A thank you to Steve Stafford, long time Revit user and blogger, for catching an instance of an effort to improve task dialogs. Part of adopting the 2010 shared interface components included new style task dialogs. Part of this update included a new consistent look and feel. An inventory found there were over 12 incarnations of a Revit task dialog with 400+ instances. The prospect of presenting a consistent appearance was seen as a positive move.
- Is the wording terse or condescending?
- Is the wording awkward or confusing in anyway?
- Does it provide all the information needed to take informed action?
- Is the information too technical or jargon-filled to be understood by the target user?
- Use present tense 99% of the time (do not say something “will” happen)
- Use active voice (not passive).
- Do not use the word “please” in a message.
- Do not use the word “may” or “may not” in a message, use might, can, or cannot instead.
- Do not use the word “wish” in a message, use “want” instead.
- Use only one space after a period if you have more than one sentence.
- Do not use an exclamation point (!) in a message.
ExamplesSteve mentioned the “unresolved references” dialog here. Let’s take a closer look at a couple others that show a range of change.
Inconsistent GroupsModel edits can occasionally cause one instance of a Revit group to become inconsistent. This breaks the concept of a group and therefore requires attention. These cases would first post a warning where the user could “cancel” or choose to “fix the group”. When they choose the later they would see this:
First off four choices is a lot. The first two options seem reasonable but the second two create more questions.
- What is an inconsistent member? Is it a group member?
- If I remove/delete elements from the problem group will they be removed/deleted from all groups?
- Why does it mention family?
Not a drastic change but simpler and more informative. The language is consultative and the subtext provides additional information that can be read if needed but does not compete with the main command links. Here is a better and contrasting example:
Save to central (2010 Synchronize with central)A user opens a workshared file and makes changes to the project that causes elements to become editable to them. They then close the project and see this:
- While minor, the dialog lacks a clean layout
- The message orders the viewer to “Save to Central” but then states what will occur if they choose “Relinquish” which is not a button choice. Choices are: “Relinquish & Save” or “Don’t Relinquish”
- Does “Relinquish & Save” save locally or to central?
- The title of the dialog suggests “Save to central…” but doesn’t communicate the issue.
This work sharing task dialog would stop anyone in their tracks. Careful analysis identified six distinctive tasks:
- Save all work to central (1)
- Save local file and:
- maintain ownership of all checked out elements (2)
- relinquish all unchanged elements (3)
- Close project (i.e., do not save the project) and:
- lose all changes since last save and maintain ownership of all elements (4)
- lose all changes since last save and relinquish all elements (5)
- Cancel back to project (6)
The dialog now asks a question which starts the viewer down a path.
- Three choices are presented and if the viewer has previously Synchronized with Central the first choice is hidden so only two are shown.
- The dialog title is changed to communicate the issue it is meant to resolve.
- The frequent and desired choice “Synchronize with central” is the default command link.
- The second two choices launch an additional task dialog.
Select “Do not save the project” in the Changes Not Saved dialog and this task dialog displays:
In this example, unlike the first, more dialogs/choices are used. This required mapping all the tasks and their sequence then displaying the choices progressively so that the viewer is not burdened upfront with multiple simultaneous decisions.
The task dialog project dealt with over 400 task dialogs on varying levels. Approximately 60 high impact/frequency instances were extensively reworked. An additional 28 were deemed superfluous and removed altogether! The remaining were converted to the new format but left with their content unchanged. We are always looking for additional cases, especially ones that are particularly confusing or encountered frequently.