Aesthetics and the future of PopTray...

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Aesthetics and the future of PopTray...

Post by gerasidi » Mon Dec 24, 2007 11:05 pm

Hello,

there's no doubt that PopTray is possibly the best of its kind.
I've tried many many similar programs but none has the
features and the usability of PopTray. But... i believe the program
suffers when it comes to aesthetics and UI issues.
Of course, the most important thing in an application is to work
well and to be ergonomic. But i think "design" is also very important.
Perhaps more important than you think. Personally, i'm very bored
of the overall look of the program and i wish i could change at
least the toolbar icons (not to mention full skins etc). This is
the main reason i started again searching for another utility
that does the same job. But whatever i try, i always revert to
using PopTray...

Because i've already tried to bring similar matters to the attention
of Renier (such the issue of the toolbar icons) and didn't have the
reply i expected or (in my last post) i didn't receive any answer at all,
is there any plans for a new version, maybe in the next few months?
At least to have an update on the way the toolbar icons work (use
really 32x32 icons and not 16x16 resized - and also the ability to use
transparent icons).

Please excuse me if many of you find my concerns useless, but it's
in my nature wanting to make things look better... that's my job
and design is essential for me even when it comes to everyday
things (like my chair or my mail notification tool ;) )
And don't forget the examples of companies such as Apple...
Apple is known mostly for its design philosophy and style!
Never underestimate the power of design...

Thank you (i hope this time someone replies to my message)
Manolis Gerasidis
www.gerasidis.gr

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Post by gerasidi » Tue Dec 25, 2007 12:24 am

...and to show you that i'm talking very seriously about the
design issue, i present you some proposals of how things could
become prettier, starting with the logo!
A logo design is something that usually needs some hundrends
or even thousands of dollars. Take it as a "thank you" to the developers
of this excellent little tool that saved me from a lot of trouble (spam,
viruses etc).
I'm volunteering to take on the task of designing the UI of the
next version, free of charge.
Soon i'll be uploading some proposals for the UI.

Renier, the only thing i'm asking is... don't stop the development
of PopTray... :)

Image

Oh!... Merry Christmas to everyone!
Manolis Gerasidis
www.gerasidis.gr

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Post by KY Dave » Tue Dec 25, 2007 2:28 pm

The REQUESTED FEATURE may already be present...

find the PopTray Directory and OPEN the file SKIN.BMP with a graphic program.

Alter the parts of the image that you want to change and save it as PopTray.skin

Then QUIT PopTray and RESTART and the new skin will be used.

You can change quite a few of the graphics used in PopTray. I'm not sure about which ones, but take a look.

If you already know about this feature, then please disregard this message.
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Post by gerasidi » Wed Dec 26, 2007 3:57 pm

I know about the skin.bmp KY Dave. The problem is that it contains
spaces for 16x16 icons and not 32x32. If you select large icons in the
options, it just resizes them and they appear "broken".

Anyway, here's a proposal for new icons. Of course these could
also be used without the text or in any other color scheme.

Image

Tomorrow, i'll post a "skinned" version of PopTray based on the
"black theme" i present here with the icons and the logo (in my previous post).
Manolis Gerasidis
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Re: Aesthetics and the future of PopTray...

Post by Zythan » Wed Dec 26, 2007 9:15 pm

gerasidi:

IMHO Poptray has a good UI; all be it not very up-to-date.

But if Poptray is to continue and a new version to see the day, again IMHO, it would be better to correct a few of those irritating bugs before changing the UI.

We have become so used to having 'beautified' programs that no one ever mention the fact that they are so very poorly written that updates come out ever month to correct them. At least Poptray does not suffer so much as the others.

Zythan

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Post by gerasidi » Thu Dec 27, 2007 9:53 am

I agree 100% with you Zythan. Bugs and new features should be
the main reason for continuing development of any program.
Although i'm a designer, i'm a big fan of ergonomy and usability.
(That's why i never bought a Mac ;-) )

Also, don't forget that design IS about ergonomy. The main function
of design is not only beautification.

Anyway, here's my "skinned" proposal for PopTray. To tell you the truth,
when i took the decision to start this thread and make some designs,
i didn't expect much "positive" feedback. If Renier decides to go on, i'm available
and more than happy to help. At least, i've tried...

Image
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Post by KY Dave » Thu Dec 27, 2007 3:04 pm

Renier wrote:Posted: Mon Nov 12, 2007 1:31 am

Unfortunately I haven't been able to spend any more time in further developing PopTray.

I wouldn't say the project is closed, but I don't see any changes happening in the near future.

My last goal was making PopTray compile with a free version of Delphi so more developers can maybe help in future. I did get it to compile but still ran into problems with Indy 10 hanging from time-to-time. So I started on a multi-threaded version to try and solve that, but unfortunately never completed that version.
Renier has also stated he is working two jobs now and doesn't have much time left over, but beyond that, I will let Renier speak for himself on further development of PopTray.
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Post by Zythan » Thu Dec 27, 2007 7:40 pm

KY Dave wrote:
Renier wrote:Posted: Mon Nov 12, 2007 1:31 am

Unfortunately I haven't been able to spend any more time in further developing PopTray.

I wouldn't say the project is closed, but I don't see any changes happening in the near future.

My last goal was making PopTray compile with a free version of Delphi so more developers can maybe help in future. I did get it to compile but still ran into problems with Indy 10 hanging from time-to-time. So I started on a multi-threaded version to try and solve that, but unfortunately never completed that version.
Renier has also stated he is working two jobs now and doesn't have much time left over, but beyond that, I will let Renier speak for himself on further development of PopTray.
One would hope that all is not lost, unfortunately OSes change from one version to the next at a fast rate, programs running on last year's version may not run on next year's.

But only time (and Renier) will tell for Poptray.

Maybe opensource will give new hope to a new version, who knows.

Zythan

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Post by vitoco » Mon Dec 31, 2007 3:18 pm

I see some TODO items in the skinned example. Nice! :o

I know that aesthetics is important, but I like things that are simple. As PopTray is minimized 99.9% of time in my workstation, the most important GUI part of it to me is the systray icon: the envelope with the coloured numbers, the rotating star and the info balloons.

++Vitoco

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Post by mm » Wed Jan 02, 2008 5:34 pm

gerasidi wrote:Also, don't forget that design IS about ergonomy. The main function of design is not only beautification.
That's true, therefore I prefer reliable software that can be adapted to user's needs and preferences, for instance by localization (what I did with PopTray for German). But improving the user interface aesthetically is also part of the adaption process. I prefer "beautiful", i.e. skinnable software. Your samples look very attractive.

Let's hope that Renier will regain his ability to answer on his own account to let all of us know if there will be a chance for further development of PopTray or not.

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Post by gerasidi » Thu Jan 03, 2008 8:11 pm

mm wrote:But improving the user interface aesthetically is also part of the adaption process.
Thank god!... at last, someone who doesn't think design is useless!
mm wrote:Your samples look very attractive.
...and, at last.... someone who's commenting on my samples!
Of course this wasn't the reason i uploaded these, but it seemed
to me very strange that no one bothered to comment on them.
Positive or negative, it doesn't really matter. Just a comment...

Anyway, thank you for your post mm! :)
Manolis Gerasidis
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Post by mm » Fri Jan 04, 2008 2:04 pm

gerasidi wrote:Thank god!... at last, someone who doesn't think design is useless!
Good toolmakers know that bad design will hurt both hands and eyes :!:
gerasidi wrote:...and, at last.... someone who's commenting on my samples!
Honestly, I was a bit surprised too :? , that there was no comment on your proposal, but although PopTray is a tool for improving communication processes it can not replace the human factor... empathy and education. When my son saw your design samples his first reaction was: "It looks cool!"8) I agree ... and I am sure that your proposal would include beautiful animations in the system tray.:lol:

Let's hope that PopTray will have a well designed future.:D

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Post by Zythan » Sun Jan 06, 2008 12:02 pm

gerasidi wrote:Thank god!... at last, someone who doesn't think design is useless!
Hello,

Design is never useless ! BUT, it must be correctly implimented.

Zythan

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Post by mm » Sun Jan 06, 2008 1:12 pm

Zythan wrote:Design is never useless ! BUT, it must be correctly implimented.
What design has been implemented incorrectly? Who defended it?

I understood gerasidi's messages as a proposal to make a preferred software tool even more attractive by adding skinability. And he was a bit surprised that nobody commented his elaborated proposals. What do you think of them aesthetically? Would you like this skin or would you prefer an alternative or don' you care what PopTray looks like?

I'm curious, what lacks and what has to be done to implement this design correctly?

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Post by Zythan » Sun Jan 06, 2008 4:33 pm

Hello,
mm wrote:What design has been implemented incorrectly? Who defended it?
Nothing, nobody.
mm wrote: I understood gerasidi's messages as a proposal to make a preferred software tool even more attractive by adding skinability. And he was a bit surprised that nobody commented his elaborated proposals.
His proposal is understandable, but he, as a designer should therefore realise that not evenbody might see the things the way he does.
mm wrote: What do you think of them aesthetically? Would you like this skin or would you prefer an alternative or don' you care what PopTray looks like?
Personally, I do not rate it. That is my opinion. Yes I do care what Poptray looks like, because it fits in nicely with my OS without shouting out loud it's own colours.
mm wrote: I'm curious, what lacks and what has to be done to implement this design correctly?
If by 'this design' you refer to the proposal; IMHO; the design lacks colour and is not what I like, but then again beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Like Vitoco I like things that are simple. PopTray runs minimized nearly all of the time in my workstation.

Zythan

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Post by KY Dave » Sun Jan 06, 2008 9:44 pm

If you want 'personal opinions'...

My 'personal opinion' is that I don't like the proposed color scheme.
It's basically, black and white with shades of gray. The graphic images are in a newer style than those currently in PopTray, that's not a big deal to me.

Renier has stated that the next release would be version 4 in the TO DO LIST in case you want to work on more graphics.

But, I like PopTray to match the color scheme I choose to use in Windows. It makes it seem to belong in the operating system, not be an add-on.

I have no control over what happens in PopTray, I am like the rest of the users, I'm not the developer. So what I write, is just my opinion.
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Post by gerasidi » Mon Jan 07, 2008 12:02 pm

Okay... i see that there's a misunderstanding here so i'll try to explain
a few things (my english are not that good but i'll give it a try).

First of all and most important, I DIDN'T POST MY WORK HERE
BECAUSE I WANTED CRITICISM (POSITIVE-NEGATIVE). Please try
to understand this... because i see that most people here don't see
my motivation and what i was trying to achieve with my initial posts.
I don't want and i don't need criticism (again, positive-negative).
I get that everyday from my clients and from the people who entrust
their visual communication to me. Thank god, i'm doing this job for
more than a decade and i get enough recognition and establishment
from my work all these years. So i don't need to do work for FREE and
post it in forums in order to get good comments and recognition.

I don't mean that your comments are useless. But, this is not what
i was asking for. (Anyhow, everything is a matter of taste. There's no
"objective" good taste... there's no "objective" beauty. But this is a
very big issue which i don't intend to discuss in this post. By the way,
i chose a black and white scheme in my proposals because it's the
latest trend in design - not only graphic design - world wide and
coincidentally, it was always my favorite color combination.)

I just wanted to make things prettier and more useful for me and
for every other user of the program. As i explained in a previous post,
that's my "nature". That was my motivation and nothing else.

I expressed my surprise that nobody said anything about my
proposals because this was a "suspicious" hint that perhaprs it was
a mistake in the first place posting this thread. I mean that my initial
"fear" that people are okay with what they're given (by Microsoft in
this case) and that they don't want things to change, unfortunately is
confirmed by most users' posts in this thread! Seeing some reaction to
my proposals would mean to me that people are indeed interested in
seeing aesthetics being a part of the future development of the program
along with other things of course like bug correcting, new features etc.

Many users mentioned in their posts that they like things simple. This is
another very-very big issue which i'm not going to discuss here.
(what is defined as "simple"... perhaps sometimes we confuse "simplicity"
with "primitivism" or "tastelessness" - after all my proposal was based
on the same "grid" and layout as the original UI.)

Now, because when something "stucks" into my head, i have to reach
it (or understand it), i've already started working on a "skinned" version
of PopTray with the help of a good friend who is an expert in Delphi.
(even though it took me about a week to succesfully open the project in
Delphi because i have very little experience with coding and there
was a misunderstanding regarding the use of Indy 9 or Indy 10
components and because Renier didn't even bother to answer to my
post regarding some errors i got when i tried to compile PopTray.)

So, after this lenghty post (sorry for that), i feel very bad with myself
and with my decision to start this whole issue (almost guilty i admit).
I feel like i bothered everybody and wasted your time with a personal
issue and i trully apologize for this. That's why (along with a hint of "hostility"
i sensed from the general response to my messages - perhaps it's my
idea and i'm totally wrong about it) i drop my initial proposal on helping
(if Renier wanted) with the design of a possible future version because
i see that nobody really wants or needs that.

Once again, i apologize and i promise not to bother you again with my posts.
Manolis Gerasidis
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Post by KY Dave » Mon Jan 07, 2008 3:42 pm

There isn't a lot of traffic on this forum recently, except users that are looking for solutions to their problems with PopTray.

What you believe to be a lack of interest in your design is probably just a lack of time to devote to the project by the developer right now. I tried to explain that earlier in the thread, that he is working two jobs and doesn't visit the forum very often.

Renier is usually open to others working on PopTray and he will usually help distribute enhancements if they are OPEN SOURCE as is PopTray. Continue your project and report back as you make progress. Renier will see it eventually. Or you can Private Message him and he will usually respond within a day.
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Post by Zythan » Mon Jan 07, 2008 10:57 pm

Hello,

gerasidi: what you have posted is a contribution, that in it's self is something, putting ideas into the community makes the community react, stimulates thinking, stimulates discussion.

This in turn stimulates the programmer, he sees that there is still interest in his work, people who whould like to see his work continue and he can then see which way things should go.

As Dave says there has been little traffic on the forum recently, which personally I think is a pitty.
gerasidi wrote: Once again, i apologize and i promise not to bother you again with my posts.
You do not have to apologise, you have not bothered me. You have only contributed to the community.

Zythan

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Post by mbirth » Tue Jan 08, 2008 11:18 am

I only signed up to this forum to vote for NOT skinning PopTray. I HATE programs which bring their own skins. I prefer all applications look the same...

PopTray already is really nice. Maybe the icons look a bit Win98-like, but I don't think it is neccessary to redesign the UI...

Just my 2 cents,

-mARKUS

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