A series of suggestions from object manipulation to performance

After trying to construct my first prezi, I’m impressed with the idea but I think the execution is still too janky to commit to.

Here are a few places I’ve gotten stuck, and my suggestions to improve them:

* Bring Forward/Send Backwards are great when you have 3 things. When you have dozens of things, it’s a fail. Not only are the animations slow, but by only allowing single steps, you’re basically only supporting back to front construction. Heaven forbid you want to add a background or a frame to an area that already has a dozen or so things in it! Solution: add a “Send All The Way Back” and “Send All The Way Forward” command. It wouldn’t hurt to consider an optional list view to work with either, one that just listed verbatim all the objects in the presentation. Zooming is nice… until it isn’t.

* I have trouble selecting things that overlap, and refactoring larger chunks of presentation. Solution: Again, some kind of selector that wasn’t a hit test on the object would help solve ambiguity. It would also make it easier to group and lock objects so that you can more easily focus on the objects you’re interested it. There’s a reason Illustrator/Photoshop/Powerpoint/Maya/etc do this, and it’s not because they have lazy UI designers!

* Not being able to edit square frame aspect ratios and arrow lengths after the fact. This is also a bit of a fail. The only recourse is to redraw the object, which can be an even greater hassle if it’s already part of a path! Solution: Please extend editing of these objects to the rest of their parameters.

* Connecting new nodes into a path if you’re working small and the next connection is far off. When this happens you have zoom out to find the center node on the connecting line, and hopefully you can still see the small object you’re trying to add to the path. Best case I’d been dropping in an empty small frame as a place holder to anchor the path before it leaves the small area, then deleting the frame when I’m done. This is a silly hack, and I’d rather not do it. Solution: allow the “center” node to slide so that for any line crossing the view, place the “center” node as close to the center as possible, but still on screen.

* I’ve become stuck in the editor several times where clicking on the object I want to edit just pans the view over, as if it were stuck in Show mode, even though the bubble menu says otherwise. There wasn’t even an object to move to, it was just panning at what looked like a fixed offset from where I clicked. There are many more small niggling annoyances like this that totally kill confidence in the robustness of Prezi when you’re using it. Solution: I’m not sure what the problem is, just the symptoms, so I have no solution to offer.

* Flickering and performance. Prezi seems to break down pretty badly when scales are wildly different and or images and shapes like frames overlap. I’ve tried altering the overall scale of the presentation, but somewhere, something will still go screwy. The performance on my Mac is also extremely variable. The same presentation will be zippy one moment, and bogged down the next. Solution: dump Flash. I’m sure prototyping was awesome, and the free cross platform was cool, but I think you’ve reached Flash’s limits: it’s becoming a liability! I’m a video game programmer by trade, and I’m more than certain that Prezi rewritten as a native openGL app would be all kinds of badass, and allow you the developers far more freedom to add bigger and better things.

* Finally, on the wishlist, I’d like freeform drawing tools please. Right now, drawing in Prezi is a mess comparing to being in Illustrator or Photoshop. So the M.O. is to leave Prezi, maybe take a screenshot first, arrange a backdrop elsewhere, import it, maybe change a few things down the line and have to repeat. Prezi + a Cintiq should be the killer whiteboard to presentation app, but it’s just not working out right now. Solution: please focus on robust freeform draw/erase tools with fine color, line width and fill controls!

I’d really like to use Prezi. I love the idea, and a lot of the thinking you guys have put in constructing the UI is great. But the package as a whole right now is just not reliable enough to commit to. Quite the opposite: I’m almost certain that in the course of working on a large presentation, I’ll end up stuck somehow with no recourse. :frowning:

Good luck in further developing this, I hope I can catch you down the road!

Thank you for sending such a detailed message and for posting here on GS - that way every employee can see it. We have noted these ideas and will post an update here when we’re able to deliver user-requested features.

Thanks again!
Angelie

It kinda hard when you want to create two or more titles with the same font (letter size). I think they should integrate like a “ruler” on one side that can give you an idea of the “level” you are in.
Also, when you are zooming in and using an image as a background, the image disappear. And if you are not using one, your presentation gets slow and it kinda lose it’s zooming effect.

Something that indicates you “how much zooming” you are using would be really useful.

Suggested by Chris: " Bring Forward/Send Backwards are great when you have 3 things. When you have dozens of things, it’s a fail. Not only are the animations slow, but by only allowing single steps, you’re basically only supporting back to front construction. Heaven forbid you want to add a background or a frame to an area that already has a dozen or so things in it! Solution: add a “Send All The Way Back” and “Send All The Way Forward” command. It wouldn’t hurt to consider an optional list view to work with either, one that just listed verbatim all the objects in the presentation. Zooming is nice… until it isn’t. "

This is an absolute must for me - it takes forever to re-order everything - and it is very arbitrary - there is nothing to tell you which level you are on - you just have to wait to see the item you want to select ‘flash up’ on screen. It is deeply frustrating and time consuming to keep sending items to the back one step at a time - and then to have to do it all over again when you want to insert the path to the finished article. Using frames is great but it is too complicated to layer these properly at the minute. Please fix this asap!

I completely agree w/ Chris’ observations on z-ordering. I’ve found that I’m unable to even select objects that are behind some big unknown thing that’s in front of them. It would be handy if you could hold some control key and drag across items that you’d like to select regardless of their z-order.

I have to agree on both the z-ordering as well as the selecting and path creation. These are simple application usage features that are not difficult to envision within the application.

Insert SHAPES is released:

http://prezi.com/learn/insert-shapes/

Spot on Chris, on all accounts! Been using Prezi for 2 weeks, and all the issues you mentioned have bugged the crap out of me… I really like the product, but for the issues you mentioned - then  looked for a place where I could offer the same suggestions you have, which led me to this post - now to my shock and horror I see that you have made these suggestions 5 YEARS AGO ALREADY???
Hmmm, not good, and with that I shall bid Prezi adieu an move on to “Amaze” or “Impress.js” .