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Old 05-13-2011, 02:33 PM   #1
luketheobscure
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GUI Changes

Hello all,

I'm a web developer and UX designer, and a huge fan of Calibre. I'd like to work on the GUI for the OS X version of Calibre. For some reason it always seems like it fits right in on my Windows 7 machines, but Mac apps follow different conventions.

My question is- where do I start? I don't know python, but I know quite a few other languages that I can kind of figure out what I'm looking at. Is there a master GUI template somewhere that I can jump into?

Even if none of my changes are merged into the main branch, it seems like this would be a fun project.

Thanks,

total n00b
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Old 05-13-2011, 02:40 PM   #2
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Some of the GUI is composed of Qt .ui files. Some of the is programatically created in the code. A good amount uses a mix of both.

calibre.gui2 has all of the GUI files. Everything related to the GUI actually.

What specifically are you looking to change? It's easier to help you get started if I know what you actually want to do. There are a lot of components of the GUI.
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Old 05-13-2011, 03:02 PM   #3
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I'm just looking at the main view right now- how the bar on the left looks (the one with Author, Series, etc.), the search bar, etc.
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Old 05-13-2011, 03:18 PM   #4
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When I get home from work I will give you some help with where those parts are definded.

I have a Mac but no eye for UI. The Mac style toolbar changes recently were accidental. I saw the Qt setting and investigated why it wasn't used. I never even realized the toolbar was wrong. With that said how do you want to change the tag browser?

Also, the entire GUI uses the cross platform tool kit Qt. Mac specific changes are okay as long as they don't change or reduce functionality. Keep that in mind. However, that doesn't mean the UI can't me more Mac friendly.

If you're really serious about making the GUI better on Mac you will need to learn Python. It's an easy language to get the hang of. Kovid reviews all changes sent to him and will provide feedback. I'm also willing to help and answer questions.
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Old 05-13-2011, 04:27 PM   #5
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I'll try and do a quick static mock-up of how I see it looking. Then maybe you can decide whether it's worth your while or not to help me.
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Old 05-13-2011, 06:54 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by luketheobscure View Post
I'll try and do a quick static mock-up of how I see it looking. Then maybe you can decide whether it's worth your while or not to help me.
My "quick mock-up" quickly turned into a full-on Calibre GUI wishlist. I'll show you what I'm talking about this weekend.
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Old 05-13-2011, 07:43 PM   #7
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I look forward to seeing the mockups.
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Old 05-16-2011, 02:09 PM   #8
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Here's those mock ups

I was originally only going to tweak a few things, but once I got to working on it I found that I wanted to change a lot more than that. I think there's some room to make Calibre a really beautiful, intuitive app. Right now the GUI seems geared towards the "Power User", which is appropriate for it's early adopter user base. The attached designs I think would go a long way to making it friendlier for the casual user.

I did this with OS X in mind, but I think that a lot of these changes would work cross-platform.

I hope I'm not stepping on anyone's toes. This is my first time trying to get involved with an open source project.

I would love to hear what you guys think, since a lot of this is beyond my programming skills.

Last edited by luketheobscure; 05-18-2011 at 09:03 PM. Reason: attachments removed
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Old 05-16-2011, 02:22 PM   #9
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A-Mazing.
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Old 05-16-2011, 09:29 PM   #10
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I am not a developer. But I must say, the UI really has quite some room for improvement, and luketheobscure, the direction you are suggesting with your designs makes it look a lot more usable.
Quite a lot of feature in calibre i tend to avoid (eg managing tags) because the UI is too cluttered in some aspects.
I think input from someone with UX skills like yours could really help the project! Just don't focus too much on the OSX design paradigms and try to have the rest of the userbase in mind.
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Old 05-17-2011, 12:24 AM   #11
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You Know, the first thing I noticed (after the Wow ), WAS 2 Images of the same cover.
If the cover Browser is showing, then why not suppress the cover in Book Details and use the space for other things(or stretch the Cover Browser into that area)?
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Old 05-17-2011, 04:53 AM   #12
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Amazing mockups. A few things come to mind:
  • I personally don't like to use the cover browser, I'd much prefer a larger book list. I assume this will be user-toggleable the way it currently is, though.
  • I didn't notice a search bar. I see you have the advanced search tab thingie on the left side, but does it contain the search bar the way it currently is, or does it contain the advanced search dialog? I'd personally prefer to have the current search bar, because it's just so powerful.
  • The book details pane on the right-hand side should still be configurable the way it is today, as in there should be a layout for narrow screens where it is below the book list.
  • There should very much be a consistent layout across all platforms, this makes it way easier to help users, and it looks nicer. That said, remember that Linux and Windows will have the menu bar below the title bar. No biggie, just something to remember.
You mentioned making it easier for the casual user to use the program. I'll just note that many of Calibre's advanced features are designed for what you call power users. This has historical reasons, and those features should very much still be easily accessible- you don't want to dumb it down, just make it easier to use. That said, I think your design does that.

Edited to add: I just noticed this: My workflow relies somewhat heavily on view restrictions. Those should, I think, be readily available somewhere in there.

Last edited by Manichean; 05-17-2011 at 05:31 AM.
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Old 05-17-2011, 09:56 AM   #13
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Just to offer a differing opinion...

My dislike for iTunes is so deep and immense that turning Calibre into an iTunes lookalike fills me with dread. Vital functions becoming teeny buttons at the bottom of the view. No sign of the search bar (which is the "most practical" way to use calibre for many users, particularly with large libraries) and restrictions. There are reasons why the toolbar has buttons with dropdown menus - there is a lot of functionality which people use that cannot be replaced with a buried icon somewhere.

You will also need to keep in mind that one of the biggest challenges I find is squeezing space for columns into the main view. So that will put constraints on for instance the tag viewer on the left as to how "wide" it should be as a workable default.

Sorry to sound negative. I don't think anyone would claim Calibre is "pretty" in its current design, but it is "practical" for users who have got past the initial learning curve. I think using a cross platform UI toolset to try to design something that looks decent on all platforms is a tremendous challenge that is not to be underestimated. Only recently I asked chaley to move a couple of buttons on the edit metadata dialog and from what I hear there was many hours of pain involved.

I applaud the intent and your incredible amount of effort in the mockups. I just merely offer a varying opinion to the thread for balance
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Old 05-17-2011, 10:19 AM   #14
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I had conversation with Kovid about the mockups.

The gist of it is he will accept the changes if all three of these conditions are met (this goes for pretty much any change):

1) Kovid doesn't have to do the maintance work.
2) You can convince Kovid/others it's an improvement.
3) All platforms are created equal.

3 doesn't mean we can't do platform specific changes but we can't say remove the news downloads from one.

Kovid is open to having an OS X only GUI. Similar to what we already have with the wide and narrow UIs. However, I'm personally unwilling to maintain an OS X only UI.
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Old 05-17-2011, 10:24 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by luketheobscure View Post
I would love to hear what you guys think
I hate it. It looks pretty, but if I want pretty, I'll look at my wife. Sorry to be so negative, but it has prioritized the two things I seldom use - the Tag Browser and Book Details, at the expense of the two things I always use - wide GUI (lots of columns) and the ultrapowerful search bar. I want my screen wider and the search bar, (with saved searches accessible). I don't want the width of my screen diminished with the tag browser or the book details. (I also need the right click options and the icon pulldown menu options, and those needs are also much higher than the Tag Browser and Book Details.)

If you put the search bar back, add in the saved search features, such as the buttons that save and recall the search details, then make the tag browser and book details easily disappear, while keeping/adding right click options and the icon pulldown menus, then I'd be happy, but then you're getting closer to the current GUI.
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