I'm concerned about the direction of RP9

I have been using the beta for a month or so now, and I was eager to see how a program I love, but had a few rough edges, was going to improve. For the most part, my overall impression so far is that the emphasis has been largely on aesthetics, to the overall detriment of the usability and efficiency I had grown to admire.

TL;DR RP is awesome, but I feel like I am constantly fighting with Version 9 - not because I’m not used to it, but because it’s no longer intuitively organized or presented. I understand it’s a beta, and I’m willing to tolerate all the bugs and weirdness. It just feels like we’re not “simpatico” anymore.

In no particular order:

  1. The new method of connecting objects is overly complicated. Switching to a connector tool was easy and straight forward, now there is a complex “mode” that I have to enter and exit every time I want to connect something. It has made task flows and IA a tedious and arduous task, as well as a two-handed keyboard command.

  2. Placing Outline and Pages in separate tabs, and moving the widget naming input to the Properties tab has made widget management much more difficult and time consuming. Since naming, placing, and managing widgets is so critical for interactivity and adaptive views, the rearrangement of these items to less accessible areas has dropped my productivity notably. Also, selecting an item in the Outline no longer persists that selection. I was used to RP moving my widgets to wonky places in adaptive views, but at least I could find it and persist that selection to other views; now that process feels much more difficult. Overall the way RP9 handles selections has been very trying.

  3. The pane arrangement situation has gone from passable to pretty darn bad - ok, so RP8 didn’t have the best way to deal with panes, but at least you had some control to collapse or pop them out. Now all the panels feel arbitrarily grouped, and immutable, so even if you did want to do something about it, you can’t. It seems tone-deaf to have a design tool where you can’t arrange the panes, only hide them. Moving the Widget Name to the interactions pane tab, instead of persistently shown at the top of the Inspector, has been especially painful for me.

  4. It just feels . . . slower. Everything seems to take longer; visual acquisition on tools and properties and the things I need is just really not there. Switching between adaptive views in the preview, for example, is slowed by the use of a drop-down control. Maybe it’s the lack of contrast, maybe it’s the over-use of typography vs. objects, or a drive to austerity, but I felt like I was soaring with RP8 and 9 is a bit of a turkey.

  5. Things that were frustrating in RP8 seem to still be in RP9 - for example, how selecting a style won’t change that object to the style if it’s been modified, it will just give you that darned little asterisk. I still find one of my main goals in RP is “make the little style asterisk go away” - 9/10, I just want to re-set and reapply the style. Color management and picking is also still disconcerting, but in a totally different way. At least let me fall back to the Apple Color picker?. And I still can’t drag and drop pages from one document to another - the import process is still incredibly vexing.

I love RP - it made Omnigraffle look like dog food, and I adored that app for almost 10 years.

There are some nice improvements: not having to go to a separate tab to deal with dynamic panels is really great; that definitely is benefitting from the mode UI. There are some other small, nice, touches. But overall, it seems like the priorities are not in the right place, at least in terms of making it even more efficient and productive.

I hope that Axure continues working and refining this amazing product, but for now, I’m not eager to upgrade due to the lost productivity and frustration I am anticipating.

8 Likes

I’m sure you have already figured out that styling to ‘default’ and then switching back to the desired style will clear that dreaded asterisk. It should be the default behavior of manually changing a style, but the workaround is not too bad.

At this point, I mostly only use RP9 for the enhancements like text field/DP styling, master views/overrides and the like, but I do feel like far more areas of the app went backwards than went forwards.

4 Likes

Hi UX-AD –

I agree with you here.

My take on the widget name field is that it should be available in all tabs, similar to 8 (where it was above them, but in 8 you couldn’t detach tabs.) It seems crazy that you can’t tell what the name of the widget is unless you are on the Interactions tab. Plus, there’s nothing particular about “interactions” that makes the widget name property a natural fit. (It’s not as if it’s the “properties” tab.) It was placed there seemingly on a dice roll.

Aside from widget name, I think all of the other items are in the appropriate-enough tab. (The repeater dataset really isn’t a “style,” but I’m glad it’s not grouped with interactions anymore.) But the tabbed items aren’t always ordered very logically (e.g., why isn’t padding near typography?). The tabs should at least offer drag & drop rearrangement of their categories - with the ability to pop out each one. Wouldn’t it be great to have a repeater’s dataset as its own window?

Also, no ability to name/save individual pane configurations is a big lack. And they really need a confirm dialog on Reset View - which is absolutely a destructive command.

Aspects of “coding” are in turns faster and slower for me. It’s great that I can mostly use just the keyboard. It sucks trying to spot the buttons for adding commands and conditions The latter’s “IF” button is 14x11 pixels, and its contrast ratio with the background is 1.31 to 1! To hell with accessibility, I guess.

I really like everything they did to dynamic panels. The previous/next state arrows (if you can spot them) are a godsend. And I like how you can style native browser objects (fields, etc.).

I don’t see a strong enough reason to update unless designing for a mobile device is improved. I haven’t got a chance to play with that yet.

3 Likes

I can’t agree with you more. There were some many functional things they could’ve worked on that would’ve made a huge difference. The modern UI update was welcomed but completely missed the mark in usability. There are so many things I’m disappointed in. Probably the biggest though is that I feel Axure doesn’t listen to us. For a tool meant to help UX designers I feel like they didn’t do very good ux design. Many of them are so obvious, that if they had spent even an hour usability testing they would’ve discovered them.

Additionally, it feels like they copied Proto IO without paying attention to what really works and what the issues are with Proto IO’s interface that gives it poor experience. On top that I feel there were a number of make or break features that never got into the upgrade, including the ability to insert video and a visual method to connect pages similar to Adobe XD, Sketch, UXPin, Origami etc.

So like you I don’t see any reason to upgrade. On top that we have 20+ UX team here and I won’t be recommending an upgrade to them as well.

6 Likes

@JimJam Ack no, I had not!! Thank you for that tip!

1 Like

Thanks for the comments, UX-AD, and for trying out the beta. We appreciate the feedback. I know a lot of your comment was about the overall feel. We’re got additional UX improvements on tap pre-release, and I hope you’ll check RP 9 out again over the next few weeks of updates.

Specifically regarding your comments on connector mode: we appreciate that insight, and in response we have an update coming up pre-release that should help this feel more similar to 8. I’ll also take another look at the keyboard shortcuts to see if I can get it to a one-handed operation.

You can also rearrange and customize the pane arrangement. Check out this blog post for more info: https://www.axure.com/blog/new-in-axure-rp-9-configure-your-environment/ Hopefully you can find something that works as well or better than 8’s arrangement did for you!

2 Likes

Sorry, but I’m going to jump on this bandwagon as well. My complaints have some overlap with those already listed, but I have others as well. But in general, they go under the heading of “more contemporary, but less usable”

  1. As above - widget name should be above the Style/Interaction/Notes tabs. There is no reason to think that the only time a user needs to see or change the name of a widget would be while in the interactions tab. I wonder what kind of workflow analysis led to that decision (!?)

  2. Call me old-fashioned, but I HATE tiny scrollbars that disappear. I still use a trackball for Axure, and need to scroll all the time, and it takes lots of effort to find then grab the scrollbars. If I have a lot of conditions, the scrollbar for that section is virtually impossible to use. I feel like I have a 2px target, and if I’m off by a single pixel, I am expanding the window or deleting the condition by accident.

  3. SO. MUCH. WHITE. Separation between sections on the screen is virtually nonexistent. I can’t tell where my workspace ends and my panels begin. I also work on Axure many hours a day, and staring at the high contrast between the bright background and the black elements is very tiring on my eyes.

  4. This may be a bug, but I used to be able to change the color of widgets by having fill or line color set to a value then using it as a button to change the color of newly-selected widgets. Now when I click on it, I can only get a drop panel, and the selected color swatch there ALSO doesn’t act as a button to change the color of the selected widget. What a workflow barrier!

  5. Panel droplist - I love the droplist for switching between panel states, but when I have more states than fit on the screen when the droplist is expanded, there is no way to scroll down the droplist to get to the ones below my screen (see attached)

  6. Interactions - Interactions are 80% of my work in Axure, and my workspace just got reduced to a single column on the side of the screen. I miss the popup where I could see all the actions and objects in one place without having to rely on multiple droplists that can only be displayed one at a time.

I haven’t used the beta a ton yet, because of these initial complaints. There is also much good here, such as managing panels without hiding everything else, and making better use of the space that was dedicated to pages. But, like another poster to this thread, I expected Axure to focus more on usability with this new version, so feel our goals are diverging a bit, which makes me sad.

Thanks for giving a forum to air my concerns!

GregoryAxureDroplist

3 Likes

Thanks for the feedback, everyone! Since we’re no longer handling feature requests or product discussions on the forum, I’m going to close this thread. Please feel free to email us with any further feedback at support@axure.com.