, 2013 9:38 am

Sorry Dave. Didn't intend to step on anyone's toes. Actually, I like HanDbase quite a lot and rely on it on a daily basis, which is why the interface matters to me. I have purchased it for 5 different devices and I do appreciate the work you do. Just wanted to let you know that not everyone is happy with the new interface. I'd be delighted to return to the older interface if I knew how. But then, I suppose that would cut me off from any other improvements in the future. Too bad we can't just have an interface setting to select between the two. I had no idea that people were complaining about too much information on the screen when I'm struggling to get all I can.
Bruce Johnson
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Re: 4.9.X Changes to Interface not helpful

Postby dhaupert » Tue Oct 01, 2013 10:12 am

Hi Bruce,

Thanks for following up. I see many user designed databases and forms sent to me all the time and one thing that always is consistent is that nothing is consistent! I find some forms and database designs where things are spread out and clean and other designs where as much information is packed onto a single page. I see forms where tabs are used or buttons that walk you through one question at a time, and then others which are a big scrolling single screen. And ultimately that is the beauty of the program- you do have flexibility to meet your own needs.

Regarding a switch, it's hard to appreciate how much work it is to maintain two different layouts. The iOS6 and iOS7 versions use a lot of different code and it took me so much more time to make them both continue to work. I know why many developers take the easy road and just abandon old OS versions- I had to keep testing any change on two different devices (x2 as there is an iPad version as well!). And often times what you change in one breaks the other! On top of that I support two theme choices in the app (dark and light) and each of these needed to be tested for every screen. Our testers are great, but I can't expect them to go through every permutation of settings- I'd rather they use the apps on their own databases and see and leave the regression type stuff to me. You can imagine the amount of combinations already for example when you combine iOS6, iOS7, two themes, two different versions (iPad and iPhone), 3 different justification settings for the field value, and 2 different placements for the field name. It's a crazy number of combinations already!

I've watched companies that are afraid to make changes die out (eg, Palm OS, BlackBerry), and ones that were two aggressive in their changes and lose out (also Palm and Blackberry) so there is a fine art to balancing change and progress.

Now for a more practical response- what change causes you to most lose the ability to see all your data? Is it the margins at the left, the margins between the rows, or the search box not being optional?

And as for going back to a prior version I will have Brian post on here with the steps he's provided users in the past..
Indeed you'd miss out on future features, bug fixes, etc, but the prior version was quite stable- it was about 6 months with no major bug finds!
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Re: 4.9.X Changes to Interface not helpful

Postby bjohnson » Tue Oct 01, 2013 12:17 pm

Dave, thanks for the reply. In a previous life, I worked as a SW developer, so I am familiar with the problems of making changes. To answer your direct question, I'm looking at my main phone screen now. Still running iOS 6 on a iPhone 4S, but will be upgrading to iOS 7 soon. I've lost one line of data due to the search box, which I rarely use. A way to hide that would help. Also, my right-most field is now wrapped onto two lines. It's a small field with short, one-word entries, so the wrapping breaks the words, making them hard to read. I don't need the extra space on the left edge, or between fields, so feel as if this wasted (to me) space is degrading the ability to show the rest of the data.

So, I just readjusted the field lengths on the display to give a bit more space to the last field and less to the other fields. Now looks a lot better even though I now have more word wrap in my other fields. I can live with this. If you could do something about the search box, I'd be a happy camper again. Cheers,
Bruce Johnson
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If it aint broke don't fix it...

Postby benevision » Tue Oct 01, 2013 7:19 pm

bjohnson +3!
Thanks Dave for your detailed answers, I've mentioned elsewhere how much and for how long I've appreciated your software...
It pains me to be the one who complains so vehemently !

I'm not sure if it makes a difference to what I'm seeing but I haven't upgraded to iOS7 yet (I've other considerations not related to HanDBase for this).

As a designer myself I can still see no advantage to the giant checkboxes.
So they use the same space but 1st rule of graphic design is that white space is as important as other elements and that has gone, giving a crowded effect.
If the change IS purely cosmetic why was it deemed necessary?
I was unaware that there are now margins to the columns and so that must be why I'm seeing 4 checkboxes in my list view instead of 6.
Same result, 33% less data visible there...
Of course if the margins were reduced/removed those check boxes would be even more crowded.

Whatever the actual cause (I can't measure these retina display pixels) I've lost 50% of my main left-hand title column.
As bjohnson says, single word entries are being broken to two lines, sometimes just at the last letter. If the wrap could just be applied to whole words (i.e. at spaces) that would help...
I don't have any issue with the text wrapping to two lines in itself, I think it's a good use of very generous row height. (If row height could be adjusted like font size I'd be even happier!)

My designer's eye is constantly being drawn back to that slab of empty pixels at the left margin - if only that could be utilised!

So to answer your question about "what change causes you to most lose the ability to see all your data? Is it 1/the margins at the left, 2/the margins between the rows, or 3/the search box not being optional?"
I'd say all of the above and 1, 3, 2 in that order...

I would like to hear how to revert to the previous version from backup, provided I don't lose any recently collected data with that.
Long term however, avoiding the "update all" button will be hard to maintain...
I too do not consider my 4s to be obsolete, and I'll resist the pressure to buy another phone as long as this one is working.
The problem here is that whatever is going on under the hood, I'm not seeing any advantage in the new version and in all your obvious hard work.

Thanks again for your time and patience!
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Re: If it aint broke don't fix it...

Postby dhaupert » Tue Oct 01, 2013 9:52 pm

benevision wrote:bjohnson +3!
Thanks Dave for your detailed answers, I've mentioned elsewhere how much and for how long I've appreciated your software...
It pains me to be the one who complains so vehemently !


No problem- this sort of things makes us all grow in the process, especially when we are all discussing like rational adults. Can't say that for most of the other websites I visit daily (cough, Youtube, cough)!!

I'm not sure if it makes a difference to what I'm seeing but I haven't upgraded to iOS7 yet (I've other considerations not related to HanDBase for this).


It does certainly look different on iOS7 and the changes are more at home there IMHO. But certainly the margins are the same and the checkbox graphic as well..

As a designer myself I can still see no advantage to the giant checkboxes.
So they use the same space but 1st rule of graphic design is that white space is as important as other elements and that has gone, giving a crowded effect.
If the change IS purely cosmetic why was it deemed necessary?


That's a good question. First off, calling them giant checkboxes is a bit subjective. They are indeed bigger looking than they used to be, but they are still smaller than the recommended minimum height for a clickable element (the image is 33x33) and the recommended minimum size for UI elements that are tappable by the Apple HIG (Human interface guidelines) for iOS is 44x44. That has to do with both the accuracy of the digitizer and the fact that things smaller users tend to think are not clickable. Of course I didn't actually make the clickable area bigger but I wanted to make it more clear that this was effectively a button. That was the motive for making them
bigger, when combined with the complaints about the checkbox design from the previous version. (The checkboxes on iPhone HanDBase have been redesigned 3 times now and there are always complaints about the design, and then when changed there are complaints from those who liked the previous one better- seems like it's impossible to design a perfect checkbox for everyone- since you're a designer, I'd gladly take a look at a suggested design for one!).

Second, the checkbox is not filled to the edge of the 33x33 image- there is a built in margin to the graphic, though it's only about 2 pixels on each side. So even with no margins they would not touch edge to edge!

In summary, the checkbox was changed because people didn't like the previous one, it didn't follow the Apple HIG, and many people were not aware you could tap the checkbox in the list view. As mentioned before, I didn't use up any additional space for it but just made the surrounding box bigger and fitting the checkbox entirely inside it.

I was unaware that there are now margins to the columns and so that must be why I'm seeing 4 checkboxes in my list view instead of 6.
Same result, 33% less data visible there...


Indeed...

Of course if the margins were reduced/removed those check boxes would be even more crowded.


Not so, see above.

Whatever the actual cause (I can't measure these retina display pixels) I've lost 50% of my main left-hand title column.
As bjohnson says, single word entries are being broken to two lines, sometimes just at the last letter. If the wrap could just be applied to whole words (i.e. at spaces) that would help...


I wish that were an option. There are about 6 line break modes for the UILabel and none will do what you are asking for! I imagine the reason for this is Apple not knowing what better option to implement if the word were too long- cut it off or use ellipsis when there is space below? I thought about implementing a custom UILabel but I ran into the same snag- not knowing a better way to handle that situation..

I don't have any issue with the text wrapping to two lines in itself, I think it's a good use of very generous row height. (If row height could be adjusted like font size I'd be even happier!)


Not as easy as it sounds as the background cell image is a graphic that is stretched to fit so there would need to be multiple graphics for every size..

My designer's eye is constantly being drawn back to that slab of empty pixels at the left margin - if only that could be utilised!


I actually think the same thing when I use it on iPhone. The iPad version seemed to need the margin and could afford it. I unfortunately can't get into full details as to why I put it there in the first place, but I did have on my todo list for 4.9.03 to play with it and see if I could reduce it somewhat without ill effect. The DB Popup crash bug made me reconsider as I needed to get the fix out ASAP. Hope to do some more tweaking with that in the future..

So to answer your question about "what change causes you to most lose the ability to see all your data? Is it 1/the margins at the left, 2/the margins between the rows, or 3/the search box not being optional?"
I'd say all of the above and 1, 3, 2 in that order...


Thanks- I will continue to monitor feedback from customers and am always open to further changes.

I would like to hear how to revert to the previous version from backup, provided I don't lose any recently collected data with that.
Long term however, avoiding the "update all" button will be hard to maintain...

I too do not consider my 4s to be obsolete, and I'll resist the pressure to buy another phone as long as this one is working.


I don't consider the 4s to be obsolete either... yet. Just saying that the majority of users are going to be on 4" screens and not lamenting the loss of a single row due to the Search box because they have 4 more rows to play with..

The problem here is that whatever is going on under the hood, I'm not seeing any advantage in the new version and in all your obvious hard work.


There are many features that are not solely design related. If you don't like the redesign and don't need those new features (eg, new forms capabilities, print/email/export to PDF, export to CSV, etc), then indeed I could see why you'd not need the latest version. Brian will chime in here soon with the steps to go back..

Thanks again for your time and patience!


Thanks to you for yours as well!
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Re: 4.9.X Changes to Interface not helpful

Postby Brian_Houghton » Thu Oct 03, 2013 10:30 am

Here's how you can revert to an older version if you prefer:

1. Check your computer's Trash or Recycle Bin for the older IPA file. iTunes seems to place them there right after updating to a new version. Move the file to your computer's Desktop. You will find that active apps are kept at Music / iTunes / iTunes Media / Mobile Applications You should probably make a backup of this somewhat frequently moving forward so you have backups, just in case.

2. Next, move the newer version of the HanDBase IPA from the folder mentioned above.

3. Open iTunes. Open the Apps Windows, which shows all of the apps in your library. Drag the IPA for the older version into this window.

You will likely get a prompt from iTunes that you are downgrading. Agree to it and then sync.

You should be good to go afterwards!
Kind Regards,
Brian Houghton, DDH Software
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