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IDEA: Desktop progress meter

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Progress bars of life
-Josh (January 06, 2013, 06:30 PM)
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Hahaha, I was going to suggest he look at mouser's PBoL as well.  =]

I had completely forgotten about this program.. im not sure i would have written Progress Bars of Life if I had remembered it -- would have just bugged skwire to add some features to his.. crazy.

Actually I did look at Progress Bars of Life before posting, and for some reason felt it wasn't as suited to what I need. Maybe it was the attractive colors and solid bars in Barbecue's screenshot that tipped the balance? Or perhaps I was thrown off because all the PBoL screenshots use time units, whereas my use would be concrete units similar to Barbecue's examples. I'll have another look at PBoL.

I have now tried Progress Bars of Life, and surprisingly, it has a different purpose than Barbecue -- not suited to my need.

PBoL is focused on tracking time progress: set the time or date target, and it counts down for you. But it is cumbersome for tracking irregular progress in concrete units such as pages or chapters read (what PBoL calls "manually set range"). To add units requires 7-8 clicks:
- View
- Options
- Progress Bar Items (if not already focused)
- Name (double click)
- Current Value
- Accept
- Accept

I don't want to go through all that every time I add a unit or two of progress. Obviously PBoL is optimized for automatic time progress, not manual addition of progress.

Furthermore, the bar color -- green to yellow to orange as the time limit approaches, then red as the limit is passed -- is more suited to a time countdown than, say, tracking the number of games played.

Barbecue is focused on tracking non-chronological units rather than time. For this it is slightly easier than PBoL because only 5-6 clicks are required:
- Tray icon (two clicks, depending on configuration)
- Title (if not already focused)
- Number
- Show meter bars
- Close or Escape

This could be improved, as I suggest in my comment below.

Here are several wishes for improving Barbecue -- especially as a tracker of irregular, non-chronological progress.

1. Make it easier to enter units of progress. Rather than going through the 5-6 steps listed above, double-click on the desired meter bar to go directly to its Number box. This is the primary place a user interacts with Barbecue once a meter has been set up, so make it more directly accessible.

2. Auto refresh the meter bar display when the configuration has changed. Currently refresh must be forced either by clicking on the "Show meter bars" button or by closing and reopening the meter bar display. This should be dynamic.

3. Similar to PBoL, add an "Enabled" column or checkbox to each meter configuration. Otherwise a meter must be deleted permanently to remove it from the display.

4. Like PBoL, allow meters to be moved up or down in the list. Otherwise pairs of meters must be edited in place.

5. Repeating my wish from above: Provide an option to specify the number of decimal places reported in the % done. Or simply make it no places instead of two as it now is.

6. Allow the user to determine where to save the meter data. (Where is it saved by default? I haven't found that yet.)


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