"Selection Interface" superfluous

Case number:699969-990891
Topic:General
Opened by:tristanlbailey
Status:Closed
Type:Suggestion
Opened on:Thursday, October 20, 2011 - 04:06
Last modified:Saturday, December 31, 2011 - 02:06

I recent problem I had on a design puzzle made me question the reasoning behind the "Selection Interface" in Foldit.

I was trying to move a small protein separate from the main one in the Flu design puzzle, but found out I couldn't move it at all, unless I entered the Selection Interface. Initially, I thought that maybe I could use the Tweak tool, but realised that I couldn't. After wondering why changing the interface was required to move the small protein, I decided to look back at the Intro Puzzle level Movin' Along".

(Thu, 10/20/2011 - 04:06  |  22 comments)


Joined: 10/11/2011
Groups: None

The selection interface for some puzzles, is better than the original interface.
It most certainly isn't superfluous.

Joined: 09/22/2011
Groups: None

The puzzle guide doesn't state that you need to be in the Selection Interface, nor does the overall Foldit GUI reference anything about the interface. I propose two suggestions:

1. Make reference to and/or update the interface, in the Movin' Along Intro level.

2. Re-think the entire interface's implementation. The only purpose for the interface, is to select specific segments of the protein you are working on (and display different versions of buttons). Why not just have this selection component implemented in the normal (or "Original") interface? At the moment, when you click on any segment in the normal interface, nothing happens. A single click is not currently assigned to any form of behaviour, even when retrieving segment information (mouse over + Tab key). It would be easier to implement the selection behaviour in the normal interface, so people don't have to switch backwards and forwards between interfaces. The key and mouse combinations will, however, need to be thought about, so that we can still access local tools, as well as select multiple segments.

Joined: 10/11/2011
Groups: None

I have just this minute done the moving along puzzle.
One does not need to be in the selection interface to do that puzzle. One only needs to use right click to bring up the move tool.
Perhaps you just are not playing the puzzle correctly.

Joined: 09/22/2011
Groups: None

Tealight, it's not that puzzle that I'm having troubles with; the "Movin' Along" Intro Puzzle puzzle was a walk in the park.

The point I'm trying to make is that the puzzle's guide / help tips in the "Movin' Along" Intro Puzzle didn't mention the use of the "Selection Interface", just the Move tool. I didn't know that I needed to change to the "Selection Interface" when doing the Design Science Puzzles (different to the Intro Puzzles), to access the Move tool.

To add to my previous comments, I have listed existing combinations against combinations that would work well, if the interfaces were merged:

Existing Combinations in "Original Interface" on a particular segment

Left mouse button combinations
Left click: (nothing)
Left click & drag: Pull protein backbone from segment in direction of mouse pointer
Ctrl + Left click: Display local tools menu for local segments
Ctrl + Double Left click: (nothing)
Shift + Left click: Freeze segment
Shift + Double Left click: Freeze all segments
Ctrl + Shift + Left click: Display local tools menu for local segments
Ctrl + Shift + Double Left click: (nothing)
Right mouse button combinations
Right click: Display local tools menu for local segments
Right click & drag Display local tools menu for local segments + option sweep select
Ctrl + Right click: Display local tools menu for local segments
Shift + Right click: Display local tools menu for local segments

Existing Combinations in "Selection Interface"

Left mouse button combinations
Left click on protein: Select segment / Display Move tool?
Left click & drag on Move tool: Rotate protein around point
Ctrl + Left click on protein: Select segment / add to current segment selections
Ctrl + Left click & drag on Move tool: Move protein along XY axis relational to screen
Shift + Left click on protein: Select all segments up to segment clicked, from previous segment clicked
Shift + Left click & drag up/down on Move tool: Move protein along Z axis relational to screen
Right mouse button combinations
Right click on protein: Display Move tool?
Right click & drag on Move tool: Move protein along XY axis relational to screen
Ctrl + Right click & drag on Move tool: Move protein along XY axis relational to screen
Shift + Right click & drag up/down on Move tool: Move protein along XY axis relational to screen

Proposed Combinations for overall interface on a particular segment

Left mouse button combinations
Left click: Select segment
Left click & drag: Pull protein backbone from segment in direction of mouse pointer
Ctrl + Left click: Select segment / add segment to current segment selections
Ctrl + Double Left click: Select all adjacent segments of segment's backbone type (loop, helix, sheet)
Shift + Left click: Select all segments up to segment clicked, from previous segment clicked
Shift + Double Left click: Select all segments (entire protein)
Ctrl + Shift + Left click: Freeze segment
Ctrl + Shift + Double Left click: Freeze all segments
Right mouse button combinations
Right click: Display local tools menu for local segments
Right click & drag: *(nothing)
Ctrl + Right click: Move protein along XY axis relational to screen
Shift + Right click: Move protein along Z axis relational to screen
Ctrl + Shift + Right click: Rotate protein around point

*I have deliberately chosen to assign nothing to the right click & drag combination, since while the combination shifts the view of the puzzle when the mouse pointer is not over the protein, often the user unintentionally opens the local tools menu for local segments, when accidentally dragging on the protein instead. Because the menu is currently designed to allow a sweeping selection from the menu's options, the user may inadvertently activate one of the options, potentially causing an undesired action to occur.

I also have a few question marks against some items that I am unsure about in the existing setup, as I don't currently have access to a Design Science Puzzle; feel free to correct me if I have made a mistake.

Joined: 10/11/2011
Groups: None

No, you are not getting the point.

There is never anytime that one HAS to be in selection interface.

jflat06's picture
User offline. Last seen 7 hours 21 min ago. Offline
Joined: 09/29/2010
Groups: Window Group

You don't need to switch to the selection interface.

You can move the protein in either interface - just left click on a segment of the piece you want to move, and the purple star should show up.

I am in the puzzle 466: Flu Design Puzzle 3 right now, and I am able to move the protein fine in both interfaces.

Both interfaces are intended to be fully featured, and you shouldn't need to switch between them. It comes down to a matter of preference. Many players prefer the selection interface. It's hardly superfluous.

infjamc's picture
User offline. Last seen 2 years 41 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 02/20/2009
Groups: Contenders

Maybe "superfluous" is the wrong word-- I think what tristanlbailey is suggesting can be rephrased as follows:

* There is some redundancy between the standard interface and the selection interface.
* Sometimes, a player might want to access a feature that's only available in the other interface. Switching is an option, but that means modified hotkeys and possible loss of certain functions.
* So, why not merge the two interfaces into one?

Joined: 09/22/2011
Groups: None

Yes, that's exactly what I was on about. I wasn't suggesting that the selection functions of the interface be removed from the game completely, but should instead be available at all times. There are enough gaps in the game's keyboard and mouse combinations at the moment, for the selection interface functions to be implemented with the rest.

The only other purpose for the Selection Interface (and please correct me if I am wrong), is the obvious menu buttons at the lower left-hand side. I guess the advantage in having larger buttons makes them easier to click on, which makes Foldit a good candidate for an accessibility app. Also, the fact that they aren't running along the bottom border makes the buttons a bit more user friendly in one respect, as I have often accidentally clicked the Start Menu button on my Windows 7 computer, which normally also resides at the lower left-hand corner of the screen (I have since moved the taskbar to the top of the screen). This could perhaps be re-implemented with a "Use bigger buttons" option in the View menu (on uses the bigger buttons, off uses the menu buttons on the "Original Interface").

As I am unable to currently access a Design Science Puzzle, I cannot confirm my previous troubles that I was having with moving the protein, so I may be mistaken in that regard. However, it was this problem that made me think about how the interface(s) work(s) as a whole, and led me to posting this suggestion.

jflat06's picture
User offline. Last seen 7 hours 21 min ago. Offline
Joined: 09/29/2010
Groups: Window Group

The selection interface provides a lot more than larger buttons. It is a different way of thinking about how to work on the protein. The point of it is to be able to 'select' which segments you want to work on, and then be able to perform operations on those segments.

For example, in order to reassign some set of segments a different secondary structure, in the original interface you would have to first switch to structure mode, then right click on a segment and assign the structure, then left click and drag from that residue if you need that structure to extend to other segments. In the selection interface, you simply select which residues you want changed, and then hit whatever structure you want them changed to.

As for merging them - I don't see the point. The selection interface already provides all the tools that the original interface does (or should). It is a matter of personal preference.

On a side note, you should be able to access old puzzles if you select the show expired puzzles box in the science puzzle menu.

Joined: 09/22/2011
Groups: None

"As for merging them - I don't see the point. The selection interface already provides all the tools that the original interface does (or should)."

Right. Exactly. Why not get rid of one of the interfaces? Or merge them together?

As I said, the buttons could be changed around with a new option in the View Menu. If the program didn't always start up in the "Original Interface", but instead whichever interface you wanted, then I might not have made this suggestion.

Imagine you can start up Foldit, open a Science Puzzle, and start selecting whatever segments you wanted to work on straight away, without having to first open the Menu at the bottom, and select "Selection Interface". Piece of cake.

Unfortunately for the developers, it sounds like it might not be so easy to implement, which does come as a bit of a surprise.

As for the "Expired Puzzles" checkbox, thanks for pointing this out. I hadn't noticed that option there before.

beta_helix's picture
User offline. Last seen 6 hours 12 min ago. Offline
Joined: 05/09/2008
Groups: None

"Why not get rid of one of the interfaces?"

because certain players prefer one interface over the other.

It is the same reason we would never get rid of the GUI cookbook, even thought the Lua cookbook is much more powerful.

Really the 'original interface' is the main one (which is why the 'selection interface' doesn't show up unless you "show advanced GUI") and the 'selection interface' is just there for those the advanced players that prefer it. Both use different ways of manipulating the protein, so we would never get rid of one over the other.

Joined: 09/22/2011
Groups: None

The cookbook isn't such a good example, because there is a vast contrast between the GUI cookbook version, and the LUA scripted version. One is easy and user intuitive; the other is much more difficult, requiring users learn a particular language / scripting method to build recipes.

Maybe this word "interfaces" is confusing people. Again, I'm not suggesting any of their functions are taken out, just the switching method (i.e. merge the two interfaces together).

The reason why people have a preference, is because they have to make a choice. If there wasn't a choice to be made, there wouldn't be a preference. Sure, it might take people a while to get used to the change, but having a single interface is more user intuitive than having two.

beta_helix's picture
User offline. Last seen 6 hours 12 min ago. Offline
Joined: 05/09/2008
Groups: None
Status: Open » Open

"If there wasn't a choice to be made, there wouldn't be a preference."

I would really try to think of the situation as:

There is only 1 interface, there is only 1 choice: the original interface.

This is why there is no intro level for the "selection interface".
This is why it doesn't even show up unless you "Show Advanced GUI".
This is why there is basically no more support for it.

We never post a puzzle requiring the "selection interface" and I don't think we've mentioned it at all in the past 2 years.

It's really just there for those players who made that choice back in the day (since we would never remove it).
There have been many things in this game that have come and gone (Duels is one example) and the "selection interface" is basically one of them (we just decided not to remove it).

I hope this clears this up, I'll close this thread soon.

Joined: 10/11/2011
Groups: None

I like having the choice of two.
There is very little I personally like about selection interface, apart from rebuilding helices, I never use it.
I would not like to see the original interface mucked up in any way at all.
People have preferences because they like to do things a particular way, here they have a choice of interfaces to accommodate that.
There is no need to change it, that I can see

Joined: 09/22/2011
Groups: None

It's a shame there wasn't more input from other members. I tried putting this on the forum to raise further awareness of an idea that I put considerable thought into (which I'm sure would still work out very nicely if implemented), yet the forum seems to be playing up at the moment.

I have many more ideas, so I guess I'll just forfeit this one for now.

wlemmon's picture
User offline. Last seen 6 years 11 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 07/10/2010
Groups: None

The selection interface lets you simultaneously wiggle non-contiguous segments of a protein without freezing the whole structure. Try to wiggle two loop structures simultaneously in the original interface without freezing the rest of the protein. The selection interface in often essential for efficient work -- I am voting down this suggestion. It wasn't even a suggestion to begin with! Why is it of type "suggestion"? It was just a negative comment.

wlemmon's picture
User offline. Last seen 6 years 11 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 07/10/2010
Groups: None

This topic contradicts itself: it calls the selection interface superfluous, and in the details claims that the interface is essential to performing a certain task. Which one is it?

Hanto's picture
User offline. Last seen 4 weeks 3 hours ago. Offline
Joined: 05/10/2008
Groups: None

Been playing over a year now, and have never spent more then a few minutes on the selection interface that Tristan is talking about, personally if it differs even one iota in results compared to the normal interface, then it needs to be incorporated into the normal interface, not left as a separate and distinct interface, rarely seen or used by average people. That way if nothing else a common language regarding interface use and results expected from the use of the interface can be delivered/assumed for all players. One of the problems with Foldit is that there are to many features and not enough good GUI. Features need to be secondary, GUI needs to become preeminent in the design of the client, so that it becomes less cumbersome to use and takes less time to configure when setting up, loading new puzzles, etc, etc. The Recipe Book and various GUI functions are merely small symptoms of the overall problem with client design. Nuff said. Glad I finally found your comments Tristan.

Joined: 09/22/2011
Groups: None

Once again, thanks for commenting on my suggestions. Regardless of how you feel about them, it makes me feel like I am part of the community at large, and not being ignored.

wlemmon, the initial post I submitted accidentally without completing it, and since I could not edit my post, I sent a follow-up post soon after. So, it was for all intents and purposes, a suggestion, which I will now clarify again.

It has become clear that people have misunderstood my suggestion. Granted, I could have typed my initial post better, but we all make mistakes. I will take this chance to clarify my suggestion.

I understand that most people prefer a particular interface from the two that have been made available, which is an inherent attribute of a program providing such options. I also understand that since the game has been around for well over 3 years, it would be difficult for many players of the game to consider the removal of one of them, especially those with considerable experience. While there are undoubtedly many bugs and good suggestions that will take precedence over this particular suggestion, it is still something which should be considered.

By the term "removal", I am referring to the absence of the ability to switch between two interfaces, the idea being that only one consistent interface is required and used. The features from both interfaces would be retained and merged (or unified) into a single interface; in particular, the segment selection feature. The other feature, the large menu buttons, could be switched on/off through an option in the View menu.

What I am NOT suggesting, is that the selection feature of the Selection Interface is useless, and should be removed. Far from it.

I cannot come up with any advantages for having two separate interfaces, within the context of "Selection Interface". There may be advantages outside this context.

Disadvantages:

  • Currently, inconsistencies between mouse and keyboard combinations over the two interfaces make the combinations confusing, and thus the game becomes harder to use when switching between interfaces, consecutively. This is one reason why players use one interface predominantly over the other.
  • The Selection Interface features are unrelated. This is further compounded by the fact that the interface is labelled "Selection Interface", but also changes the menu appearance and behaviour. Players may like the selection feature, but dislike the menu buttons, and visa-versa.
  • There would likely be overhead in relation to the code within the game, in keeping two separate interfaces, causing larger executable file size. Many of the same functions may need to be mapped twice (e.g. mouse and keyboard combinations), in order to cater for both interfaces.

If a questionnaire were to be put forward by the developers, asking which of the two interfaces each player used mainly while playing the game, most players that started playing Foldit after the implementation of the Standard Interface would probably say they mainly use the Standard Interface over the Selection Interface. This is because new players are exposed to the Standard Interface by default in the Intro Levels, and only discover the other interface some time later, through experimentation, chatting to other users, or reading the Wiki. In some cases, it could be a very long time before they discover it, if at all. Therefore, they are much more likely to become conditioned to the use of the Standard Interface over the Selection Interface. "Older" players are more likely to use the Selection Interface.

I am certain there are players that want to use both interfaces (read this to mean all features from the Standard Interface, and the selection feature), but find it tiresome switching backwards and forwards between the interfaces, and having to remember the differences between mouse/keyboard combinations they want to use.

Unfortunately, the divide between the two interfaces will prevent the selection feature from reaching its full potential, when it could be put to far better use. Unifying the interfaces would make the game more streamlined, less confusing, and improve gaming efficiency for many players.

Joined: 09/21/2011
Groups: Void Crushers

I am just playing Foldit for a few months now, and for me the selection interface is superior.
Features that I really like and use and that are not present in the other interface:
- the selection tool itself
- the ability to keep the cookbook at a place of will and open
- the ability to keep the behavior box at a place of will and open
- the fact that you don't have to use a lot of mouseclicks
- no need for mode changing back and forth
For me this interface is more intuitive.

Joined: 09/22/2011
Groups: None

OK, so another preference. Are you suggesting that the Standard Interface should be removed, instead of the Selection Interface? Would there be anything from the Standard Interface that you think should be kept?

Joined: 09/22/2011
Groups: None
Status: Open » Closed

Will create a new Feedback item, to appropriately address viewpoints made in this Feedback item.

Sitemap

Developed by: UW Center for Game Science, UW Institute for Protein Design, Northeastern University, Vanderbilt University Meiler Lab, UC Davis
Supported by: DARPA, NSF, NIH, HHMI, Amazon, Microsoft, Adobe, RosettaCommons