Very powerful mapping tool
The UI is a bit frightening at the beginning but once you got going this plugin turns out to be very powerful. I’m missing only two features:
- bulk import
- import of geotags from images (EXIF data)
Thanks for this great tool that lets everyone running a WordPress Blog easily display geographical information.
thanks for your review!
If you have any suggestions how to improve the UI, please let me know – I hope you are already using v2.9.1 or v2.9.2 were I added several improvements to backend UI.
ad bulk import: this feature is planned for the pro version (available in q1/2013) – but with no specific date for this feature yet.
ad exif data: great idea – perhaps it is best to hook into galery plugins like nextgen – will check this and possibly add this feature to my pro roadmap too.
I’m using version 2.9.2 of the plugin on version 3.4.2 of WordPress. To make things clear: the UI’s fine as it is – the problem is that there are very many options, many of which inexperienced users (like me) won’t grasp right away. I just went through the options again and modified a few of them because after using the plugin for some time, I get a feeling for what the options do and what I really need.
Like with all powerful tools it probably provides far more options than your average Joe User will ever need. Take Microsoft Office for example: the majority of the users will use only a fraction of the possibilities that the tool offers.
A possible solution might be to distinguish between “basic” and “advanced” features. With ease of use in mind I’d think that most of the users of the plugin will want to create a map, put a handful of markers on them and pretty much don’t care about the rest. So maybe it would be a good idea to offer a “basic” or “reduced” UI with only the most important controls and an”advanced” or “expert” mode with all the controls visible – it’d be perfect if you could toggle this with a click on a button and set your preference in the settings.
My favourite solution would be that could could toggle each field seperately in the settings for “user defined UI” and on the layer- and marker-editor have an option to toggle between “user defined” and “display all controls” – a third (non-customizable) basic view might also be an option.
The basic view for a layer could – for my taste – use only the fields “name”, “layer center”, and the preview image. All other options could be hidden behinde a “expand to see more options” link. For a marker editor, I’d chuck everything behind the “more options” link except “marker name”, “add to layer” (quick side-question: can a marker be added to more than one layer? Might be useful…?), “coordinates”, preview image and “popup-text”.
There are several strategies to achieve that, you could, for example, display the current setting (in many cases the default value) as a static text and display a “change” button or link. This has the advantage that you visibly reduce the number of controls by a great deal while still providing access to everything. A perfect application for this approach would be the Icons list: it totally overwhelms me each time I edit a marker – and I end up using the default pin all the time. So show the default marker (let the user change it if he fancies that) and add a “more pins…” link and pop up the whole list only on clicking that link – that’d be 177 radiobuttons less on the main page.
Another approach could be that you hide the “advanced” options altogether behind a “show more…” link. Pro: maybe easier to implement: con: you can only choose between all or nothing. The most user friendly way would be to allow the user to choose exactly which fields he wants to see in his editors. UI design is somewhere halfway between science and art. There are basic guidelines which have proven useful (like the “ease of use” paradigm), but it also has much to do with personal taste and preference. It’s no easy task and I don’t envy you doing it, however I *very* much appreciate your work.
As for the bulk import: I’m glad to hear it’s in the queue because I think that might be a feature useful to some people. As far as the geotag data from images is concerned: I think I read somewhere, that some wordpress upload methods might strip EXIF data from uploaded pictures – don’t know if that’s really true but might be something to check early. Otherwise I think the idea of using galleries is probably the best one: let the user put all images he wants to put on a map in one gallery, then simply check all of the images for geotag (and maybe time (for KML animation)) information. If more images are added to the gallery later, you can always re-check. You could even go as far as determining the map’s initial dimensions from the imported data – if the user wants to change it later he can always do that. But that’s only my wish list – let me repeat from the beginning: I’m very happy with the plugin as it is right now. Thank you very much for the good work!
thanks for your comprehensive feedback – I will definitely take this into account. For v3.0 I will add support for simple & advanced mode although I am not sure yet how I should implement this best – but your input helps with this.
I have seen application software (CRM software) that had three levels: novice, intermediate and advanced.
Click on the novice setting and it would hide all the advanced capabilities, leaving only the most important and required settings visible.
Click on the intermediate setting and it would make available the advanced capabilities but they were greyed out. So it emphasized the most important settings but let the user see and use the more advanced settings.
Click on the advanced setting and all capabilities were made available.
They supplemented all of this with well-written clickable help/comment explanations for every feature.
greying out instead of hiding is a good idea – will check if this can e implemented
Just one quick word of caution on greying out: greying out is also often used when fields are disabled – this could possibly be misleading. Users should not have the impression that a field is disabled (that’s why I prefer hiding/showing).
thanks – I guess showing/hiding is easier to implement too 😉
I just released v3.0 which includes the option to switch between a simplified editor (=default) and an advanced editor – thanks again for your great feedback – implementing this really made my plugin more usable I guess.
thanks for the heads-up – I just upgraded, everything went smooth, did a quick check and…
I’m impressed. That’s almost exactly what I was looking for, thank you so much! Especially I love the “Show all Icons” link in the Marker Editor: that’s really useful if you just want to select a different Icon but leave the rest of the settings alone. In fact I like this link so much that’d want it for the other sections, too, because that would come *very* close to fitting my taste of a perfect editor: you can expand (and collapse, I’ missing that link for the icons-section, too ;-)) each section individually and make only those changes you need – if there was a checkbox for each (advanced) settings block “make these settings default” There would be no more room for improvements…
just kidding 😉 Of course there’s always room for change, only if the change is an improvement is left to discussion. So take my input as my personal wish list, if you think my suggestions are worth considering I’d be very happy – but if you think they’re way over the top, that’s just fine with me as well 🙂
Thnaks again for the good – and quick(!!!) – work, it’s very much appreciated!
thanks for your feedback – I am happy that you like the new changes 🙂
I agree that there is always room for improvement.
Ad icons/collapse: I am not quite sure if that would be an additional value – if you want to use another icon, you click once on the expand link, select your icon and then save the map. I dont see a real need to collapse the icon section again before saving – well just one thought came into my mind: with expanded icon section you dont see the preview map as well on smaller screens if you type in your popuptext and want to see a live preview of the text….Collapsing would make sense in this case I guess. Will check that for v3.1
ad expanding/collapsing other areas: I am not quite sure which additional areas could be taken for that – this is more due to technical limitations so that especially all new users see the options they need. Also saving this collapsed state for other sections might be technically difficult…
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