FDB field trial feedback and suggestions

marc
Posts: 7
Joined: Sun Nov 22, 2015 10:46 pm

FDB field trial feedback and suggestions

Postby marc » Mon Nov 30, 2015 11:10 am

I tried the FDB using a Windows phone (Nokia Lumia 1020), an Android phone (Samsung) and an Android tablet (Samsung Galaxy Tab). Some of the trials were done in the field for some real work. Here is my feedback on the problems encountered and some suggestions.

First, it is the best app I have tried so far, it is well thought through, designed and it is user friendly so well done! The relational structure, the dropdown boxes, the ability to take pics and voice notes, the ability to import, export and have photos labelled is brilliant! :D With the addition of geottaging for photos and a coordinate field (previous post suggestion), it will be superb and so useful. :)

Here are a few comments. I included in brackets the OS they refer to.

Application control buttons (top right and left corner of screen)
- These are very small and hard to hit with fat fingers or when using a tablet with a case. Could they be wider rectangles rather than tiny circles?

Linked tables.
- When clicking on linked field, it takes a long time to open the linked table and register the link. (Windows)
- If editing the linked table record from the other table, it does the edit but does not come back to the record you were editing. Worst, it has not saved it so any data you may have inputted has been lost. (Windows and Android)

Inputting data:
- you can't add a new record from the table view (the add record button is not there), you have to click on an existing record and then add a new one (Windows)
- drop down boxes are quite slow to open and record information (Windows).
- The scrolling siezes at times and can be unresponsive (Windows)
- When editing or adding a new record, all fields have icons for photos and voice recording. (Windows and Android).
    - Also, if I click on the voice note icon it comes up with an error message (Windows).
    - If I record successfully a message or take a picture in Android and then export as a csv file, I can't find the recording or the photo or even a link to them in the csv file and folder.
-When scrolling the form on the right-hand side, sometimes a message pops up saying 'image source' with 2 options: photo library or camera + OK button. When you press ok nothing happens. ??? (Windows)
- there is no input validation to check that a field has been filled in or not. That is very important as it is all too easy to miss important fields during survey. The function needed is the equivalent of a 'required' option in other databases. If ticked, the field must be filled in otherwise the record cannot be saved and a message appears.
- In Android phones, the field boxes take up the whole screen and are on different lines than their labels.(Android phone)

Photos
- Somehow the quality of the photos is quite poor (Windows).
- very slow photo taking and registering and saving (Windows).
- Not quick to switch between portrait and landscape (Windows).

Database
- When clicking import, it opens a window and only the top 3 folders are visible (you have to scroll down to see the rest). It is strange as the rest of the window is empty.

Derived fields
- This is a very important and useful feature as it enables data derivation but also validation (you can create a QA form to quality check data entry, compare field entries, their consistency etc.).
- Unfortunately, apart from very simple stuff such as creating a 'if site_number = 3' statement, I could not figure out how this worked. I tried to do checks on text strings (e.g. 'if Text = "yes" then ...') but it does not seem to support it. I tried the choice option and could not figure out how it worked. The help file gave no illustrated examples and not a lot of information.
- I could not figure out how the + and - buttons worked and what they were for. They add lines but linked to what?
- I am not sure the prefix notation is very helpful. It goes against standard practice for writing logical statements. It definitely needs to be better explained.

Suggestions
- Could there be an option for fields such as 'Field required?' which would enforce a check that the field has data in it before saving and would ask the user to input data if he has forgotten?
- Could there be an autonumber field that grows incrementally and can be used as a unique id field by the user?
- Clearer instructions on how to create derived fields with a lot of visual examples.
- Derived fields that can be created using 'if then else' statements or more standard syntax.

Altogether the app worked much better with Android than Windows OS. With Android, the app was more responsive, quicker and gave access to the full camera app when taking pictures.

Many thanks :)

support
Posts: 33
Joined: Mon Apr 27, 2015 5:44 pm

Re: FDB field trial feedback and suggestions

Postby support » Mon Nov 30, 2015 9:16 pm

Thank you for your comprehensive feedback. I really appreciate your time you took to create this report.

I will try to address systematically all the issues you bring up in a single post, although some of the issues might benefit from a separate thread of discussion.

General note regarding multiple issues with performance on Windows phone 8.1. From preliminary testing with the pre-release version of Windows 10 mobile it appears that the universal version of the application (built specifically for Windows 10) have noticeably better performance and stability compared to version for 8.1 on the same device. Since all of current devices running Windows phone 8.1 are expected to receive update to Windows 10 soon, it would not make much sense at the moment to devote much resources to optimizing for the platform that is quickly becoming obsolete. Later when enough feedback for Windows mobile 10 would be collected optimization effort can be started targeting performance issues identified on that platform.
- [Application control buttons (top right and left corner of screen)] are very small and hard to hit with fat fingers or when using a tablet with a case. Could they be wider rectangles rather than tiny circles?
- In Android phones, the field boxes take up the whole screen and are on different lines than their labels.(Android phone)

The application tries to accommodate to various screen sizes on supported devices by laying out screens based on ratio of text font size to screen size. There are certain break points when screen layout would drastically change, for example when labels for text inputs would be moved to a separate lines in an effort to allocate enough horizontal screen space to both. That is what you observe on your android phone. By changing the system font size you can to some extent modify the layout of application screens. The size of buttons is also aligned to the size of screen font. On android you could try to play with system settings application Settings->Display->Font size to check if you could achieve more comfortable layout. It is possible to change system font size on Windows phone as well (Settings->System->Display->Size of text) although that requires restart of the device.
- you can't add a new record from the table view (the add record button is not there), you have to click on an existing record and then add a new one (Windows)

This may be another case of screen size related behaviour. At certain screen sizes application starts to hide header and footer on the screen: when the screen area used for showing the data becomes smaller than fixed screen area containing controls (buttons, selectors). Again this is done to optimize the amount of useful screen area on smaller screen. Note that this may happen at different times on different screens. The "Add record" button is located on the footer of the table screen. In order to make hidden footer/header to show up, tap on the inert part of the screen - on table screen that would be a line with number of records.
- If editing the linked table record from the other table, it does the edit but does not come back to the record you were editing. Worst, it has not saved it so any data you may have inputted has been lost. (Windows and Android)

This is fixed in current development version for the next major release, but probably will not make into any minor releases (if there will be any more)
- When editing or adding a new record, all fields have icons for photos and voice recording. (Windows and Android).
- If I record successfully a message or take a picture in Android and then export as a csv file, I can't find the recording or the photo or even a link to them in the csv file and folder.

Well, this is actually a feature :) - you can add voice note or photo to any field regardless of type, to use it later for whatever purpose, presumably entering data into the field from voice note/photo. These auxiliary notes are not exported into CSV files - in fact there is no proper place in CSV file for those. There are special field types to hold media data - image and sound fields. The data in these fields is exported along with CSV file (the corresponding cell in CSV file contains a file name of media).
- When clicking import, it opens a window and only the top 3 folders are visible (you have to scroll down to see the rest). It is strange as the rest of the window is empty.

Yeah, this probably should be done in a better way. The idea was that after the file is selected, most of the screen would be used for file information and setting up import. But before selection is made the whole screen can be used for files list. Or maybe information display after selection should go in a whole screen of its own. I will add to do item to fix this in one of upcoming releases.
Derived fields
- Unfortunately, apart from very simple stuff such as creating a 'if site_number = 3' statement, I could not figure out how this worked. I tried to do checks on text strings (e.g. 'if Text = "yes" then ...') but it does not seem to support it.

Oh, comparison operation only accepts numeric data - that is a glaring omission. It shall be fixed in next major release.
I tried the choice option and could not figure out how it worked. The help file gave no illustrated examples and not a lot of information.
- I could not figure out how the + and - buttons worked and what they were for. They add lines but linked to what?

I agree, some examples would probably be more understandable than very dry description currently in the manual. To try to make the purpose of the choice operation clearer for now I will try to rephrase that description here. With 3 arguments choice the operation choice(X,Y,Z) is equivalent to an if statement: if X then Z else Y. It treats X as boolean, when it is trueish, the result is given by Z, otherwise by Y. When you press a plus button you add an additional argument, and choice become sort of select: choice(X,A,B,C) uses the numerical value of X to select among the rest: when X is 0 the result is given by A, when X is 1 - by B, and C is the result when X is anything else. You can add more arguments by pressing plus button again. The minus button remove corresponding argument. Those resulting arguments can be data from fields, or constants, or some other computations.
- I am not sure the prefix notation is very helpful. It goes against standard practice for writing logical statements. It definitely needs to be better explained.

Well, I do not know, I kind of like it :). It allows entering complicated expressions with minimum of typing, mostly by selecting from allowed choices at each part of expression. By building in top-down left-to-right direction it uses screen space more efficiently that left-to-right algebraic notation, with moderately complex expressions including long field names fitting the screen of the phone completely, where algebraic would require scrolling or line wrapping. The application would not allow you to create invalid expression, because it only gives you valid choices for each part of expression.
Suggestions
- Could there be an option for fields such as 'Field required?' which would enforce a check that the field has data in it before saving and would ask the user to input data if he has forgotten?

Yes, I added this to the list of features for one of future release, maybe it could make even in upcoming one.
- Could there be an autonumber field that grows incrementally and can be used as a unique id field by the user?

Auto-increment is already on the list for wanted features, not sure if it could make it in upcoming release, less likely than previous one.

marc
Posts: 7
Joined: Sun Nov 22, 2015 10:46 pm

Re: FDB field trial feedback and suggestions

Postby marc » Tue Dec 01, 2015 12:33 pm

Many thanks for your comprehensive reply. I look forward to the next release. :)

With regards to Windows phones and OS, I agree and unless Win10 mobile performs much better, I may purchase an Android tablet as it seems to be better suited and it performs much better overall (plus a bigger screen size is better for field capture).

About the derived fields, I tried a simple
If site_nb = 0 then 'Site 0' else 'Site 1'
and it gave me the opposite result, bizarre!
I must be doing something wrong so I will wait for the next release and guidance.

All the best :)

support
Posts: 33
Joined: Mon Apr 27, 2015 5:44 pm

Re: FDB field trial feedback and suggestions

Postby support » Tue Dec 01, 2015 2:44 pm

If site_nb = 0 then 'Site 0' else 'Site 1'
and it gave me the opposite result, bizarre!


Oops, my description in previous post of the if statement equivalence was wrong.

The choice(X,Y,Z) statement is equivalent to if X then Z else Y. Thats is because adding additional argument transforms the statement to select based on X with numbering starting from 0.

I will correct the previous post.


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