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Author Topic: The official Bitcoin client looks awful  (Read 3790 times)
bitplane
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July 01, 2011, 05:41:55 PM
 #1

I understand that this may go down like a lead balloon, but please read it anyway because I think it's important.

I'm a programmer rather than a designer, but I can tell a good looking app from one that was made by programmers alone. The official Bitcoin client is one of the latter. For the system to take off we need a good looking client.

How do we make a good looking client?

Well, first of all we need to decide what's wrong with the official client. The main thing I can see with it is that it's full of technical jargon that means nothing to a first time user before they've read the manual, and we all know that users never read the manual. It lacks tooltips to explain the jargon, visual cues and metaphors to show what the things mean. It also just looks ugly, there are no graphics other than the send and address book icons (which are actually reasonably nice and easy to understand IMO)

What does "134,184 blocks" mean to a user? A time-based approach would be more informative. Tell them how out-of-date they are, not some arbitrary number that they don't understand!

What does "2 connections" mean to a user? Showing this as a red to green bar, with a tooltip giving suggestions of how to get better connectivity would be much more user-friendly.

IMO the list of transactions shouldn't even be visible on the first page, it's distracting and noisy. What does "50 confirmations" mean to a user anyway? Offer them some advice here, set a threshold for "confirmed" and have the UI show a confirmed balance and an unconfirmed balance. Advise them how much effort someone would need to put in to steal their BTC based on the number of confirmations.

There are probably other things too, but I personally think the client needs some love from a real UI designer, followed by proper user-testing by people's grandparents.
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wumpus
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July 01, 2011, 05:49:41 PM
 #2

https://forum.bitcoin.org/index.php?topic=15276.0

Tooltips etc are already implemented, there are bars for the number of connections, and on initial block download it shows a progress bar.

Number of confirmations is not visible anymore (it shows a clock or tick icon). Filtering is easier using an excel-like filter row, so there are no longer the weird tabs.

Pull requests are welcome.

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bitplane
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July 01, 2011, 06:02:49 PM
 #3

Hey that's much nicer, great improvement!
wumpus
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July 01, 2011, 06:09:38 PM
 #4

What does "134,184 blocks" mean to a user? A time-based approach would be more informative. Tell them how out-of-date they are, not some arbitrary number that they don't understand!
This is a pretty good idea BTW. One way to do this would be to show an "OK" icon when the last downloaded block is within a certain time period (1hr or so), otherwise an "in progress" one...

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July 01, 2011, 06:12:37 PM
 #5

Hey that's much nicer, great improvement!

Yea I've been keeping an eye on Bitcoin mark II  Grin

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ascent
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July 01, 2011, 06:37:04 PM
 #6

Actually, without offending the developers out there, I still don't think it looks very good.

I think when you fire it up, you should get a (perhaps dark) screen, no itemized listing of transactions, but simply large animated iconic visuals indicating status. The "Send coins" function should be much bigger, and front and center. If you click a tab, you then get an itemized listing of your transactions. There is relatively simple functionality in this application. Make it slick. Make it look like the best iPhone apps out there.

Your balance should not show anywhere on the initial screen. Transactions and balances are only visible when you press the tab. Suppose you wish to open it up with someone behind you to affect a payment to someone (maybe the person standing behind your shoulder)?

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wumpus
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July 01, 2011, 06:39:05 PM
 #7

Well, go build it. I'm building a desktop application not a iPhone app. There is no money in this and I'm only doing this for my own fun.

Edit: something like you describe could be done with "Qt quick" though, you can use the model classes of my GUI just replace the views

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July 01, 2011, 06:45:33 PM
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Well, go build it. I'm building a desktop application not a iPhone app. There is no money in this and I'm only doing this for my own fun.
Do as you will. But my advice was free. Maybe, just maybe, one or two of the words in my statement are worth considering. I meant nothing personal - your version is better looking than the current version, and there is nothing wrong with your programming skills or motivation.

But consider how visual and immediately identifiable a large "Send Money" or "Send Coins" icon against a black background would look in the center of the opening screen. Some animated graphs/bars could be below that. And there would be no need for anyone else in the room to see your balance or transactions unless you choose to click on the appropriate tab/button to view such things.

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ascent
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July 01, 2011, 06:46:28 PM
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Edit: something like you describe could be done with "Qt quick" though, you can use the model classes of my GUI just replace the views
I'm currently using Qt to develop an application for a client right now.

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wumpus
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July 01, 2011, 06:49:59 PM
 #10

Well as I said, go ahead. Pull requests are welcome.

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July 01, 2011, 07:31:38 PM
 #11

What does "134,184 blocks" mean to a user? A time-based approach would be more informative. Tell them how out-of-date they are...
That is a brilliant suggestion. It would avoid a lot of new-user problems.
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July 02, 2011, 09:29:31 AM
 #12

What does "134,184 blocks" mean to a user? A time-based approach would be more informative. Tell them how out-of-date they are...
That is a brilliant suggestion. It would avoid a lot of new-user problems.
What about something like this, instead of "Number of blocks",

"Most recent block: 3 days ago"
"Most recent block: 5 hours ago"
"Up to date" if latest block is less than an hour ago

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July 02, 2011, 11:48:41 AM
 #13

Edit: something like you describe could be done with "Qt quick" though

<0.02 BTC>
<rant type="not personal" target="many" trigger="Qt">

It can be easily (and quickly) done with *any* modern GUI toolkit, it just needs developers who feel "at home" with the used toolkit or at least do not have irrational prejudices against it. A Qt developer will of course not like wx and find Qt easier but you will hear quite the opposite if you ask people who are well versed with wx, they will tell you that they don't like Qt. Both of them will have valid points but none of them has the absolute truth.

It looks like currently the Qt developers seem to be in superior numbers in the bitcoin community which I personally find a real pity becuse it will (a) not allow the current toolkit to be *correctly* used to its full potential (which in turn will then additionally be used as an unjust argument against it) or even outright irrational refusal to use it correctly and (b) a lot of manpower will go into porting an existing appliction from one toolkit to the other (both of which would be equally suited and capable) for *no other* reason than satisfying the personal likes and dislikes of the current majority of devs, time that could better be used to make improvements to the current GUI and the bitcoin implementation itself.

</rant>
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July 02, 2011, 12:18:17 PM
 #14

Yes but my point is that Qt quick is meant for easily scripting iphone-like animated bling bling interfaces as ascent was talking about. Even a graphic designer without much coding skills could make it.

I'm not a graphic designer though. I don't plan on hiring one either, so he/she would have to voluntarily work on this.

I am the only dev actively working with the users here to improve the GUI, and I prefer working with Qt (non-quick) so it makes sense to use that. "Porting over the application" has already been done weeks ago.

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WakiMiko
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July 02, 2011, 12:56:03 PM
 #15

Actually, without offending the developers out there, I still don't think it looks very good.

I think when you fire it up, you should get a (perhaps dark) screen, no itemized listing of transactions, but simply large animated iconic visuals indicating status. The "Send coins" function should be much bigger, and front and center. If you click a tab, you then get an itemized listing of your transactions. There is relatively simple functionality in this application. Make it slick. Make it look like the best iPhone apps out there.

Your balance should not show anywhere on the initial screen. Transactions and balances are only visible when you press the tab. Suppose you wish to open it up with someone behind you to affect a payment to someone (maybe the person standing behind your shoulder)?

This is a desktop application and not an iPhone app, so functionality should come way before fancy visuals and useless eyecandy. Also, I dislike desktop applications that try to sport their own oh-so-cool look and do not adhere to the OS's look-and-feel, they always make a rather toy-ish impression on me.
Extreme example:



Qt is cross-platform and provides a native look-and-feel for different OSs, desktop environments and even mobile phones, so I think it is a good idea to use it.

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July 02, 2011, 02:02:28 PM
 #16

Qt is cross-platform and provides a native look-and-feel for different OSs, desktop environments and even mobile phones, so I think it is a good idea to use it.

wxWidgets is cross platform too and unlike Qt its even using the native widgets available on the various platforms themselves. If you really want to argue in favor of nativeness of the look & feel then wx would clearly be the better choice and not an owner-drawn themed emulation like Qt.

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wumpus
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July 02, 2011, 02:17:27 PM
 #17

It seems you have outdated information. Qt has a native handler for GTK, MacOSX and Windows at least.

Anyway, the widget toolkit is not really the topic of discussion here.

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ascent
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July 02, 2011, 02:24:28 PM
 #18

Extreme example:


Showing something ugly is not an argument against developing something elegant and beautiful.

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wumpus
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July 02, 2011, 02:30:45 PM
 #19

Extreme example:


Showing something ugly is not an argument against developing something elegant and beautiful.
There is no argument, just make what you want. If you want a iPhone-like GUI, make a iPhone-like GUI. If you want a better wxWindows-based GUI, make a better wxWindows-based GUI. I really don't understand some of the people here.

You can either work with me or do your own thing. Open source = freedom.

Bitcoin Core developer [PGP] Warning: For most, coin loss is a larger risk than coin theft. A disk can die any time. Regularly back up your wallet through FileBackup Wallet to an external storage or the (encrypted!) cloud. Use a separate offline wallet for storing larger amounts.
prof7bit
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July 02, 2011, 02:34:30 PM
 #20

It seems you have outdated information. Qt has a native handler for GTK, MacOSX and Windows at least.

No, nothing has changed. Qt is still emulatig the L&F as it has always done and is rendering every single pixel of every control itself rather than using the platform native controls. Just look into the source code to see it for yourself.

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