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Android UI and UX

I’m currently running Joplin on a Win10 laptop, a Solus running laptop and an Android phone. I can’t speak as to the interface of Joplin on iOS and MacOS but on Android the interface is, at least IMO, bad.

Now, saying the interface is bad is all fine and dandy but it doesn’t really solve the problem and since the interface isn’t all that bad, it also isn’t venting… So, here are a few suggestions that I think might improve the interface: (my programming skills aren’t up to snuff to implement these myself so I’m only throwing these at the ground, hoping some might catch root)

  1. remove the edit button. I know this might not seem like a smart idea but here me out. There are 4, count them, 4 easy to note directions one can swipe on a mobile platform, Joplin doesn’t really make use of at least one of them. My suggestion is simple, make it so we go to the markdown editor when we swipe left. This seems to be an unused direction when inside the editor. Make it so we swipe left once and go to the editor, swipe right once from the editor and return to the rendered screen. I know this might not seem like that big of a deal, but it would, at least in my opinion, better integrate the app into the touchscreen environment.

  2. remember how on point 1 we got rid of the edit button in the lower right? well, how about we replace it with the tag button? Currently, going to tags requires us to go to the upper right, press the hamburger button and select tag, then select the tags we want and then press OK… I can’t help but think that’s a few steps to many, especially on a touch screen device.

  3. So… we got rid of the edit button, and moved tags to a more visible location, what else? how about changing what swipe right does. Currently swipe right does just one thing, open the mobile sidebar… except that’s not really what it does. It might be my device but swiping right only opens the side bar if I start swiping very close to, if not outright on, the left most of the screen. More so, there is no visual indicator that I’m swiping - you know, beside the sidebar opening. My proposals here are that swipe right be turned into a universal back button and sidebar opening gesture - I know, not very UNIX of me. Since Joplin doesn’t support nested notebooks eliminating the back arrow and using a swipe right to achieve the same effect shouldn’t be that hard. You are in the editor (assuming 1 will be implemented, sorry) swipe once to go the the rendered markdown, swipe twice to go the notebook, swipe three times to open the sidebar. Simple, and it will unclutter the screen.

  4. Remove the to do list… currently, on both desktop and android the to-do list functionality is, well it isn’t broken per se, it’s just very, very annoying. Personally, I’d recommend it be moved inside a notebook via markdown, put something like - [ ] text for an unticked box and let us go nuts, or just allow us to go to the next point of order when we press enter. I actually know this problem has cropped up from time to time, if would be nice if a solution could be found. Having to just press a button again, and again and again kinda defeats the whole point of markdown - IMO.

  5. this is probably the smallest gripe thus far but… why is the sidebar button present in the configurations menu? I understand the back arrow, but the sidebar button? Again, this is a very small gripe, but it just doesn’t really make much sense to have it present there. Also, why is the search button there? it’s not like it searcher withing Configurations.

  6. Speaking of the options section of the app… could we get the section headers from the desktop version on the mobile version? Unless I did something wrong, on mobile the Configurations section is just one long, uninterrupted list. That’s just bad design. If the desktop General Options section has the problem of making relatively bad use of space, the Android apps Configurations section is just one uninterrupted list that almost goes out of it’s way to make sure you can miss something. - was implemented in 1.0.261 Android. Also, since I’m here, why is it General Options on the desktop but it’s Configurations on mobile?

  7. Finally, touching empty space. When an item is selected. Say we select a note to delete, we can’t actually just touch the screen outside of the delete icon to unselect the item, we have to literally go back via androids back command. Again, this is ignoring the fact that we’re using a touch screen. It’s not the first time I’ve seen an android app do this, but I had really hoped we’d have moved away from that design.

PS. This is mainly a first time set up problem but, when you set Joplin up for the first time you end up with a lot of duplicate default welcome notebooks… any way of actually solving this problem? also, any way of fusing the mobile and desktop versions of the welcome notebook into one?

PS2. Before I forget, the default dark themes on desktop and android use different color pallets. Not really an android specif gripe but sometime I’ve noticed.

And internally it’s called “settings”, while on macOS it’s called Preferences. I indeed think we have some issue with the way config is named. To the point where I’m never quite sure how to call it when I write doc or blog posts.

Otherwise yes the UI in general is not great, this is a known issue. I guess it’s relatively high priority to improve it.

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Well, on the other hand they are called differently on different systems. On macOS Preferences is used, on Windows/Linux most developers use Settings, and on mobile I don’t know if there’s a standard.

While I agree that the UI could need some improvement, in this instance the naming is perfectly valid. At least on macOS. When there are more than 1 menu items for different aspects (options) of the program (as there are on desktop), a menu item with sub menus is used - that’s always the same and this is also the case for all other programs I have encountered. How else would you call a menu item for general options - other than General options?

The shortcut that is used is also standard, so I don’t understand what people have to complain about.

I’m sorry that we can’t use the kiddy approach (call everything like it is called on a singular platform). e,g, why would I want to read Settings on macOS, when I’m used to Preferences? Maybe we should create a Settings menu (in File) for the Windows users instead of having the options under Tools. Maybe people stop whining then.

  1. the problem isn’t that it’s called General Options, is that it’s called General Options on Desktop and Configurations on Android. The problem isn’t what it’s called, it’s that it has different thing on different systems. The application ins’t self consistent.

  2. On MacOS it’s supposed to be Application Name|Preferences
    On Windows it used to be Tools|Options - as it is now on both the win and linux Joplin apps
    On Modern Ribbon UI Windwos it tends to be Files|Options - tends to.
    On Linux under Gnome it should be Edit|Preferences
    On Linux under KDE it should just be Options on the menu bar - as a call back to one of IBM’s old OS’ standards
    On Android it’s supposed to be Settings.

That’s great, if you have the time and resources to make sure every system gets it’s own personalized UI for an OS level consistent UX. But in this case, I think the Google Chrome approach works best. Keep the Mac Application Name menu thingy, but just add a hamburger menu to the right of the screen and put all the toolbar stuff in there. One interface for all systems - at least that’s what Google did with Chrome and Chromium, and unlike Joplin they would have had both the money and manpower to make sure the UI just fits perfectly on all systems - no offence to laurent.

On macOS, “Preferences” is fine. It’s on CLI (Config), desktop (General Options) and mobile (Configuration) that it’s not so consistent. I think I picked those names a bit randomly at the time and would be good to find proper names.

Maybe we should do like Sublime Text and use “Preferences” on all platforms.

I like the idea. Let’s hope others do too. :wink:

In that case you would change General Options to Settings and the others as well, e.g.:

Preferences >     Settings
                  Settings - Encryption
                  Settings - Web Clipper

Looks not too bad actually.

The question is how do we name them on mobile?
We can certainly make it consistent by renaming Configuration to Settings, but what about Encryption Config? If we really wanted to be consistent, we’d have to use the same name as on desktop. Which would be Settings - Encryption for my example above.

Since I’m not allowed to edit the original post any longer - too old I guess - I’m writing this to say Point 5 on the list has been solved.

Edit, this being said, what does the swipe left do on Android? While inside a note it seams to open a space that isn’t used by anything.

It doesn’t do anything normally. Could you post a screenshot of how it looks?

To replicate all I have to do is open a note then swipe from the right to the left.

EDIT. and the app will hold there until I swipe to the right or press back.

Ok I see. I assume it’s a feature of the side bar package I’m using, as I didn’t implement this. I’ll look into it.