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Tag – You’re It

Posted by on VR-Forces

During the time between VR-Forces releases, as we work with development versions that have all the new features, we get used to the usability improvements that we’ve added. When we have to go back and use a prior release, the usual reaction to the old version of whatever function has been updated is, “Darn, the old way of doing things is so annoying (by comparison)!”

One of the new usability features in VR-Forces 4.6 is a revision to filtering the object creation palettes. In VR-Forces 4.5 and prior releases, you could filter the object list by selecting the force and category in drop-down lists. Lists are OK if there aren’t too many options, but if you have to scroll, they can be annoying. And even short lists take longer to use than icon bars. In VR-Forces 4.6 we have replaced the drop-down lists with quickly accessible icons.

Selecting the force is now just a matter of clicking a colored button for the force you want.

Categories have been replaced with tags. At the top level, the major platforms are now chosen from a toolbar. That alone would make things quicker than previous releases. However the beauty of the new system is the ability to assign multiple tags to simulation objects. These tags allow you to successively narrow the filtering of the list.

For example, suppose you want to create a utility helicopter that has a 3D model. Previously, the best you could do was to select the Rotary Wing category. Then you would have to know which helicopter to select. Now, you do the following:

  1. Click the Aircraft filter icon. The objects list redisplays to show only aircraft. . And the tags list redisplays to show the tags that apply to rotary wing aircraft.
  2. Click the Rotary Wing tag. Now only helicopters are shown. The object list redisplays and the tags redisplay.
  3. Click the 3D Model tag. Again, the list redisplays and the tags redisplay.
  4. Click the Utility tag. The four helicopters that match all four criteria are listed.

A final feature of the new filtering scheme is that the filters you have chosen are all listed. You can back out of the filter hierarchy by clicking the filter at the level you want to view.

Just as with categories in previous releases, you assign tags to simulation objects in the Simulation Object Editor. You can give tags priorities to make sure that the tags that are most important to you always get displayed in the Tag window. You can also configure how large the tag window is. And, because there are so many simulation objects and so many tags, you can manage the tags in a CSV file instead of assigning them individually through the Simulation Object Editor.

We think that once you get used to using tags to filter the object creation palettes that you will agree with us that it’s a great improvement in usability.

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