I'm volunteering UI design help

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jkauff
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I'm volunteering UI design help

Post by jkauff » Sun Aug 25, 2013 1:53 am

I'm a User Experience Designer in my day job. I use Handbrake regularly, and have some ideas about enhancements to the UI.

RandomEngy has done some good work on the Windows side with his VidCoder program. I think it would be great if HB had a consistent UI across all platforms, instead of the three different ones it has today.

First question is, are you open to suggestions? Second question is, how would I submit wireframe sketches illustrating my suggestions?

Third and most important question is, do you want to expand your user base? The folks who post on this board seem to be mostly sophisticated users who understand what the various settings in HB do, and have no problem finding and applying them. Are you interested in attracting more users who are less familiar with video processing, and just want to create the best-looking videos possible from their source material?

I work closely with developers and understand the balance that needs to be struck between user needs and development time and effort, so I'd need to understand a little more about the UI toolsets used on the different platforms so the devs aren't put in the position of having to create their own UI controls.

I'm very willing to help out if that help is wanted by the team.

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s55
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Re: I'm volunteering UI design help

Post by s55 » Sun Aug 25, 2013 1:26 pm

I think it would be great if HB had a consistent UI across all platforms, instead of the three different ones it has today.
They do all work in the same fashion however there are dependencies in the features and this is down to the fact that we simply don't have the development resources to keep everything in exact sync. The MacGui isn't under any real active development at the moment since no-one really has the time/skillset to really push it forward for example. It's getting dragged along for the ride at the moment.

I've always liked the fact that we use native toolsets on each platform, even if it's a bit of a pain at times and really don't mind visual discrepancies in the apps as long as things are roughly in the same place and follow the same kind of flow.
The biggest thing at the moment that sets the UI's apart is the picture settings / static previews is way behind in the Windows UI implementation but that's due to technical issues (Using WinCLI rather than LIBHB, something that's only recently solved) rather than anything else.

First question is, are you open to suggestions? Second question is, how would I submit wireframe sketches illustrating my suggestions?
Yes but we don't have to agree with you :P. You can post them on an image hosting site and just use the IMG tag on the forum.

Third and most important question is, do you want to expand your user base?
HandBrake is a hobby project, so the number of users really makes no difference to us.

The folks who post on this board seem to be mostly sophisticated users who understand what the various settings in HB do, and have no problem finding and applying them. Are you interested in attracting more users who are less familiar with video processing, and just want to create the best-looking videos possible from their source material?
I suspect using the forum to judge the user base isn't really reflective of our users. The forums only get a few % of the overall unique visits.

HandBrake has always been targeted towards more enthusiastic users who are interested in Video Encoding and need more power than the wizard/user-friendly apps have but don't need the insane power of something like memcoder.
The way the UI is currently, it seems to lend itself to users who don't quite fall into that category but find the Simpler UI's inadequate. The last version introduced the x264 preset/tune system which makes things a bit easier for the less advanced users. (something we should really document better).

Basically, we don't want to dumb things down too much but at the same time, we don't want too much complexity. So it's really a balancing act.


The best thing really, rather than any radical redesign which I really don't see happening anytime soon (although feel free to post concepts, sometimes you get a good idea from them), would be to target smaller issues that offer the biggest bang-for-buck. When I rebuilt the Windows UI in WPF, (the first release being 0.9.9) I got a lot of feedback on things I'd missed out, or change in a way that breaks folks workflows, so you'll notice lots of changes in the nightly compared in 0.9.9 to fix some of those. I often find it's the small things that make the biggest difference.

There's also been quite a bit of talk about bringing back Instant HandBrake (http://osxdaily.com/2006/11/28/instant- ... n-utility/). I've been toying with ideas but haven't really nailed anything down yet. Kind of like the idea of something a bit more flexible than the old one, but still a very simply UI without too much crap on it.

The other things we've talked about a lot of late is Batching support. It's something we've toyed with a bit but as is obvious from the UI, it's not really geared to it. I have many thoughts around it but it's a massive amount of development work and theres an awful lot of things that can go wrong. If you get it wrong, you can end up with users auto-batching 1000 items, and the first works, and the rest of the encodes are screwed because of 1 wrong setting.

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s55
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Re: I'm volunteering UI design help

Post by s55 » Sun Aug 25, 2013 3:11 pm

On a related note, this is some of the stuff we'd like to see done if we can ever find someone to do it.
http://handbrake.fr/ideas.php

jkauff
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Re: I'm volunteering UI design help

Post by jkauff » Sun Aug 25, 2013 5:49 pm

Here are several things I found confusing in the UI as a novice user:

1. If I use a preset for a device, do I need to change any other settings (no matter what the nature of my source material)?
2. Why are there multiple settings for different models of Apple TV, but not for iPhones, iPads, or iPods?
3. Does Regular mean output to a PC or TV as opposed to a specific device?
4. What's the relationship between Constant Quality and x264 presets (for example, what do I get if I use a low CQ number and a very fast x264 setting)?
5. How do I know when to use Grain preset as opposed to Film?
6. I have a movie that was sourced from TV output. Should I still use Film?
7. What does "placebo" mean in video terms?
8. When should I use a filter, and what do the various choices in the dropdowns mean?
9. How can I find relevant information about my source material (not everyone knows about MediaInfo)?

I know some of these answers are to be found in the Wiki, but there are no context-based links into the relevant material in the UI.

I'm thinking about starting a new thread in General asking users on the forum what they found perplexing when they were new to Handbrake.

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s55
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Re: I'm volunteering UI design help

Post by s55 » Mon Aug 26, 2013 5:25 pm

1. If I use a preset for a device, do I need to change any other settings (no matter what the nature of my source material)?
Nope, setting a preset should be sufficient.
2. Why are there multiple settings for different models of Apple TV, but not for iPhones, iPads, or iPods?
There are significant differences in playback capability between the ATV 1,2 and 3 where as the device presets have always catered to lower res, simpler video so compatibility is easy across devices.
The current devices should work with the (4, 4S, and 5 and upcoming 5S)

3. Does Regular mean output to a PC or TV as opposed to a specific device?
It doesn't mean much. Typically i'd expect folks to use them on the computer, or a mind-to-high end media device that isn't apple orientated. Normal preset will probably work on most modern devices assuming there isn't a resolution constraint on it.

4. What's the relationship between Constant Quality and x264 presets (for example, what do I get if I use a low CQ number and a very fast x264 setting)?
You're still targeting a particular quality level. While you'll get some variance between the presets, the biggest difference will be filesize and speed when you change presets.
5. How do I know when to use Grain preset as opposed to Film?
By visually inspecting the video. If it's grainy you can optionally use the grain tune. If you want to know more about the x264 preset system theres a ton of info on the doom9 forums and an overview http://mewiki.project357.com/wiki/X264_Settings

At some point I'm going to try write up some documentation to try make some better sense of the information when I get some time to think about it.

6. I have a movie that was sourced from TV output. Should I still use Film?
Unlikely to do any real harm. Typically as long as it's not a Cartoon or Animation or something along those fines, your good.
7. What does "placebo" mean in video terms?
It means your wasting your time essentially. The placebo preset is extremely slow, and while there is a measurable difference, it's debatable whither people can visually tell the difference. I'm sure there are plenty of nuts out there thaty say yes
8. When should I use a filter, and what do the various choices in the dropdowns mean?
Think alot of that is covered https://trac.handbrake.fr/wiki/PictureSettings#filters and the pages that hang off that on the wiki.
9. How can I find relevant information about my source material (not everyone knows about MediaInfo)?
The UI's display the source resolution, available audio/subtitle tracks and chapters, beyond that you need a 3rd party tool like MediaInfo.



One of the issues with exposing more power to users is there is unavoidable complexity that goes with it. I don't think we'll ever get to the point where HandBrake just makes sense. It will always be the case that if folk want to take advantage of the extra power, they'll have to do research and learn.

jkauff
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Re: I'm volunteering UI design help

Post by jkauff » Tue Aug 27, 2013 12:26 am

I wasn't really looking for answers to those questions, since I eventually figured them out on my own (but thank you for taking the time). They were just representative of questions I had when I started with Handbrake, and may or may not be the same questions another first-timer would have. I was just making the point that the current UI doesn't make things obvious in many cases. This is a typical problem for devs and experienced users who have lost the ability to "see" the UI as a new user would. That's why I'm thinking about starting a conversation with the forum users about what wasn't obvious to them when they first discovered Handbrake.

I truly believe Handbrake can get to the point where most of the program "just makes sense". I've achieved that with more complicated applications in my career. However, I would never presume to touch the Advanced tab. :lol:

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s55
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Re: I'm volunteering UI design help

Post by s55 » Tue Aug 27, 2013 5:14 pm

I truly believe Handbrake can get to the point where most of the program "just makes sense".
There is way too much complexity around video transcoding for this to be possible. Even if we made something like deinterlacing a checkbox. On or Off, You still have to explain to people when it should be used and when it shouldn't and how to tell if the source is interlaced which may get confused with something like telecine. Then decomb comes along and adds complexity into the mix. Most folks won't have a clue what it is without reading a guide on it.

The only way I see that you can extremely simplify things, is to remove and hide functionality.


That said, there are improvements that can be made that make clearer aspects of the UI. (for example, it's not obvious that decomb and deinterlace are mutually exclusive, something I plan to try and make more obvious soon)

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Rodeo
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Re: I'm volunteering UI design help

Post by Rodeo » Tue Aug 27, 2013 7:01 pm

s55 wrote:That said, there are improvements that can be made that make clearer aspects of the UI. (for example, it's not obvious that decomb and deinterlace are mutually exclusive, something I plan to try and make more obvious soon)
That's one thing the MacGUI got right, IMO (unlike, maybe, custom anamorphic, but that's mostly because it's tricky to code and as a result, has some bugs).

jkauff
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Re: I'm volunteering UI design help

Post by jkauff » Tue Aug 27, 2013 10:10 pm

I'm not proposing this as a real feature, but in an ideal world it would be great to have an Analyze Source button on the Filters tab that would pop up MediaInfo-like details and recommended basic filter settings for the results. Or better yet, automatically set the filters to the recommended values for the source type.

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s55
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Re: I'm volunteering UI design help

Post by s55 » Fri Aug 30, 2013 3:06 pm

It's not quite as simple as source type. You have to do some pretty complex analysis of the source, some of which could take a significant portion of time. It's also a lot of work getting something like that working really well. If it was trivial, we'd probably already have done it.

An argument could be made for decomb turned on by default. In theory it won't do much harm as it does analysis on each frame before deinterlacing, however there is a not insignificant performance penalty to this. Typically users complain more about speed rather than interlacing artifacts.

Smithcraft
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Re: I'm volunteering UI design help

Post by Smithcraft » Fri Aug 30, 2013 7:58 pm

Then there are the users that complain about the lost milliseconds spent determining if the source is a DVD, a Bluray, or a file.

SC

jkauff
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Re: I'm volunteering UI design help

Post by jkauff » Sat Aug 31, 2013 9:53 am

I tried out one program (can't remember which one) that had a MediaInfo button in the UI. I think it displayed the same source info as the MediaInfo Lite version. That was convenient, but the program itself wasn't very good.

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s55
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Re: I'm volunteering UI design help

Post by s55 » Sat Aug 31, 2013 10:23 am

Yeh, that'll just be raw meta-data and header info.

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