The Current Version 3 Preset Design
ImageIngester Version 3 was designed so that all preset values other than Photographer, Content, and Rights are saved in the Master Preset. For Metadata, the names of the Photographer, Content, and Rights presets are saved, not the individual values. This design means that:
- The Master Preset doesn’t store the names of Destination, File Handling, Metadata, and Keywords presets, but only the values. So, if you select a Master Preset, the other drop-downs are blanked out, since the name was not stored.
- Even if a non-Master preset was set prior to saving the Master Preset, there’s no attempt to determine the name by comparing values—the name is still blanked out on the drop-down.
- If you make a change to a setting (e.g., primary folder), there’s no requirement to save it in a preset prior to saving the Master Preset. This works because, as I said, the Master Preset stores just the values (primary folder path, in this case), not the name of the preset (Destination, in this case). There may not even be a name.
- Since saving the Master Preset also selects it, the mere act of saving also blanks out the other presets.
- If you change a non-Master preset, the change doesn’t affect the Master Preset automatically. You have to select the changed preset and then resave the Master.
The Metadata Preset worked differently: It did save the names of the three constituent presets (Photographer, Content, and Rights), not their values. Saving or selecting a Metadata Preset did not blank out the constituent presets, and changing one of them automatically changed every Metadata Preset that referred to the changed preset. In addition, the Save and Save As buttons were on the Photographer, Content, and Rights detail panels, not on the drop-down.
This design confused many users. Some thought the behavior, especially blanking out the drop-downs, was buggy. Others understood that it was intentional, but didn’t like it anyway.
The only advantage of the design was that it was possible to make a setting and ingest without saving any presets at all. Saving was entirely optional. (Although this didn’t apply to the metadata drop-downs, as I said.)
The New Preset Design
I’ve decided to toss the current design and give up its only advantage: making a setting without saving it. If saving is easy enough, that advantage won’t matter. In turn, the design will be more consistent and it will be possible to change a non-Master preset and have it automatically propagate to all Master Presets that reference it, just as Metadata Presets worked in the original design.
Here’s how the new design will work:
Every setting made on a details panel must be saved or discarded. That is, the details panels will have Save, Save As, and Cancel buttons, just as the Photographer, Content, and Rights panels have.
The current Save and Save As items on preset drop-downs (other than Master) will be replaced by an Edit item, to match the Photographer, Content, and Rights drop-downs exactly.
Settings made directly on the main window (e.g., Auto Ingest, Quick Field values) do not have to be saved to be effective. Of course, if the Master Preset is saved, they are also saved.
(Another issue being considered is extending the scope of the Metadata preset to include Quick Fields and perhaps Keywords, but that is a separate topic.)
Similarly, if you choose a Destination, File Handling, Metadata, or Keywords preset, its settings are effective even if you don’t save a Master Preset that refers to them.
In other words, it’s never necessary to save a Master Preset. (In that sense the current and new designs are the same.)
Since a details panel must always be saved in order for its settings to be effective, there must always be some current named preset. If the user hasn’t named one, the name will be Default. This is different from the way II works now, where you can’t change the Default preset. In the new design, you can. I am considering a Reset button to get back to the factory defaults, but I’m not sure that complication is worthwhile. (Every new option makes II that much harder to learn, to teach, to document, and to test.)
(11-Aug-2008 update: Each of the detail panels does have a Reset button.)
- The Master Preset will save the names of the Destination, File Handling, Metadata, and Keywords, not their values. Saving or selecting a Master Preset will no longer blank out other presets, but will simply set them to their values. If the named preset has been deleted or renamed, the Default preset will be chosen.
- If a non-Master preset is changed, all Master Presets that reference it will effectively be changed as well. Actually, they’re not changed, since they reference the changed preset only by name, but the effect is the same. This can cause surprises, as a user in general won’t remember every Master Preset that references the changed preset. I could popup a list of every affected Master Preset, but this seems to be really annoying, as it would happen at every change. My experience is that warnings that popup up regularly get ignored, especially if they contain a list of a dozen or so items. (I should mention that nobody has raised the issue of a changed Photographer, Content, or Rights preset silently changing the effect of a Metadata preset.)
- As far as the issue of forcing the user to save every detail-panel setting goes, since there will always be a name (perhaps Default), it’s no harder to press Save as it is now to press Close. Same number of mouse clicks, same amount of cognitive activity.
Here’s a graphical comparison of the the current and new designs:
I’m interested in comments on this proposed design. I’m working on the implementation now and hope to have it completed in a few days, a week at most.
Naturally, I expect to get more comments from people who actually try the new design than I do on this design note.
That’s fine… no one can really know how a design will work without using it.