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Author Topic: IDEA: a software that makes normal windows apps more touch friendly.  (Read 2245 times)

superboyac

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I don't know if something like this is even possible, but I'll be interested in the discussion.

SO after using a windows tablet for a while, I now understand the main complaint. The problem when you are using windows in desktop mode with a touch interface, is basically the size of the touchable things.  THey are too small, and this is mainly where all the complaints are.  The only difference between normal programs and windows "apps" is that the apps are running in full screen, and instead of the menu bar and other normal desktop elements, those options have been designed into more touch-friendly elements...big buttons, large text, etc.  Unfortunately, the apps are lame and useless.  With windows, most people just want to use their normal windows programs.

But the frustration is that it's not so easy to touch the tiny things.  Now, we can wait for the developers to convert all their interfaces to touch-friendly apps, but this will take years.  Maybe there's some way to just make the standard toolbars and menu bars bigger.  I got the idea from programs like Actual Window Manager and other things that add stuff to toolbars and can add features to standard windows.  So maybe there's a way to just make stuff bigger.

An example is mouser's screenshot captor.  I'm using it, and i have the windows settings for icons and stuff set to larger than normal.  However, the buttons in SSC are still tiny because the tablet resolution is so high.  The text is ok, but things are scrunched.

Anyway, this is really the main issue with the windows interface, and I'm curious how this will progress.  I love the fact that the windows desktop is now as portable as an ipad or android.  Windows programs are very powerful...that's why there are so many buttons and menu items, etc.  Ipad/android can't do anything...you only have a button or two, how many features can you really have?  That's why these tablets are not very powerful right now.  On the other hand, they are smooth and very easy to use.  This is the dilemma.  Big buttons, big text == fewer options.  Lots of buttons, lots of text == tinier elements that are hard to touch.


dr_andus

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Re: IDEA: a software that makes normal windows apps more touch friendly.
« Reply #1 on: September 25, 2014, 05:54:43 PM »
Not to shoot down your idea, and I know this is not a helpful suggestion in the current circumstances, but wouldn't the obvious solution be to use a stylus and optimise the software for stylus use? It worked for the Palm Pilot... There must have been a point when the head honchos at MS threw out that idea, probably thinking that people are idiots and they will lose their styluses, or they are idiots and would not know how to use a stylus, so let's just design everything for their fingers, as even cavemen would be able to use those.

I don't have a problem with your suggestion. I'm just annoyed that many software designers now seem to be assuming that the tablet is the only way and they are starting to waste screen real estate for us desktop users who are happy to use a mouse...

Sorry, I just had to get this rant out of my system...  :) This whole trend towards redesigning desktop apps (and websites) for tablets annoys the hell out of me. I must be becoming a dinosaur...  ;)

P.S. but thanks for sharing your experience. My first tablet was a Win tablet many years ago, and I sent it back the same day, for the reasons you mentioned. So I'm a bit surprised they are still grappling with those problems.
« Last Edit: September 25, 2014, 06:00:29 PM by dr_andus »

TaoPhoenix

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Re: IDEA: a software that makes normal windows apps more touch friendly.
« Reply #2 on: September 25, 2014, 06:04:43 PM »
It's a tough call, because on the desktop space we've gone "anti-tablet" ... aka just because of limits of tech, remember the old 19" ish monitor days? So people built stuff with that in mind.

Now screens have not just gotten bigger overall, but specifically they've changed dimensions. In about 2006 as a "screw you" to my old employer for being "penny wise pound foolish", I bought *my own* monitor, out of that year's birthday money, and plunked it on my desk, and said, (paraphrased for drama) "Hai. You couldn't be bothered. So there are many monitors but this one is mine. I'm going back to work now. And the time I save doing what I always used to leaves me Google's 20% left to scout deep and fix $hit so when you want to through some faux mgt emergency at me, I have a couple tricks up my sleeve. K Thx Bye."

When it finally died last month, my brother remarked that it was only a "hybrid" widescreen - my new one has traded an inch of height for an inch of width (or whatever still comes out to 24" diagonally.) A couple of my (non-work) flows suffered, other ones gained, I adapted. (Hello Borg!)

So then suddenly, and ya gotta credit Steve Jobs for PWNing the smartphone concept-space, phones went from useless pieces of crap to "Omg I used to hate phones worse than root canals but even I can enjoy a calculator, and the fact it doesn't auto-dial from my pocket once a week!"

Then of course, way too much power for a phone showed up, so then we got Tablets - Yay Phone, Minus Phone, Bigger Screen. But still locked down to all hell. (Then this Phablet mess. When you can't Innovate cap-I, and that was what both i-Phone and Android did, you search for innovate small i, which is fill in nooks and crannies. As long as revenues exceed costs, you win.)

Ever seen the mobile sites of various pages? What a disaster. Now we have Touch to worry about. If Tablet makers just let you plug in a mouse, you would be ... sorta ... fine. But Steve J, in a fairly canny move for the masses, made it touch-only.

Wait for it ... Smaller screen, Huge mouse (finger).

So my first thought experiment is a meta-program that sez, (Sorry, Cat-speak attack for a day or two) "Hai. You look like you are accessing a menu. That means you're not working. So let's make the menu ultra sized, so you can click your buttons. Then when you are done, we'll go back to normal so you can see your work. K Thx  Bye."






TaoPhoenix

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Re: IDEA: a software that makes normal windows apps more touch friendly.
« Reply #3 on: September 25, 2014, 06:06:28 PM »
Not to shoot down your idea, and I know this is not a helpful suggestion in the current circumstances, but wouldn't the obvious solution be to use a stylus and optimise the software for stylus use? It worked for the Palm Pilot... There must have been a point when the head honchos at MS threw out that idea ...

Last I recall, it was Steve Jobs who threw out Styluses. Some quote somewhere that went like "if you need a stylus, you're doing it wrong."

Now you can add it back, but Steve J was the leader of the Finger Is Good movement. Because we all miss Kindergarten because we like using fingers, and people kept losing the stylus.




dr_andus

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Re: IDEA: a software that makes normal windows apps more touch friendly.
« Reply #4 on: September 25, 2014, 06:31:53 PM »
Last I recall, it was Steve Jobs who threw out Styluses. Some quote somewhere that went like "if you need a stylus, you're doing it wrong."

Yes, well, he was right about mass market products. But here we're talking about niche applications for sophisticated users. So MS is shoving down the touch interface the wrong throats (excuse the mixed metaphor) or the wrong way...

And just for the record, if you lost your stylus, you could use any old object that had a tip with the Palm. Not that it saved them from ending up on the scrapheap of technological history... But the world is poorer [wipes away tear]...

rjbull

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Re: IDEA: a software that makes normal windows apps more touch friendly.
« Reply #5 on: September 26, 2014, 04:37:31 PM »
And just for the record, if you lost your stylus, you could use any old object that had a tip with the Palm. Not that it saved them from ending up on the scrapheap of technological history
I'm still using my Palm T3...  and if you want styli, take a look at Cult Pens stylus search
I thought there was a difference, though.  Aren't Palm screens resistive, which needs a stylus (though it does usually work with a finger), whereas mobile phone/tablet screens are capacitative, which expects fingers?

Nod5

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Re: IDEA: a software that makes normal windows apps more touch friendly.
« Reply #6 on: September 30, 2014, 01:15:55 AM »
The problem when you are using windows in desktop mode with a touch interface, is basically the size of the touchable things.
Yes indeed!

Some suggestions:

1. tweak the high DPI scaling settings.
http://www.howtogeek...nd-fix-blurry-fonts/
http://www.howtogeek...indows-8.1-update-1/

2. Get Microsoft's Sysinternals application ZoomIt, set a hotkey for LiveZoom mode, make an autohotkey script to send that hotkey and finally make a shortcut to the script in the taskbar and on the desktop. Click the shortcut to toggle zoom on off. If you have any hardware buttons on the tablet (volume, lock mode, ...) that autohotkey can handle then consider triggering this toggle with them. It is easy to change volume in Win8 with touch through the charms bar anyway. Use this to zoom in and click on tiny things and then zoom back out. The autohotkey script could even be made to autozoom out after a few seconds to avoid having to click the shortcut again.
http://technet.micro...ysinternals/bb897434

3. The above works ok I think but what is really missing is customizable gestures that can be tied to autohotkey. With that we could do almost anything. For example a triple finger swipe could zoom in/out. I've seen no solution for autohotkey for that. There are some post in the ahkscript forums talking about it but no developers there appears to be working on it. There is GamePlay from Gestureworks, https://gameplay.ges...rks.com/how-it-works , that I haven't tried. But they do custom buttons and only for specific applications/games AFAICT. If a few always on top buttons could be made to do the same operations on all windows í.e. toogle zoom in/out then that would be almost as good as custom gestures. I think there would be huge demand for a tool that simply delivers a few global swipe gestures that can trigger whatever code one wants.

EDIT:
I'm very glad you started this thread superboyac as it got me googling some more. I found TouchMe Gesture Studio http://www.yasharbah...chme-gesture-studio/ (app in Win app store, free trial). It sets up global gesture hotkeys! Since it can make a gesture like three finger swipe send a keyboard sequence we can use it to trigger autohotkey hotkeys. Which means we can make gestures that do almost anything :) I'll try it some more and post back here if I run into any drawbacks.

EDIT2:
Ok, tried it some more and got to say: TouchMe is AWESOME! Microsoft should have paid the Minecraft money to the dev of this app instead :D
« Last Edit: September 30, 2014, 02:31:58 AM by Nod5 »

superboyac

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Re: IDEA: a software that makes normal windows apps more touch friendly.
« Reply #7 on: September 30, 2014, 04:37:40 PM »
Nod5, you just gave me several ideas.  Thanks!
I have been using TouchMe.  I like it, but it seems to be limited in the gesture types.  That is, they have a whole lot of gestures, but it felt like most of the very specific things I wanted to do were not really there.  There were ways to get CLOSE, but not exactly.  I probably need to play around with it more, maybe it's more capable than I think.  Combining it with AHK sounds like it should be able to do basically anything.  So I'll have to give that a try.
After using the tablet for a while, the things I'm craving custom gestures for are things like shortcuts to use while in fullscreen mode.  So, when I'm reading, I usually do it in fullscreen mode, there are no toolbars or anything showing.  But if i want the keyboard or to look something up real quick, I have to exit fullscreen, and tap whatever button i need.  So I'd like gestures to replace those.  I started doing it with Touchme's two finger swipe options.  It was ok.  it started interfering with other programs' two finger touch things, so i changed it to three fingers.  But three fingers didn't feel so good.

still figuring it out.  I also would like to come up with alternatives for the taskbar.  I'm experimenting with LBC and truelaunchbar so far.