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Jeff the Poustman

LOVE the Thingamy demo.

Nitpicky notion from usability standpoint: noticed in demo that there was a *great* deal of going from Point A in Page 1 to Page 2 to add a tag or variable, then coming back to Page 1 and having to scroll down, down, down to Point A again.

Could you add an ability for the program to remember where you were on Page 1 so that once you have filled in the variable, it returns you to the last used point on Page 1?

A little thing that if changed would reduce a considerable amount of wear and tear on user enthusiasm.


Hi Jeff, thanks!

And yes, the classic refresh-start-at-top browser behaviour is annoying to say the least, so now we're redoing that part fully - ajaxy stuff coming so it'll be much easier to drag-drop and move around and change settings etc without scrolling.
Good thing is that it'll open for other user-friendly solutions too.

What you did not notice (I was fast ;)) is a small jungle of terms and buttons leftovers / obscurely placed from each time we made changes - funny how blind one gets! Clean-up under way there too...

Then it'll be a tweak to terms and words plus the fact that ajaxy methods will make it easier to add mouseover and such to give explanations and examples to iffy terms.

Add lastly a better bird-eye-view of why and how, rather the "meaning" of the system we should be one step closer to more ease-of-use (that's the how-to one pager mentioned in this post was meant to be a first draft for). A never ending quest we're on now :D

Jeff the Poustman

Cool, Sig. :)

I don't know how standard a practice it is in the software industry to release a video demo like this one, but it's a great idea. In some ways it is better than a beta release, because seeing a video of an experienced user (or a creator, in your case) has some benefits greater than using it yourself as far as being able to give feedback goes.



Thanks Jeff!

Will follow up with a better one when I have a... eh... quantum leap in usability, or rather user interfaces... a build your own complete hospital system in 20 minutes demo perhaps?

Ah, nope, need a day to do that... :D

John Dodds

I like Niko's version better because he keeps it compartmentalised where you tend to put everything into your explanation.

He effectively has a single sentence (almost a hideous mission statement) at the top.

Then he expands that to show what the user has to do at the most basic level - i.e. identify things and tasks.

I think two examples of how this would work for simple but different businesses (say one manufacturing and one retail) could then illustrate this.

Then (and only then) go on to cover what he does in the right hand column, namely the next level of complexity of functionality.

This gives any newcomer an overview, then an idea of the basic methodology and finally a hint of added potential which they can explore. To my mind, it crucially avoids confusion at any point and can fit on one page.

Optional expansion on these ideas can follow on further pages at which Niko doesn't have to look.

Does that make sense?


John, good points! And I like Niko's a lot, and Matthew's graphics too... did you see that?

Guess the reason for getting so short was twofold - one page only and merge a step by step build manual into the same page.

Yep, a tad over ambitious, but had to start somewhere... and as you say, more details can follow on next pages!

Power of examples is real, agree fully there - adding that is duly noted.

Interesting for me now is the work we've just started on the interfaces to better usability - first time that - ideal would of course be if the sheet(s) and manuals could be scrapped altogether!

But that could be of the over ambitious school again, but trying will be interesting though :D


There is nothing like a blank sheet of paper -- it's all about the possiblities!! Those people that need lines, or pre-determined shapes, or guidelines are really missing out!!

John Dodds

Yes I'd seen Matthew's and would combine bottom of his first column with top of his second one as the skeleton explanation of what Thingamy is.

As for eliminating the manual - nice idea but people like books and the lifebelt feel they give. However, wouldn't it be good if there was a swift tutorial packaged with thingamy that ran through a very simple example on screen? If people don't get it after that, then they go look at the manual - but for others the manual will have been eliminated.


Great points guys, got me thinking!

When you're about to learn snowboarding it helps a lot to have seen it in action by somebody who knows how to do it, and that's the crux, most have seen it before they go to a coach. Same for any sport, same for a spreadsheet or word processor - one have seen it done or in use before - one has the "hooks". Then learning can commence.

Thingamy is a bit like snowboarding the very first time it was invented - not like anything else, even a bit counterintuitive in the start as "all" enterprise software have the "same" approach among them, that are all again quite similar to how it was done while paper alone was the method.

So perhaps a twist to the tutorial, more of a swift "here's how it can be used", a non-tutorial as in the "blank sheet of paper". Only one has to know what the paper can be used for, not everything of course, but a pointer, a hint so ones creative juices gets going.
By the way, think Lego has some good approaches there that can be insirational... or Ikea in the way they lead you thorugh umpteen nicely set up bedrooms and living rooms and whatnot before they let you loose on the racks, all juiced up with ideas!

Only after that one can start "learning" - alone by trial and error or by a step-by-step like the building instructions that comes with Lego sets - or something inbetween.

Arnie McKinnis

First of all - I love "no lined" paper - provides the ability to create without the confines of someone elses idea of "who to do it" - next any type of definition is a never ending process. Just as soon as you start to think you've got it, a question comes up that throws everything out of whack.

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