New UI in Jim2 version 3.2 – Oops, we did it again
Tags: Development   v3.2   UI  
15/09/2011 1:03 PM

Whenever we release a new version of Jim2, we update the user interface. If it’s new it’s got to look, well, new. Sometimes it’s just cosmetic, sometimes it’s major. But we are very aware that thousands of people use our software all day every day, so we go to a lot of effort not to completely rock people’s worlds.

One company that also goes to incredible lengths to move forward – but attempts to keep existing users ‘comfortable’ – is Microsoft. As Microsoft release details of their upcoming Windows 8, I thought it was a good opportunity to run through some of the new UI enhancements in Jim2 v3.2.

Microsoft Office 2010 ‘feel’
It’s a fact of life most people use Microsoft Office. To Microsoft’s credit, they actively encourage developers to follow their lead and embrace their UI. In Jim2 v3.0 we introduced the ribbon interface, and were super-happy with the results. It really fits the way Jim2 works. So in v3.2 we are happy to introduce the new ‘Office 2010’ look.

Apart from the updated and cleaner look, the new interface introduces ‘aero’, that is you can ‘see’ through, for example, the top of the ribbon. We really like the aero look, but not all people do. You can force it to be disabled with the new –a command line switch, noting that aero is automatically disabled when accessing Jim2 via terminal server.

One thing you may have noticed is that the Banking tab is missing.  Don’t panic, we merged it into the Accounts tab – which makes sense, since we added a new Email tab. We also moved some of the lesser used ‘utility’ style accounts functions like ‘Close Financial Year’ into the Tools tab.

Doing lots of things at the same time
One of the nice things about Jim2 is you can do lots of things at the same time: adding multiple Jobs, viewing your Dashboard, adding a CardFile etc., all nicely managed by the Nav Tree. You log out of Jim2, and when you log back in, you’re right back to where you left off. All very nice!

By far the most ‘vocal’ feedback from our v3.2 Release Candidate sites was they wanted to be able to add and view multiple emails, and have full access to the rest of Jim2 at the same time.To be honest, we knew this, but thought we could get away with it until a later date... we couldn’t.

This all sounds pretty simple, just let you do it right? Well, actually no. Emails can be related to multiple ‘things’ at the same time, for example a Job and a Quote, so it doesn’t fit the way Nav Tree works. And you can send an email that’s related to, say, a Job that is in ‘add’ mode, and then cancel adding that Job. And if you have multiple emails open, how do you switch between them?

And, and, and... the short and long is we worked through all this stuff, got it out to the RC guys, and everyone was super happy! We reworked our new email integration, and introduced a way to easily switch, arrange, and quickly access windows.


New Scheduler UI
The Scheduler was looking a little out of place and cluttered with the introduction of the ribbon, so we completely revamped the UI and moved it up into the ribbon. Whilst we were there, we reworked the reminders popup, so that if you close it you’ll see your reminders in the status bar. Oh, and you can quickly access it via the new ‘Switch Windows’. And it’s now several times faster!

Pop Ups = annoying
I don’t really know when it happened, maybe Windows 7, but the pop up reminder started taking focus away, which was very annoying. You typing, the popup pops, and your cursor goes away. Again, simple right? Again, no! Jim2 v3.2 features a completely new ‘2010’ style popup that ‘behaves’ nicely.

Lists. You want more?
Jim2 is all about lists. Lists of Jobs, lists of emails... We had a limit of five lists originally, increased it to 10 a while back, and it was still not enough, according to our RC feedback. So now it’s 20. Apart from redesigning the icons, that was easy!

What else and when?
There’s lots more in Jim2 Version 3.2, but hopefully this quick taste of the UI update gives you an idea of what’s in store. Expect some more info coming through soon.

We’re busy doing final v3.2 testing and documenting, and redoing our update and installation process, so just a few weeks and we’ll be releasing the official version.

We can’t wait to show off the new baby...

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