Hi Simon,

> Visually pressing down CTRL or ALT is immediately visible in the tool
> options: The mode switch will switch accordingly. What else would you
> suggest to communicate this more clearly?

When users are concentrated on drawing a path (and at the same time are
exploring different keyboard shortcuts) they will pay few attention to
changes in the tool options. Instead, they will give their attention to
the image area, here especially to cursor feedback (and hopefully the
status line!). 

The major problem I see here is that when pressing CTRL (Design mode)
while the mouse is not located over the path, there is no interaction
possible (which is shown by the concerning icon). But there is no hint
in the status bar WHY interaction is not possible. I'm not sure about
the actual text, but maybe something like 'Move the mouse pointer over
the path to edit it'(?) would be helpful and support exploration.


> Basically it is impossible to really compare the path tool in 1.2 and
> the path tool in 2.0. I have rewritten the Path tool from scratch,
> removing arbitrary limitations and implementing some new ideas.

Yes, I know it's completely built from the scratch - and I think it's
really very good! I tried the 1.2 path tool, and was not happy with it.
Nevertheless, on the first look, four modes seem to be more intuitive
than three, as they hide les information from the users. Four buttons,
combined with simple keyboard shortcuts for a quick navigation, are very
easy to learn. But when I read this mail, I just realised that the tool
is way more complex than it seemed to be on the first look, and that
simple keyboard shortcuts are not realisable. 


> Given the prerequisite, that the whole tool should be usable without
> having to move the mouse back and forth to a buttonbar (jimmac already
> wrote about this) and the need for a modifier (SHIFT) we have two
> modifiers left, which lead to the three modes of the existing tool. In
> theory we could use CTRL+ALT for a fourth mode, but this would require
> the user of the tool to be quite a finger acrobat and is probably not
> really a good idea.

That's true. I just didn't realise that there is such a lot of
functionality. Further below, you said that the path tool is not for
newbies, but for people who will use it on a regular basis and willing
to invest some effort to study it. I know it's a bit sobering, but
studies on help/manual usage showed that only very very few people
actually read manuals. That's why an intuitive and easy to learn
interaction design is so important! 

I admit that my suggestions were short-sighted, I just did not know
about the whole complexity! but still I think that especially users who
are not image manipulation experts need a bit more support with respect
to the path tool. Especially, a hint on how to remove path segments and
points is missing. Maybe at least provide a tooltip text for the three
modes (Design: 'Create new anchors and shape the path', Edit: 'Add
[Ctrl] and remove [Ctrl-shift] elements' - rough wording).


> So, if you propose to add a fourth mode please also propose a way to get
> out of the dilemma explained above. I hope you can understand, why I am
> a bit skeptical about your suggestion.

Yes, I understand now - really complicated stuff.... 8-) 
But nevertheless, I hope you don't mind if I think of it some more, talk
to some colleagues... not to change the conception of the tool, but
maybe to find some very small and simple solutions to facilitate the
learning.

Have a nice day 8-)
/ellen

-- 
______________________________________________________

Ellen Reitmayr          email: [EMAIL PROTECTED]
Usability Engineer      mobil: +49.177.3325867
relevantive AG          fon:   +49.30.23455630
Zehdenicker Str. 21     fax:   +49.30.23455639
10119 Berlin            web:   www.relevantive.de
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