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