Central: Easy or hard to use?

I clicked on one of those ‘Central Beta released’ links and downloaded it. The download was quick enough, but there was this unclosable window which got stuck to the center of the screen while central downloaded. I couldn’t do any other work during the download. OK, now the download was quick enough and central fired up.
The AccuWeather app was simple, type in your zip and get weather info. But the zip code field did not come preselected and double-clicking in the field also did not select all the text. After a lot of backspacing, I entered my zip and got the weather listings. There was a neat alert feature where I could set preferences for alerts to be sent to me. I added a few locations and deleted them from favorites. Closed the pod and reopened it. But the locations would not get deleted from the pod list (a bug!!?).
Now moving on to the movie finder, I wanted to find the rating of movies in a theater nearby. I typed my zip code and got the theaters list and clicked on the theater I was interested, which showed all the movies in it. The movie show times were listed but there were no ratings. I wanted to add my next-door theater to the favorites but could not figure out how to add it. After a little searching, i found that the “find a movie” tab also searches for theaters. Just “Find” on the tab would have made my search easier. I found my theater and arranged the movies in it by rating and also found the ‘add favorite’ button on the theater widget. The ‘add favorite’ action in the movie frame had a neat animation where the icon flew into the favorites tab. There were also neat zoom widgets everywhere which expanded to show more stuff. Links to related sites on the WWW were at the bottom of the frame. The resizing grip on the window corner dosn’t work.
Central apps had a little learning involved, but were easy to use after the basic behaviors were learned. I hope Macromedia has a set of usability guidelines for all apps in central, which will make the apps easier to access. In all, central is all I hoped it would be and a little better 🙂 And congratulations to the Macromedia Central team! The edit menu had a ‘Blast all on screen’ function, but I think the two apps that came with central did not support it. For more information Mike Chambers has a list of discussions / comments about Central

2 Responses to “Central: Easy or hard to use?”

  1. mike chambers
    September 25th, 2003 | 9:41 pm

    > I hope Macromedia has a set of usability guidelines for all apps in central, which will make the apps easier to access.

    Yes. We will be releasing a set of UI guidelines for creating Central apps.

    Thanks for the comments. The issues you mentioned should be addressed in the final release.

    mike chambers

    mesh@macromedia.com

  2. Raj
    September 26th, 2003 | 6:48 am

    Sounds like a, um, rip of

    http://www.konfabulator.com/

    Which could be said to be derivitives of NeXTStep/OpenStep/Gnustep docklings

    Still the cross platform aspect is nice.

    Raj.