As a newbie, these are a couple things I'd feel would be of great help while playing FoldIt, at least for my fellow newbies (aka: newbs, noobs, n00bs)
As such I urge you to click through to the full summary! :)
1) 1350 was my first Contact Map puzzle, and while it was a bit daunting at first (due to no Tutorial puzzle on it), with the help of my group I had been able to get a handle of things. In the end (well, currently the 'middle' as the puzzle is still ongoing) I am really enjoying it and hope we'll have more of them! Nevertheless, it would be rather helpful for me if there was a "Select Created Contacts" or Made Contacts, Linked Contacts… I leave that up to you to decide the best phrasing for it. :P Why I feel this would be helpful is that in order for me to see which ones were already there and giving a bonus I would either have to go through the entire map and click on each of the cells with a black dot in it, or do what I did which was use the Select Contacts option and then in the main window go through and click on every red line in order to de-select it, to leave just the green ones.
My entire reason for doing this was because, being new, I don't have the same intuitions with the designs as the vets do, and was having trouble pinpointing where my design was having contact bonds break. By having it display all of them it was having a performance impact, and I wasn't currently interested in those that I had yet to make. By identifying the point that would separate during a Wiggle I was then able to band it at each point to keep the bond forged, and as soon as I did that I began making progress!
2) A simple View option to allow us to make the currently selected cells be invisible in addition to not interactable. Reasoning behind this is actually two-fold.
First is that while I was working with bands, a simple error on my touchpad's part resulted in a phantom mouse click, that happened to result in a contact link being deselected. On another occasion when selecting a segment of my protein I had carelessly clicked on another link which once again resulted in it being deselected. In the grand scheme of things this is trivial, but when you're a new player it is an interruption in your workflow.
Secondly, if you happen to have a slower computer, as I think the majority of players do as I suspect quite a few are on laptops, having lots of these contact links on the screen hampers performance. At present, we have two choices: Deal with the performance hit, or, deselect them all when you want to do something. The latter is not really conducive to reaching our goal; however, if we had say… my suggestion above, it would at least be less of a hassle if we didn't have this ability. :)
After searching the Feedback list I found that I'm not the first one to be interested in this ability, though I am apparently only the second (to voice it at least).
Original Suggestion: jeff101
"Let users make bands invisible"
While my original suggestion was going to be a View option to toggle them on/off, but after thinking about it I had came to the same conclusions brought up in the other suggestion in regards to making them completely invisible. As such, translucency would work much better since it would still provide a visual reference while working.
My reasoning on this suggestion was initially something that came about while playing every puzzle type, but was made all the more relevant with the Contact Map puzzle. The problem that the bands currently create is that we cannot see what's going on beyond them, or more importantly what's going on inside them! If we band sheets together, we cannot see if the hydrogen bond is there, and we can't just assume it is either. For example sometimes a design develops a kink in a sheet that causes it to drift apart from the other, even mid-way. As such the bonds are lost and on puzzles with Ideal Loop filter, the can sometimes (in my experience) be consider as loops that have lost their way, being flagged then as not being Ideal anymore. Of course this also happens more commonly at the ends, were there are loops leading into other structures that need a bit more flexibility than the 3 loops the BP tool gives us (as remember, I'm a newb who doesn't possess the skill to hand fold ideal loops, and am not alone there!). Point being, that in this instance we'll band the structures together to get the bonds to form, or stay formed, and it would be nice to see if we have set them with sufficient Length of Strength.
Similarly, with the Contacts we are banding many many areas usually and are working with bands that are in place for long periods. Working, wiggling, working, wiggling, all the while the bonus fluctuates and we haven't a clue which of the contacts is causing it.
Currently the only method I know of to combat this issue is to either stop what I'm doing and remove the bands to see, then Undo, and go back to it. Anyone who plays knows very well that if you stop a wiggle mid-way through, it's not going to have the same outcome, and very well may not even budge after you've start Wiggle again. NOW we have to go back further and apply what we now know just to prevent it from happening again. The other option is to remove bands individually whilst the wiggle works, see if our suspicion is correct, then quickly re-apply it and apply whatever configuration back to it. Realistically speaking? Neither of those are productive at all. It not only wastes time, but changes the outcome if more time isn't spent on it.
What solves that dilemma? Easy. Translucent bands (ideally with a View menu slider to adjust the amount). Not only can you still see where all your bands are, but better yet can see where your BONDS are! And keep in mind this doesn't just apply to bonds between backbone segments, but to any bond. AA to AA bonds, AA to Backbone, Disulphide bonds, Contact bonds (both made and unmade), and whatever else may get added in Foldit's future!
We know that the coding staff is limited, and that funds are even moreso, but there's a bright side to it all. The more "friendly" that Foldit is made, which Blueprint was huge in my book, the more people will want to play beyond just it being a school assignment. The more people that play then the higher the probability that genuine scientific discoveries are made. In turn, the more funding that will come from investors; thus, additional help which can be hired or the ability to pay current contributors. So while ultimately Foldit's goal is possibly being met, the only way to ensure that it continues to be that way is to address current frustrations. I consider these sort of UI enhancements to be small in the grand scheme of it all, but as they say sometimes small things go a long way, as it shows a willingness on your part. :)
Thoughts, questions, comments, concerns? It's welcomed by those new and old, and is the only way they'll know whether it's something worth pursuing!