Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Dude, where's my UI?

CalTopo just gained a redesigned user interface.  Normally I hate invasive UI rewrites, and I'm sure this one won't please everyone.  However, over time it's become apparent that CalTopo's previous long-standing UI had too many obscure and confusing features.  It was painful watching people struggle with the same issues over and over, and while I may not have solved all of them, I felt that I had to at least try.

The most obvious change is a transition to pull-down menus across the top of the screen, grouping features from the left bar, top right and context menu into a single location:


Some of the context menu options proved particularly hard for people to find, like view from here and terrain analysis,.  While they still exist in the context menu, they've also been pushed out to a Measure pulldown menu:


Layer selection is largely unchanged, but has been moved into a more obvious standalone control that mimics the de facto standard look for a number of programs these days:


Mousing over the control, layer addition and removal should look familiar:


One big change is that clicking on a marker or shape will now bring up an info window with distance (lines), coordinates (points), and several edit and analysis options.  Clicking an object in the left bar still centers the map on that object, but will also bring up the info window:


Account and map management options in the left bar have also been consolidated and should hopefully be a little more obvious.


The "Share this map" option now only gives you the URL for sharing, while "Manage this map" lets you set both general map information and read/write access for other users.  The account link leads to an updated and hopefully more straightforward one-stop account dialog.


There are numerous small changes as well - as just one example that's hard to screenshot, the new marker dialog is now accompanied by a draggable on-screen marker rather than being in a fixed location.  As you drag the marker the coordinates dialog will update, and vice versa.

While I've done my best to test the new code, I'm not delusional enough to think it's error free.  If something looks off, let me know.

17 comments:

  1. Aww, no more live updating URL with layers and location?

    I found that I can still get it from the share link, but it was super quick to just be able to grab it from the address bar.

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    1. Hi Alex -

      The URL should still auto-update; the box that turns this on and off lives under the config pulldown menu instead of the left bar. If it's not updating for you, can you let me know what browser/OS/etc you're using?

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    2. Awesome. Hadn't realized that might have been something that I had turned on in the past.

      Thanks

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    3. Great info, was wondering same thing as Alex. Thanks!

      Keep up the good work, I appreciate it!

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    4. Everything in the config menu should get saved as a browser cookie for future visits, but during the UI transition the default got flipped from off to on. It's back to being on by default.

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  2. This is the best mapping tool ever! Thank you so much for building CalTopo!!

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  3. For years I searched for a tool to map old Indian trails in the SE US.
    Finally found it !!!
    Great user friendly program.
    Thanks!

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  4. Thanks so much for all the hard work. Absolutely one of my very fav sites on the internet. Fueled SO many adventures for me. Can I donate to you somewhere?? This is a treasure.

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    1. still wondering about this too ! i really want to support your incredible work and make this a lasting resource for the adventure community

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  5. Thanks Matt I love this site; I appreciate the recent improvements and your efforts to make the user experience even better. Any chance of adding an optional map layer showing county boundaries? I know the boundaries are on the USGS topos but often faint and hard to see from zoomed-out perspective.

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    1. No ETA, but I am going to try to provide a layer that does a better job highlighting legal boundaries (county, land ownership, PLSS, etc). At least a couple months, though.

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  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  7. Hey there Matt, I'm wondering if its possible to still produce links like this ? Its super useful for sending to people to describe a route but I can't figure out a way to do it anymore!

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    1. No. The link only worked with bare maps; I never had a way to send someone a link to a print page with markers and lines on it. Looking for something more universal, I decided to scrap the share-by-URL feature and instead let you import a page configuration from an existing PDF (look for the "load pages" link at the bottom of the left bar).

      To me, the URL feature was more about allowing people to bookmark a configuration than making it easier to share with others. I would think that when describing a route you'd want to actually trace that route out? Can you describe your use case in a little more detail?

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  8. I used to be able to enjoy the same desktop features of Caltopo on my I Phone but it now seems as though there is an auto version with less capabilities whine accessing via phone. I primarily enjoyed the ability to use the hybrid with the ability to slide back and forth between satellite and topo image.

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