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Pumpkin Pie
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 02, 2005 9:41 pm    Post subject: Page advance by browser "<" and ">" Reply with quote

What I would like to do is to have only art on the webpage for the viewer to see. Currently, I'm thinking along the lines a sequence of borderless single panels strung together as a sequence of webpages. Not three-to-four-panel comicstrips or six-plus-panel comic pages. However, there's the issue of advancing forward or backward with these panels. I would really rather not have any navigation buttons on the webpage as I feel they disturb the art ... especially as I want to present borderless art. What I'm wondering is if it is possible to have the reader use their web browser's forward and back buttons. However, I guess the real question would then be...

How to get the forward button to work. Currently, it is to be used for pages you're already seen before. What I want to do is get it to be for those yet shown. Saying this can be done...

The script I'm working on has rather mysteriously developed that every episode is fourteen panels long. Episodes being what's released all at one time and contains a micro-arch (beginning, middle, and end ... but as it is part of a larger story arch). My thoughts is to have an index page where each episode is listed. Readers click on an episode's link and it takes them to the beginning of that fourteen-panel sequence. They then use their browsers' "<" and ">" buttons to advance through the panels. When they advance beyond the fourteenth panel, they come back to the index page. Here I don't mind other buttons. I'd even like to have one that would say "Advance to next episode" so the reader doesn't have to try to remember which episode they were just looking at.

There is also the potential problem of load time of fourteen webpages. I suppose one way is to have a micro-program automatically load all fourteen pages and then set the view on the first of the fourteen pages. If this were to take a bit of time, I suppose a "Please wait while episode is being loaded." could be shown and then have a progress bar. Then again, if the program can load the first two of the fourteen webpages, present the first webpage right away, and work on loading the rest while the reader reads through the panels, there might not be a big loading time problem.

On a related issue, what I would also like to do is activate the browser's F12 key to have a full screen and then use the keyboard's arrow buttons for navigation. If this is possible, perhaps the up-arrow and/or down-arrow button could take the viewer back to the index page. The right-arrow button then being the advance forward command and the left-arrow button being the advance backward command. This would naturally be explained on the index page. Ideally, I would also like the taskbar line switched to auto-hide while viewing an episode thus only the artwork is on screen. When the reader comes back to the index page, the F12 is tapped again to return their browser frame as they had it before and the auto-hide for their taskbar line clicked off as well.

Now I have computer programmer friends that I can ask about this, but I'm wondering is if some webcomic webmaster has already done the above and is willing to share the code or at least tell how to write the code to do the above. Or if anyone knows of a webcomic that is currently doing this ... whereupon I'd go to it and ask its webmaster these questions. If no one has done this before, does anyone have a good idea how it could be programmed?
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Joel Fagin
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 02, 2005 10:20 pm    Post subject: Re: Page advance by browser "<" and ">& Reply with quote

Keyboard navigation is a really great idea. I've never heard of something similar being done on a webpage so I don't know how or if you could do it. However...

You really do need the navigation buttons as well. Sorry. It's the established interface for webcomics which everyone is familiar with. More than that, it's built on the tape, CD and DVD player interfaces everyone is already familiar with. A newbie to the world of comics would take just a second to figure it out and an old hand wouldn't need to.

But what you suggest is going to leave everyone lost. Everyone. Not only is it a non-standard webcomics interface no one knows how to use, but it's also a non-standard webpage interface. You don't get webpages that are controlled by the keyboard and it's just not going to occurr to anyone that it's even an option. Finally, it's an invisible interface. With the standard one, you may not know what the buttons do but you can certainly see they're buttons and a little experimentation will tell you the rest. This? There's nothing.

Of course, you can add instructions but not everyone will read them or even see them. Most will click straight on the "first comic" link and start reading, only to hit a wall after the first comic. There's also going to be people who think, "Why can't he just use the normal interface and make it easy?" and give up in frustration.

On the plus side, the mouse can be used in your right hand for scrolling and the keyboard operated by the left for navigation. It's almost as good as a mouse/keyboard combination for a first person shooter.

I'm not saying don't do it. Just be aware of the consequences. You might lose a lot of potential readers before they've given the comic a fair chance if you don't include the standard navigation buttons as well.

Edit: What the heck. I'll plug. Here' a comic website tutorial I did which covers a lot of stuff like this - where the design of something can interfere with its purpose.



- Joel Fagin
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Pumpkin Pie
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 02, 2005 11:23 pm    Post subject: Re: Page advance by browser "<" and ">& Reply with quote

Joel Fagin wrote:
Keyboard navigation is a really great idea.


Thanks. As a marketer, I've always felt my biggest advantage is being innovative.

Quote:
I've never heard of something similar being done on a webpage so I don't know how or if you could do it.


Perhaps someone else here will know. As I said in my first post here, I also know a lot of programmers and I'm sure one or more of them can figure it out for me.

Quote:
However...


Darn. And it was going so nicely until you wrote that word. *laugh*

Quote:
You really do need the navigation buttons as well. Sorry. It's the established interface for webcomics which everyone is familiar with. More than that, it's built on the tape, CD and DVD player interfaces everyone is already familiar with. A newbie to the world of comics would take just a second to figure it out and an old hand wouldn't need to.

But what you suggest is going to leave everyone lost. Everyone. Not only is it a non-standard webcomics interface no one knows how to use, but it's also a non-standard webpage interface. You don't get webpages that are controlled by the keyboard and it's just not going to occurr to anyone that it's even an option. Finally, it's an invisible interface. With the standard one, you may not know what the buttons do but you can certainly see they're buttons and a little experimentation will tell you the rest. This? There's nothing.

Of course, you can add instructions but not everyone will read them or even see them. Most will click straight on the "first comic" link and start reading, only to hit a wall after the first comic.


I expect this to be the case. I don't worry about it. The index page will serve three principle purposes. One is to give the links to the episodes, another is to plug tie-in merchandise, and the third is to explain how to navigate the episodes. And, yes, I know some will go directly to the "first comic" without reading that. I'm a marketer and am thus well aware of the impatient consumer. To handle them, the first panel of the first episode will have something like the following:

"Do NOT panic!

Your computer screen is fine. It has just been adjusted for viewing this webcomic as its artist wishes it to be viewed. When you close out this window or return to the [webcomic's name] index page, your computer screen will go back to what it was before.

As for how to progress through the webcomic, you only need to hit your keyboard's arrow keys. Right-arrow (or "6" on your numberpad) button advances you to the next panel of the webcomic and the left-arrow (or "4") advances you back to the previous one. If you want to return at anytime to the index page, simply hit either your up-arrow (or "8") or down-arrow (or "2) and you'll be taken back to it.

Real simple and easy. Now enjoy [webcomic's name] and have fun.

Press your right-arrow button or numberpad's "6" now."

Quote:
There's also going to be people who think, "Why can't he just use the normal interface and make it easy?" and give up in frustration.


If they do so after even seeing the above, that's just a negative I'm willing to live with.

Quote:
On the plus side, the mouse can be used in your right hand for scrolling and the keyboard operated by the left for navigation. It's almost as good as a mouse/keyboard combination for a first person shooter.


I think mine is less complicated of a system. However, if another webcomic wants to give your system a try, more power to them. I will definitely pay them a visit to see how their navigation system turned out.

Quote:
I'm not saying don't do it. Just be aware of the consequences. You might lose a lot of potential readers before they've given the comic a fair chance if you don't include the standard navigation buttons as well.


Yes, I was understanding potential fall-out from doing so. However, I believe the system I'm proposing is a simple one to learn and logical to understand. Also, for me, the potential artistic benefits out-weigh the negatives you cite as I think they'll help improve the appreciation of my webcomic. If my webcomic becomes successful, I won't be surprised that other webcomics follow suit.

Quote:
Edit: What the heck. I'll plug. Here' a comic website tutorial I did which covers a lot of stuff like this - where the design of something can interfere with its purpose.


Thanks. I'm already starting to read it.
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Joel Fagin
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 02, 2005 11:35 pm    Post subject: Re: Page advance by browser "<" and ">& Reply with quote

Pumpkin Pie wrote:
Quote:
On the plus side, the mouse can be used in your right hand for scrolling and the keyboard operated by the left for navigation. It's almost as good as a mouse/keyboard combination for a first person shooter.


I think mine is less complicated of a system.


I thought I was describing your system, actually. I've just re-read the first post and, yes, I got the wrong end of the stick.

Well, in fact it is your system, just as applied to an infinite canvas comic.

Anyway, good luck with this. If you can get it to work, it'd be great.

- Joel Fagin
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russ
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 03, 2005 3:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"I believe the system I'm proposing is a simple one to learn and logical to understand. Also, for me, the potential artistic benefits out-weigh the negatives you cite as I think they'll help improve the appreciation of my webcomic."

Famous last words... Of course everyone who designs a new interface believes their idea is simple to learn and logical, but usually they are wrong. Interface standards are a good thing. Something which changes the totally standard behavior of browser < and > buttons is going to be even more deeply confusing and annoying to a lot of people.

As a reader of webcomics, I can't imagine that I would seriously appreciate your comic more by navigating with my browser's < and > buttons instead of by clicking < and > buttons on the screen. (Well, unless part of the artistic goal of the comic is to annoy me.)

Consider the sad example of many websites for bands and movies, and many DVDs, which all make up their own Flashy interfaces, and as a result are quite annoying and often hard to navigate. People want to view your content; they don't want to have to learn yet another interface.

Imagine "I believe that it is more logical for the accelerator to be on the left and for the right foot to control steering". Whether or not it's more simple and logical, it's just not going to work when everyone is used to steering with the wheel and accelerating with the right foot.
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Tim Mallos
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 03, 2005 5:43 pm    Post subject: Flash may be the key Reply with quote

Hey there.
Sounds like you might want to look into Flash.
In Flash you can create a viewer that displays files from the server.
Flash (actionscript) will let you capture key strokes (like the arrow keys).

And you can do a bunch of other cool stuff, like allow the window / images to scale as the user desires, or as you code.

http://Flashkit.com has a lot of code examples.

This is a simple image viewer that displays images not imbeded in the flash file:
http://www.flashkit.com/movies/Scripting/Using_External_Files/External-Uchitha-10004/index.php

This is an example with a slicker presentation. Clicking the thumbnails could be replaced with capture for the arrow key down event.

I did not look deeply into this example, but it may be pulling in the images from outside the Flash file too.

http://www.flashkit.com/movies/Effects/Masking/image_ga-preba-7876/index.php

Click on the "View @" and pick a size above the examples to see them larger.

It don't think it would take long to build the application you are describing.

Tim
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Pumpkin Pie
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 03, 2005 6:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, Tim! I'll read over the links.
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Pumpkin Pie
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 03, 2005 7:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

russ wrote:
"I believe the system I'm proposing is a simple one to learn and logical to understand. Also, for me, the potential artistic benefits out-weigh the negatives you cite as I think they'll help improve the appreciation of my webcomic."

Famous last words... Of course everyone who designs a new interface believes their idea is simple to learn and logical, but usually they are wrong.


But not always.

Quote:
Interface standards are a good thing.


I normally agree ... unless there's something wrong with it that you wish to correct.

Quote:
Something which changes the totally standard behavior of browser < and > buttons is going to be even more deeply confusing and annoying to a lot of people.


In regards to the first style (using browser buttons), it shouldn't be that confusing regardless since people are already familiar with the standard forward and back buttons on their browsers. Even with the second style (full-screen and keyboard arrow buttons), most will only hit one button and do so each time they want the sequence to advance.

Quote:
As a reader of webcomics, I can't imagine that I would seriously appreciate your comic more by navigating with my browser's < and > buttons instead of by clicking < and > buttons on the screen. (Well, unless part of the artistic goal of the comic is to annoy me.)


Art isn't in a vacuum. It is affected by what is around it. Its impact is increased or decreased by its mere size. I'm trying to reduce clutter around my art, make the frame of one's computer monitor like that of a picture frame, and increase the size of my art for greater impact and appreciation by readers. I've never heard any comicstrip artist express joy when newspapers reduce their comics in size to fit even more on their comic pages ... or, worse, slap in ads. Unlike comicstrip artists, I will have more control over how my comic is viewed and what I'm seeking here is something worth the possible wrath of traditionalists.

Quote:
Consider the sad example of many websites for bands and movies, and many DVDs, which all make up their own Flashy interfaces, and as a result are quite annoying and often hard to navigate. People want to view your content; they don't want to have to learn yet another interface.


Innovation just for innovation's sake is not a good reason to innovate. I'm not wanting to do this to be different, but simply because there are problems with the current way (see my last paragraph) and I believe this would be a good way to solve those problems.

Quote:
Imagine "I believe that it is more logical for the accelerator to be on the left and for the right foot to control steering". Whether or not it's more simple and logical, it's just not going to work when everyone is used to steering with the wheel and accelerating with the right foot.


I've just bought a new car. Could you tell me where is the knob that turns on my car's lights? How about that lever that enables you to raise and lower the steering wheel? Or the lever that pops my car's trunk? Where are the buttons and their arrangement (not to mention how I'm to use them) for adjusting my car seat?

Not everything is set in stone. Not everything has to follow what proceeded it. People are quite flexible and can adjust to new situations.

With my first design change (using the browser forward and back buttons), I'm simply having you click a button that does the same thing but merely located in a different location on your screen. A button you have used FAR more and longer than buttons set up by webcomics to advance their panels.

With my much preferred second change (full-screen and use of keyboard arrow buttons for navigation), it is a bit more radical but you're still hitting buttons with arrows. In fact, you're doing that in all three cases.
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Eric F Myers
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 03, 2005 8:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think you're on to something there. Standards are ok if the artist is ok with standards. But Pumpkin Pie is right. Sometimes you need to break the frame in order to reset the art. I'm also looking into doing a short story comic where the border of the panels would have an impact on the art. I look forward to seeing what you come up with in your interface.
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