Redesign of the NetBeans Out of the Box Experience.

Authors: Maya Venkatraman , Bruce G. Lee
Revision: 1
Document History: N/a

Abstract: This document outlines the plans to improve the Out of the Box Experience for users of the NetBeans IDE.

Contents:


Introduction:

The current Out of the Box experience of the NetBeans IDE has these drawbacks:
  • Too many screens are interposed between the user action to startup the IDE and the first presentation of the IDE. See current flow
  • Once the IDE does appear, there is little to guide the user to start using it and discover its features and functions.

The new design will improve the start up experience by -
  1. Reducing the number of dialogs that appear before the IDE starts up - to zero.
  2. Providing a new welcome panel which
    • Provides the user with key pieces of information that will help them get started using the IDE
    • Provides links to actions that help users get started using the IDE
    • Provides links to resources that will help with the initial experience

References:

System-Wide UI Impact:

  • The user will not have to specify the userdir. (already done)
  • Settings import will be specified during installation (already in installer proposal).
  • Setup wizard will not be shown to the user as a part of the startup. This implies:
  • One of MDI or SDI is selected as a default (Recommended - MDI)
  • Proxy information is requested during installation
  • Browser information is requested when it is first needed. If we can provide a default, we should do so, but in cases where we have to ask the user, this should be done when the information is needed (first invocation of browser) and not at startup
  • Autoupdate dialog will not be shown at first time startup
  • Messages about various components functioning will not be shown during startup
  • Docs will have to rework some existing documents to better meet the needs of new users
  • Docs will have to create a What's new docuemnt
  • Any dialogs (errors / warnings) shown to the user at start up must front automatically on all platforms.
  • Detailed Specification:

    Part One: Reducing the number of dialog boxes and wizards

    The User Directory Window: - The user should not be asked to specify this information.
    Related IssueZilla issue - Set user dir in Java (and avoid displaying the userdir dialog altogether),
    Related NetBeans thread
    (already done)

    Import Settings Wizard: With the new installer (see proposal) we do not need this wizard.

    Warning Dialog: At this point there is insufficient context for users to really make much sense of Dialog boxes such as this one. This dialog should be moved from here and presented when the user first tries to use the debugger.

    Setup Wizard: This wizard should be removed from the start up sequence. This will also involve the following steps:
  • Selecting default values for MDI / SDI (Suggested default -MDI)
  • Requesting proxy information during install. Browser information is requested when it is first needed. If we can provide a default, we should do so, but in cases where we have to ask the user, this should be done when the information is needed (first invocation of browser) and not at startup
  • AutoUpdate Dialog should not be presented during first time startup

    Any dialogs (errors / warnings) shown to the user at start up should front automatically (and not hide behind the IDE) on all platforms.

    Part Two - The Welcome Screen

    Design Criterion

    1. Appearance: The welcome panel should look distinctive - it should look different from both the IDE and the NetBeans website. It should integrate into the IDE (while maintaining a distinctive look). The different appearance will help capture users attention
    2. Contents: The most salient part of the welcome panel should be some instructions that help users get started. Links to documents that help in the startup experience should be provided from this panel. Links to some IDE customization can also be provided.
    3. Emphasis: The help text should be most prominent, the links to documents should be the next most prominent and the customization options should be the least prominent.
    4. Actions: The panel should contain links to the main actions that help users get started. These should integrate with the text.
    5. Text: The text should help users over the main "barriers to entry" into the IDE.
      • Usability tests have revealed (time and again) that the concepts of mounting, File > New and Projects are the main issues that users need to learn about before they can start to use the IDE effectively. I talked to seven people involved with the IDE, about what they felt was most important to show the user in the welcome screen. The topics selected for presentation on the Welcome panel were culled from the list genetrated from these conversations and data from user tests. In addition to the three concepts mentioned above - the text also highlights the role of the explorer and the right click menu.
    6. Mode: The welcome panel should not be another dialog, but it should be a file opened in the editor

    Design


    Figure 1: The Welcome Panel See embedded in the IDE


    Guidelines for Customization of the Welcome Panel

    Other versions of the IDE will customize this welcome panel using the guidelines listed below. Releases, versions and editions are all referred to as versions in this section. It is also possible that other tools built on the NetBeans platform makes use of this welcome panel design and set of guidelines.
    • Insert appropriate branding element into the branding area
    • Insert text into the Getting Started area. This text should be designed by
      1. Determining the key tasks that users are likely to want to accomplish using the IDE version.
      2. Determining the new and/or unfamiliar concepts that can get in the way of users getting started doing these tasks.
      3. Composing text that will quickly familiarize the users with these concepts and help them get started
      4. Including text about the main highlights of IDE version - if needed
    • In the Help section, include links to documents that help users get started using that particular IDE version. Tips may be presented in this area (optional)
    • The customization section is optional. If there is a need to highlight some ways of IDE customization, this area should be included.
    • Include links to pertinent documents on the web(tutorials, product tours). These links should be placed in the Help section. A start up design that brings up one of these web based resources automatically at startup should also be considered. (If a browser cannot be found, the user can be shown a dialog box explaining why the browser information is needed and allowing them to either specify the information or defer this till later).

    Project Features

    About this Project

    ui was started in November 2009, is owned by Jiří Kovalský, and has 45 members.
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