Certainly a touch-centric interface opens up a whole new realm of possibilities. Basic navigation is pretty much standard, but how do you present a range of other tools without cluttering the UI? And when your users are linemen with gloves on (or at least large fingers) then it becomes even more difficult to present tools and information easily.
My pain point came as I was standing in my yard talking to a lineman telling me it took him 1/2 an hour to find the transformers on my loop so they could isolate a burnout. He told me the (custom ArcReader app *I WROTE*) was too hard to use in the field - ACK!
For UG loops they need easy trace functions that highlight the conductor path and note the transformers and fuse end-points. This is the ArcFM Desktop downstream trace result:
A good start but ideally the trace would pass over the open point (at the lower left) of the loop and highlight both sides, maybe even change buffer color for each side. Similar results would help for Overhead - the trace should find all upstream and downstream switches for isolation.
The key to these, for me, is visualization in context. A tool that finds features and highlights them on the map is OK, but it's much more helpful if it shows those features in context with where the crew is now as well as how those features relate to what is upstream and downstream.
These issues are directed more at daily trouble work, not inspections as Orbit has been designed to address, but I hope that some day an ArcFM Viewer replacement based on technologies like Orbit will be available.
First, thanks for the detailed and insightful post! This is exactly the kind of feedback we crave. You can be sure these notes get a lot of attention and translate directly into product improvements.
You hit on a topic which is particularly pertinent in our current Orbit platform design efforts: touch-centric design. Orbit currently straddles the fence between desktop and tablet design: it must work well on both a laptop/mouse platform as well as a touch-only tablet. While we know that a great many of our users will in fact be using existing non-touch laptops and tablets, we are braced for a possibly very rapid transition to a world where touch support is dominate. Fully-embracing a touch-only experience does certainly open up a new realm of possibilities. There is a ground-swell of new thinking occurring around rethinking user experience design for line-of-business (LOB) applications in a touch-friendly world. Here for example (and shown at the right), is a case study for a mobile workforce application deployed as a Windows Store application. The result is dramatically different from its desktop predecessor—and arguably much more engaging, intuitive, and mobile-friendly.
If you were at the last LINK, you might have seen a preview of our early efforts to transform Orbit into a Windows Store experience. I believe we still have a ways to go with this design (To me, this first attempt at building Orbit-on-Windows-Store still seems to retain too much DNA from the desktop experience and does not yet capture the essential benefit afforded by Metro-style design), but I am quite convinced that this new “fast and fluid” world of Windows Store apps will enable dramatic improvements that will benefit—even delight—our users.
You should expect great things from our next wave of mobile solutions, and with more excellent feedback like this, you are helping us get there.