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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 10th February 2012
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Default What Skin do we need??

I wrote: BSP is still a great player, but the available skins are not attractive or user-friendly at all..

BSPeter must have had quite a laugh, when he wrote back:

You speak of "The Available Skins", but are you sure you've seen them all?
You can find a few skins here: www.bsplayer.com
But perhaps also look here, here, here, and here.


Grinn.. Peter is absolutely right of course.. There are loads of skins out there, and quite a few of them are truly amazing. Real beauties of designs. Thanks for the links. :-)
Tip: on www.bsplayer.com you can sort by rating, making it more easy..

Now, I did check some 150 skins already last year on BSplayer.com, and looked at some again now, and checked the 4 extra links Peter gave…

Many are quite dull, looking like imitations of real hardware DVD-players. It must have been great fun to design them, but that is not enough.. Others are really creative, a “lust for the eye”, but not always very functional. But some are amazing professional designs, I could not dream of to make such myself. I am not much of a graphical designer..

But they all lack something! Functionality and/or recognisability! They are not so user friendly as they seem, and lack an ease of use.
Some are too simple. Simplicity can be a beauty, but leaves the user in the dark, when he wants to find some useful tools like Zoom, Jump, Color, etc.
Others display all options, creating a forest of buttons, where only dedicated users will find their way, but common users will have to search all the time for the right button. It becomes harder when icons are not recognised. And the grouping of buttons is not always too logical or intuitively done.

What I want is not so much a fancy design, but a player that is very recognisable for common users, with easy access for special functions that are very useful. It is an advantage, if you can see in a split second where to look for what! That is what makes a player easy and functional.
Compare it with VLC or WMP.. They are good, but you always have to find something in a menu, searching every time how to do it. BSPlayer has the advantage of a split window here, so it can be done better.

Currently I am working on a skin (upcoming: Kiss version 3.0), that may not be such a fancy design, but is very practical and recognisable. It’s better organised. I separated sections in a clear way. Perhaps others with more graphical skills can improve the idea, but I would want to see 7 clearly separated sections:

1. Loaded File.
*FileName *Length *FileInfo *ButtonInfo *TrackBar

2. Open files.
Buttons for: *OpenFile *Playlist *PlaylistBack *PlaylistForward *Media Library.

3. Play.
Buttons for: *Play *Stop *Pause *Repeat *FastForward *FastBack *IncreaseSpeed *DecreaseSpeed *JumpForeward10sec *JumpBackward10sec.

4. Video.
Buttons for: *Zoom *Ratio (change only) *Color *FullScreen *VideoOnTop *DesktopMode.

5. Audio.
Buttons for: *Volume *Mute *Equaliser *CycleAudioStreams.

6. Subtitles.
Buttons for: *OnOff *Up *Down *MoveForward *MoveBack *CycleSubtitles.

7. Common.
Buttons for: *About *Settings, and perhaps *Skins and *TipsForUsers giving popup advices during mouse-over.

(8. DVD)
I left this category out, because there are issues, I could not solve..

Alternative: A simple skin with the most common options, and with 6 Category-buttons, that all open an Extended area with all options above.

I think something must be done to improve skins in this way. I noticed there are always quite a few viewers on this Skin-forum, but hardly anyone posts anything. And I haven’t seen many new skins lately. So people really are curious, but not much is happening.
So something is wrong. I think skinning needs a new direction. And Tizio’s Skinmaker needs an upgrade or development. His DVD-buttons often do nothing. And there may be hidden Action numbers, or BSP doesn’t support skinning.. (grinn.. I found “Radio” being action number 6503)

I hope to upload Kiss 3.0 in 1-3 weeks, just as an example of how it can be done better. And causing expectations I probable get a lot of Boo, when I do. :-) That’s life.. It sucks as much as it is fun.. :-)

Peter, thanks and good luck. It needs a boost here.. Hopefully I’ll contribute to that.

Last edited by SergeNL; 10th February 2012 at 04:02 PM.
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Old 11th February 2012
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I'd like to appologise a bit.. It may look like I say, that everyone that made skins in the past 10 years, did a bad job, an that I - the fantastic newbie that doesn't know shit - am the new Skin Prophet, that should be followed.. This is not what I ment..

As a sysadmin I have been supporting PC-users over 15 years now. People like simple software, that is simple in use, easy to recognise, and matching what they expect (intuitive design). After one minute of explanation, they must feel confident, they can find out the rest themselves.

I've seen bad software suddenly become very popular, and good software left behind. I think, the first impression of unexperienced users is very important. I think that many designers, being specialist on their own terrain, loose sight on what the naive beginner may feel. When beginners choose a program, their priority list may be this:

1. Ease of use, recognition, fast understanding of how it works, and fast good results.
2. Attractive design.
3. The program must work well. (Comes last. They will find oud after choosing for it.)

I think, most skins lack nr 1. Beginners must learn, they can Zoom, adjust Color, or correct Aspect ratio. Best way is to put a butten for that in plain sight. Then beginners think: "Uh?..". They try it out, and find out. Most of them don't even know the functions are there. Same for Audo or Subtitles.
I think that even one click too much to get things clear or done, might beginners decide, to choose a different player.

That is why I think:
1. Put clear categories like Video and Audio on the main control screen.
2. Also show the most useful options per category on the main control.
3. And for these options, show an Icon and English tekst (they add to the popup texts)

I think this is more important than a fancy design. That's all I wanted to say..
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Old 11th February 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SergeNL View Post
.....3. And for these options, show an Icon and English tekst....
I'm becoming more and more curious after your simple in use newly designed Kiss 3.0 skin, but why o why English text and not text in the user's native language?
IMHO too many buttons/icons shown in plain sight don't contribute to making a skin easier or faster understandable for everyday use, whereas it also doesn't render its design more attractive.

(1)
Note that real DVD-functionality is only available in Pro-version and you're probably using Free version?
Maybe read this post.
(2)
Also note that Tizio created his Skinmaker for version 1.xx BS.Player, which i.a. had no Media Library yet, nor the expandable side-tags at the right of base-skin.
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Old 11th February 2012
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Hi Peter! :-)
Thanks again! :-) Some comment..

1 Native Languages and buttons.

Currently there are multilangual mouse-over popups, and the action is multilangual described in the Movie Title area. (Great!)
And while designing, you can even choose the displayed multilangual text. You can refer to the descriptions under "action", or under "menu", or even under the other categories in the language files.
(I have the honour, talking to the creator of the Dutch Language files, right? )

But it is not enough. The user must recognise the buttons, before putting the mouse on one. So buttons must be recognisable. So I want good icons, but possibly also text in the buttons like "Menu", or "Color". You can't do that multilangual. Buttons are BMP-files, and text in it is part of the picture.
The best option for language is currently English. (that's what I ment. I do not want to skip native languages.)
So unless we Dutch decide to 'take over the world', starting with BSP, I suggest we choose English. ( I cant even take over my own household..)

2. How many buttons to show in the main control?

I guess it totally depends on the graphical design and the layout.
I'l show in Kiss 3.0, you can have quite a few buttons on little space, without being disturbed.

3. Kiss 3.0 :-) Don't expect too much. Graphically it is rather amateuristic, however quite cute.. :-) But the layout is clever and functional, I think. It may inspire a graphical designer to do better.

4. Tizio's skinmaker and expanded area's.

Skinmaker doesn't support it. An update would be great. But you can use Skinmaker for the main control, just to get started and get a feeling of it all. You can design a lot with Skinmaker, and after that do the rest manually.

I really loved your remark, that you didn't use Skinmaker, but just used Notepad, a simple Picture Editor, and probably a Lang-file for info. Once you understand the codes in Skin.ini, you can do that, yes! But I wouldn't like to start without Skinmaker... :-)

5. Expanded area's.

You can do great things with those!! Haven't seen much designs with it yet. Prophecy has a clickbutton and a mousover area, giving expansion. I was immediately jealous. :-) Luckily the organisation of the buttons wasn't too good. (grinn.. we all hate each other of course, especially when someone is good.. thats when the gossip comes in.. :-)
But expansion has great potential. You can built a complete Start-menu with it, anyway you like. Mjammie! :-)
Unfortunately there is no manual for that. Today I spent the whole day to discover some basics and limits of expansion. A lot of questions and issues.. I learned most from editing Prophecy's Skin.ini, and looking at the effects of changes.

6. DVD

I do have BSP Pro, and even promote buying BSP Pro in a popup in Kiss 3.0, with a list of Pro-features.
But I had isues with Dvd-buttons. Tizio added ML and 4 Dvd-actions in Skinmaker, but half of the buttons didn't work on the 2 Dvd's I had. And some functions worked via the BSP-menu, but not via the buttons.
Then I downloaded some ISO-files of movies, and played those in Daemon Tools. But still some things didn't work via the buttons.
So I decided to leave the whole Dvd-thing for now. Perhaps I add a Dvd-button with an Expansion-menu later. (once I find out how that works. :-)

But I felt uncomfortable, I didn't get the Dvd-stuff right. Handling Dvd's via the BSP Menu can be confusing, and certainly needs improvement. Everything about Dvd should be grouped somewhere. And I guess the skin would be the place. If BSP asks money for such a feature, the GUI must handle that well.

PS: I haven't got time for all this, do you? :-) But somehow you get hooked on this, once you start. It's great fun.. a puzzle, inviting to do more. Tot Ziens.

PS2: in this Forum the last post is above on top. I think that is very annoying. Every time I start to read, I have to find out again I have to read from under up. That method may be good for long treads and dedicated forum visitors, but not here. What do you think?
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Old 12th February 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SergeNL View Post
... in this Forum the last post is above on top. I think that is very annoying. Every time I start to read, I have to find out again I have to read from under up. That method may be good for long treads and dedicated forum visitors, but not here. What do you think?
What I think is that if you want it otherwise, you should simply set it to your own personal preference under "Thread Display Options - Thread Display Mode" which is accessible via "User CP" (most left option in the light blue bar at top of the forum) / "Settings and options - Edit Options".
(I personally use "Linear - Oldest first".)

P.S.:
(1) IMHO icons/buttons shouldn't need text (apart from ''hover over" help text)
(2) "color" (/) isn't English but American English.
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Old 12th February 2012
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Default Forum Display - default setting "Newest Post First" is a nightmare. (please change)

Quote:
Originally Posted by BSPeter View Post
set it to your own personal preference under "Thread Display Options - Thread Display Mode" which is accessible via "User CP" (most left option in the light blue bar at top of the forum) / "Settings and options - Edit Options". (I personally use "Linear - Oldest first".)
Forum Display - default "Newest Post First" is a nightmare. (please change it)

Newcombers will always read from top to bottom. And everyone will be confused, and keep on being confused, until they learn that at BSP-forums everything is upside down.
(It's not so obvious, because many posts don't have a reply)

And if they come back next week, and have forgotten all about it, they again think "What the hell am I reading?", when they click on a subject. They don't see the initial post, but the last reply. And that reply - especially without a Quote or reference to a previous replay - may appear to be the initial post. That is ve-ry confusing..

And that's not all. Once they have learned to read from the bottom, they again get confused, when the thread has multiple pages. What they read on the bottom of page 1 is again not the initial post, but a reply in the middle (that again may look like an initial post.)

At other forums, at least the initial post stays on top. So if you click on the topic, you can immediately read what it is about. But then the confusion starts. The first reply you see, usually is not a reaction to the initial post above, but to someone elses reply beneath that. But until you see that, you again think "What the F.. is he talking about?".

I think "Linear - Oldest First" is the best for everyone, and best suited for the default setting. I don't think that choice is very personal.
Who benefits from "Latest First"? Only dedicated users, who look around a lot here. But they are the ones, that know how to change personal settings, and have a reason to make that special effort.

I think many things should be improved here. This Forum is not doing well in the last years. There are visitors, but do they find what they need? I don't see many new skins either. And I got here, simply because I couldn't find a skin, that I found practical enough. I think the skin is the downside of BSP at the moment, while so much is possible..

A small thing to start with is to change the default forum display to "lineair - Oldest".
And if possible, to change it for all previous treads to..

(I hope I do not sound too critical or offensive.. I value everyone, that keeps this thing alive, and don't blame anyone or anything. I just want to contribute to improvement..)

So thanks again for the reply, Peter! :-) (inspiring me to this) Is there a way of notifying the ones that decide about this? For now I repeat your advice here:

Change Forum Display to "Linear - Oldest Post First":

1. Click "User CP" at the top of a forum page, in the blue bar, the most left option.
2. On the left, under "Settings and Options", click "Edit Options".
3. Scroll down to "Thread Display Options", and choose "Linear - Oldest First".
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Old 12th February 2012
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Regarding DVD issues.
First of all, you don't need DT to open ISOs. Just drop the ISO file onto BSPLayer's main window. It will play the file inside with no problems.

On the other hand, Title, Chapter and Menu functions are not strictlly related to DVDs, as today some other video containers support such features. So, taking them from the main menu and putting them somwhere else (such a DVD submenu) will confuse users.
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Old 12th February 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BSPeter View Post
IMHO..
IMHO?!.. If you're Humble enough, you don't need an opinion at all. You just listen to "His Masters Voice", and that's it.. :-)

Now, you have been around here since.. let's say World War One or something..
So you are the Master with the Voice , and I keep on moving my tail, having my ears right up , OK?

Quote:
Originally Posted by BSPeter View Post
IMHO icons/buttons shouldn't need text (apart from ''hover over" help text)
The point is: if a user wants - let's say - to adjust Color, he/she stares at the control panel.. The Button must be recognised. The faster the better. This is what "ease of use" means. And if there are a lot of buttons, it is a problem.

So Icons must be designed well. (In Kiss 3.0 I just improved some Kiss 1.0 buttons. I am not a graphical designer)
But it isn't easy to design recognisable buttons for let's say: Zoom, Aspect Ratio, Jump 10 seconds, and others.
So I think, adding English text to at least half of the buttons, is an improvement.
And some words are very international like Video and Audio.
Other words are very fast understood like Zoom, Color, Equaliser, Speed, or Channel. These words are around everywhere..

I think, adding these words can improve recognition a lot.

Again: I believe users can make choices for software on very subtle grounds, and I think recognition of Buttons or options is very important.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BSPeter View Post
"color" (/) isn't English but American English.
Sight... Yes!
And I did not exactly became more pro-American, since their Middle-East policies, that in fact are a massive huge crime..
Promoting Americanism isn't really a hobby anymore..

But the question "What exactly is English?", has caused many to pull their hair out..
For instance: Perhaps half a billion people from India speak "English".. You don't want to know what it exactly is, they are speaking.
Suprisingly, the Americans still call their language "English"..

Or here in the Netherlands (mention something, and we don't now shit about it ): 90% of all movies and TV-series are American.
I did have Oxford-English in school, and watch English crimi's, and watch the BBC (like "Have I got News for You", very hard to understand for foreigners), but the American English has become so common, I cant tell the difference anymore.

So already had pulled hairs out over the word "Color"..
I thought it was Colour, but I got doubts, and seached Google..
Point was, in my Kiss 3.0 design, it was one character too much..
So I silently began to use "Color", hoping no one would notice..
Then I bumped into BSPeter..

But I am going to win this from you. :-) Decisive may be the BSP code in Skin.ini..
BSP itself mentions "Color" and not "Colour" in the button settings, the Menu, and the Color-window. (a lucky escape for me.. )
But I do thank you for defending proper English..
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Old 15th February 2012
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Default DVD

Quote:
Originally Posted by adicoto View Post
Regarding DVD issues.
First of all, you don't need DT to open ISOs. Just drop the ISO file onto BSPLayer's main window. It will play the file inside with no problems.

On the other hand, Title, Chapter and Menu functions are not strictlly related to DVDs, as today some other video containers support such features. So, taking them from the main menu and putting them somwhere else (such a DVD submenu) will confuse users.
Good Lord!! Can you just drop an ISO on BSPlayer?! These BSP guys are terrible! (good :-)

Your remarks set me to work! :-)
If Dvd-funcions work properly from buttons on the Main Control Panel, they definitely should be in the skin!
There is no point in serving Freeware users only. A good skin should promote BSP, and should certainly serve the users that pay, and keep BSP alive. So I'll tickle freeware users a bit by adding a nice DVD image, that only will work in the payed BSP PRO.
I've seen enough skins without Dvd-support, so it must be done.

Currently I am doing a few things.
- Testing Dvd-buttons. Earlyer I had problems, so I'll download a few ISO's now.
- AddArea or Hotspot for extra Dvd-buttons? I couldn't add a second AddArea (can it be done?), and the first one was graphically not very suited for Dvd-functions. So it will be a Hotspot for DvD. Just found out how to do it technically.
- Redesigning the Skin for Dvd. (I'll be back in a few days..)
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Old 15th February 2012
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I am refering to the fact that Title, Chapter and Menu functions in the main menu are also working with other (at least MKV) files and shouldn't be moved from there.
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Old 16th February 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by adicoto View Post
I am refering to the fact that Title, Chapter and Menu functions in the main menu are also working with other (at least MKV) files and shouldn't be moved from there.
Thanks for your reply! J But your simple remark got me puzzled for quite some time, about which Buttons to add, and how to organise them in the Main Control or the extended area’s (by button, or hotspot)?

Weeks ago I left DVD out of the skin, because of some issues. On second thought, a strong DVD-section in an extended area seemed to be a good idea. But there is no button for DVD-Open. And then your remark about MKV came. I decided to give it a good look, but ended up with the fact, that there are only 4 possible actions for DVD by Buttons in the skin. (Title, Chapters, Subtitles, and Audio Streams.)

Then I found out, 3 of 4 of these actions for DVD even did not work at all in Base Skin. (only “Title” sometimes works) They do work from the BSP Menu, but not by Button. I asked a question about that in the “Bugs and Codecs” Forum, but got no reply so far. So I have to assume, these buttons just don’t work. Even from the BSP Menu, these functions did not always work. Also I had problems finding a working Mpeg-2 splitter.

All together I became negative about BSP and DVD.
What I would want is a button, that opens an extended area for special functions.
The button would have a round Dvd-disc Icon, and a popup saying “DVD – ISO - MKV”.
Special function Buttons would be: Open (only working for Dvd and Iso), Root Menu, Titles, and Chapters.

But for now I think, the only thing that can be added on the Main Control, is a small disc-icon for “Title”.
Agree? Or do the DVD Buttons in Base Skin (or any other skin) work in your player?
Thanks and greeting..
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Old 17th February 2012
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Persoanlly, I am a fan of ver 1 skin which doesn't have extended panel therefore never tested extra buttons. After reading your yesterday's post about, changed to base skin and found that, as you mentioned, buttons doesn't work. Lucky me, a colleague wanted a DVD and so I had a ISO on my HDD.
Probably many users never used them so there is no bug report until yours, so the developpement team probably don't know about this bug.
As Ico-Man frequently reads the forum, this information will be soon in developper's hands.
On the other hand, I personally think DVDs are obsolete, I rather have a 4,5 GB HD MKV file than an ISO of a DVD, as all of DVD's functionality is also implemented in MKVs ( multiple audio tracks, multiple subtitles, menus and so). But in terms of quality....you can't compare them.

As for an MPEG2 splitter, I am puzzled about. I use to test splitters, decoders....and after installing LAV filters foud that DVDs won't play anymore (BSPlayer just closes itself with no message). ISOs, instead, are opened with no problems, using Elecard's package (which is some 4-5 years old). Why is that, I don't know.
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Old 18th February 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by adicoto View Post
Persoanlly, I am a fan of ver 1 skin which doesn't have extended panel therefore never tested extra buttons. After reading your yesterday's post about, changed to base skin and found that, as you mentioned, buttons doesn't work. Lucky me, a colleague wanted a DVD and so I had a ISO on my HDD.
Probably many users never used them so there is no bug report until yours, so the developpement team probably don't know about this bug.
As Ico-Man frequently reads the forum, this information will be soon in developper's hands.
On the other hand, I personally think DVDs are obsolete, I rather have a 4,5 GB HD MKV file than an ISO of a DVD, as all of DVD's functionality is also implemented in MKVs ( multiple audio tracks, multiple subtitles, menus and so). But in terms of quality....you can't compare them.

As for an MPEG2 splitter, I am puzzled about. I use to test splitters, decoders....and after installing LAV filters foud that DVDs won't play anymore (BSPlayer just closes itself with no message). ISOs, instead, are opened with no problems, using Elecard's package (which is some 4-5 years old). Why is that, I don't know.
Imagine a simple panel with only a few common options,
but having buttons for: Open / Play / Video / Audio / subtitles / Dvd + MKV / settings.
These buttons would immediately open a popup area with all options for that category.
You don't even have to click a Start Menu, or right-click the panel.
That is simple enough.

This is the alternative, I suggested in my initial post.
This would be a very simple panel, but with Buttons that are very easy to recognise.
It could be just a little bit easier to find and to click options than in WMP or VLC.
And the skin could be a pretty design, much better than VLC. :-)

BSP Version 1 skin was spectacular at the time, but is not very recognisable, unless you use it a lot.
The current extension area is a nice graphical joke, but does not encourage to use it.
The movement confuses a bit. Then the buttons are absolutely not recognisable. The options are not very complete. And then half of them don't work. :-)
In the Prophety-skin it is done better. But the popup area's are much too small for the amount of options, and the buttons in the Hotspot are not too logically grouped.
No wonder, you don't like extended area's.. :-)

In Kiss 3.0 I have one panel only. It has many buttons, but the grouping, and colouring, and adding of text should make them very recognisable. I use the extended for info only. And a hotspot for a joke. You'll be surprised. :-) I hope to upload it within a week.

Why people didn't report the Dvd-issue? They are too busy these days. They may blame it to their PC too. They may have too many issues with their PC already. They may be satisfied so far, when they get things done through the Menu. They may not take time to go to the Forum, create a login, and post about it. Who has time nowadays? :-)

Thanks and greeting! :-)

PS: Elecard Mpeg2-filter gave a scrambled picture on some Dvd's. I had to add it to the Blacklist.
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Old 18th February 2012
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Waiting to see your skin and see it's functionality
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Old 19th February 2012
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Default Forum Display issue already solved??..

Has the default Forum Display Setting already been changed from "Newest first" to "Linear Oldest"??
Can anyone confirm this?

I requested for it, and now I see the Oldest one first everywhere, even when I log out.
But is this really the default setting now? (so for newcombers) Or is it only so on my PC?

@Adicoto: since I promoted Kiss 3.0, and created expectations, I got more anxious, being more precise.. That means it lasts longer. I hope within a week or so. Choosing colors is a hassle. Finding out how Photoshop works.. And off course everything must be done now: Playlist, Library, and Equaliser. Haven't found out yes how that works, so.. ToDoooo!!...
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  #16 (permalink)  
Old 19th February 2012
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My adivice...take your time....no hurry.
As for forum, I am using default skin with give me oldest first (in a thread) and newest first in a forum. Nothing changed.
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Old 20th February 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by adicoto View Post
As for forum, I am using default skin with give me oldest first (in a thread) and newest first in a forum. Nothing changed.
I think it did change!
First I did this test; Go to a thread with a few posts. Look at the post-ordening. Then Log Out, because the website wil normally remember your personal sort-order choice. Renew the thread, and look if the post-order has changed?

I saw no difference. My personal choice was "Oldest first", but logged out I got that too. But I didn't trust it completely, so asked for confirmation here.
But suddenly I knew what to do. I changed my preference to Newest First, and now there was a clear difference. Logged in I get "Newest First", and logged out I get "Oldest First", as every newcomber should.

So I do think, it has been changed now. You won't notice, if you are automatically logged in here all the time. The website would follow your preference. That may not be the default setting. Perhaps years ago you changed it to Oldest First.

But I may be wrong. I might accidentally have choosen for Newest First, long ago. But I don't think so. When I started reading here, I wasn't logged in, and got the Newest one First, I believe...
Maybe ICO-Man has been "sneaking around", changing it faster than his shadow.. If so, Thanks!
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