The Bombing Brain Blog

Designing Teleprompt+ 3- Hiding the Script List

One of the best things the iPad brought to the world was a renewed focus on a contextual approach to user interface.

For decades, most software design on the desktop revolved around some variation of the giant top toolbar. (Microsoft Word is a good example of this approach.) A space above your content would contain buttons for every function known to the application. Select a piece of content, then press the appropriate button on the toolbar.

Microsoft Word

These toolbars got so big and overcrowded on larger apps that they ended up being divided into separate tabs, or split up onto various places other than the top of the screen. Buttons along the left, buttons on the top, another bar on the bottom, etc. Every button for every function, visible all the time, even when the functions were not.

With the reduced screen real-estate on the iPad, this wasn’t going to fly. So a lot of developers did something quite clever: they removed the toolbar from their applications. Touch an object, and the tools you need to manipulate that object—and only those tools—appear. Deselect the object, and that UI disappears. No more clutter. Far easier for newcomers to learn, too.

Microsoft Word

But then we got to the split view controller, and things actually took a step backwards. If you’re unfamiliar with the terminology, a split view controller is a screen where the main content is on the right, while on the left is a list of what essentially amounts to file names. In the case of Teleprompt+ 2, it was a listing of all your scripts. Select a file on the left, and the script comes up in your editor on the right. That’s great, except the list of files never goes away. It just sits there taking up space and distracting you from your work while you’re trying to focus on the right side of the screen.

Imagine if on a desktop computer you saw a file listing all the time on the left side of the screen, as a sort of permanent open dialog box. Crazy, right? Yet, the split view controller in iOS is often used exactly this way.

So we decided for Teleprompt+ 3 that this should change. Rather than using a stock split view controller, Teleprompt+ 3 has the script list brought into and out of view very easily with a single tap or swipe. Your entire script library is there when you need it, and gone when you don’t.

Teleprompt+ 3

Along with this change, we moved all the buttons that belong to script management, including adding, importing, exporting, sorting, navigating through groups, etc.—basically any of those functions that would normally belong to a file system—into this panel that disappears whenever you don’t need it. This makes for a much more distraction-free experience when editing your current script. And yet it’s very easy to manage that entire library from the hidden panel once you bring it into view.

Teleprompt+ 3

We feel this change is a rather significant one, though many may not think about it much once they learn how to bring up the script list and hide it again.