Help improve the Selection Interface

Case number:699969-995970
Topic:General
Opened by:RicGray
Status:Open
Type:Suggestion
Opened on:Friday, September 20, 2013 - 15:58
Last modified:Thursday, October 10, 2013 - 18:16

Our scientists really like using Foldit’s selection interface, but we know that it could be better.

If you use the selection interface, we would like to know what we could change to make your experience even better.

If you don’t use it, are there specific obstacles (besides just being different ;-) ) that are preventing you?

If you haven't tried it, please do by choosing "Menu/Selection Interface". You can always get back to the original interface by clicking on the foldit button in the lower left, then choosing Main, and finally Original Interface.

We really appreciate and value your opinions on making playing Foldit a fun and enjoyable experience.
Thanks

(Fri, 09/20/2013 - 15:58  |  48 comments)


Joined: 04/19/2009

I tried to use it years ago, but found it not so intuitive, and it seemed more steps to get to what I wanted. I do use very rarely to select the entire protein for occasional purposes.

It also seems, to me, that the menu icons are too big, cluttered and cartoony. The Undo graph has way too much black space around the graph.

Can you tell us why the scientists like the selection interface? We had been told quite a while ago that it was not going to be improved, an experiment that would stay as it was but likely phased out. That discouraged many of us from using / getting used to using it.

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"We had been told quite a while ago that it was not going to be improved, an experiment that would stay as it was but likely phased out."

I believe that was my bad!
The selection interface was created by the Foldit Team at CMU (because they saw some of the advantages of it that were not possible in the original interface, see below). Unfortunately it became neglected for a very long time, so that did seem to be the case that nobody was going to be working on it anymore.

But as more and more scientists started using the Academic Standalone version of Foldit (tinyurl.com/academic-foldit), we started finding out that they all prefer the selection interface!

"Can you tell us why the scientists like the selection interface?"

Almost all the scientists that use Foldit do so for Protein Design, and they feel that it is infinitely better for designing proteins.
For example, the only way to mutate a bunch of residues to a particular amino acid (all at once) is with the selection interface. There is no way to do that (in a non-recipe way) with the original interface.

Thank you all for your feedback on this!
I just want to clarify that we are not trying to force any of you to switch to a completely different interface than the one you have mastered and been using for years!
Rather, we wonder if we were able to improve the selection interface with your feedback, would it made it easier for new players... would the steep learning curve that is Foldit be a tiny bit less steep?

(Obviously this would require significant work to get the wiki, and all the wonderful tools you have created for new players, updated to the selection interface)

Joined: 04/19/2009

Thanks for the reply!

It does seem, as far as I know, that the main advantage to the selection interface is that ability to mutate a bunch of residues to a particular amino acid. In fact, that's the only time I ever use it.

Is it possible to add that ability to the original interface?

IMHO, becoming adept at either interface likely has the same learning curve.

However, having new players start in the Selection interface would require many many hours of work for volunteers to change the wiki pages, etc. To do this simply because the scientists are happier with it for designing proteins is asking us to do a major amount of work for no real benefit to the players (who can adopt either interface once they are playing the real puzzles).

Clarifying the Tutorials, fixing the bugs in them, getting rid of the balloons and replacing with a box of clear instructions would likely make the Foldit learning curve a little less steep - without the volunteer work of doing over all the wiki pages involved.

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For new players I don't think there is any advantage in the 'general' interface, with a bar instead of numbers in the score display and restricted view and other options. That interface could go and the 'advanced general' interface be the default after the tutorials.

That would save one set of explanations :)

I think that most people playing who are not, really new or using the selection interface would be using the advanced general interface, not the simpler one.

Getting a full list of the hot keys for the selection interface on the wiki, or even in a post (hint hint) would be a great start for new and existing players.
If documentation around selection and the interface itself were more abundant then imo more people would use it.
There is a lot more to selection than just the mutation options.

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I guess I am the very opposite of auntdeen, I never been able to work with the Original Interface. That said, I would be happy to see the following corrected or added/modified (some things may apply to both Interfaces):

http://fold.it/portal/node/994635
http://fold.it/portal/node/992251
http://fold.it/portal/node/993967
http://fold.it/portal/node/993162

Also:

- Make all windows (like Cookbook, tracks, behavior Options, Undo, Group Competition, Soloist competition, ...) remember last location and visible/close state upon starting a new client.

- Notes do not move anymore when the chain is moved/rotated, they only stay where they were created and pile up.

- The Note pointer is very difficult to see against a Dark background being black itself, make it white if Dark background is checked.

- In the Undo window, the Back(Undo)/Forward(Redo) Arrows are redundant since we can click/drag the vertical bar in the graph (but keep the keyboard shortcuts). The Undo window could be shorten to the graph length if those were removed.

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Adding:

- Segment Information window is vertically too small to display all the information. I have to repeatedly scroll down to see it all when the information is changing.

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Adding:

- Move Tool: make it "hover segment + 3" instead of "left-click to select segment + 3". Faster, less clicks.

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I have no idea what the keys are. They aren't on the wiki, or in the in-game help. Only a handful are listed along the bottom.

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As of a couple of releases ago, they should be listed in the help dialog. However, their documentation could be better.

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better in the wiki now : http://foldit.wikia.com/wiki/Shortcut_Keys
I may have missed some keys specific to some puzzle types

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Thank you for taking the time to put this together.

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I have been using selection for two years exclusively now and whilst it may have a learning curve it is worth the effort, for me at least. Many of the top players don't use/need it.

Can you indicate what screen resolution you are designing for? Because foldit doesn't use a GPU it runs well without a dedicated graphics card, but on a 1024x768 resolution, which is a Windows default res, the on screen clutter is overwhelming. http://fold.it/portal/files/chatimg/irc_179219_1379119423.png Note that this is my current set up because it gives me access to better compute, but nearly all of the items below are a also a problem on a very high resolution. I tried fade gui but it was way too busy and distracting and hid the things I need to see, like script output and behaviour box.

Cartoon thin or cartoon thick? I prefer thin, so I can see round helixes, the selection lights up in blue thick, both obscuring the colour clues provided by the aa colours and creating a disjoint in size when you are trying to line things up with non-selected pieces. Recipes, apart from Pletsch's My GUI script, select all so you get a cartoon thick in blue again robbing you of valuable information. Not sure if there is a way to stop scripts doing this. Does anyone use cartoon thick?

The throbbing box top left uses a lot of real estate - essential to check that it hasn't frozen but could be much smaller, maybe a bar style?

Moving horizontal buttons, this effect is very annoying to me,especially when using bands in combination with scripts, disable bands button moves about. Addition of idealise and move select (grr) push the buttons so far across the screen that I have to open notifications window to access the chat open/close triangles. Also I have hit rebuild instead of idealise a couple of times :) tiredness, a factor of playing late trying to set up for a long script.

Vertical pop up menu - appears to be appealing to a childlike audience which is inappropriate for an 'advanced' interface. Also view and undo buttons are cunningly buried under the enormous Script running box, which can't be moved. View and undo need to be accessible.

View menu is huge, can it perhaps be setup so that there is a separation beteen items which you never change once set up, and things you need to get to all the time. So that you can expand it to access those items on the rare times you need to use them?

The distribution of tools across the main menu and undo menu appears to have grown a bit like topsy, so often you need to have both open and look at a postage stamp size protein.

Many of the tools could be set up in the same way as the original interface using the side attached triangle open method. As long as they are grouped so they are accessible when running scripts. Behaviour I have open alll the time for example but don't like having to move it out of the way.

An advanced GUI can have a learning curve, and not be entirely 'idiot proof' imo, crashing or making an error because you do something silly is not a bug in the software as such.
You can do stupid things in most software, for example Word, spreadsheets, graphics and CAD.

I would prefer the scientists to have the best tool they can get and try to use some of the tricky bits myself, rather than reduce the tool functionality to the lowest common denominator user. Not sure if they use the scoreboards or chat options though :)

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I've been using selection interface ever since I tried it after folding a few months, and it allows me to work much faster (rebuild small areas on the fly or change structure by merely selecting residues and hitting a button, click+drag banding, quick freezing) and more accurate (targeting areas with click+drag select for a shake/local wiggle, choosing exactly between which segments my cutpoint is).

I agree with most of bertro and spmm's posts. Overall it should definitely be sleeker. The comically large buttons on the left side could do with a redesign, as well as the Undo tab's buttons. Cookbook is perfect, thank you. Maybe make all movable windows also adjustable in size? What I'd definitely like is being able to make multiple cuts at once by pressing 'C' and a hotkey/button to close all yellow cuts at once.

Oh, and please make it so that all windows stay where and how they are when changing tracks/puzzles or loading solutions or minimizing client or anything. Seriously, do this. Perhaps with some sort of sticky edge system, although that might not work for all resolutions. Mine would be perfect though :p attached screenshot has proposed sticky edges highlighted.

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I only use the selection interface. I find it very easy to select part and apply tool, to put bands and remove them...

I use carton thin and yes the blue color to select part is hiding to many information.
Flicking just mutated segments is annoying for me.

All view options should be in view options like electron density and contact map but pulse when working is useless, as show sidechains with clashes or exposed, show stubs, pulse guide. Symmetry chain color should be in color sub menu. I never used enzdes and CPK, bonds (helix), bonds (loops). Ligand constraints are only on, no?
Somebody fold with score color but without relative scoring?

I think that we agree that voids is not so useful and at least, less than the place it had in tutorials.

Tracks should be in main with save.
Social is useless.

The only problems for me are (but perhaps common to 2 interfaces and already said):
- the windows (cookbook, ...) sometimes have very bad position almost out of the screen,
- rebuild less than 3 segments, I don't understand why it is not possible to rebuild a twisted segment,
- a frozen part forbid many tools, this is very annoying.

I like the new move tool and that drag and pull are now as smooth as in the old interface (for those who try selection a long time ago, it was a major problem).

Please don't remove the arrows in undo, I don't want to lost time finding the points in the graph but I never use the button clear.

And if we could keep our favorite interface and view options even when we open a tutorial for help, it will be great.

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"- rebuild less than 3 segments, I don't understand why it is not possible to rebuild a twisted segment,"

This has to do with how the rebuild tool works - I'll explain the steps that it takes.

1. The program looks at the selected sequence, looking at which amino acids and secondary structures are present.

2. The program picks a random subsequence of 3 continuous segments and inserts a cut at one end.

3. The program then does a look up into a database for protein fragments that have similar AA and SS to this 3 continuous segment sequence.

4. The program then copies this segment onto the current protein.

5. The program applies an algorithm called CCD to get the new endpoints of the cut close, and then closes the cut.

When you rebuild anything less than 3 continuous segments, all rebuild does is insert a cutpoint, apply CCD, and then close it. This is because there aren't fragment sizes of less than 3 in the database. You could hypothetically use fragment sizes of 2, but at 2 segments, the fragments are so small that you're essentially just modifying local DOFs instead of actually capitalizing on real-world configurations of that subsequence.

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sorry accidental down vote - is selection reading the same library as general because the rebuilds do seem different from time to time? I sometimes try rebuilds in main for a different result.

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The libraries are the same. However, in both interfaces, the fragments are chosen at random, so you'll get different results. But no, the interface should not matter.

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When I want to rebuild the surrounding area of a cut point I have to rebuild at least 3 segments on each side of the cut. Could you change it that we need only 2 on each side or even 2/1?

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This was fixed in the 9/11/2013 release for consistency sake. However as Jeff explains in his comment, http://fold.it/portal/node/995970#comment-24925 , rebuilding less than 3 segments really doesn't do a rebuild.

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I liked also have the possibility to freeze a selection.

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I switched over to the selection interface a short time after starting here. I did so because some things were simply easier in the selection interface than they were in the original. Since doing so, I've noticed three things:

- You have to figure it out on your own. There isn't much in terms of documentation.
- The windows keep moving and getting in the way.
- I keep getting options in "Main" and "Undo" mixed up. This is particularly true when saving/sharing solutions and changing tracks. I also look for the alignment and density tool in view options. I *know* they're in main, but my brain likes to check "view options" anyway.

Not sure if that helps, but is my 2 cents.

Cheers

LilBit

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After "growing up" with the advanced GUI interface, the selection interface is terrible to use. It's not at all intuitive, I can't find many of the options and functions, and the huge menu buttons just get in the way. My usual reaction is to find my way out of it as fast as possible, which is hard in itself.

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Cost of moving the tutorials to selection interface:

- http://foldit.wikia.com/wiki/Tutorial_Puzzles the wiki page on tutorials, easy if the text are provided (I use the translation file) and not very long but have to be anticipated and programmed as this page is used by newbies and the folders who help them on global. The volunteers have to be available for the task.

- remake all the videos on tutorials by Madde and rav3n_pl (http://foldit.wikia.com/wiki/Rav3n_pl_intros_corner)

- the other pages on the wiki: As I don't think they are use to know to access a tool but only to how use the tools, updating the other pages is not very important, they should have the 2 versions of the command,

- annoying the ones who help newbies in global who fold in old interface and never in selection. I think the only major problem is on "how to make a band?", the other questions on commands(the move tool, Q, zoom, save structure...) have the same answers in the 2 interfaces.

- remake all the translations: it is a very painful and long task to make a translation. Translations have many bugs (see here a collection of feedbacks http://fold.it/portal/node/995894). Moving the tutorials to selection interface means losing all the translations for a very very long period of time.

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A little late but my 2 cents:
I always work in the selection interface. I couldnt work in the orginal because I kept loosing track of the different modes. Selection is what you see (select) is what you get.
Improvements, lots of them have been said, but these I think are the most important:
1. Make all boxes movable, maybe with the exception of the competion and chat boxes.
2. Remember the state and place of the boxes so a new start gets those
3. Make the vertical icons the same size as the tool icons and put them in a seperate row above the tool icons. Include there the Contact map and ED tool buttons.
4. Give the tool buttons their own icons (back), now shake, mutate to best, mutate choose one have the same icon.
5. Reverse the move tool change, selecting one segment should always give you the move tool.
6. Make the move tool always be in front of the protein, never to be obscured by it.

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Agree with whole post.

Point 5:
I do not like this recent change with the move tool,
maybe selecting segment shouldn't necessarily bring up the move tool instantly, but 3 is a terrible hotkey.
I've already had loads of instances where I found myself in Original Interface somehow while just wanting to use the move tool, having to open/close/resize windows again. I don't even know how to do that without going through main menu!
It seems a tiny change, but it's a massive pain and point of aggravation.

Get rid of it.

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Don't remove the new move tool, it was so painful to want to have this move tool when you select a segment.

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Move Tool in the Advanced Interface is "just click". Or are you talking about something else?

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I have actually been experimenting with a compromise.

Basically, the move tool is a toggle. It wont show up automatically, but when you enable it, whatever your current selection is will be what it lets you move (and if you don't have anything selected, it will let you move everything). So if you don't want it popping up, just leave it off until you need it, or if you always want it on, just enable it.

The other cool thing about this is it adds some extra power to the move tool in selection. Whichever segments you have selected are the pieces that will be moved. So you can have a bunch of pieces of protein with cuts between them, and move ONLY the ones you want, and they will move all together.

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Then how about this: selecting 1 segment gives the move tool automatic on all connected segments.
Selecting more segments and hitting 3 gives the move tool on the selected segments and all connected segments.

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Being able to move disconnected pieces as a unit will be awesome!

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I tried to move non connected pieces using the move tool and selections. It only moves the original piece.

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This feature is not released yet.

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The issue with pressing 3 bringing you back into the original interface is a bug that will be fixed in the next release.

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Great, but still, could u just rip out that entire feature/hotkey for going to Original Interface?
Or push that tiny bugfix to release, like, NOW.
6/10 times when I want the move tool (3), or use idealize (2) I get thrust into that monstrosity of a UI.
People who WANT to switch interface, will find the menu button.
This is seriously messing with my handwork time, and has on several occasions aggravated me to the point of not folding for 2 days.

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Unfortunately this is not a simple one line fix. It was caused by a code refactor back in April. The fix has already been checked into our code base.
The good news is that I can tell you what triggers the bug. The 2 and 3 keys are mapped back to the modes in the original interface when you enter a puzzle in the selection interface. Once you have manually gone back to the selection interface from the original interface, it won't happen again as long as you are playing that puzzle. Sadly, changing tracks counts as entering a puzzle.

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Ah, so if I trigger it purposely, it won't sneak up on me? Thank you, that'll help.
Still, can we expect that next release any time soon?

As you say: Sadly, changing tracks counts as entering a puzzle.
Is this something we can expect to be fixed/improved? In that release, perhaps?
I imagine this would also "fix" the windows resetting; at least until we actually change puzzle.

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These fixes will be the first things to go in the next devprev update, which we hope will be posted very soon.

Thank you again for your patience with these bugs.

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I've just checked in a fix for the "windows resetting" problem. Windows will now remember the position, visibility, and, in the case of the cookbook, size so they won't change positions when changing tracks or puzzles or even between sessions.

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Not sure about having another row of buttons above the current row horizontally
We are working mostly in the letterbox shape and another row under the central score counter reduces the 'actual' window, especially if you are trying to see any other window to the left or right of foldit window, on a lower resolution. I have to resize the window to get to the right hand horizontal buttons at the moment.

Ideally the UX and UI designers at UW will come up with some new ways to layout the selection interface tools and dialogs, like script running, so that it works and degrades gracefully on lower res devices, this would be tested by players if possible.

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Not in the last release, andrewxc
Selection Interface
- The move tool no longer pops up automatically while selecting a single residue. This should make it easier to double click residues. There is now a button + hotkey (3) to bring up the move tool in the Selection Interface.

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I am another that always works in the selection interface. I find it much easier to work with.
The only question I have is, is the Cut Tool on the selection interface? If not it needs to be added.

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Select 2 segments and you have a scissor

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d'oh!I never even noticed that.Thanks Marie

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Is it possible to freeze a selection? i seem to have done it by accident a couple of times but not be able to replicate . Only time I zip into original advanced interface if I am doing a bit of gross structure freezing

Moving slabs which include cut points would be awesome

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No, you can't freeze a selection. What you may have done is frozen a secondary structure. If you double right click on a segment, it will freeze all adjacent segments of the same secondary structure. e.g. if you double right click on a segment that is part of a helix, the whole helix will be frozen.

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I started folding with Selection interface. When I discovered the original interface, I moved to it definitively, because I had the impression I had more commands available there.

Now testing the SI again, I discover useful thinks (like the intuitive selection tools - I did not know how to select various segment zones on the OI !). I even discover that new commands are there (like idealize - I thought it was only within scripts).

BUT:
-shortcuts are not the same
-buttons are too big (we want to see the protein)
-all commands are not available in none of these interface; Some on OI, some others on SI (I don't want to have to change interface to access some tools)

What I really would like: an interface with all commands (even one menu with a long list of all relevant commands in context would be great). Are all commands accessible via SI?

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For me, all commands are available on both.

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