HX design opinion/suggestion

HelpXplain is the exciting new animated infographics and screencast tool that integrates with Help+Manual.

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Mark Wilsdorf
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HX design opinion/suggestion

Unread post by Mark Wilsdorf » Wed Feb 19, 2020 6:23 pm

This is just an opinion. I've written a lot of code over the years, so I realize how touchy (?insulted?) we can feel if someone suggests a significant design change to "our baby". So understand, this is not meant to detract from all the obvious hard work that has gone into HX so far, but just to provide my perspective on what I think would be an improvement.

Seems to me that the event model for objects on a slide is wrong, especially for screencasts where the user is given manual control for moving from slide to slide...

Let's say I have two shape objects on slide 1, both animated to appear in eye-catching ways, on Slide Entry.

When user clicks "next" (right-arrow) I want to hide those two objects, then move the cursor to have it click on a link (which will open a modal dialog). Let's further assume the link to be clicked on was necessarily obscured by one of the shapes on slide 1.

As HX is now, my two options for doing this are:

(1) Include a cursor on slide 1, animated to click the desired location on Slide Exit...but to the user the cursor would appear to be clicking on one of the shapes (because they obscure what the cursor must click on), because the shapes won't disappear until slide 2 is displayed.

(2) Don't include a cursor on slide 1, but rather include it on slide 2.
  • If the cursor fires on Slide Entry, the user will see the cursor move and click, but then not see the modal dialog pop up because it won't appear until slide 3 (confusing).
  • Or if the cursor animation fires on Slide Exit, the user will see no activity when the slide opens (again, confusing), and will only see the cursor move and click if he or she clicks the "next" arrow a second time--as if the first click of the "next" arrow somehow was not processed. The only advantage of this arrangement would be that the cursor click will appear to be visually connected to display of the modal dialog displayed in slide 3, as it should be.
I consider neither (1) nor (2) acceptable. As HX is currently designed it seems that the only solution to make shape animations and cursor movement appear coordinated with what happens on the screen in real time is to AutoPlay the entire slideshow. But I want users to have control of paging forward/backward through slides, manually.

What would fix this problem is if all of the objects on a slide had both Slide Entry and Slide Exit animations. In the example I described:

When user clicks "next" (right-arrow) after slide 1 is displayed, Slide Exit actions of the the two shapes would hide them, then the cursor would click the link to open the modal dialog. Because the cursor action is a Slide Exit action, it would be followed immediately by display of slide 2 containing the modal dialog...making the cursor click and display of the dialog appear to be connected, visually.

In many situations having both entry/exit animation events for each object would also reduce the number of slides required in the Xplain.

If I've missed an HX feature or technique which would do what I want, or you see a flaw in my logic, please enlighten me.

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Martin Wynne
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Re: HX design opinion/suggestion

Unread post by Martin Wynne » Wed Feb 19, 2020 7:28 pm

Hi Mark,

A trick I've used is to have a third shape which is a copy of the original screenshot which is below the first shape. Have it animated to fade in on slide exit, over and concealing the first shape, and before the cursor moves over it.

However, I have decided in future never to use slide exit animations for anything. A user sees something happen but if they are not quick enough to take in what they are seeing, it can disappear from view before they have fully comprehended it.

It is much better to have everything that is going to happen, take place on slide entry. That way the user can be quite sure they have seen and understood everything before moving on.

Note that you can nest one object inside another. That way I have created a custom cursor object which moves over a screen item, waits long enough for the user to read it, and then clicks it. Very often further explanation is unnecessary. If a menu item says "Show stock levels of blue bananas", and the user has time to read it, the user knows exactly what will happen when that menu item is clicked. Otherwise you need an additional call-out on the menu item explaining how to show stock levels of blue bananas, before the cursor moves to it and instantly clicks it, causing it to disappear before the user has a chance to read it.

I repeatedly asked Alexander for a move-wait-click cursor animation during the beta phase, but he said it was too difficult. I still think it is the most basic requirement, but I'm happy that I have now implemented a custom cursor to provide it.

cheers,

Martin.

Mark Wilsdorf
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Re: HX design opinion/suggestion

Unread post by Mark Wilsdorf » Wed Feb 19, 2020 7:59 pm

Thanks Martin, I always appreciate reading your insights...both on HX and H&M.
> A trick I've used is to have a third shape which is a copy of the original screenshot which is below the first shape....
Thanks, I'll give that a try. But it still adds a layer of "tedious horsing around" to accomplish what would be easy if objects supported both Entry and Exit animation events.
> ...I have decided in future never to use slide exit animations for anything. A user sees something happen but if they are not quick enough to take in what they are seeing, it can disappear from view before they have fully comprehended it.
Not sure that I understand HX well enough yet to disagree, but I do. Remember, I'm coming from the perspective of manually controlled screencasts: if the user missed something, they can page pack to the prior slide and see it again. And I see this as a straw man argument: the Pause setting on the last object to fire an Exit event should always be able to add enough delay ahead of the next slide to prevent any such problem.

The usual flow of animations for three objects on a slide might be:
Entry events: 1 - 2 - 3 - (Pause for viewing the completed slide)
Exit events: 3 - 2 - 1 - (Pause before the next slide)
> Note that you can nest one object inside another. That way I have created a custom cursor object...
Sounds very useful. What approach did you use? Custom HTML object? (It's not immediately apparent to me how object nesting relates to your solution.)

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Tim Green
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Re: HX design opinion/suggestion

Unread post by Tim Green » Thu Feb 20, 2020 8:19 am

Multiple animations per element, including entry and exit animations, are already planned. However, there is also a trick you can use to achieve this already. It works because elements and groups containing the same elements can have separate animations. So what you do is apply one animation to the element itself. Then group it with another element, which can be invisible, and apply the second animation to the group.

On the mouse cursor: Usually, it's not such a good idea to delete it from any slides if you're using it at all. You don't have to move it, but just let it be there so that you can easily continue from that position when you move it in the next slide. Otherwise it jumps around like that old Frogger game or quantum particles appearing and disappearing from the space-time field. 8)
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Tim (EC Software Documentation & User Support)

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Mark Wilsdorf
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Re: HX design opinion/suggestion

Unread post by Mark Wilsdorf » Thu Feb 20, 2020 1:23 pm

...entry and exit animations, are already planned.
Good to hear. I'll play with the grouping trick you mentioned.
On the mouse cursor: Usually, it's not such a good idea to delete it from any slides
I've played with HX just long enough to have begun to realize that.
it jumps around like...quantum particles appearing and disappearing from the space-time field.
...and we all really hate it when that happens. :roll:

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