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Improving the usability of the presentation template designer

Improving the usability of the presentation template designer

At the moment presentation templates could be designed only with the designer inside the admin client. Quite simply: its a table designer without any flexibility in usage and in design. Here some examples of functionalites, which arent existing or strongly need some improvement:

 

  • possibility of nested tables
  • possibility of using one field more than one time in the same tab
  • possibility to change the visibilty of a whole tab
  • possibility to use embedded html-code
  • possibility to use embedded scripting (javascript or something like this)
  • possibility to import/export (parts of) presentation templates (without the need of getdb-/putdb-commands)
  • (easier) possibility to reuse (parts of) presentation templates
  • setting the visibilty of a cell
  • handling of graphics
  • changes should be shown in a history like for mostly all other objects
  • ...
21 Comments
Level 1

Adding to the list:

- Consistency in field naming between the presentation editor and other locations in item definition. Some dialog use the display name only, but sorted by the internal field name, some use the display name sorted by display name, some only use the field name, some use field name and display name, and so on. It's very tough and time consuming to find fields like this. In a system with 2500+ fields, this takes far too long. Pick a model. Stick to it.

- Better copy/paste/undo capability, for UI elements in the presentation template editor. Grids, cells, fields.

- Control over cell sizes without having to keep creating transparent graphic images to paint into a dummy cell to force formatting

- Fix the part of the UI editor that loses references to images on occasion. Where if you open the GUI presentation editor, some of the image links are broken. Close and reopen the editor multiple times, without making changes, to get the images to restore.

Level 1

Second and third all suggestions... We would make use of all of them.

Also, allow a field to be editable on one tab and read-only on a different tab.

Level 11

Adding to the list:

  • setting the visibilty of a TAB
  • setting the visibilty of TAB, GRID or CELL based on rule defined in IPT, not only Field visibiltys
  • allow to define a Min / Max / Fixed - Cell size per Cell and as IPT default
  • allow the definition of "named cell styles" ; not only font-styles

Or to make it all easier:

  • CSS Support for styles (enable a single "Company Style" definition)
Level 11

Introduce a "common content" area that can contain any type of field (see the blue area in the draft design below).

 

Together with the allready given "tabbed content" this "common content" shall be placed in the scrollable body of the item.

 

The "common content" 's biggest advantage is, that the usablity dramatically is improved in more complex setups:

 

  • If Tabs are organized e.g. by workflow steps, users see just the fields fields they need for the current step plus context data
  • No need switching between TAB to search/review general data
  • Limited need for scrolling, as the "area of interest" inside a Tab always starts at the top ot the Tab

  

This would increase the performance of your user editing the items a lot.

 

The currently given not scrollable "head" is only acceptable for a minimum set of read-only fields like ID, Type, or "Modified by" (comparable to the Title of a JDialog).

It even implies a problem when using the "Item Preview" feature, as the non scrollable Head might consume all available space fro the preview and the user cannot even scroll to the actual content.

 

HEAD   (not scrollable)
BODY (scrollable)
COMMON CONTENT
  • allways visible
  • may contain any (richtext-) fields that is not used in any  "Tabbed Content"
  • Automatic resize to the maximum needed height based on content of all relevant Tabs (no resizing caused by Tab change)
  • known grid layout

Tab 1

Tab 2

Tab 3

  • In View Mode: Automatic resize to the maximum needed height based on content of all relevant Tabs (no resizing caused by Tab change)
  • In EDIT Mode: Automatic resize to the maximum needed height based on content of all relevant Tabs (no resizing caused by Tab change)
  • NOT allways visible (can be controlled just like the field relevance (e.g. based on item state)
  • may contain any (richtext-) fields that is not used in the "COMMON CONTENT"
  • known grid layout

COMMON FOOTER (OK-, APPLY-,CANCEL- , HELP- Buttons)

 

 

Level 10

Jim,

You nailed some of my issue with Integrity.  I have to create transparent images as well and I hate doing that, it is a real pain.

The issue you are having with references to images is a known bug (if I understand you correctly).  The workaround is to close the presentation without saving and reopen it.

Dan

Jim Bates wrote:

Adding to the list:

- Consistency in field naming between the presentation editor and other locations in item definition. Some dialog use the display name only, but sorted by the internal field name, some use the display name sorted by display name, some only use the field name, some use field name and display name, and so on. It's very tough and time consuming to find fields like this. In a system with 2500+ fields, this takes far too long. Pick a model. Stick to it.

- Better copy/paste/undo capability, for UI elements in the presentation template editor. Grids, cells, fields.

- Control over cell sizes without having to keep creating transparent graphic images to paint into a dummy cell to force formatting

- Fix the part of the UI editor that loses references to images on occasion. Where if you open the GUI presentation editor, some of the image links are broken. Close and reopen the editor multiple times, without making changes, to get the images to restore.

Level 1

An additional feature request on the features mentioned above:

It would be really good if an active button could be added to the Item presentation template, so when the button is clicked it could run a trigger. The button could be placed in the template at the correct point the user should consider using it.

We currently have work arounds using custom commands (which the user needs to know they are there to use and go and find the command in the menus) or a additional pick list field that activates certain functionality when the field is set to a specific value and the change on the item is accepted (the field is then reset after the functionality has been carried out).

Level 1

Thanks for the comment Dan. I wasn't sure if the GUI broken links issue was open as a defect or not. I found it in 10.7, was hoping it was addressed in 10.9. Turns out, it wasn't. I found the workaround (close/open the editor). By default, i do this every time I need to use the editor. Some of my presentation templates have so many images and tabs that it takes longer to try to find broken ones than it does just to open/close/open to make sure that they all resolve properly. I think I even found a reference in the log once about this.

I'll be sure to let support know to attach us to the outstanding defect. Hopefully that'll get fixed. It's very annoying.

Level 10

I feel your pain Jim.  We now have to Integrity servers running 10.9 and the bug with the presentations still exist.

Level 1

These are great ideas and we will look implement some of this in a future release.

Level 9

In addition to buttons that can run a trigger, we need pseudo-fields that are presentation-only but allow you to pass data to triggers.

Level 1

These changes would certainly be a good start to address one of the weakest areas of Integrity (the presentation layer).

However, what my team would really like to see is a true presentation builder GUI inside Integrity that supports drag & drop formatting of fields, tables, buttons, and similar controls...one that mimics a simple presentation layout builder similar to any of the myriad tools out there: Google Web Toolkit UI Designer, JFormDesigner, Eclipse WindowBuilder...he11, I'd be happy with a simple WYSIWYG form builder a la Visual Basic 2.0 from 25 years ago compared to the clumsy Item Type Presentation Template Editor currently haunting Integrity developers everywhere.

Anything that would allow us to quickly drag & drop to format items and have the tool create the requisite XML in the background.  If I have to continue fighting with the clumsy grids and hundreds of transparent spacer GIFs for hours on end in Integrity v11+ just to get things from looking fugly all the way up to merely "mediocre", I may very well suffer a psychotic break.

Okay, that may be a bit hyperbolic...but it's really sad that such a powerful and useful platform such as Integrity is saddled with such a clumsy and inefficient presentation layer tool.  It really drags the whole Integrity Lifecycle Manager suite from a "Highly Recommended" enterprise solution down to a "C-" or "Merely Acceptable" grade.

Level 11

I completely agree with Chris Sanders‌. In my opinion PTC can kick out all of these above written ideas for the presentation template designer, because the most of them (at least mine) are simply trials to repair defective or misdesigned or outdated pieces or functionalities, if PTC would implement a new, modern way of designing UI's for the rich client and for the web client.

kind regards, Jens

Level 9

"It really drags the whole Integrity Lifecycle Manager suite from a "Highly Recommended" enterprise solution down to a "C-" or "Merely Acceptable" grade."

Absolutely the problem I face every day. Many users are not afraid to tell everyone that they don't like Integrity. One reason is that they don't like having to follow a process. The other reason is usability, entirely perceived through user interface constrained by client/web and presentation templates.

Level 10

I couldn't agree more with all three of you.  The Presentation builder inside the GUI is a major pain for me as well.  The dozens of transparent GIF... grrr, I could go on but you all understand.

Level 4

Usability and end user interface is highest priority. Relatively speaking, the admin interface is lower in priority to the user interface but hopefully we can make considerable improvements in the user interface that will reduce some of the frustrations mentioned in this thread.

Level 6

Apart from what has been mentioned above, what I've noticed was that the tick mark for the tabs appears even if the invisible grid fields hold some data, it should only work in case of fields holding data present on the visible grid. 

Level 1

Steve:

Thanks for the reply.  This is very heartening to hear.

I'm not going to hold you to any dates, of course, but is there any unofficial WAG or estimate on when a new UI or new Item Type Presentation enhancements might be implemented?  Just a current target version release (ex: v11.3 or v12.0) or even a target calendar year would be useful.

Many of us are very eager for UI enhancements/overhaul, but we know it will be extremely time-consuming both on your side as well as ours (testing, possible phased implementation, etc.).

P.S.  It may already be in your plans, but if not, please also consider implementing a phased implementation option for any major template/UI changes.  Being able, for example, to allow admins to set which method ("legacy" grid templates vs. a new UI) to use at the Item Type level would be extremely useful, allowing us to pick a few key items to change over to the new method/UI first while other Item Types are updated later would add tremendous flexibility and give Integrity admins time to ramp up on the new interface design even after the underlying Integrity Server has already been upgraded to the new version containing the presentation template/UI changes.  Just another suggestion for you to consider...

Level 4

Hi Chris,

The introduction of the new browser-based UI is targetted for 11.2 which is December 2017.

Keeping in mind that the admin client is out of scope (for now), the goal is to eliminate any dependency on the thick client before the end fo this calendar year. It will likely take 3-4 releases to fully implement all capabilities in a new UI and therefore we will have to deal with 2 UI's where some capabilities are still in the old Web UI and some capabilities in the new Web UI. Aside from being clunky, if a customer absolutely needs to avoid a swing client, they will be able to accomplish this with the 11.2 release. It is an aggressive target but it is what we are striving for.

In mid-February, we will be creating a working group with customer participation to collaborate on approaches and elicit requriements. I hope you consider joining and contributing!

Level 11

Hi Steve,

this is great news.

I'd love to contribute to the discussion.

Level 10

Hi Mr. Rump,

According to my knowledge Integrity Presentation Template (IPT) doesn't support HTML and CSS languages for designing PT. I want to know is there any other way to make PT interesting and more user friendly like Forms and all on Websites ?

I am looking forward to hear from you.

Regards

Kapil Jain

Community Manager
Status changed to: Acknowledged