My Image/F&F Backups tabs, and eliminate UI bifurcation between Backup and Restore


My Image/F&F Backups tabs, and eliminate UI bifurcation between Backup...
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jphughan
jphughan
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First, I credit the idea below to @RandySea, whose idea proposed in his thread sparked what I've built off of it and outlined below. I also recognize that even IF this idea were adopted, it would likely come as part of Reflect V8 rather than being implemented within an existing release.

In that thread, Randy wants to quickly make Incrementals without a definition file, which he's currently achieving by clicking the "Create Inc Backup" option buried under Restore > Other Actions, a location he rightly points out is unintuitive.  Obviously a definition file is the recommended solution for this need, but this nonetheless prompted me to study the Reflect UI a bit, and I realized there seems to be an opportunity to make things simpler, more intuitive, and more discoverable. And perhaps best of all, I don't think it would be very difficult for Macrium to implement if they chose to do so (apart from needing to update documentation), and I suspect even users well-versed in the current interface would not feel much of a learning curve.

My proposed revised interface would make the following changes:

- Move the "Image Restore" and "File and Folder Restore" tabs to the "Backup" tab group (Definition Files, Scheduled Tasks, etc.) and name them "My Image Backups" and "My File/Folder Backups", respectively.  I would suggest placing them to the right of the "Create a backup" or "Backup Definition Files" tab. To control tab group width and improve functionality and layout further, perhaps have a single "My Backups" tab that has a filter selection dropdown (similar to what's available in the Log tab) or else Image and F&F "sub-tabs" as are currently found in the Restore UI.  To curb tab group width even further, perhaps consolidate the VBscript, PowerShell, and batch files tabs into a single "Scripts" tab. But however that's implemented, my reasoning is that several of the operations available under the current Restore tabs are tasks that users might want to perform outside of a restore scenario: verifying an image (just as a spot test), browsing it (perhaps just to check something rather than restore data), creating a new Diff/Inc backup from the Other Actions heading, or just SEEING what backups they currently have at a glance.  For those situations, Randy's thread forced me to concede that a user might not always think to click "Restore" to accomplish those tasks.

- Of course this leaves no tabs in the Restore "section" -- but that tab still surfaces the Restore Tasks listed directly under the tab along the left edge of the interface.  So perhaps the existing Backup and Restore tabs, and the tasks they each surface underneath, could be consolidated into a single "Backup & Restore" tab with both Backup Tasks and Restore tasks listed under it. If the user expanded "Restore Tasks", the "My Backups" tab could automatically be selected for convenience in expectation of the user wanting to perform a restore, and switching back to "Backup Tasks" could automatically select the "Create a backup" tab.  Alternatively, those two task headings could be eliminated entirely in favor of just listing all of the Backup and Restore Tasks together, potentially with no collapsible heading at all, since once again, as I look critically over the "Restore Tasks" list, I see that a user could conceivably want to perform 2 out of 3 of them without necessarily restoring any data -- plus there also only 6 tasks total between Backup and Restore Tasks anyway. However, the latter option would remove the automatic selection of an appropriate tab in the main UI when the user expanded either Backup Tasks or Restore Tasks. But either way, the "Other Tasks" section, which is identical between the Backup and Restore tabs, could remain as a collapsible group underneath the main tasks in this consolidated "Backup & Restore" tab idea.

I'd be curious to hear feedback both from Macrium staff and of course fellow Reflect users on this.  I'm normally the type of person that bristles when I see that a new application release has tinkered with an interface that I considered completely fine before, but I think this could be a meaningful improvement since it would make the UI simpler and make various functions more discoverable.

Edited 21 January 2018 7:11 PM by jphughan
Nick
Nick
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Hi 

Thanks for your comments. 

Yes, this is an interesting and potentially improving UI change. To be fair, we get very little negative feedback on the UI but moving from a mixed Component and Action based UI to solely Component based makes a lot of sense. We will certainly look at this for a future major update and thanks for giving the subject such detailed thought.

The Inc/Diff option was put on the Restore tab to appease those who refused to accept or understand backup definitions.  It also provides the ability to create an Inc or Diff in PE where there are no definitions.  There's also a good case for providing the Inc/Diff option as an Explorer context menu option for Image/backup files. This then provides easy access to create an Inc of Diff in the Explorer  'File View' without launching Reflect to navigate to the correct option, however, we certainly do not want to discourage our customers from using Reflect properly and creating a simple backup definition. With a backup definition saved, you can create a Desktop shortcut or  even right click on the .actual xml file in Explorer and take the option to create a Full, Diff or Inc. 

Kind Regards

Nick

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jphughan
jphughan
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Thanks for the reply!  I've certainly had no complaints about the UI layout (quite the contrary, actually), but everyone's brains work a bit differently in terms of what makes sense to them, and I suppose even the best UIs can always be made better.  I hadn't thought about the use case of creating a Diff/Inc backup from Rescue where definition files aren't available, which completely explains why that option exists under Restore.  Anyhow, as I said this was just a suggestion.  I'm sure I'll be happy with future versions of Reflect regardless, but I'm glad you felt it was worth consideration. Smile

Edited 20 June 2017 2:21 PM by jphughan
RandySea
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Nick - 20 June 2017 8:56 AM
The Inc/Diff option was put on the Restore tab to appease those who refused to accept or understand backup definitions.  It also provides the ability to create an Inc or Diff in PE where there are no definitions.  There's also a good case for providing the Inc/Diff option as an Explorer context menu option for Image/backup files. This then provides easy access to create an Inc of Diff in the Explorer  'File View' without launching Reflect to navigate to the correct option, however, we certainly do not want to discourage our customers from using Reflect properly and creating a simple backup definition. With a backup definition saved, you can create a Desktop shortcut or  even right click on the .actual xml file in Explorer and take the option to create a Full, Diff or Inc. 
I think putting an Inc/Diff option as an Explorer context menu option for Image/backup files is a great idea. It would not stop you from maintaining the existing approach. Nor would it stop you from providing a more obvious link within the UI to Inc/Diff backups, as I originally requested.

As someone who maintains (unpaid!) multiple machines with hundreds of programs, I can tell you I appreciate most the UIs that provide multiple routes to common actions. I hate having to go back to the Help files or worse, to an online forum, just to be reminded of how to do something that should be simple. Certainly inc/diff backup will be the most common and frequently performed action anyone does with a backup program.  Restore is an action most people will (hopefully) never do.








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