On December 29th, we deployed the latest version of DeviceAnywhere! DeviceAnywhere 5.0 comes with a number of new features, including Send SMS, Custom Device Lists, Test Case Manager, Device Features, and more, as well as a redesigned UI. The full list of new features can be found in the Release Notes.
I thought I would write a series of articles describing the new features in this release. I want to start with the UI, focusing on the new Device Console. (There are many changes to the UI, and I'll cover the rest in the next article).
The Device Console
The device console was created because of a number of perceived disadvantages with the way we were handling the majority of the commands and functionalities in Studio - the Right-click menu. These disadvantages included:
- As we added functionality over time, the right-click menu was getting very busy, with some commands 3 levels down the menu, making them hard to select.
- The length of the menu made it more difficult to organize in an intuitive way.
- Some features we felt would benefit from a UI that not only allowed you to change a setting, but also to view status. One example is hardware controls: buried in the right-click menu, it's difficult to know what the current hardware setting is if not visible (is the battery connected or disconnected?). Another example, although not in the right-click menu, is key mode. There was no visible indication of the key mode that you were currently in, and often new users would be confused by typing one thing on their keyboard and getting the wrong thing on the device due to being in the wrong key mode (say alpha, when in a numeric field).
- Some features needed more than a simple on/off control. An example is the new video and audio controls, which both contain sliders to graduate quality.
In addition, we had a set of icons to the right of the device, and upon some research, we came to believe that few people if any were using these icons as intended (as shortcuts). So - we created the console, got rid of the old shortcut icons, and moved much of the functionality from the right-click menu into the console.
Here's what the console looks like:
The console is organized by major function, and then by feature within separate tabs. The major functions include:
- device input/output controls, which includes a keyboard tab, hardware controls tab, and an audio/video tab
- tools, which includes Send SMS, Application loading, Sharing (device sharing), and Clean-up scripts
- communication, which only appears if available on the chosen device. This supports a virtual local connection to the device (e.g. virtual USB, or tunnel)
Some of the added functionality of the console includes:
- A box where you can enter text before sending it to the device (in case you want to copy in text, or have something to write that you want to check before you send to the device
- Key mode controls front and center, plus a visual indicator of which key mode is currently being used
- A log of any text typed into the device
- Hardware control panel where you can see a visual indicator of the current hardware configuration as well as change the configuration
- New Audio and Video controls. The Audio controls allow you to mute and unmute each audio direction, as well as control buffering (trade off audio delay for higher audio quality). The Video control allows you to trade off video quality for improved key press to screen response time (degrade pixels in return for greater speed).
- New features under tools such as Send SMS and Applications. Send SMS simply allows you to send an SMS to the acquired device, and you can enter the text you would like to send, as well as a link. Applications helps you get an app onto the acquired device; I'll go over this feature in more detail in a later post.
We anticipate that as we add more features over time, they will be easily slotted into their proper place in the console, and that this organization will be more intuitive for users. Our goal was to ensure that no functionality available in previous releases is harder to get to in 5.0 than it was previously, and that some functionality is easier to get to and provides more context. We would like to hear our users' opinions on this, so please, try out the new Studio, and tell us what you think! You can comment on this blog, or if you'd like to contact product management directly, send an email to email@example.com. Next post, I will focus on the rest of the UI changes in Studio, including how to manage multiple acquired devices, the VCR controls, and more.