Feedback/Suggestions about the Outline


#1

Before I start let me just mention briefly who I am. Nobody particularly important. But I have been doing UX work for 20 years and have used almost every prototyping tool out there… Photoshop, Illustrator, Omnigraffke, Sketch, JustInMind, Axure, Balsamiq, Visio (lol)… etc. I have worked on lot of different SaaS products for enterprise. I’ve worked in Mobile. I currently work on ridiculously complex desktop software for the finance industry. I was also a Product Manager for 10 of those years and so I understand the challenges Product faces when making roadmaps and gathering all the data to decide what to build.

My current company has settled on Axure for our prototyping software and in general I really like it. It was in fact at my suggestion that we’re using it.

That said… there are some features that I feel are missing… specifically with the Outline panel.

Overall, my take is that the tool is lacking some functions for managing large numbers of widgets in the outline. Stuff you get with your windows or mac file system and that people have become accustomed to. It makes working with really complex prototypes more labor intensive than I’d like.

Here’s a list of the ones that are currently bothering me the most.

  1. Selecting an object on the screen does NOT open the Outline to that object… that is very frustrating! Let’s say I copy and paste four groups called
    Item 1
    Item 2
    Item 3
    Item 4

Now I have
Item 1
Item 2
Item 3
Item 4
Item 1
Item 2
Item 3
Item 4

And now I select an object on the screen… which group is the object I have selected inside? I can’t tell. And doubly hard since most of the objects have names like “Rectangle” - whenever something is selected in the edit view, that item/widget should ALWAYS be opened-to and selected/highlighted in the outline. Even if I use the right-click “Select” function it still does not open-to or highlight the selected item in the Outline. This is driving me crazy and wasting so much of my time. Additionally, when using Search it STILL does not open-to and highlight the searched for term. What’s the point of search if it doesn’t RETURN the item you are searching for? There’s all these fancy filter options but you forgot the most basic rule of search: SHOW the item the user searched for.

  1. What’s the actual difference in the selection modes? they seem to work exactly the same. I click a group, the group is selected… i click again, a subgroup is selected… i click again the object is selected. That’s how it works no matter which selection method I choose… so what’s the difference? When I have “Select Contained” active it still works that way… i have to click my way down the path until I can select the contained object. Seems like a bug or else what’s the point of Select Contained? By the name I expect it to allow me to DIRECTLY select an object in a group without first selecting it’s parent Group or any Groups above that. It does not seem to do that.

  2. My inability to use Ctrl-click to select objects in the Outline that are in different Groups… VERY annoying. Say I have a table and I have put either the columns or the rows into Groups so make it easier to move them around and know what’s what… but if they are grouped in rows I can’t select one item in each Group to move a column left or right. Ctrl-click in the outline should select anything I want… no matter what Group it’s in.

  3. Why do Groups have visibility toggles but individual widgets must be right-clicked and Set Hidden? Please add the visibility icon to everything in the outline like every other design program that controls visibility.

  4. Why is there no open all/collapse all in the Outline? This is a major annoyance as I will tend to have dozens of groups in any given file and I definitely sometimes need them all closed and sometimes all opened… which is currently a tedious, manual, time-wasting process.

  5. Please add “Rename” to the right-click menu in the outline and change the single-click renaming behavior to a double-click (like all the other design products that use an outline or layer list) and while you’re at it… whenever a new Group is created the default state of that Group name should be “highlighted and ready to accept a name” because the very 1st thing most people want to do when creating a group is give it a name and if they don’t it can just un-highlight if they click anywhere else).

  6. Furthermore, there should be an ability to make an empty Group so I can make two or three and name them and do some organizing. Overall, the Outline is a bit anemic and really needs more big-boy usability features to be really useful for enterprise-level UX design. I’m designing for incredibly complex investment management software and it is inevitable that I’m gonna have hundreds of items and many dozens of groups in any given file… making the Outline better is very important to me.

These are NOT meant to be complaints… these are just product suggestions. I’d be perfectly happy to speak to Product people and/or be a beta tester or in some way give additional, direct feedback.


#2

Hi!

I agree, especially about the selected item, although I don’t know of any product that allows creation of an empty group. Here’s a couple of answers:

  • The selection modes (contained, etc.) don’t have to do with selection in the outline. It describes how lasso selection works.
  • The visibility setting in the outlin is different from the hidden setting. Visibility makes it completely invisible (and click-through-able) in Axure’s UI. It still shows when you run the prototype. You might want to do this if, for instance, you have a large modal that appears at some point over your UI and you don’t want to have to deal with it constantly while working. “Hidden” makes it hide in the interface and in the running prototype, but you can still see its mask color and you can’t click through it on first click (because you might want to select it.) A widget can have its visibility off and be hidden as well.

unlisted #3

#4

Hi! Thanks for all that detailed feedback–that’s all very helpful context to help flesh out each of your requests. We’ve gone ahead and filed your points with the product team, and they’ve found your suggestions for how to handle the challenges in the Outline pane to be helpful. Thank you for those. :slight_smile: For future feedback on improving the tool itself you can go ahead and directly email support@axure.com; this will make sure the feedback doesn’t get lost in the forums and makes it to the product team.

To add to josephxbrick’s clarification of what the selection modes do, swapping between those two modes will determine whether clicking and dragging to select widgets on the canvas will select all widgets that are at least partially selected by the lasso/drag area, or just those that are fully contained within the lasso/drag area.


#5

Thanks for the response Alyssa. I will send future comments directly to my man Justin in support.

Also, thanks for explaining the selection modes. I understand now. My idea would still be very useful… select groups or select items inside groups directly as an option setting.

cheers


#6

You’re welcome! To follow up on the submission of feedback, while checking in with our product team I learned that we’re starting up an Axure User Council for users like yourself who are interested in providing more input to help guide the future of Axure’s products. If you’re interested in being part of studies, surveys, and generally being more in touch with the teams on the product and planning side of things then I’d recommend signing up! https://www.axure.com/axure-user-council


#7

ok, I signed up. thanks