NEW GUI MOCK UP
A GUI overhaul is something Heff and I talked about awhile back, and after SirCxyrtyx recently mentioned the same thing, I just had to get some ideas down "on paper" so to speak.
The toolset has a few key problems (short of WinForms itself, lol):
- The main menu top bar interferes with individual tool menus, once a tool is opened. They blend together and it's not obvious to new users where one stops and the other starts. For example, "File" should never be in the middle of the top menu bar, it should always be on the left, as that's where users expect it to be. In addition, it means we often have 3 layers of menus stacked on top of the toolset. Again, not intuitive -- and it ends up looking messy.
- Every tool looks different; the GUI across tools is not unified at all. The intent of menu options and how to do things are not obvious. This is what happens when everything is done piecemeal and there was no plan created at the beginning of the project.
- It's, well... not very pretty. It's much better than it used to be, but still very dated. Partly due to the above.
So, the first thing I decided to work on was the main window and how to fix issue #1 above, as well as make things a bit prettier and more user-friendly.
Before the mock ups, here's what we currently have, with PCCEd2 open. Immediately we see the issue with "File" being in the middle of the screen, at the same "level" as the main menu options. Not intuitive. move the Main Menu to the side, like this:
- Icons can be associated with each menu category, making it more user-friendly
- Tool menus can now start on the upper left, like they should
- Revision/version becomes a bit more obvious
- More obvious links to all associated ME3Exp sites
- Renamed to "Mass Effect Explorer" to account for ME1 and ME2
- Unifies all "engines" into the same menu scheme
- Taskbar remains at the bottom
- Above the taskbar is a "infobar" that will be used for all tools. It will contain relevant text on the left, and a progress bar on the right. The Progress bar will have accompanying text that describes the operation: "Name X Added to position #.", "File Saved.", "BIN Replaced.", etc. No more dialogue boxes have to be added.
- Design allows for more modern menu expanding operation
- User Tools changed to Mod Installation
- Developer Tools changed to Mod Creation
- Utilities removed from the User Tools category
- Options changed to Settings
- About as its own menu option
- Yes, I realize that ModMaker and TPF Tools can also make mods. HOWEVER, their primary function is to install mods. These are THE two main tools for users in the toolset. They are what 95% of our user base uses. Let's pull them out into their own home.
- Texplorer gets moved into the Mod Creation section, since that's it's primary purpose is to browse and extract textures. Image Engine is moved to Utilities, since that's what it is; same with Plot Database, TOC Updaters, and Asset Explorer. The latter could even be removed as part of the overhaul. The wiki TOC would be edited to match this new menu scheme.
- The "1 2 3" after PCC Editor is an example of how we could implement game variations for the tool, assuming they can't be bundled into the same tool (like Texplorer).
- Obviously there are a lot of ways the information can be laid out inside the menu. I've kept it relatively simple for now, just so folks could see the basic idea.
- Fonts and icons can be changed, but need to be easy to read. I intended to use a couple different ones, but forgot. I'd suggest no more than 3: Main Menu names, tool names, general text. I think it's good to keep the icons very simple and minimalistic.
- Colors of icons/text should change when scrolled over. Probably from the dark gray to a blue to compliment the flyout menu background and the current wallpaper.
- Another thing we could consider is to build the Progress Bar into the right side of the Taskbar.