Posted February 4th, 2003 @ 02:40pm by Erik J. Barzeski
iMovie 3 is pretty awesome. I posted the other day about how it allowed me to capture video from my TiVo flawlessly, not dropping a frame while I checked email, launched applications, and otherwise went about my normal work day. I'm absolutely happy that iMovie 3 is "in a window" instead of "gosh darn it give me that whole screen of yours!" The new effects are awesome, the integration with iTunes and iPhoto are great, and the chapters are a smart addition. That having been saidÃ¢â‚¬Â¦
iMovie 3 breaks even more damn Human Interface Guidelines than I care to enumerate. I'll pick on just one, primarily: the extraordinarily bad "Ken Burns Effect" pane, also known as the "Photos" section. The problems with this one section alone are many. Let's take a look at them.
You Can't Escape the Ken Burns Effect
There is no way to simply disable the Ken Burns effect. Apple must think it's so cool that they want to ram it down your throats. Until you work around it by setting the zoom level to 1.0 on both the "start" and "end," even your title pages (if you've constructed one in Photoshop or something) will zoom by default.
Panning Whether You Want It Or not
While you can get rid of zooming by setting the zoom levels to 1.0, you can not get rid of the damn panning. Once you've applied a pan, it will be applied to all subsequent images. How do you get rid of it? The only way I've found is to grab the image and attempt to position the image so that the start and end positions "overlap" each other - quite a feat in a small "preview" view. And of course, the next time you apply this touted "Ken Burns Effect," you've destroyed all the overlapping work you've done.
Other Horrid "Ughs"
iMovie 2's timeline/clip viewer used what looked and functioned like a tab view. This worked, because effectively users were switching between two distinct separate views. Now, this has been replaced by what could be described as a "toggle" switch: click the left and you see clip view, click the right and you see the timeline view. The effect: the area beneath it changes.
Unfortunately, not more than an inch away we find another toggle - this time with a more realistic "switch" that moves between editing mode and importing mode. These two switches are not terribly unique: they both change a few (and thus some of the functionality). Neither are really "connected" to the view they affect - they're as close to the view the other affects as each other. Lame.
If we keep moving to the right we find the play button. Unfortunately, the Play button does not change into a Pause button when a movie is playing. Instead, the triangle (instead of the || pause symbol) remains. "Action" buttons should change to "Cancel" or "Stop" buttons, and Play buttons should change to Pause buttons. Witness QuickTime Player. At least it gets this right.
Really Ignorant UI
Let's ignore some other more minor flaws, however, and get back to the Photos section. Here is screenshot of the top section:
This is what you see when you're choosing an image from your iPhoto library. The critical error? Radio buttons are used to toggle between showing the characteristics of the start and end positions. You must click the "Start" radio button to set the zoom level and position of the start, and then you must click the "End" radio button to set the zoom level and position for the end. You know, since you can't escape the Ken Burns Effect.
Use radio buttons for a set of mutually exclusive, but related, choices. A set of radio buttons should contain at least two items and a maximum of about seven. (For more than seven items, consider using a pop-up menu.) A set of radio buttons is never dynamic (changing contents depending on the context). A radio button should never initiate an action.
Group boxes or tabs would have been a much better way to present the view. To that end, I've created a mockup. You can see the original above, and mine below. You can toggle between either by moving your mouse over the images.
While I do not claim my UI to be the "best" I do feel that it is much better than the one we're stuck with in iMovie 3 in the following ways>
In other words, the parts that change when you toggle between "start" and "end" are placed into a tab view indicating this far more clearly than a pair of radio buttons can ever hope to do.
Alternatively, Apple could have used a group box or two to segregate the start and end information. However, this would present problems in knowing which endpoint's position you were changing if you drug the image around (you can't escape the Ken Burns Effect!). I think the tab view - albeit a bit awkward floating around inside a window - solves this problem fairly well.
I'm sick of Apple "inventing" UI out of the air, especially when it's bad UI. I'm absolutely sick of it. We have HIGs, and how do they expect other developers like myself to use them when they don't. When they use radio buttons to and toggles and whatnot so haphazardly. It's sickening. John Geleynse and the HIG team need to walk around with a billy club and beat up the people who do this shit, because apparently that's the only way they're going to learn.
Please don't get me wrong: the iApps are a tremendous thing, unequaled in their ease of use, power, simplicity, and creativity. But a large part of what makes a Mac "a Mac" is the attention to detail. The subtle consistency of user experience. iMovie 3 needs a bit more attention than it was given, and Apple needs to stop inventing bad UI.
I plan to revise this entry as necessary. Feel free to email me at me at nslog dot com or to post comments here.