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newRPL: How about dual soft menus?
09-08-2014, 05:59 PM
Post: #1
newRPL: How about dual soft menus?
Here's some food for thought about the UI for newRPL which is about to enter development phase. Feel free to comment.

Basic idea:
  • Permanent VARS menu on keys F1-F6. Works as usual except the NXT key needs to be relocated (reasons will follow). For now let's say HIST becomes NXT for the VARS menu. This menu cannot be changed or removed, it's always showing vars in the curent directory.
  • The keys APPS, MODE, TOOL, VAR, STO and NXT become a second soft menu, this one will change the way we are used to, and can even be defined as a custom menu. APPS, MODE, TOOLS are not used often, so they can go somewhere else as a shifted key. VAR is no longer needed, since the VAR menu is now permanent. STO needs to be moved, I propose SYMB, which will in turn be moved somewhere else shifted (all menus should be shifted keys (APPS, SYMB, MTH, etc), only keys that are used all the time should be unshifted). To avoid using one more key, the NXT key becomes NXT for this menu, only if the menu has more than 6 items. If it has exactly 6, NXT performs the sixth menu function.
  • The softmenu on the screen should mimic what's on the keyboard, so there will be 3 rows, top row with 6 items for the VARS menu, and two rows of 3 items for the other menu. The space to the right becomes the status area. The screen layout can have the stack on top, softmenus at the bottom, and status area at bottom right.
  • The second soft menu could be hidden from screen or shown at will, with a key press, to increase space for the stack (long keypress somewhere is a good candidate to switch on/off the menu).

I think I threw this idea before, but not officially. Here it is for real, and whatever you suggest may end up being implemented.

Claudio
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09-08-2014, 11:14 PM
Post: #2
RE: newRPL: How about dual soft menus?
(09-08-2014 05:59 PM)Claudio L. Wrote:  Here's some food for thought about the UI for newRPL which is about to enter development phase. Feel free to comment.

Basic idea:
  • Permanent VARS menu on keys F1-F6. Works as usual except the NXT key needs to be relocated (reasons will follow). For now let's say HIST becomes NXT for the VARS menu. This menu cannot be changed or removed, it's always showing vars in the curent directory.
  • The keys APPS, MODE, TOOL, VAR, STO and NXT become a second soft menu, this one will change the way we are used to, and can even be defined as a custom menu. APPS, MODE, TOOLS are not used often, so they can go somewhere else as a shifted key. VAR is no longer needed, since the VAR menu is now permanent. STO needs to be moved, I propose SYMB, which will in turn be moved somewhere else shifted (all menus should be shifted keys (APPS, SYMB, MTH, etc), only keys that are used all the time should be unshifted). To avoid using one more key, the NXT key becomes NXT for this menu, only if the menu has more than 6 items. If it has exactly 6, NXT performs the sixth menu function.
  • The softmenu on the screen should mimic what's on the keyboard, so there will be 3 rows, top row with 6 items for the VARS menu, and two rows of 3 items for the other menu. The space to the right becomes the status area. The screen layout can have the stack on top, softmenus at the bottom, and status area at bottom right.
  • The second soft menu could be hidden from screen or shown at will, with a key press, to increase space for the stack (long keypress somewhere is a good candidate to switch on/off the menu).

I think I threw this idea before, but not officially. Here it is for real, and whatever you suggest may end up being implemented.

Claudio

Some interesting ideas to improve the 50g keyboard. I think it would be easier for most folks to grasp with an image (does not have to be picture-perfect, even ascii art would get it across) as I think there are too many changes to keep in mind all at once while one test-drives the new layout. As the author, its probably intuitive to you, but I had to read it about 4 times to follow. Just a suggestion.

--Bob Prosperi
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09-09-2014, 01:57 AM
Post: #3
RE: newRPL: How about dual soft menus?
OK, I'm not exactly an ASCII artist but here it goes...
On the keyboard you have:
Code:

[ F1 ][ F2 ][ F3 ][ F4 ][ F5 ][ F6 ]  <== VARS MENU
[APP][MOD][TOO]
[VAR][STO][NXT]   <== SECOND MENU

And on the screen you would see:
Code:

----------------------------------
6:
5:
4:
3:
2:
1:
[ V1 ][ V2 ][ V3 ][ V4 ][ V5 ][ V6 ]    <==  YOUR VARS
[ M1 ][ M2 ][ M3 ]    STATUS
[ M4 ][ M5 ][NXT]   AREA HERE
----------------------------------

Better now?
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09-09-2014, 10:58 AM
Post: #4
RE: newRPL: How about dual soft menus?
(09-08-2014 05:59 PM)Claudio L. Wrote:  Here's some food for thought about the UI for newRPL which is about to enter development phase. Feel free to comment.
Claudio

Some things that I think would make the 50g much more useful:
  • Pressing either shift key would change the soft menu to show the shifted menu function. Now each menu has 18 easily accessible functions. You can then ditch the NXT key. For VARS menu, NXT becomes a soft key
  • Useful USER mode: pressing USER displays a keyboard map showing the mapped key names. This might be possible only for the top several rows. I've actually worked on this. I call it virtual keyboard overlays.
These two changes are driven by the observation that the endless discussions about keyboard layout all boil down to people saying "I want my favorite function to be easily accessible" With 2000+(?) user functions, it's impossible to accomplish this without making the keyboard customizable. Even though there are lots of functions, the ones that any individual uses regularly are likely to be less than 100, which is easily doable. Even if they use more, an individual *problem* is likely to require only less than 100, so you could simply load a user keyboard for the problem domain (statistics, programming, hex numbers, calculus, etc.)
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09-09-2014, 11:14 AM
Post: #5
RE: newRPL: How about dual soft menus?
(09-09-2014 01:57 AM)Claudio L. Wrote:  Better now?

I can't speak for everyone, but for me it's much more clear and easier to 'test drive' the suggested changes. Guess I'm a visual learner. Thanks!

--Bob Prosperi
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09-09-2014, 01:33 PM
Post: #6
RE: newRPL: How about dual soft menus?
(09-09-2014 10:58 AM)David Hayden Wrote:  Some things that I think would make the 50g much more useful:
  • Pressing either shift key would change the soft menu to show the shifted menu function. Now each menu has 18 easily accessible functions. You can then ditch the NXT key.

Showing the change visually is a great idea. I'm not so sure about ditching NXT, since you might want to have more than 18. But that can be the user's choice, if you define less than 6*3 functions then you don't need it, if you want more, NXT will be there, and you can think of it as multiple sets of 15 functions with a quick-swap key.


(09-09-2014 10:58 AM)David Hayden Wrote:  For VARS menu, NXT becomes a soft key

You are very likely to be actually using more than 6 vars (I don't have a single directory with less than that currently), so this is almost the same as permanently assigning NXT to F6, and losing 1 slot in the vars menu. I don't know if this is good.

(09-09-2014 10:58 AM)David Hayden Wrote:  
  • Useful USER mode: pressing USER displays a keyboard map showing the mapped key names. This might be possible only for the top several rows. I've actually worked on this. I call it virtual keyboard overlays.

I don't follow. USR is a shifted key, so you'd have to press the shifted key to get the map? or how?
Then, if we do your first proposition, just by being in user mode the soft menus will already show the function they will do, no?

Now you got me thinking. If we want to get visual hints, then perhaps we can do something like this:
As you said, hitting shift immediately shows the soft menus shifted function. But we can add that pressing and holding shift (long keypress) can temporarily show (in the soft menu area) a hint for the other 3 rows of special functions in the keyboard. Or perhaps we can scroll up and show 3 more rows with hints, which disappear when you press a second key or release the shift.
It would work like this: You know you want to use a shifted function but can't remember the key, so press the shift and start thinking "where was it?" and if you can't remember in 500 ms, the hint will pop up (right before you leave the room to find the manual).
The only problem is: there's no hint for unshifted functions.

New idea: The rise of Alpha
The alpha key is underutilized. It should be as useful as third shift.
For a single keypress, you can use press-and-hold alpha+key. This would allow you to quickly type short text while in other modes, just by keeping Alpha pressed while typing. Then when you release alpha, you remain in the previous mode.
To enter Alpha mode you should press and release alpha. It should lock on single click (not double as the default in the 50g), since the single keypress is provided by press-and-hold.
Once in Alpha mode, press-and-release alpha would switch upper/lower case, but remain in alpha mode. Double click alpha would cancel alpha mode.
When in uppercase mode, press-and-hold alpha + key would do the lowercase, and when in lowercase, it would do upper (this is currently done with the white shift, but why not alpha itself?).
This will make it much easier to type text with mixed case.
So Alpha becomes a third shift, and this releases the white shift in alpha mode for new functions (to be determined!).

If you want a taste of how much better this is, the GUI demo in hpgcc3 already uses this concept of alpha (you can't get out of alpha mode in that case, since it's just for text input).

Claudio
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09-09-2014, 10:33 PM (This post was last modified: 09-09-2014 10:35 PM by Joe Horn.)
Post: #7
RE: newRPL: How about dual soft menus?
(09-09-2014 01:33 PM)Claudio L. Wrote:  New idea: The rise of Alpha
The alpha key is underutilized. It should be as useful as third shift.
For a single keypress, you can use press-and-hold alpha+key. This would allow you to quickly type short text while in other modes, just by keeping Alpha pressed while typing. Then when you release alpha, you remain in the previous mode.

Unfortunately, the 50g already uses press-and-hold ALPHA+key for user's key assignments, by using the key+0.01 press-and-hold keycode. For example, a program assigned to keycode 21.41 will be executed only when APPS is pressed while holding down the ALPHA key. Combining ALPHA with the two shift keys, this offers the user over 100 available keys for press-and-hold assignments of any kind. Redefining press-and-hold ALPHA+key to save one keystroke would lose this powerful functionality.

(09-09-2014 01:33 PM)Claudio L. Wrote:  When in uppercase mode, press-and-hold alpha + key would do the lowercase, and when in lowercase, it would do upper (this is currently done with the white shift, but why not alpha itself?).

Here's why: it would lose the press-and-hold ALPHA+key assignment functionality. I don't want to give up all my press-and-hold ALPHA+key assignments just to save one keystroke when typing mixed case alpha.

Disclaimer: My opinion only. Subject to change without notice or apparent reason.

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09-09-2014, 10:54 PM (This post was last modified: 09-09-2014 11:03 PM by Didier Lachieze.)
Post: #8
RE: newRPL: How about dual soft menus?
(09-08-2014 05:59 PM)Claudio L. Wrote:  Here's some food for thought about the UI for newRPL which is about to enter development phase. Feel free to comment.

Basic idea:
[list]
[*] Permanent VARS menu on keys F1-F6. Works as usual except the NXT key needs to be relocated (reasons will follow). For now let's say HIST becomes NXT for the VARS menu. This menu cannot be changed or removed, it's always showing vars in the curent directory.
[*] The keys APPS, MODE, TOOL, VAR, STO and NXT become a second soft menu, this one will change the way we are used to, and can even be defined as a custom menu. APPS, MODE, TOOLS are not used often, so they can go somewhere else as a shifted key. VAR is no longer needed, since the VAR menu is now permanent. STO needs to be moved, I propose SYMB, which will in turn be moved somewhere else shifted (all menus should be shifted keys (APPS, SYMB, MTH, etc), only keys that are used all the time should be unshifted). [...]

Interesting idea but as you start reshuffling the key functions on the 50g keyboard, does it mean that we'll need an overlay as for the 34S? And to make room for the second soft menu, at the end of the reshuffling does it mean that some functions on the keyboard will have to move away?

I like the idea of newRPL as being an alternate firmware for the 50g with the possibility of moving back to the original one. But if we start to redefine the keyboard layout it looks more as the design of a new product (think of the 34S vs.the 30b), which in my mind is a very different approach.
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09-09-2014, 11:54 PM
Post: #9
RE: newRPL: How about dual soft menus?
(09-09-2014 10:54 PM)Didier Lachieze Wrote:  Interesting idea but as you start reshuffling the key functions on the 50g keyboard, does it mean that we'll need an overlay as for the 34S? And to make room for the second soft menu, at the end of the reshuffling does it mean that some functions on the keyboard will have to move away?

I like the idea of newRPL as being an alternate firmware for the 50g with the possibility of moving back to the original one. But if we start to redefine the keyboard layout it looks more as the design of a new product (think of the 34S vs.the 30b), which in my mind is a very different approach.

It's a valid point, but if it looks the same, behaves the same, it gets programmed the same, then what would be your incentive to switch? Shouldn't you stay with the "same" firmware? 2+2 will still be 4 in the old 50g, so what will make newRPL different?

Or, if I may ask: what would you make different instead?

Claudio
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09-10-2014, 12:06 AM
Post: #10
RE: newRPL: How about dual soft menus?
(09-09-2014 10:33 PM)Joe Horn Wrote:  Here's why: it would lose the press-and-hold ALPHA+key assignment functionality. I don't want to give up all my press-and-hold ALPHA+key assignments just to save one keystroke when typing mixed case alpha.

But I never said you'd lose it! I said now the shift key that used to do the upper/lower case is free for custom use. I'm proposing alpha to do what it's supposed todo: control everything about the alpha mode. Let the shifts be for commands (system or custom) and alpha be for text entry.
I use custom commands too, but I find it easier to assign to a shifted key (which can have the visual aid, etc.)

You are not going to lose anything, but you'll have to move keys around and get used to different keystrokes for sure.

Claudio
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