some initial feedback

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tdottavio
Posts: 5
Joined: Sun Mar 02, 2008 11:42 pm

some initial feedback

Post by tdottavio » Sun Mar 02, 2008 11:53 pm

Hi Jim. I was able to spend a few hours with the program tonight. It's a definite improvement over the web version. And being able to save all of my data will allow me to pick up where I left off next time. Nice.
Here are some comments that came to mind as I was using the program. They're a mix bag. A few picky items, but I guess you're looking for that before you do an official release.

1) Minor UI issue - On the Mac version, the Summary View shows the
Spending Policy menu and the Config button slightly cropped at
the bottom. I think a little margin would fix this issue.

2) Additional Inputs Window - This is more a suggestion for improvement
than a real problem with the standalone version. I tend to use the
Additional Inputs window to specify my withdrawal amounts using the
Other Expenses option. This is because I want to model one withdrawal
for early retirement years and another for later years. But when I
want to change these withdrawal amounts, I have to delete the entries
that are there and recreate new ones. It would be nice if I could click
on an existing entry and either change the Amount values in place or
have it reload the entry area to the left and allow me to update the
values. I think the later option would require another button
labelled Update in addition to the Add button. The same comments
would apply to the top part of the Additional Inputs window.

3) Another UI issue. I setup 3 scenarios and clicked the Run All button.
It ran all three scenarios and put three new entries in the Summary
View and History View lists. I then wondered how I could view the
results for each of the scenarios and noticed that if I selected the
scenario from the Scenario menu, the results for that scenario would
update the graph and update the data in the Detailed window - good.
To complete this way of toggling through the results, I suggest that
you should also highlight the scenario for which you are displaying
results in the Summary View and History View lists. In fact, I would
like to see more overall consistency between these three tabs. When
I click on a Run in the Summary or History View tab, all the data
and graphs on all three tabs should update with those results so that
I can toggle between any of the tabs and see a consistent set of data.

4) This is probably a bug. I setup a Custom investment return over two
entries on the Additional Inputs window. But they don't show up on
the Investment Return column on either the Summary or History tabs.

5) A few other UI suggestions:
* Put a Scenario column on the Summary View tab like on the History tab.
* Show the Run number and Scenario on the Detailed View tab.

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admin
Site Admin
Posts: 79
Joined: Thu Feb 28, 2008 5:27 pm

Re: some initial feedback

Post by admin » Mon Mar 03, 2008 12:51 am

Ted,

Thanks for all this great feedback. Please see comments below. This ought to keep me out of trouble for a while...

Jim
tdottavio wrote:1) Minor UI issue - On the Mac version, the Summary View shows the Spending Policy menu and the Config button slightly cropped at the bottom. I think a little margin would fix this issue.
Actually, I'm wondering if the size of the default font on a mac is different. That panel is a fixed size and I've noticed that sometimes everything fits on windows but doesn't on fedora. I can either adjust the font down or increase the size of the panel depending on what's causing it.
2) Additional Inputs Window - This is more a suggestion for improvement
than a real problem with the standalone version. I tend to use the
Additional Inputs window to specify my withdrawal amounts using the
Other Expenses option. This is because I want to model one withdrawal
for early retirement years and another for later years. But when I
want to change these withdrawal amounts, I have to delete the entries
that are there and recreate new ones. It would be nice if I could click
on an existing entry and either change the Amount values in place or
have it reload the entry area to the left and allow me to update the
values. I think the later option would require another button
labelled Update in addition to the Add button. The same comments
would apply to the top part of the Additional Inputs window.
This sounds like a good idea, I've had the same issue myself. I was thinking of a disable checkbox on each table row, but maybe editing the value in place makes more sense.
3) Another UI issue. I setup 3 scenarios and clicked the Run All button.
It ran all three scenarios and put three new entries in the Summary
View and History View lists. I then wondered how I could view the
results for each of the scenarios and noticed that if I selected the
scenario from the Scenario menu, the results for that scenario would
update the graph and update the data in the Detailed window - good.
To complete this way of toggling through the results, I suggest that
you should also highlight the scenario for which you are displaying
results in the Summary View and History View lists. In fact, I would
like to see more overall consistency between these three tabs. When
I click on a Run in the Summary or History View tab, all the data
and graphs on all three tabs should update with those results so that
I can toggle between any of the tabs and see a consistent set of data.
This is good feedback. It looks like I have work to do to make this more intuitive.

The graph in the summary view tab and the graph and table in the detail view tab both show the results for the selected scenario. The history view is different. It's tied to the selection in the history table on the bottom of the tab. This is handy when you're making changes to a scenario or have old runs in the list from a different data file. You'll notice that you can click-drag the mouse along the rows of that table and see the graph update with data from each historical run as you click on successive rows.

Originally I had the scenario combo box disabled (and grayed out) while the history view tab was selected, to show that the selected scenario wasn't relevant. I can't remember why I changed it back.

The idea of the history tab is to show what used to be, rather than what is. So if you changed a scenario a while back, you can look at the history tab and see results (and inputs) from how it used to be configured. You can also right-click on any row in that table to get a popup detail view of the historical run.
4) This is probably a bug. I setup a Custom investment return over two entries on the Additional Inputs window. But they don't show up on the Investment Return column on either the Summary or History tabs.
Good find. That's been there forever. It looks like I just grab the value from the input form.
5) A few other UI suggestions:
* Put a Scenario column on the Summary View tab like on the History tab.
That will be easy since I had to write extra code to hide it. Both tables are produced with the same code. Originally I thought it was too cluttered on the summary view, but since you mentioned it, maybe I should jam it back in there.
* Show the Run number and Scenario on the Detailed View tab.
you mean at the top of the tab where it says "results for run: <scenario name>"?
That should be easy to do.

tdottavio
Posts: 5
Joined: Sun Mar 02, 2008 11:42 pm

Re: some initial feedback

Post by tdottavio » Mon Mar 03, 2008 8:11 pm

The graph in the summary view tab and the graph and table in the detail view tab both show the results for the selected scenario. The history view is different. It's tied to the selection in the history table on the bottom of the tab. This is handy when you're making changes to a scenario or have old runs in the list from a different data file. You'll notice that you can click-drag the mouse along the rows of that table and see the graph update with data from each historical run as you click on successive rows.
Jim, I've been thinking about this a little. Seems to me the interface would be simpler and just as informative if you combined the Summary and History tabs into one. They are already very similar. If you setup the Summary tab to update the graph whenever a row in the table is selected, they would be almost identical. As it is now, the table in the Summary tab does nothing when you select a row. So why is it even there if all the same information is in the History tab? You could still handle selections from the Scenario menu by updating the graphs and selecting the appropriate row in the table for consistency. If you just had the two tabs they would be much easier to keep consistent and they would serve very different purposes. Just some thoughts...

jimr
Posts: 514
Joined: Thu Feb 28, 2008 6:48 pm

Re: some initial feedback

Post by jimr » Mon Mar 03, 2008 8:38 pm

Since the old version didn't have a "History tab", it's clear we can live without it.

My reason for adding it was two-fold.

1) Since the summary panel has the input data on it, the historical info is pretty squished on the panel and I didn't think it had enough space to breath. You'll notice that I removed the graph control checkboxes from the summary panel in order to free up some space.

2) I wanted to tie the scenario ComboBox at the top of the window into the main (summary) view such that when you changed scenarios, you immediately saw the input and (if available) the graph/output for the newly selected scenario.

I think it might seem strange that on the same panel the graph can be driven based on a selection from the table at the bottom, or from a change to the combo box.

Maybe the idea of saving the last run data for each scenario is causing problems. When I first hooked it up, I liked that I could change the selected scenario and immediately see the inputs and outputs for the new scenario on the summary view. Maybe that's a confusing approach. Perhaps a change to the selected scenario should give you blank outputs until you run again. If you want to see results from a previous run, use the historical results view.

Anyhow, I'm still open to ideas on this one. It's pretty easy to move panels around and remove tabs, etc., so I'm game to try some things.

Jim

jimr
Posts: 514
Joined: Thu Feb 28, 2008 6:48 pm

Re: some initial feedback

Post by jimr » Mon Mar 03, 2008 8:48 pm

Ted,

One more question on the spending policy config button layout issue.

Does it get more room to breath if you make the window taller, or does it always stay chopped off like that?

Thanks,

Jim

tdottavio
Posts: 5
Joined: Sun Mar 02, 2008 11:42 pm

Re: some initial feedback

Post by tdottavio » Wed Mar 05, 2008 10:05 pm

Jim, if I grow the window vertically, the size of the table changes, but the cropping of the Spending Policy and Config button remains. It's only a few pixels, but it's noticeable.

tdottavio
Posts: 5
Joined: Sun Mar 02, 2008 11:42 pm

Re: some initial feedback

Post by tdottavio » Wed Mar 05, 2008 10:11 pm

Jim, on the topic of the History Tab, I would still vote to combine the Summary and History tabs. But I don't feel strongly about it. If you decide to keep both of them, there is one confusion on the Summary tab that should be eliminated. The table is setup to show a selected row. And the row selected has nothing to do with what data is displayed above the table or what scenario is selected. Either the selected row should follow the data displayed, or the table should be changed to not show a selected row.

On a different topic, I've noticed one annoyance that is probably easily fixed. Every time I open the program, it comes up blank and I load in the last data file that I was using. Why not have the program remember the last data file it was using and load it in when the program starts up. If the user wants to
start fresh, they can always choose File -> New.

jimr
Posts: 514
Joined: Thu Feb 28, 2008 6:48 pm

Re: some initial feedback

Post by jimr » Thu Mar 06, 2008 3:18 pm

Remembering the last data file is a good idea. I'll see how hard that would be to implement.

As a workaround, I'm not sure how file associations work on the mac, but on windows I set up the installer to create an association between the .frp extension and the app. Clicking on an frp file in windows launches the app with the selected file opened. If the mac allows this, you could put a shortcut on the desktop to launch the app with a selected file.

I like your idea too and I'll see if I can figure that out.

tdottavio
Posts: 5
Joined: Sun Mar 02, 2008 11:42 pm

Re: some initial feedback

Post by tdottavio » Thu Mar 06, 2008 7:51 pm

File associations work very much the same way on Macs as they do on Windows machines.
But, in order to do this on a Mac, you'll have to package up the jar file into a real application
that the Mac recognizes. Right now, if I try to make the association, the Mac OS does
not recognize the jar file as an application.

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