Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Simpler USB Sticks And Cameras

In the last thin client upgrade, the first UI to assist users with USB sticks was released.  There were some issues in the design and people were using these workstations not always as expected.  So as I mentioned in my last blog, I have been retouching that code to make it work better.  The biggest issues that need to be solved:

1) We don't want everyone to have full USB stick access with drop and drag capabilities.  Why?  Because for most employees they are only working with photos and they are moving UP to the server from cameras and sticks.  In the hands of many, file managers are a dangerous things.  Errant lassos and drags are always present on a multi-user system.  Many workers only use computers for the smallest part of their jobs, and being able to insert a few pictures into a flyer or email message is all they need.

2) Users don't understand file types and sizes, no should they...yet just simply giving them a file manager yields all kinds of problems.  a) Why is this document so large?  b)  I resized the photo with the green handles in LibreOffice, why didn't the document get smaller?  c) I emailed this document and it was rejected on the other side as being too large  d) Why is the printer blinking for 5 minutes waiting for these 10 pictures to print?  e) Why is this taking so long to export to PDF?  --- and for Information Technology   a) Where the &*# did our disk space go?  b) Why did this user upload 500 pictures when they only used 2?

In the last blog, I showed the dialog that appears when a user inserts a USB stick.  Those with full approval can activate a full file manager and drop and drag files as they wish.  But for the rest the updated clipboard manager UI will appear.  The screen gives them the most common photo adjustments that they will want to do before it goes into LibreOffice or Evolution.  The original source files never are uploaded to the server, and everything is passed through the clipboard.  A few clicks and a paste and they are done.  Of course, these can be done in GIMP, but it's way too many steps and beyond the scope of what many can do. 

These new screens are modeled after the photo helper MIME bars that appear when they double-click on a photo.  Which were also designed to make it easier to shrink photos to the right size before inserting them into documents.

The software is not finished, but for the most part it's working as designed.  User inserts USB stick and it does a crawl and finds all pictures and sorts them by date and then by time in reverse order.  The screen below appears and shows the most recent date photos were taken.  If pictures are in sub-folders from the same date, they will appear all merged together.  The concept is not folder-centric, but instead date centric.  ( I remember WHEN I took them, but don't remember WHERE they were saved).  Arrows on the left and right of the thumbnails allow you to navigate up and down through the days with photos taken.  The arrows below the thumbnails allow you to move up and down through that date.   At the bottom, there is a mini navigator that allows you to quickly move to another date without having to wait for the thumbnails to refresh.  When you click on a photo the file size and width and height appear....which for most people means nothing.  As was the case with the desktop UI, it estimates the "LibreOffice Suitability" and "Evolution Suitability".  

If the photo is too big, they can select the appropriate size with the combobox, the thumbnail data changes and the new file size, height, width and suitability appears.

Once the adjustment is made, they click on the clipboard button and it's ready for any GNOME application that will accept the photo with a simple paste.   No file management, no GIMP...it's as simple as it can be.

I still have QA work on the code and will be testing it with real USB stucks here shortly and then will push it to some beta testers who will very probably find some issues.  But, I am pleased with the progress.

The white board of features for the new workstation upgrade only has a few items left and then we go to a more widespread beta test.  It will be great to get this code into production.

Other projects this week: Packing up Evolution crash data for the month of May; testing LibreOffice 3.6 with our documents and the new Corel Draw import filter; Testing Firefox 13 which came out today; looking over Java 1.7.4 and repercussions with web software that might have problems.


David Haas said...

I have a question about your blog, do you think you could email me?

Anna Z. said...

are the photo modified in the USB?
Or just in the clipboard?

Can you import only a photo at a time?