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Author Topic: Competitor - Orbit  (Read 2735 times)

fenixproductions

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Competitor - Orbit
« on: October 17, 2008, 06:56:58 AM »
Probably this post fits "Living room" better...

Browsing through Internet I found interesting application:

http://www.ecocardio.com.br/orbit/

It works like Circle Dock but have few features not available in CD like plugins, DirectX usage and multi-rings for folders navigation. The thing which makes me wonder is Options dialog. It looks almost the same as CD's. I understand the need for fanciness in many applications but (for god's sake) why implementing it for settings? Why copying such nonsense? Nonstandard controls in such place make usage harder. It's like painting your house together with furniture...

Wayback Machine says Orbit was the 1st one so the question is: Was Orbit an inspiration for CircleDock or it is just coincidence?

VideoInPicture

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Re: Competitor - Orbit
« Reply #1 on: October 17, 2008, 07:33:52 AM »
If you look on the Credits List for Circle Dock and the about panel in the Settings Panel, you will see that some parts of Circle Dock 0.9.2 were based on Orbit. I found out about Orbit after I started coding version 0.9.2 and since they were both written in C# and are open source, I thought it would be wise to reuse some code. I've spoken to the author of Orbit and I don't think he will be developing Orbit any more since he says he has abandoned the project.

At first, I tried to simply modify the source code of Orbit and improve upon it but the underlying architecture and the usage of DirectX means that it will always be eating up 25% of the CPU time to render the dock even if it isn't doing anything. Essentially, Orbit renders the dock as one big image and draws it 24-50 times a second to produce it's animation. The last version of the source code release has stability problems that cause the dock to crash after 5-10 minutes of use for me and it would have taken a lot of effort to correct that so I wrote Circle Dock 0.9.2 instead.

As for the Settings Panel, some people like it and some people don't. But looking back, I would make it like a regular properties panel instead of the fancy kind like it is now. It would be simpler to code and load up faster.
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fenixproductions

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Re: Competitor - Orbit
« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2008, 08:39:11 AM »
2cm_VideoInPicture

Thank you for your explanation. It's clear now :)

As for the Settings Panel, some people like it and some people don't. But looking back, I would make it like a regular properties panel instead of the fancy kind like it is now. It would be simpler to code and load up faster.

Yes, these are important points. Please remember about few others:

When people decide to draw own sets of components they should really remember about common features. Users expect some behaviour from control even if it looks different. If they assume that something is a button, it should behave like it.

As an example:  In few places of Orbit  Settings dialog there are links for toggling between different settings groups. Nobody expects that clicking on them will hide previous group and reveal another one instead.

Even if you painted furniture, you will never expect that putting your head on the pillow will switch your oven on ;)

Another thing is the layout (alignments) and controls sizes (automatic Width at least). Having static parameters produces some problems for translators. Even if the application look right for the author's language it might be visually broken for others. In many cases language files are full of strange abbreviations there is because of that. It should be avoided.

Personally I prefere to use standard controls for options because it makes main application better. Most of the users will see dock only so the time spent on it should be longer than for Settings dialog. Users go to this window pretty rarely and if that's happen they expect it to work as flawless as something they already saw. They don't expect bells and whistles but stability and simplicity. In many cases they just want to "go, set and leave as soon as it possible". No need for wondering "is it a link or button".

Thank you for reading my complains :)