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Advise for an already vector software design (see picture)

Because i am more a developer i am asking for an advice from the artists about how to look my vector software. It will be freeware.
The design is very important because this will increase it's usability. I am the only guy who work on this and i really need advices before start writing it's functionality.
I implement the SVG standard and also i want some features like, connected points, more standard shapes, etc...

See the picture here:

Using the Hand tool you can move the drawing area anywhere but the UI (toolbar, color picker, propertiy windows) always remain on top. So, looking at the picture, if you move the drawing area to much on the left (let's say that 50% of the drawing area is invisible now), then you can see that the toolbar will be drawn on top of the drawing area. Is this a good idea or not?
Calciu Sorin Send private email
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Not a good idea. Why do you think being able to move the drawing surface makes sense? What problem does it solve?
Just another voice in the crowd
Thursday, August 14, 2008 allows this but also allows for repositioning the tools.  Seems reasonable to maximize the drawing area.  I assume you provide zoom as well?
Brad Siemens Send private email
Thursday, August 14, 2008
As you can see in the picture, yes, you can zoom in and zoom out.

Moving the drawing area has a lot of goodies:
- you are not restricted to work with objects, lets say, on the left side, you can drag the area and work with them in the center.
- you can use the space that is wasted in control docking for drawing. Just look at the same snapshot but at the 1400x1050 resolution:

If people like this then i will go further with this, if not, i must change the design.
Calciu Sorin Send private email
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Well, it sounds like you're creating a drawing interface similar to what's found in Illustrator or Flash, and the "hand" tool for moving the drawing surface around is a core feature of both those UIs, so I'd suppose it's a good idea, sure. In Flash at least, by default this feature is bound to the space bar, so I suppose they felt it was reasonably important.

> Just another voice in the crowd
> What problem does it solve?

The same problem that scrolling solves in a text editor?
aph Send private email
Thursday, August 14, 2008
If it solves the same problem as scrollbars in a text editor, why not use scrollbars? They are more common and obvious than knowing you can somehow drag the drawing area around.

I'm not saying moving the drawing area is definitely bad, but it "smells" like a gimmick more than a true usability enhancement. But without knowing more about the goals and skills of the target users it's hard to say definitively.
Just another voice in the crowd
Friday, August 15, 2008
I think the thing that's making your interface look awkward is the grey background for the "non-canvas" area.

In Illustrator, the print area of the canvas is just a rectangular outline on the otherwise uniformly white background. And the "hand" icon not only moves the position of the canvas, but it also adjusts the scrollbar positions.

With your current interface, and the grey background for the non-canvas area, it looks like the user is drawing shapes in the GUI chrome rather than in the document itself.

If you change the background to white and add some scrollbars, I think the document metaphor will be more clearly established, while the rectangle outline can be maintained to keep the idea of a "canvas area".

Incidentally, is your application just meant to be another vector graphics package, akin to Illustrator? Or does it serve some other, more specialized purpose?

If it's just a vector graphics editor, how will you distinguish it from other free alternatives, like Inkscape?

Personally, I *love* Illustrator. In my book, no other vector graphics software comes close to being as powerful and easy-to-use. I've used Inkscape many times, to avoid the high price of Illustrator, but from a usability standpoint, Illustrator is at least a million percent better.
BenjiSmith Send private email
Saturday, August 16, 2008
@Just another voice in the crowd

Actually, for people that worked before with Adobe Photoshop or any other graphic tool from Adobe this would be like an instinct. For me, being able to press the space bar and then move the drawing area around with my mouse seems just natural.

I really like the design of the color palettes.

Please make some buzz when it's ready. I'd really like to test it.
Ionut Gabriel Stan Send private email
Monday, August 18, 2008
Thank you for the tip. I already changed the non-drawing gray area with white. But for scrollbars, i don't know where should i place them because i don't want rectangular UIs, i want them to be rounded and save space for drawing. Also pressing F5 will make the UIs appear/dissapear.

I guess that an alpha version will be released very soon. This is possible because i am using .NET 3.5, XAML and WPF wich make things very easy.

I am also doing this because i don't like that MS created XAML when there was already the W3C SVG standard. All i want is to develop an SVG editor using their own technology (XAML), wich will be an replacement for Expression Blend and Expression Designer, make it open-source and try to create a big user base.

I don't like that Microsoft try to copy the SVG standard and make people think that XAML and Silverlight is the future. Hope all of you think the same.

I also plan new features:
* two or more shapes can contain the same points (like vertices in 3D)
* more default shapes
* the ability to create shapes wich today can be created only programatically
* intuitive interface
Calciu Sorin Send private email
Tuesday, August 19, 2008

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