In this issue, we meet William Marchesini engaged, almost since ever, in the development of the User Interface of the think3 products. With over twenty years of experience in software design and development, William has recently focused his activities especially on the user interface of ThinkDesign, by creating over 7,000 bitmaps integrated into the product.
William, can you explain us what tasks an expert in User Interface has to perform?
With pleasure! My goal, my mission, is to hide all the basic complexities related to the operation of the application, allowing the user to run the commands and work in the most simple and natural way.
A good quality User Interface derives from a careful and balanced set of several characteristics: it must be intuitive, configurable, flexible, ergonomic and standards-compliant.
Everyone involved in the UI development must have a global vision of the whole product to ensure an overall consistency. It is a difficult task insofar as it concerns 3D CAD systems, subject to continuous changes, and known to be among the most complex software programs.
A good UI designer must always be ready to listen, communicate and discuss, i.e. to put into question what has already been done and what is going to be done, since everything can be improved.
Putting yourself in the user’s shoes and try to think as he/she would do, is essential. Even small changes such as the position of a command or the replacement of a bitmap can have a strong impact on the daily work of many people.
How has ThinkDesign changed over the last few years? And what reactions have you got from the users?
The recent company reorganization has allowed a greater cohesion among the various departments and consolidated a direct channel between the end users and the R&D team. Much earlier than in the past, we can be informed on users’ needs and notifications on ThinkDesign. In fact, think3 has always held with high regard the collaboration with the end-users, in order to ensure high quality products and the satisfaction of the real operational needs.
Changes are never welcomed with open arms. This is why we need to pay attention to what we offer to the end-users: our proposal must always represents a clear added value. For example, when we redesigned the ThinkDesign bitmaps, providing a user interface with a more appropriate look & feel, we left our customers the opportunity to choose which type of icons to work with. Although we had not changed the user interface layout, some customers preferred to continue using the old icons!
What does the future hold for ThinkDesign?
ThinkDesign 2015 will integrate the new “Document Explorer” that is no longer necessarily fixed and docked to its initial position.
This innovation will improve the user interface and allow you to interact more easily with the various tabs of Model Structure, Layers, Annotations, Bookmarks and the Rendering. You can release the new “Document Explorer” from the model or layout window on which you are working and drag it anywhere onto the screen, even onto a second monitor. You can freely arrange your working environment and better exploit the graphics area, also in full-screen or dual monitor modes.
Our goal is to make ThinkDesign increasingly powerful and flexible.
As for the future product innovations, I am bound to the trade secret, and I cannot make any statement about them ;-).
However, I can say two things. The first is that, if we want to talk about the future, we must take a dip into the past. Since the fabulous times of CadLab, ThinkDesign has always been an innovative product. It has been able to anticipate trends in its sector, to the point that, more than one competitor, in the past, even copied some of the command bitmaps integrated into the earlier versions of our CAD!
Our intention is going on in the same way, keeping up with the times and, if possible, anticipating them.
The second point is that, over the last few years, the UI has assumed an increasingly important role in the development of the applications: it is not just a cosmetic issue, but an element that strongly influences the whole product design. For this reason, think3 will always hold in high regard this issue, taking the utmost care to the development of the best UI for the future versions of ThinkDesign.