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Author Topic: Too complex?  (Read 14809 times)

AndrewFG

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Too complex?
« on: October 25, 2014, 04:12:45 am »

PS apropos MC being "too complex".. this is (to name my pet example) why I am campaigning for a DLNA Auto setting.

Lets be honest, MC can already do almost everything a normal person would want. So the trick now is to funnel more of your r&d resource into making it "just work" instead funneling it into adding tons of new features. (IMHO) That way you will end up with fewer newbies getting confused.
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BartMan01

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Too complex
« Reply #1 on: October 25, 2014, 01:22:39 pm »

Some people don't want to be helped? How about the people who don't even want to open the box and get their hands even a little dirty?

I think part of the problem here is not that MC is really that hard to use (it isn't), it is the out of box experience for new users that scares some away.  Looks like JRiver is working to address that with an improved new user experience.
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jmone

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Too complex
« Reply #2 on: October 25, 2014, 04:29:36 pm »

As a counterpoint, look how Android (or even Windows) does their install happens these days.  Asks you a couple of basic Q and it does its thing.

As an example, during the install MC could ask:
- Do you want to share your Library with other user on your Home Network (If YES, then MC could setup a UNC Share and use this as the default path)
- Do you want to share your library with other users over the Internet (If YES, then MC could setup the Access Key)
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astromo

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Too complex
« Reply #3 on: October 25, 2014, 05:16:37 pm »

As a counterpoint, look how Andriod (or even Windows) does their install happens these days.  Asks you a couple of basic Q and it does it thing.

As an example, during the install MC could ask:
- Do you want to share your Library with other user on your Home Network (If YES, then MC could setup a UNC Share and use this as the default path)
- Do you want to share your library with other users over the Internet (If YES, then MC could setup the Access Key)

This sort of philosophy is great. Where it can fall over for me is not providing a means of going back to square one easily. There are times when this style of install doesn't work for me because I haven't read the instructions beforehand. It's only after a bit of use that I'll properly understand those set up questions.

So a means of reviewing/revisiting that initial set up would be ideal.
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glynor

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Too complex
« Reply #4 on: October 25, 2014, 05:32:36 pm »

I'm somewhat skeptical about wizards.  That's amusing because I'm working with Yaobing right now to build a new one for Television setup.  But...

They can be good, if they're:

1. Short
2. Ask questions that you know the answer to.

Things like what Nathan said are great examples of good questions for a setup wizard.  But... You have to be careful. I don't like, for example, Jim's suggestion for the Beginner/Expert options slider.  How do I know how to answer that?  It feels like often those things encourage the exact people who shouldn't slide it to expert to slide it to Expert.

Because you think you're an expert, doesn't mean you are.  I think choosing reasonable defaults is a better course of action, in most cases, rather than asking the users.

I also think that MC needs new default Media Views.  The ones we have were crafted, by and large, years ago, and don't really address many of the modern things MC can do.

That, and better/friendlier documentation that is more easily accessible, would make a bigger difference, I think.
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gvanbrunt

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Re: Too complex?
« Reply #5 on: October 26, 2014, 11:15:01 am »

So far everyone's remarks are bang on. One of the other issues of MC is that new users don't understand basic important concepts. Can't count the number of times that some user or other thinks the file structure has something to do with the views in MC. After all that is the way many other programs work.

So we need some very short, very basic tutorial information intermixed in the wizard. It should cover only critical information that is often found to be stumbling block for users. It should be intermixed with the questions so that users have the basic info they need to answer the questions correctly or at least in a manner that gets them a good starting place.

One other thing I would like to see:

MC is just to darn big to cover everything in the first go. I think we should have a wizard for setting up each feature of MC. The first time run wizard should set up the basic library features. All the other features such as TV, Network, HTPC etc should be OFF for new users. There should be a very prominent "button" somewhere to turn on other features. When you turn one on it should run the wizard for that feature. Also the first time run wizard should let users know about how to turn on other features using the "button".

That will help prevent "interface overload" and prevent a long drawn out first run process.
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daveman

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Re: Too complex?
« Reply #6 on: October 26, 2014, 11:24:44 am »

I agree with the comments and i have made the same comments myself in the past.

I have been using MC since version 15 and love the pgm.

However, I still do not understand most of the advanced features.  The Wiki is dated on several topics still referring to previous versions and searching for answers on the forum is great but sometime tome consuming.

There should be a detailed help file as part of MC (that can be easily accessed online or downloaded as part of MC) which should be updated regularly as new features are added.

there should be a brief description about every option within settings when mouse remains on an item.

I am afraid to make more than the minimum changes to options... everything works well now and I worry that if i make changes, things will never work again.

It should be easier to add radio stations and other streaming services. 

While everyone is excited that JRiver Media Center now has a WDM driver that can play audio from any source or program, it takes research to understand what this means and I am still unsure as to how this works (I will need to invest time to figure it out).

MC is an amazing piece of software... it is time to focus on ease of use and usability to make it mainstream.

juts my 2 cents,

Dave
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CountryBumkin

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Re: Too complex?
« Reply #7 on: October 26, 2014, 12:23:23 pm »

If you go to a wizard style setup, as questions are asked, there could/should be a link or popup box the User can click on to get more info to help answer the setup question.

or maybe a link (to the Wiki) or a little info popup box next to every setting available in MC explaining what it does.
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JimH

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Re: Too complex?
« Reply #8 on: October 26, 2014, 12:25:49 pm »

We don't intend to switch to wizards. 

The settings work pretty well, in general.

The subject of ease of use came up and we're looking at a couple of things we can do. 
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locust

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Re: Too complex?
« Reply #9 on: October 26, 2014, 12:53:25 pm »

This might be a little off topic but how about when setting up views, there is a basic expression builder button akin to how excel works

Like in the first image a list of all expressions available with a dropdown box to filter them by type. And the second to build the expression, modified a little because we work with arbitrary data as well as fields, so it would need to accommodate both preferably allowing you select a field from a drop down as well as just type the field (Perhaps autocomplete) or any other data.

Going a little further when you F2 a files' column to change something a little expression builder button to the right there too. Probably overkill but when a expression is entered like that rather than it converting to data straight away, it would also retain the expression for around a minute so you could drag copy it down like excel can anyway.

Might be blowing the horn a little as I don't know if any of those features can be or are patented to microsoft but thought I might as well chip in.

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6233638

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Re: Too complex?
« Reply #10 on: October 26, 2014, 01:29:39 pm »

The subject of ease of use came up and we're looking at a couple of things we can do.
I think I had a long post on this subject in the beta forum a while ago. May even have been for v18
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gvanbrunt

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Re: Too complex?
« Reply #11 on: October 26, 2014, 01:34:51 pm »

We don't intend to switch to wizards. 

The settings work pretty well, in general.

The subject of ease of use came up and we're looking at a couple of things we can do. 

I don't think anyone is suggesting to stop using the settings dialog. In any program that I have seen that uses wizards they also have the same settings available via some options panel somewhere or other. Wizards are to reduce complexity during first time setup, or a re config where users don't care to see all the options and complexity. The wizard would set options in the settings dialog "in the background".

My 2 cents is the settings dialog is good for advanced users, and wizards are suited for the new users, or even new users of a feature in MC.
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Castius

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Re: Too complex?
« Reply #12 on: October 26, 2014, 05:24:18 pm »

What about a core set of features needed to setup and use JRiver.
Then have a set of ui's that work in theater view. For those features.

This would help new users get to use the software.  And users that want to use JRiver as HTPC.
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oie

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Re: Too complex?
« Reply #13 on: October 26, 2014, 06:21:24 pm »

In my opinión the program is too complex and the information available not enought. The wiki should be the main source of information but it does not cover everything and It is not up to date.



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ferday

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Re: Too complex?
« Reply #14 on: October 29, 2014, 10:32:55 am »

This might be a little off topic but how about when setting up views, there is a basic expression builder button akin to how excel works

Like in the first image a list of all expressions available with a dropdown box to filter them by type. And the second to build the expression, modified a little because we work with arbitrary data as well as fields, so it would need to accommodate both preferably allowing you select a field from a drop down as well as just type the field (Perhaps autocomplete) or any other data.

Going a little further when you F2 a files' column to change something a little expression builder button to the right there too. Probably overkill but when a expression is entered like that rather than it converting to data straight away, it would also retain the expression for around a minute so you could drag copy it down like excel can anyway.

Might be blowing the horn a little as I don't know if any of those features can be or are patented to microsoft but thought I might as well chip in.

 

my alternative to this suggesting was to simply create a new child forum for expressions only, so a user could easily browse through the expressions that have been created and/or setups that people have created.  this way the info is easy to browse / search and can be added to easily by other forum users

i hate wizards myself, it's sad that the computing world has become so reliant on them....but the caveat is that the information needs to be easier to access than it is right now IMO

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Starchild1

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Re: Too complex?
« Reply #15 on: October 29, 2014, 10:47:51 am »

my alternative to this suggesting was to simply create a new child forum for expressions only, so a user could easily browse through the expressions that have been created and/or setups that people have created.  this way the info is easy to browse / search and can be added to easily by other forum users

i hate wizards myself, it's sad that the computing world has become so reliant on them....but the caveat is that the information needs to be easier to access than it is right now IMO


Agreed
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rudyrednose

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Re: Too complex?
« Reply #16 on: October 29, 2014, 12:41:23 pm »

Wizards are a great way of doing a lot of damage in little time  :P
I really prefer well thought out default values.
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6233638

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Re: Too complex?
« Reply #17 on: October 29, 2014, 06:38:07 pm »

Wizards are a great way of doing a lot of damage in little time  :P
I really prefer well thought out default values.
There are things that need to be configured in Media Center which can't be set as a default though.
Configuring a sound device is one of them.
 
I'm imagining a wizard which lets you select from a list of sound devices (ASIO or WASAPI only, presenting the user with a "my device is not listed" option to display everything) and select your channel configuration which would configure JRSS mixing.
Media Center would then silently probe the device to see what sample rates are supported and select appropriate defaults. (e.g. 384kHz would be set to 192/96/48 if it is unsupported, but one of those rates are)
You could then run a channel test with volume protection enabled and a volume slider so that the user can check that it's configured correctly.
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gvanbrunt

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Re: Too complex?
« Reply #18 on: October 29, 2014, 08:26:42 pm »

Also, almost every person here who "doesn't like wizards" seem to be of the type of user that doesn't need them. Not everyone has the time or ability to learn everything in detail and then setup correctly.

Wizards are an industry standard from smart phones to computers to car radios to receivers and are used by everyone from Apple to Microsoft to Denon. There is a reason they use them: there is no other alternative presently to configure complex systems quickly to a default baseline. Until someone comes up with something better, that is what we have. Arguably the current king of UI's (Apple) uses them and haven't come up with something better. And Apple has the dollars and manpower to R&D something. I know they would love to patent it... :)

I'd love to be proven wrong, but from my experience and from people I know that work in the industry most software companies keep the gear heads away from UI design. They have one group of people that does UI and another that does tech stuff. I'm pretty sure these two types of minds work on different levels. I work in the engineering industry and if you saw some of the UI on $10,000 a seat software that does borehole logs or groundwater design you'd laugh. Software does the job, but takes a lot of research to use properly. More than should be needed. MC is much better than that of course, but it does illustrate the point that a lot of tech people are perfectly happy with fiddling a thousand knobs to get things just right, but most people don't.

I personally don't need them or want them, but I know a lot of users that do. If you truly want to reach the masses you have to use what they feel comfortable with. I don't see the argument against them anyway since they are a "have your cake and eat too". Tech users are not missing out on anything by haven them as an optional method of configuration.
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6233638

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Re: Too complex?
« Reply #19 on: October 29, 2014, 09:40:28 pm »

Well said gvanbrunt, and I think this carries over to the Media Center dev team as well.
There are a lot of smart people over there, but they're all coders/engineer types who have years of familiarity with the program and understand exactly how everything in Media Center works.
 
I mean this in the nicest possible way, but if we are at version 20 now, and people are still finding the program overly complicated to use, I wonder if some outside perspective might help.
 
It's not that you can't configure Media Center in such a way that it's easy to use, or that people are able to learn it with a bit of trial and error if they put the time in, but that it even requires this.
That alone puts it on a separate level from many other players out there which don't require any knowledge or configuration to use.
And it's understandable, because if your program can do more then it is going to end up being more complicated.
Once you have MC set up and have some views configured for JRemote/Gizmo, it's easy enough that I can hand someone the remote and they can figure it out. But it's getting things to that stage which people have difficulty with.
 
I'd love to work with the MC team on this, but I've written up numerous detailed posts on the subject before, and the general response has been "we think it's fine the way it is."
And I think if you're going to focus on it now, you need to focus on doing it right. Not just making a couple of the easier changes here and there.
 
I had hoped that it would be MC20, but I'd love to see a release which is not focused on adding new features, but rather focusing on ironing out all the little bugs and inconsistencies in the program. Revamping the UI and making the program easier to use - while trying to avoid making it difficult for existing users to upgrade.
Taken individually these things are not a problem, but it can give a bad first impression for new users if they keep running into them.
Certainly though, the easy/safe option is to just keep things largely as they are and make small improvements over time.
 
I was surprised when having to use MC18 again recently though, just how much better things are now because those small changes do add up.
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glynor

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Re: Too complex?
« Reply #20 on: October 29, 2014, 10:50:40 pm »

Also, almost every person here who "doesn't like wizards" seem to be of the type of user that doesn't need them.

For me, I didn't say I didn't like Wizards. I said I'm somewhat skeptical about them.  I often don't like them, but they can be well executed.  Unfortunately, most of them are not done well.

The important thing is to find a balance between helping the user accomplish an important and complex task, and not getting in the way.  Every second you spend with something "in the way" of using the application, is another second the user has to just give up, close it, and move on.

Where I find they often fall down, and I think there's a real danger here, is when they try to avoid the developer's responsibility to make hard choices.  Can't decide on appropriate defaults?  Ask.  Can't make a process simpler?  Give them a wizard.  There is a pull to that, and there be dragons.  The biggest problem with these...  Is that they try to get too much done, and the user doesn't yet understand what value they provide (at the very beginning).  So, they either close it and move on, or many, many users (the exact ones you're trying to reach) will just "next, next, next" through the dialogs, mostly without even reading them.

I think they are best executed when they provide the bare minimum needed to get comfortable or set up, with a small bit of explanation.  The Dropbox introductory wizard has always been well done, for example.  Or, when they are targeted at specific functions, and not "general" pre-run wizards.
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spiggytopes

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Re: Too complex?
« Reply #21 on: October 29, 2014, 11:01:50 pm »

Well said gvanbrunt, and I think this carries over to the Media Center dev team as well.
There are a lot of smart people over there, but they're all coders/engineer types who have years of familiarity with the program and understand exactly how everything in Media Center works.
 
I mean this in the nicest possible way, but if we are at version 20 now, and people are still finding the program overly complicated to use, I wonder if some outside perspective might help.
 
It's not that you can't configure Media Center in such a way that it's easy to use, or that people are able to learn it with a bit of trial and error if they put the time in, but that it even requires this.
That alone puts it on a separate level from many other players out there which don't require any knowledge or configuration to use.
And it's understandable, because if your program can do more then it is going to end up being more complicated.
Once you have MC set up and have some views configured for JRemote/Gizmo, it's easy enough that I can hand someone the remote and they can figure it out. But it's getting things to that stage which people have difficulty with.
 
I'd love to work with the MC team on this, but I've written up numerous detailed posts on the subject before, and the general response has been "we think it's fine the way it is."
And I think if you're going to focus on it now, you need to focus on doing it right. Not just making a couple of the easier changes here and there.
 
I had hoped that it would be MC20, but I'd love to see a release which is not focused on adding new features, but rather focusing on ironing out all the little bugs and inconsistencies in the program. Revamping the UI and making the program easier to use - while trying to avoid making it difficult for existing users to upgrade.
Taken individually these things are not a problem, but it can give a bad first impression for new users if they keep running into them.
Certainly though, the easy/safe option is to just keep things largely as they are and make small improvements over time.
 
I was surprised when having to use MC18 again recently though, just how much better things are now because those small changes do add up.

Well said!

Agree totally.
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Castius

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Re: Too complex?
« Reply #22 on: October 30, 2014, 01:14:50 am »

I think that's why i used the google TV setup as an example. It has nothing to do with what Google TV can do.
It's about what is needed to get the hardware working with the software. Using simple remote style UI also keeps it simple.
Because you want to spend the least amount of time there. And get to the good stuff.
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oie

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Re: Too complex?
« Reply #23 on: October 30, 2014, 06:17:22 am »

Sometimes I have been asked what system I use, how is the setup, etc, and when I explain it to them they are really impress and they would love to have it but I have to tell them that the system is not for them because although is a fantastic software with almost endless possibilities, it is a system for people who they love "playing" with computers as much as listening to music.
In a way is like an android mobile; extremely powerful and customisable but In the end most people prefere and apple; technically good enough and fully working out of the box.
I think there are too many customisable features and not enough information. Some features don't work well and one or two new versions of the program are needed for this to be addresed.  All this is time consuming and time is expensive nowadays.
Why don't focus on mastering the main features of the program before introducing  new ones?. Some times less is more...
If you are happy with how things are and you don't see any reason to change things them that's fine. Most of us will carry on buying the product but I think you are missing an opportunity.

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MrHaugen

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Re: Too complex?
« Reply #24 on: October 30, 2014, 06:49:10 am »

Well said gvanbrunt, and I think this carries over to the Media Center dev team as well.
There are a lot of smart people over there, but they're all coders/engineer types who have years of familiarity with the program and understand exactly how everything in Media Center works.
 
I mean this in the nicest possible way, but if we are at version 20 now, and people are still finding the program overly complicated to use, I wonder if some outside perspective might help.
 
It's not that you can't configure Media Center in such a way that it's easy to use, or that people are able to learn it with a bit of trial and error if they put the time in, but that it even requires this.
That alone puts it on a separate level from many other players out there which don't require any knowledge or configuration to use.
And it's understandable, because if your program can do more then it is going to end up being more complicated.
Once you have MC set up and have some views configured for JRemote/Gizmo, it's easy enough that I can hand someone the remote and they can figure it out. But it's getting things to that stage which people have difficulty with.
 
I'd love to work with the MC team on this, but I've written up numerous detailed posts on the subject before, and the general response has been "we think it's fine the way it is."
And I think if you're going to focus on it now, you need to focus on doing it right. Not just making a couple of the easier changes here and there.
 
I had hoped that it would be MC20, but I'd love to see a release which is not focused on adding new features, but rather focusing on ironing out all the little bugs and inconsistencies in the program. Revamping the UI and making the program easier to use - while trying to avoid making it difficult for existing users to upgrade.
Taken individually these things are not a problem, but it can give a bad first impression for new users if they keep running into them.
Certainly though, the easy/safe option is to just keep things largely as they are and make small improvements over time.
 
I was surprised when having to use MC18 again recently though, just how much better things are now because those small changes do add up.

I totally agree on this as well
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rec head

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Re: Too complex?
« Reply #25 on: October 30, 2014, 07:24:59 am »

I like the idea of wizards to get things rolling. I think a key difference between clicking next, next, next in many wizards and in MC is the target audience. People search out MC as opposed to just wanting make a call on their phone. The people that are installing MC are usually doing it for fidelity and will probably take the time to read through the steps. If there isn't going to be any decent up to date documentation then something should to be done to make MC easier to setup.

I think that MC's interface is similar to some of the answers I get on this forum from the developers. I'll ask a question and get a simple yes or no answer. Technically they have answered the question. In reality I still have no idea what to do.

I've been using it for a couple years and have things setup and working nicely but I still don't understand half of what you guys discuss here.
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gvanbrunt

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Re: Too complex?
« Reply #26 on: October 30, 2014, 10:53:12 am »

For me, I didn't say I didn't like Wizards. I said I'm somewhat skeptical about them.  I often don't like them, but they can be well executed.  Unfortunately, most of them are not done well.

Agree 1000%. They are needed when you can't use defaults only and the system is complex. But they have to be, short, to the point, and informative.

The issue I see with MC is that it has too many features to configure in one go. Which is why I suggested a separate wizard to configure each large features such as networking, htpc etc. That way the user can get MC up and running as quick as possible and have a usable set of features "out of the box". If they then want to pursue other features than can run the wizard to get it to a usable point if they wish rather than doing it manually. Or if they happen to totally bork the setup by "flipping too many switches" the wizard can get them back to a usable point. I know I have seen that situation in the boards far too often. For users such as yourself who spend a lot of your free time helping others here, it should help in some of those cases where you need to figure out how they shot themselves in the foot. :) You can get them to square one, then help them configure it the way they want.
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flac.rules

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Re: Too complex?
« Reply #27 on: October 30, 2014, 12:11:40 pm »

I don´t think MC is too complex, in fact, there is more features i would like too have. Making the programs easier for the beginner is nice, but what separates MC from the competition is the features, and the reason I (and I suspect a good part of the user-base) uses the program.
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MrHaugen

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Re: Too complex?
« Reply #28 on: October 30, 2014, 12:40:36 pm »

I don´t think MC is too complex, in fact, there is more features i would like too have. Making the programs easier for the beginner is nice, but what separates MC from the competition is the features, and the reason I (and I suspect a good part of the user-base) uses the program.

That's right. It's user base are mostly limited to power users. Generally how many users are power users do you think? I think it's a pretty low percentage compared to the casual/normal users.

I don't mind the complexity my self. But if I was developing something, I would at least consider ways of making it more appealing for the larger crowd. That means more cash in the pocket, and potentially more people to make the product even greater. I think there is no way to avoid stuff like wizards, if we hope to simplify things for new and old users. If it's done right, it can be very powerful.
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gvanbrunt

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Re: Too complex?
« Reply #29 on: October 30, 2014, 05:08:41 pm »

In the last couple of years JRiver has had a large expansion of it's user base. That has meant more developers and a significant expansion in features. I think a good portion of them are power users. Now imagine if the product was more noob friendly and had an injection of those users. Given the fact that there are way more potential non power users - what would that do to the cash flow and therefor the development power of JRiver...

I could care less about wizards and a more cushy user interface myself. I would like a larger user base so we get even broader development.
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flac.rules

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Re: Too complex?
« Reply #30 on: October 31, 2014, 06:50:21 am »

More users can be fine, and I am not going to pretend to be an expert in this marked, however not everyone can be the big "jack of all trades" -products, a lot of company make good money even if their customerbase or potensial customer base is a smaller subset of "everyone"
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MrHaugen

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Re: Too complex?
« Reply #31 on: October 31, 2014, 08:47:51 am »

That is true, Elvis. There are a bunch of services and products that have a smaller customer base and still thrives. As I guess JRiver does today.

The difference between JRiver Media Center and those other services and products are that they are mainly created to fill a specific need. While MC have been created to cater almost every need in media consumption and organizing. Other products and services would have to create new additions, and more services to broaden their user base. Possibly change the whole foundation of the product or service, or changing their entire vision and goal set. JRiver on the other hand, would probably only have to do things a bit more user friendly and intuitive to get started right. If the users, with minimal effort and experience, would end up with a modern and professional experience with a look people have come to expect from media solutions today, we would have a winner. There's just some, relatively small things, that's preventing that. And I personally think that's a shame.
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gvanbrunt

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Re: Too complex?
« Reply #32 on: October 31, 2014, 10:38:36 am »

More users can be fine, and I am not going to pretend to be an expert in this marked, however not everyone can be the big "jack of all trades" -products, a lot of company make good money even if their customerbase or potensial customer base is a smaller subset of "everyone"

I'm not sure I follow you. You said earlier that you don't think it's too complex and want more features. Now your are saying you don't want them? You seem to be implying that JRiver shouldn't be a "jack of all trades" which to me equates to less features.

Or are you saying this in regards to usability? Usability has nothing to do with changing what features are available, just how they are presented. I don't see the argument against usability unless you want to exclude users. I don't think that benefits end users or JRiver.
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glynor

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Re: Too complex?
« Reply #33 on: October 31, 2014, 11:07:41 am »

I think his point was that MC doesn't have to try to appeal to "everyone" and dumb things down so that complete novices can use it.

I agree.  That is clearly NOT a great market for JRiver.  In fact, they've tried before with the free Media Jukebox product and it didn't really work well.  There is a huge, bright dividing line for JRiver with this product:

It is a $50 media management and player application in a world with free iTunes, VLC player, and Spotify.

That rules out a big hunk of the "novice" market right there.  It ain't for those people.  It is a premium product.  Now, that does NOT mean you only need to appeal to nerds, but you also don't need to worry about grandma.  There's a middle ground.
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gvanbrunt

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Re: Too complex?
« Reply #34 on: October 31, 2014, 06:31:06 pm »

Ah, that make sense then. I agree MC isn't for the guy who thinks iTunes is the bomb. But for even those that have some skills the learning curve to get a basic setup is still steep. I know a few smart people I showed MC to and they thought it was awesome. Then they tried to setup themselves and "never got around to finish setting it up". I.E. they didn't buy it and opted for something they could get working in an hour and then learning the in's and outs over time. I think MC has to get to the point that you can confidently get it up and running quickly, then learn the details later. It does this to some point, but not enough that there are still lots of basic help requests on the forums.
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daveman

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Re: Too complex?
« Reply #35 on: October 31, 2014, 10:37:17 pm »

I agree with GVAnbrunt.

I have also showed it to people who find it too time consuming to set up.

I would like to comment in relation to glynor, there is no need to dumb down MC rather, there needs to be a way to "smarten up" us users who like high end software but do not have time to search wikis and posts to understand all the features.  A proper help file is needed.  detailed instructions are necessary.  At the very least, an update to the Wiki for current versions with proper steps to use features should be undertaken.  As I have in multiple posts, have some respect for users who want to get the most out of the software and do not have time to search around for information and then having to ask questions and wait to maybe get a response.  I for one probably use only 15% of the options as I do not know what many of them do and I am afraid to make any changes, given that everything works as is.

My 2 cents

dave
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spiggytopes

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Re: Too complex?
« Reply #36 on: November 01, 2014, 12:39:42 am »

I speak as someone who has had his fair share of computing experience. I am proud of my video collection and spend time pruning and trimming it .....

I find JRiver hard to learn and even harder to implement simple things that I feel should be in an options menu in Theatre View.

For example, "sort by not viewed". I really don't want to start brackets and expressions to do this ......  :)

Has anyone here looked at Media Browser recently? It is sublimely easy to use ......

BUT - the biggest test for me is that my family won't use it.

No matter how many easy playlists I create or folders for wife and child I am the only one using JRiver. The others in the family will load a crappy film in YouTube when it exists on JRiver ...

this really annoys me!

To end on a positive note, I won't be quitting JRiver because I appreciate and treasure the high quality picture and sound and will swallow the frustrations waiting for it to improve (to my way of thinking).
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rec head

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Re: Too complex?
« Reply #37 on: November 01, 2014, 08:33:21 am »

To add to what I was saying above there are plenty of features I have thought about trying and not done it because I just don't want to spend the time. I haven't bought MC for the Mac because I don't want to deal with setting it up even though my wife would use it if I did.

I do appreciate the features and agree with others that easy setup is important. Then let people start using the advanced features as they need them after everything is up and running.
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Grenache

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Re: Too complex?
« Reply #38 on: November 01, 2014, 09:07:48 am »

A lot of good points in this thread, especially this:

I had hoped that it would be MC20, but I'd love to see a release which is not focused on adding new features, but rather focusing on ironing out all the little bugs and inconsistencies in the program. Revamping the UI and making the program easier to use

While I agree, many of us love the complexity of MC and the fact that we can do nearly whatever we want, the way that we want to do it. But the reality for many of us is, that we're not the only ones using our media center, and to me this post is spot on:

the biggest test for me is that my family won't use it.
No matter how many easy playlists I create or folders for wife and child I am the only one using JRiver.

This poster also mentioned Media Browser. Personally, I'm under increasing pressure from my better half to switch to Plex because of the simplicity, the nice UI, the easy remote access, and the apps for Windows 8.1 tablets and Windows Phone. I have to agree with her and understand why Plex is so popular, but I just have too many years invested in MC, so I've decided to resist this pressure, at least for now. However, it would be much easier if we could "just" combine the features, flexibility and quality of MC with the usability and eye candy of Plex. Oh well, you can always dream…
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Vocalpoint

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Re: Too complex?
« Reply #39 on: November 01, 2014, 09:21:35 am »

BUT - the biggest test for me is that my family won't use it. No matter how many easy playlists I create or folders for wife and child I am the only one using JRiver. The others in the family will load a crappy film in YouTube when it exists on JRiver ...

+100. I too represent the modern family where I am the tech czar who spends way too much time basking in the detailed minutia that is MC...while I have made a significant effort (and investment) to make it our defacto standard in the home for media consumption. But regardless of how good it is or what it offers - no one in my family will go near it. I always have to "get the movie going Dad..etc etc).

With that - it's incredibly frustrating to come to this board daily, read threads from JRiver themselves asking us to make suggestions on how to make MC "better" and then watch all the suggestions get shot down as usual "We won't be used wizards etc etc".

Apologies guys - but just because you make the program - does not automatically make you user interface designers. I just wish you would take a moment to realize just how bizarre the MC UI (and setup and all the other stuff in here) is really interpreted by the masses (and no - not guys like us in this thread :)

There is no question that MC needs to be more accessible and easier to use - WITHOUT dumbing it down to the lowest common denominator. I like the term "smarter" being used in here.

VP

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JimH

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Re: Too complex?
« Reply #40 on: November 01, 2014, 09:36:32 am »

I don't think we've ever said we won't use wizards. 
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Vocalpoint

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Re: Too complex?
« Reply #41 on: November 01, 2014, 09:45:41 am »

I don't think we've ever said we won't use wizards. 

Really? You just said it a few posts back in this thread...

We don't intend to switch to wizards.

Sounds pretty definitive to me that wizards won't be part of any future simplification plans.

VP
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Castius

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Re: Too complex?
« Reply #42 on: November 01, 2014, 10:51:05 am »

I am lucky to like the android ecosystem. This allows me to have gizmo on our phones and TV.
I have got my better half to rip CDs and make playlists.

I don't have a lot of confidence in replacing our Google TV with theater view.
So any improvements that get me closer to that day makes me happy.

Thanks

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glynor

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Re: Too complex?
« Reply #43 on: November 01, 2014, 11:11:46 am »

Sounds pretty definitive to me that wizards won't be part of any future simplification plans.

Switch to is not the same as use.
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gvanbrunt

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Re: Too complex?
« Reply #44 on: November 01, 2014, 12:20:28 pm »


BUT - the biggest test for me is that my family won't use it.


The is a very important point. I agree with you here Theater View needs to be 100% noob friendly. Consumers of content need love Theater View. They may not be the maintainer of the library etc, but as a consumer they want something easy to use, shows the information they want, and is easy to change the look to something they find appealing. I think there is some work to be done there and in standard view. I believe Glynor has already mentioned that the default views are in dire need of an upgrade. They should also show off some the features that JRiver has worked so hard to add. Many amazing things remain hidden until you learn to unlock them. Some should just be there by default.

Lets not go off on a tangent about Theater View though please. There are plenty of threads out there on that. I think the important thing to take away from this is that JRiver has 2 groups of consumers, not one. The first is the Library maintainer who is usually a gear head and likes to have his library "just so". The others are all the consumers in the household including Grandma and the guy that thinks iTunes is da bomb need to use the product from a consumption point of view. That has to easy to use and appealing.
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fitbrit

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Re: Too complex?
« Reply #45 on: November 01, 2014, 12:45:39 pm »

In the past people have asked for "eye candy" in Theater View and more useful default views. The response has always been that MC is customisable so that you can create your own views, and who are we to dictate what views you should all have. The truth is that setting up views is a lot of work, or at least is perceived to be a lot of work. (I often don't test new features early on because I think it might take a lot of time to understand how it works. It almost never does, though, and I chide myself for not having jumped on board sooner.)
The truth is that not all views are created equal. There are some that almost everyone will want, and these should be the default views. Probably no need to ask which these are - you can look at the free media centre software for clues, at least for video. The next step would be to get new users to modify some of these new defaults to customise them. Then finally get them comfortable with designing their own from scratch. That would be a less steep learning curve I think.

I think there will be progress in this area for MC, because Jim et al are listening without getting defensive. We love the software, and we want what we think is best for it, and the development team do too. They are the ones that have experience in making the decisions that keep JRiver alive, however.

I also feel that the GUI/views overhaul is worthy of a big chunk of development time of a full version number, because it could attract and keep more users. If the families of existing users can get used to, and like the software, they'll tell their friends about it too.

I will leave the eye candy discussion to a relevant thread.
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glynor

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Re: Too complex?
« Reply #46 on: November 01, 2014, 03:29:47 pm »

I think the important thing to take away from this is that JRiver has 2 groups of consumers, not one. The first is the Library maintainer who is usually a gear head and likes to have his library "just so". The others are all the consumers in the household including Grandma and the guy that thinks iTunes is da bomb need to use the product from a consumption point of view. That has to easy to use and appealing.

That is a great point.
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spiggytopes

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Re: Too complex?
« Reply #47 on: November 01, 2014, 10:48:04 pm »

Indeed!

Where did I leave my teeth ....  :)
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astromo

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Re: Too complex?
« Reply #48 on: November 02, 2014, 01:00:58 am »

I've come back to this thread from a hiatus. If you didn't know, I'm a firm and confirmed Wiki lover.

So, this comment resonates with me:
In my opinión the program is too complex and the information available not enought. The wiki should be the main source of information but it does not cover everything and It is not up to date.

However, it has received little cross comment. One of the golden rules that I've learnt from my Engineering career is, "When all else fails, read the instructions". That's why I find wizards to be somewhat hit and miss because they assume a certain level of knowledge. The best ones, explain what different settings mean and the implications of selecting option 1, 2 or 3. But when you think about it, that sort of advice should be readily referenced via a resource like the Wiki.

Any forward development of improving MC's usability should include bringing the relevant parts of the Wiki up to date with it .. in parallel. There's some stuff (e.g. TV Time Shifting and Recording) whose supporting threads date back over 12 years. The commentary in the supporting thread refers to video formats that MC no longer uses for recording (keep it for history but put in the background as "for historical interest" or similar). I point this out to underline the validity of the comment from Oie.

While I'm at it muchos kudos to the likes of glynor and jmone (and any others I've overlooked) for chipping away at improving the Wiki. I know it's not the be all and end all but in my mind it's a fundamental part of making MC more useable in a holistic and integrated way.
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Re: Too complex?
« Reply #49 on: November 02, 2014, 01:11:39 am »

However, it has received little cross comment. One of the golden rules that I've learnt from my Engineering career is, "When all else fails, read the instructions". That's why I find wizards to be somewhat hit and miss because they assume a certain level of knowledge. The best ones, explain what different settings mean and the implications of selecting option 1, 2 or 3. But when you think about it, that sort of advice should be readily referenced via a resource like the Wiki.
I disagree. Media Center is not an appliance which comes with a paper manual.
It's a piece of software, and software should be able to explain itself clearly without having to reference external materials.
Ideally the UI would not need explanation.

The Wiki is great for the more esoteric aspects of the program, but a wiki is not a manual, and people looking for help with the program are not expecting to be directed to a wiki page.

Any forward development of improving MC's usability should include bringing the relevant parts of the Wiki up to date with it .. in parallel.
I agree completely, though it's difficult to keep a wiki up to date, and unless you are employing someone whose job it is to keep the wiki up to date, then it's taking time away from further MC development.
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