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At home I am working on this kind of vector graphics software to make RPG maps...
I have a conundrum.
My maps have multiple graphics layers.
Each layer could have a different type (background / grid / hex / canvas), and different tools available depending on its type (for example drawing lines is only on canvas).
Maps have only one active layer that will be the one edited by current tool.
Currently I only display tools of the active layer.
Now what annoys as I develop & play with it, when I start, I often have to show the layer control and select the appropriate layer to do stuff... it's... somehow unintuitive, I need to improve that.
(Plus when my active layer and available tools it might make all UI below move)
Any suggestions for improvements?
What I am gonna do for now, and comments requested here, is to show all tools for all layers (with an some UI feedback that shows tools for current active layer, such as an outlines). if I pickup a tool that is not available on current layer I am gonna switch the active layer to the first layer that support that tool.
But... All too often when I'm using some tool, I accidently click on something I didn't mean to. If the app then changes state -- and takes a while to do so -- I then have to change it back, shouting, "no, I didn't mean to do that, you piece of junk!"
It's a matter of developers becoming too clever in adding features that maybe no one asked for.
Having all the tools visible and the ones that aren't valid in the current state disabled is good. I really don't like having a list of tools changing content as the state changes. But I really wouldn't like to have the app change state just because I clicked on a not- currently-valid item.
You comment about disliking tools list update is interesting.
I put the tools below the layer and it's less annoying though... but my edit tool of choice are still hidden at startup (due to default active layer being lame), really annoying...
Make it an option in your settings: "Auto switch when wrong layer tool is used" - and gently grey (or similar) the "inappropriate" tools.
Why shouldn't the layers control be permanently visible? it's a "metacontrol" for the whole layout, isn't it? Perhaps it could just "roll up" and "unroll" when needed or you hover over it?
I'm spoiled - I use Paintshop Pro, and have three monitors: one holds the "working image", one holds the tools, and the final one has a overview image (which is almost a perfect colour match to print output).
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But the tool I am currently working on is always hidden at the start, due to default active layer being first layer. And it is also not selected by defaults since it's tool #3 on the list for that layer...
I think I need to show all tools... less annoying...
the current layer is a property of the view, so it only change from user interaction..
What annoys me is that everytimes I make a new document (which comes with its own view), I have to select the right layer and tools for my testing... fair enough one can say.. but the default layer and tool for a map doesn't allow mouse editing! (only zoom and pan)
so the new map experience is: I make a map and .. I can't do anything!
Now that it appears to me that you have found a way to do it ... Allow me to ask a related question:
I use SketchUp a lot. What is called "layers" in SketchUp is not really layers, but distinct sets of 3D objects; you may check off whether one layer (i.e. object set) is to be displayed or not. They are not ordered or hiearchical in any way. In the same (non-modal) dialog box, you also select one active layer, where all your new drawing primitives are added.
My problem: The active layer may change if I breathe too hard. Or when I look in another direction. Or switch another layer on. Or... Sure, the list of actions that actually changes the active layer is not that long, nevertheless I over and over draw to the wrong layer. I have made it a habit whenever I end a working session to display layers one by one, alone, to see if I have put anything into it that should be moved to another layer. Much too often, there is something to move.
You SketchUp users out there (I assume that there are quite a few - SketchUp is great, once you have learned to handle it): Can you provide any helpful hints for how to prevent lines and surfaces and objects to be drawn in the wrong layer? Or do you have the same problem? Or is it just me? (well... most likely it is )
Oh.. I got Worldographer too!
But I got so fed up with Hexographer I thought I should plow on with my app and never tested it!
It is much better indeed!
Thanks Brian hey!
So I am looking at it right now and it seems to me that tools and layers are the same thing (1 layer per tool, all tool / layer displayed), interesting...
on a side note, not playing much RPG at the moment!
As a player I would play anything, and D&D is much more prevalent indeed.
But as a GM (last I GM it was in Darwin 3 years ago) it was Mythras (formerly RQ6 or Legends) (aka my favorite D100 variant)!
I might try to find some players again next year though, for an upcoming (Master of Orion inspired) SciFi campaign!
I was in the Worldographer kickstarter, but haven't done much with it. I still do most of my maps with paper-n-pencil, unless I'm publishing. Joe (author) has stated that Cityographer functionality will be rolled into it soon.
Keep going on yours -- there's always room for a better program.
I DM an AD&D campaign for my sons, been doing it since they were young. Currently I play in my elder son's 5E campaign (yeah, been playing long enough I grew my own DM! ), although he's thinking of started a Call of Cthulhu campaign -- never played that before, but I'm open to trying.
If you want new material for D&D, try & Magazine: https://and-mag.com/
Yeah, you've got the same basic problem as Blender -- a context-sensitive user interface. Those are always hard to use because there's no clues about where you need to go to get the tool you want to use next.
A better UI would be to provide groups of controls for each layer. Display all the groups, but disable the ones you can't use at the moment. Display the groups in some manner reminiscent of the ordering of the layers. Since there's probably a lot of them, you'll need to figure out some way to shrink (but not completely hide) the disabled groups of tools.
Yeah, Blender is free. As you learn it, notice that all the tutorials are given in terms of hot-key sequences. To experience the world's worst user interface, try to do them without using any hot key sequences. It is possible -- everything available from a hot key is available someplace on a menu -- but its really difficult to figure out how to get to the menu with the entry you want on it.
Teaching myself 3DSMax and 3D modeling concepts at the same time was a piece of cake compared to figuring out how to find the menu entry that would let me do what I wanted to do in Blender.