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Why is yEd's UI so rigid?

0 votes

Hi:

I have been combating against yEd's UI. Here's the situation: Having tested (and worked with) some of the well known mind-mapping programs and the like for some years; and having consulted forums dealing around graph/diagramming applications; and having read many, many reviews over such tools during the course of years; I have come to the conclusion that your product is a superior alternative compared to almost all of them with rare exceptions and possible head to head. Having said that, the question is: why is yEd's UI so rigid? For example: No way to personalize the shortcuts, nor ways to configure the main toolbar, nor the (main) menu, nor the color palette. None of these can be altered in any ways, no need to mention some other aspects of the UI. For the sake of fast access and smooth navigation, I sometimes want to be able to change the location of some of the items on the menu and I am forced to not be allowed to do it :( …yEd is already powerful in the sense of allowing users to work with great flexibility on the canvas. Why don't you go a step forward (if technically feasible) and introduce a functionality that provides for the users to personalize the above mentioned areas? I personally think that the introduction of this extra flexibility will sure enhance the capability of your product and by double multiply user experience. Imagine how welcome this would be among the large community of users yEd has.

Any consideration?

asked Apr 8, 2016 in Feature Requests by Leoram (290 points)
edited Apr 8, 2016 by Leoram

1 Answer

0 votes
I don't know if this helps but...

I totally agree that Mind Mapping is too rigid because it tends to force everything into atual hierachies. For this reason sometimes "free format" moving of text around and connecting freely as required without any enforced mind-mapping rigidity works as a much more poweful way of mapping the human mind.

Have you seen Scapple?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zvP6c7AFx_c&feature=youtu.be

I think that yEd has a lot to learn from Scapple.  It is jaw-droppingly simple but performs much of what you may be looking for. Unfortunately development appears to have ceased since 2013... at their very first release (v1.0.0.0), so they won't have my money (about $15).  But apparently it has a substantial following from word-smiths & authors just the same - quite and achievement!
answered Apr 23, 2016 by ship69 (800 points)
Thanks for your recommendation but I'm sorry to tell you that you may be missing something here:

First, my post refers to activities performed in yEd exclusively on the menus, toolbars, etc.; your post seems to address actions on the canvas. yEd is amazingly powerful and flexible on the canvas.

Second, it is not a good practice to use a product's forum to attack what is offered free of charge, even for commercial use, to reconmend another product and even providing a link for it as promotion.

I think every user here should basically do one of two things: either asking for help, or contributing to the forum.
1. I do absolutely do not feel that I am in any way "attacking" yEd, and I'm extremely sorry if you have formed that impression.

2. No, Scapple is not a direct competitor to yEd - I think about 0.1% of yEd users would be safisfied with what Scapple does. Scapple users might well want more, in which case they are more likely to start using yEd than the other way around. Either way a number of users may end up using both because the are designed for very different purposes.

3. Although most yEd users will not be remotely happy with Scapple, Scapple  does have some very simple things that it does very well. The sort of things I am thinking of would (almost certainly) be relatively trivial to implement, but would massively help with the usability of yEd.

4. If I understand you correctly, I think what you are talking about is a sort of "protectionism". In a Darwinian evolution sense, you are in effect saying to all users, let's keep this genepool isolated and pretend the outside world does not exist. Well any good biologist will tell you that although protectionism works well in the *short* term, in the long run it is only by exposure to and contact with the outside world that greater strength and greater immunity to disease is built up. The dodo is just one example amongst countless others.

4. In other forums that I have visited, they freely mention and compare them selves with other product and LEARN FROM THEM. Sometimes the learning is  "no, we don't want to evolve that direction, and here's why..."
Other times it's more like "although our system of for a different overall purpose yes that little future would work well with us"
Or occasionally it's "now I see what you mean. Yes that feature/those features could work great on our system and we could really take them on head to head, and probably steal their lunch because we are much much stronger at other stuff where they are weak."

In the end, for a product that is clearly so strong as yEd, it is much more healthy to have the strengths and weakness of competitors being discussed openly.  That way, it allows the right type of new users to NOT waste their time assessing semi-competing products that are not right for them.
i.e. It helps the right users will end up at the right products.
On the other hand,  if a product is losing customers and the developers don't know why or to whom then that's potentially a disaster for the developers.

5. You raise a good point about what things cost. As far as I can tell, yEd is free and if there is/was something that is arguably better out there but that cost a bucket load of money then that point should be hammered home, yes absolutely.

Fiw, as far as cost goes, personally I am very much in the middle. I hugely appreciate free stuff and I think a lot of software is way WAY too expensive. On the other hand, if after using something - particularly something as good a yEd - after a while, my inner sense of fair play starts to feel bad and I would almost prefer to pay a small albeit voluntary contribution - and that's partly out of pure fair play and partly to encourage the developers.

6. My understanding is that yEd is partly there as a test-bed and a shop window to show off what the developers can do. Surely if yEd users are able to freely discuss the pros and cons of any direct rivals (and like I say Scapple is not such a thing for yEd) then the yEd users would be able to make better informed discussion and the tools and skills that have gone into building yEd could be diffused out into the other tools that the yEd developers (yworks) offer.

7. Dis-satisfied users of Scapple - particularly if they want more sophisticated layouts and shapes - may well only discover yEd through search engines (i.e. google/bing etc) if we DO mention Scapple!

Now I have written too many words, but these are important issues.

PS. If any of yworks developers would like me to remove the name of Scapple I would be disappointed (for all the above reasons) but will be happy to do so it they feel that would help them.
Interesting.

Your last post is an example of contribution. Keep up doing well.

Now, I hope the yEd team will find some time out to reply the original question.
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