v1.7: Improved Soldering Experience

Questions posed to our users about new features or possible UI updates.

v1.7: Improved Soldering Experience

Postby worfc » Sun Jan 10, 2016 12:47 pm

(Copy/pasted (and slightly edited) from an email sent to a few friends who have been vocal about how soldering can be improved.)

v1.6.5 is submitted to Apple for review. I'm currently working on v1.7: improved soldering experience.

Below, I talk a bit about what I'm planning, and a few things that I'm not sure about. The point of this post is to solicit input =before= I've already done all the work and your brilliant suggestions have to get scheduled for some later release.

General philosophy: I'm shooting for an 85% improvement; something that I can implement, test and submit in about a week. So a lot of really good ideas will go on the "some day, when WoRFC is going so well there's a team that I can assign features to..." list. :)

Ok, here are some thoughts:

--- Big features list ---
    * New popup solder-tools menu.
    * Wire-flipping.
    * User-routed wiring.
    * Maybe: Colored wires.
    * Maybe: multi-select (for dragging)
    * Maybe: rotate chips.
    * Someday: signals probe.

(Maybe => Time allowing. Easy enough to spread over the next couple of updates, though.)

-- Popup tools menu

The New Tools Popup, I’m thinking it should be Feature Unlocked after either 250 solder connections or read (open) the tutorial. So you’d start out with just-soldering iron. This is just to simplify the UI, but "open the tutorial" allows the old-timers quick access to the new tools. (I don't currently count your solder connections; that'd be new.)

Where you now have soldering iron, that will become a little popup (similar in style to the one you see when you long-press a decoration). Initial plans include: solderpen, electro-zap, wire-flipper, wire-color-er, wire-router. Maybe wire-snips (like solderpen that only cuts connections), if I get time.

-- Electro-Zap

"Electro-Zap" is the power-block that you wave around to test circuits, like in the chip-interior.

If the ElectroZap Tool was available in robot, it would facilitate manual-driving. I’m kind-of against manual driving, but maybe it would suck enough to not be realistic for “real” farming, but nice to have for small tasks (like scootching your robot over to a chest or something.)

-- Wire-flipping

This is just a convenience tool to "reconnect the other direction". Wires go horz from their start, then drop vertical to the other side. Point this at a connected pin and it will reverse the orientation of the wire.

-- User routing

I'm so happy with having come-up with this neat way to do user-routing! Wires will work like they always did, but you can drop-onto a wire a "routing node". It just looks like a dot, but it acts like a 2-connection node. Basically, it breaks the wire where it is dropped, inserts a drag-able NODE and re-connects itself, with the big difference being that "routing nodes" are prettier and can be dragged around.

(Btw, did you notice that v1.6 has smaller, prettier 4-way NODEs? I think they're a nice improvement. :) )

When in "routing" mode, the routing-node "dots" are visible, otherwise, hidden. (Or should they always be visible, for drag-in-edit-mode? Hmmm... Maybe a user-pref so we can try both ways.)

-- Multi-select

Routing-nodes become much cooler once I implement multi-select, so you can grab a bunch of gates & nodes and slide them around.

Multi-select also precedes "grab this whole bunch of circuitry and stick it inside this chip", a future feature.

-- Other

* Colored wires: Just a simple popup where you can select from among 8 (-ish) wire colors. Jesse (I think) suggested this, and it seems simple enough. Wires will show color while cold, orange while hot. (Orange won't be a wire-color choice. Nor Red/Yellow -- too close to "hot".) If I can make it look nice, I'll have hot-orange run through the middle of a thin, colored insulator line for non-grey wires. Or maybe "show colored insulation" is another user pref. Sure, why not? Easy enough to put telemetry on to see what setting people are using. :)

* Rotate chips: user request. The code is easy; just need a UI that works throughout the soldering view. (Current: Tap rotates gates, opens chips; long-press drags either.)

* Signals probe: I think the concept of signals would make a lot more sense to people if they could see what's on the wire with a probe. Right now, they're sort of "barely discoverable" and "weakly documented". :\ As above, the code is easy, just need a decent UI for it.

-- You can help!

If you have thoughts about any of this, I'd love to hear them. The above is my current plan of what I'm thinking of doing starting this evening. If you tell me your great ideas in a day or two, they have a chance of getting into v1.7. If you tell me in a week or more, they'll happen much-much later.

Also, if you haven't already, I'm soliciting iTunes App-Store reviews. If you have something nice to say, please take a few minutes to tell the world. If you have correcting ideas, please let me know.

If you're REALLY in the mood to help, when you see WoRFC posts on Facebook (/Twitter, whatever), please LIKE and SHARE them (they're not =that= frequent!) Currently, the game is doing well; but it's biggest weakness is the difficulty in spreading the word. If just a couple of your friends are intrigued by one of WoRFC's posts, and just a couple of their friends forward it to just a couple of their friends, well... that would be a big help! :)

Posted by WORFC, board admin, moderator, game author.

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