THOUGHTS FROM DEVELOPERS AND DESIGNERS.
We are the team working at Algoryx Simulation AB. This blog is a place for
us to share our inspirations in work, cool video clips and other interesting stuff.
We also hope this site can be a place for discussions about software development, graphic design and education.
We constantly get amazing stories about how Algodoo can be used in different ways. Last week Emil got an very inspiring letter from Portugal about a school that actually won the Portuguese National Contest ”Science at School”. So I decided to share this letter with you. Read and get inspired.
The other day I also published a couple of new user stories on the Algodoo website www.algodoo.com/wiki/users. Go there and read more.
Do you have your own user story? Fill out this form and you can win a T-shirt.
Graphical Design & Communication
On July 27, 2010, Pedro Isidoro wrote:
I´m writing to report an activity included in our school project – Fisicarte – which is related to your super original and creative software Algodoo.
We work in a middle size school that is organized like this: 11 primary schools with students from 1st till 4th grade and 1 basic/comprehensive school with students from 5th till 9th grade.
This year a group of teachers created a project including 85 4th grade students and 30 8th and 9th grade voluntary students. We’ve organized several experimental activities related to Physics and during five weeks we included Algodoo in some of those activities. All teachers and students loved the experience of discovering and working with the software.
We’re experiencing a great time at our school because we´ve recently won the 1st price of the national contest – SCIENCE AT SCHOOL – which is organized by very important Portuguese institutions: Illido Pinho Foundation (http://fundacaoip.locais.net), Espirito Santo Bank (http://www.bes.pt) and the Ministry of Education (http://www.min-edu.pt).
At some point in the project we asked the students to write a letter to the Algodoo creator about what ever they were feeling. This is what a student in the 4th grade wrote:
“Dear Algodoo creators,
Taking part in contests has always fascinated us. And if these contests reveal realities far beyond our imagination, we support them with great interest. The teachers who directed/organized the presentation of these incredible experiments were just amazing. Thus, what was an unknown world has become a tempting and magnificent field: we were speechless by some experiments such as the anti-gravity man or the robot dance. After all we saw, everything seems easier and our wish to go further is growing bigger.
It’s your duty to afford young people experiments, which arouse their curiosity and renew their inventive spirit.
Thank you! It was phuntastic!”
Thanks and congratulations for your work!
Physics and Chemistry School Teacher
Cluster of Schools of Carregal Do Sal
So I was experimenting a bit with the look of the lasers and I realized they look a lot better if one fuzz the edges a bit. Have a look for comparison (click for larger):
Take especial note to the intersections of lasers and the softness of the rainbow.
In my opinion, the fuzzy lasers look a lot better than the old style – but opinion was split at the office, and so now I’m asking for yours. Which do you prefer? And what level of fuzziness? Should old scenes be automatically updated with the new look? Or should this be a per-scene setting, so that old scenes keep the old look and new scenes get the fuzzy look (by default)?
(PS: Fuzziness only changes the look of the laser – nothing more, nothing less. Also, fuzziness will only be available with shaders/anti-aliasing turned on)
Edit: scratch that – fuzzy lasers will work, and look almost as good, even without shaders!
Every day I use different software’s and applications in my work like Illustrator, InDesign, Word, Excel, Opera, Mail, Spotify, Skype, etc. And in some magical way I have learnt how to navigate them and find all the necessary features and tools. But I have to say that the journey there has been both frustrating and hard many times. Have you ever felt the same?
There are so many different logical (or un-logical?) software structures to learn and in many ways the struggle to get in control of them is both hard and frustrating. And after hours and hours you still don’t know if you are a newbie, starting to get familiar with them or if you are an advanced user. Because you still end-up trying to find the same features and tools every day.
So, what actually annoys me is that I from day one as a user have to put up with a lot of unnecessary tools and features that I’m not ready for to use or uses at all. They have always been there and they will always be there.
So, how do I want a good interface to be?
I want a good interface to be simple to learn. But of course you should always be ready to spend some time to get an idea of how it works. It should also be easy to navigate through and have a logical structure (related tools and features in the same place). It should have shortcuts on the keyboard to learn and make you work quicker (I always use them!). It should also have different modes for different levels of experience or the possibility to change/arrange it in your own way. And finally it should look pretty nice! Some of the softwares that I use meets these requirements but not all of them. The most common problem is that they consume to much time to learn with complicated help-centers on the web and to many options for a beginner.
So, what about Algodoo?
Algodoo is as you all know in many ways a totally unique software. You can play, make art, learn and teach using real physics in the same time. And it is also totally addictive and fun. But beside all that I think that Algodoo has a totally unique interface that actually grows along with you as a user. It lets you see and use what you want to see. And when you are ready for more there is more! Let me explain.
The Algodoo interface is smart. It is designed for the user/children to grow with. As an educational software it follows the kid through different stages in learning physics. When starting with Algodoo as a young kid you really don’t need all advanced tools and features. You simply just want to play around, getting familiar with physical elements like boxes, circles, etc. But after a while when you are ready for more there is more. There is more physics to learn and there are more tools and features to explore. Smart isn’t it?
So, when starting up Algodoo for the first time you are automatically in the ”simple mode” (and this is highly recommended as a starting point). In the simple mode you have access to basic tools and features like boxes, circles, planes, etc. for creating your first own scenes and getting around. As a newbie or as a young kid this is all you need and it is fairly enough to control. And of course if you want some guidance there are also basic tutorials integrated in the software. You can simply choose a tutorial and follow/make the steps inside the program and in the same time start creating your own first scene. Just taking a few minutes. So there is no need for spending hours downloading or navigating to separate help-centers or help-contents like many other programs put up with (does anyone ever have the time to go there?).
Getting familiar with Algodoo, the next step is to switch to the ”medium mode” or the ”advanced mode” adding more tools and features to the interface for each mode. This is excellent because when you are ready for a more advanced user interface (or when children grow older) you simply step up to the next mode. Giving you access to more tools and features, making Algodoo a striking software with complete draw and editing opportunity for physical elements, ability to visualize and analyze forces and velocities, and the possibility to show plots and evaluate them. But remember, even as an advanced user you sometimes want it to be simple again!
So, I am ready to say that Algodoo is unique. Algodoo meet my wishes for a good user-interface in many ways. It´s easy to learn, it have basic tutorials, you can move windows and bars around and it actually grows with you as a user.
But still, we in the Algodoo team think there is more to do…
What if the Algodoo interface could learn from and remember your behavior?
What if you could combine or set your own toolbars?
And what if Algodoo could be even easier to learn?
So, keep looking here for what´s coming next.
Graphical Designer Algodoo