This time around, I decided to back off a bit in the detail, and focus further on interactions in the prototype. For both tasks, there is a sort of navigation between screens, but the navigation is less link-based, and more state-based.
For the Alarm task, I tried a tabbed interface for the three components of the alarm: time, location, and message. The alarm list is still somewhat separate, and the tabs are shown by touching the new alarm button. The new alarm button has been integrated with an empty row in the alarms list to convey the idea that the new alarm will appear in place of the button. For future prototypes, I’d like to see some better way of conveying how the time settings are draggable, and how the map is interactive.
In previous iterations, the Homing task felt as if it was a set of screens to be navigated between. In the Doctor’s (science fiction) reality, the homing screen is really just one screen that can show a few things selectively. To that end, I removed the choosing screen from the previous PowerPoint prototypes, and integrated the three buttons into the map. Simply touch a button, and the map updates.
Version 1 to Version 2
For the homing screens, the main change between version 1 and version 2 was the ability to zoom in and out on the map. I only implemented two zoom levels, but the zoom buttons do function.
For the alarm screens, I managed to create enough states in version 2 such that the tabs all work. The new alarm button shows the tabs, and using the save button in the message tab “adds” the alarm to the list by showing two additional rows, and hiding the old blank row. Version 2 feels much more like a working application.
Reflection on Using ProtoShare
ProtoShare was much more powerful than PowerPoint for showing different application states. Each button in the prototype can be made to cycle between two or more states. Individual elements can be shown or hidden based on one or more states. The ability to react to more than one state offers very fine-grained control over what does and doesn’t show. I really liked the state sidebar because it let you set all of the different states in the prototype and quickly find out under what circumstances an element is or isn’t showing.
The main thing I missed from PowerPoint is the ability to draw on the screen. PowerPoint’s drawing tools leave a lot to be desired, but at least they exist. Fortunately, ProtoShare does allow you to upload images, which is how I got around the problem. Still, it would have been nice to have just one map, that always shows, and only change the lines based on the one state, rather than several states being required to interact with sixteen all-in-one images.
The other limitation is that, like in PowerPoint, interaction is strictly limited to clicking and hovering. There is still no way to interact by dragging objects around the screen.
Other Situations and Projects
ProtoShare seems strongest when used with applications that make heavy use of forms. I didn’t manage to figure out a way to “POST” something in a form to another part of the interface, but other than that, forms are quite functional and realistic. The only place lacking realism is the fact that widgets don’t necessarily look like native system widgets.
One thing I was hoping to see with ProtoShare was the ability to do real-time editing with multiple people at once, like most other Google Drive applications. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way, but there is still some benefit to being able to have several people working on the same prototype at different times. At least everybody is looking at the same document, rather than different versions floating around in various emails.