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Old 09-19-2011, 10:49 AM   #1
maara
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Calibre facelift

Hi,
I must say that I love Calibre and I am using it for managing my ebooks but I was just wondering - why is calibre's ui so ugly and uneconomic (to be honest the icons are really ugly, buttons are big and the layout makes no sense, preferences menu is very confusing etc. etc. etc.)???
I think that the community around calibre is growing every day and calibre is number one in ebook managers so why the ui is not as good as it could/should be?

Kovid you are a great programmer and you built a great piece of software from the scratch so why don't you make one release targeted to make much better ui?? I am sure that there are many people skilled in ui design out there willing to help you and who can help you to bring your app to another level...

M.

Last edited by maara; 09-19-2011 at 10:59 AM.
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Old 09-19-2011, 11:14 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maara View Post
Hi,
I must say that I love Calibre and I am using it for managing my ebooks but I was just wondering - why is calibre's ui so ugly and uneconomic (to be honest the icons are really ugly, buttons are big and the layout makes no sense, preferences menu is very confusing etc. etc. etc.)???
I think that the community around calibre is growing every day and calibre is number one in ebook managers so why the ui is not as good as it could/should be?

Kovid you are a great programmer and you built a great piece of software from the scratch so why don't you make one release targeted to make much better ui?? I am sure that there are many people skilled in ui design out there willing to help you and who can help you to bring your app to another level...

M.
beauty [or ugly] is in the eye of the beholder
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Old 09-19-2011, 12:42 PM   #3
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The preference panel is a similar design to KDE and OS X's preference panel.

The goal of the ui is to be functional to a wide variety of users. A power user should not feel limited or constrained. At the same time a new user should not have to learn boolean logic to do a search.

Many aspects of the ui are a product of learning how users use calibre. For example the version number is prominent at the bottom of the window because over half of all reported issues people were not including the version they were using. Telling them to look in the about dialog was met with them asking where it was. Moving it to be so prominent we haven't had issues of people not including or not being able to find the version number.
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Old 09-19-2011, 01:02 PM   #4
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The problem is that it is very easy to point and say "that's a bit rubbish" but an awful lot harder to actually come up with an acceptable alternative. Personally I agree that calibre (on Windows) is darned ugly. However as has been said many times I would rather ugly with the functionality than pretty without it.

Changing the icons to be consistent and more meaningful in some cases would not be difficult for someone who had the skills (sadly I have no graphic design skills whatsoever). Kovid has said in the past just submit them here for the peanut gallery to yay or nay and he may accept them.

However moving things around the screen in terms of layout etc is where it all starts getting controversial. As I see it calibre was written by technical users for the needs of technical users. Where previous proposals (well, one in particular I can recall) have "failed" is where they relied on dumbing down the calibre interface. Thereby making it harder to use the advanced features which many of these more technical forum users most regularly use.

It just needs someone who has the skills, the time and a thick skin to take on board any well intended criticisms and follow it through. However unless you have something to contribute in that regard, there is little point in poking it with a stick
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Old 09-19-2011, 01:36 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kiwidude View Post
The problem is that it is very easy to point and say "that's a bit rubbish" but an awful lot harder to actually come up with an acceptable alternative. Personally I agree that calibre (on Windows) is darned ugly. However as has been said many times I would rather ugly with the functionality than pretty without it.

However moving things around the screen in terms of layout etc is where it all starts getting controversial. As I see it calibre was written by technical users for the needs of technical users. Where previous proposals (well, one in particular I can recall) have "failed" is where they relied on dumbing down the calibre interface. Thereby making it harder to use the advanced features which many of these more technical forum users most regularly use.
I think one way to go about it is to create different types of views (e.g. "Easy", "Intermediate" and "Advanced"). Personally, I'd probably stick to Advanced mode but I can see how a dumbed-down interface might appeal (heck, might even be necessary) to some users. Granted, if there's anyone willing to undertake the monumental task of retooling the UI, I wish them the best of luck.

Last edited by ilovejedd; 09-19-2011 at 01:38 PM.
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Old 09-19-2011, 01:41 PM   #6
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Cool yikes!

someones perceived ugly is unimportant. the program's functionality is important. keep things in perspective folks.

by the way, for the record, i do not perceive the ui of calibre in windows as being ugly.

Last edited by alansplace; 09-19-2011 at 01:43 PM. Reason: added last comment
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Old 09-19-2011, 01:44 PM   #7
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From what I have seen here over the past year is:
Calibre Newbies want to jump right into the deep end
Because:
Brand y device needs a .
brand s needs c
Input format needs P

So what do you leave out
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Old 09-19-2011, 02:00 PM   #8
kiwidude
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alansplace View Post
someones perceived ugly is unimportant. the program's functionality is important. keep things in perspective folks..
Who at any point on this thread has not kept things in perspective? Or has suggested functionality *must* be removed in order to improve the appearance?

That you don't mind how calibre looks - good for you. However there are others out there like me who think it both got hit with the ugly stick in some areas (to the detriment of some functionality being intuitive, like the oft quoted trash icon). And I also think it could do with some revisiting of the menus to make some features a bit easier to find. For instance how many times a week do people post about not being able to find plugins because calibre has different toolbars for when a device is connected or not?

I encourage anyone to make suggestions who has ideas to improve calibre - we may not all agree with them, but there is always someone out there who has a fresh perspective that can help move calibre forward.
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Old 09-19-2011, 02:03 PM   #9
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Cool nuff said

Quote:
Originally Posted by kiwidude View Post
Who at any point on this thread has not kept things in perspective? Or has suggested functionality *must* be removed in order to improve the appearance?

That you don't mind how calibre looks - good for you. However there are others out there like me who think it both got hit with the ugly stick in some areas (to the detriment of some functionality being intuitive, like the oft quoted trash icon). And I also think it could do with some revisiting of the menus to make some features a bit easier to find. For instance how many times a week do people post about not being able to find plugins because calibre has different toolbars for when a device is connected or not?

I encourage anyone to make suggestions who has ideas to improve calibre - we may not all agree with them, but there is always someone out there who has a fresh perspective that can help move calibre forward.
i simply think it's a stupid waste of time and is insulting to the contributers....and that is all i'll say on the subject....thread now on ignore.
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Old 09-19-2011, 02:17 PM   #10
kiwidude
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Yeah whatever, your condescending comments here won't be missed.

I am one of those "contributors" you mention, having put thousands of hours into trying to improve calibre with development. I have no problem pointing the finger back at myself if my fairly random choice of icons or way I have implemented features could be tweaked to make something more visually appealing. I have skills in some areas, UI graphics is definitely not one of them. If someone comes up with an improved set of icons, a suggestion for restructuring a plugin's menus to make it easier to use or whatever then personally I welcome it, I am not insulted by it in any way! And I would hope that Kovid/John/Charles know me enough by now with the suggestions I have made that they are all about trying to improve the user experience and reduce the amount of times people find the need to come ask a question on the forums about some menu item they cannot find.
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Old 09-19-2011, 03:05 PM   #11
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Function before form please. As long as it does it's job it'll do for me!
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Old 09-19-2011, 05:36 PM   #12
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@ maara
Perhaps you could try the view manager plugin and the various customizations available in preferences.

I don't find the GUI that ugly especially for a donation supported program with largely volunteer programmers and it is still a work in progress.

The Gui is pretty stable and most importantly to me, the books look good on my ereader.

Helen
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Old 09-19-2011, 07:10 PM   #13
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For info, if you don't like a particular icon, it's very easy to supply your own.

For instance, if you don't like the 'delete-a-book' icon (called trash.png) just find a .png you do like, and copy it to your config directory as
[config_dir:]/resources/images/trash.png

Next time you restart Calibre it will use your customised icon instead of the default. I've replaced about a dozen this way. Very easy.
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Old 09-19-2011, 08:30 PM   #14
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For instance, if you don't like the 'delete-a-book' icon (called trash.png) just find a .png you do like, and copy it to your config directory
Last time we had a thread like this you attached the trash icon you were using and I popped into my images folder. It was quite strange for a week or so not seeing the green arrows, but I'm still using it today. Thanks again for that icon.

As for this thread everything can be improved and I'm sure the calibre UI is a prime candidate for improvement. Fortunately for me my imagination / vision is limited. So it is hard for me to envision it any other way, but I look forward to any changes that someone may develop from threads like this.

I'm a little strange in that I find the full extent of calibre's features to be very complex and I love the complete flexibility of the UI that mates with this complexity. I frequently turn on and off the tag browser, cover browser and book details panes as needed. I populated the optional text menu across the top. I have removed some default icons in the main toolbar and added some select plugins in their place. My context menus, instead of being bloated with all of the plugins are populated as I like, streamlined to my tastes.

This complexity / flexibility is probably very confusing to the new user and I can see the UI (if the right developer comes forward) changing to accommodate these users. Until that change comes though I'm happy wallowing through all of the options.
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Old 09-19-2011, 09:09 PM   #15
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Last time we had a thread like this you attached the trash icon you were using and I popped into my images folder. It was quite strange for a week or so not seeing the green arrows, but I'm still using it today. Thanks again for that icon.
... you're most welcome, we aim to please
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