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This is something I want to bring up maybe as a sub-group at DevCon, but I also want to start a thread here about it for pre-discussion and for getting input from those who can't come to DevCon.

Recently I've been critical of the sidebar/blade menu, especially when it comes to settings level. The main reason for this is that there is no indication to the user that is visible right away to tell them something has changed. This isn't a new issue though, and there are a few other areas of XBMC that we do this:

• Hide watched - Even the best of us have gotten tricked by forgetting we enabled "hide watched"
• Repeat - Should be indicated at least on the OSD when enabled.
• Shuffle - Should be indicated at least on the OSD when enabled.
• Basic playlists/queue - queue a show but nothing visually changes. People expect some kind of feedback, else they assume it was a miss-click or error, etc.
Add-on manager, auto update and notifications UPDATE: we've had some great improvements here already for the add-on manager, and I believe there are some ideas being explored about tracking notifications, so I'll cross this off. However, feel free to mention if you have any related ideas.

and likely more.

The use of small visual indicators or cues can go a long way in helping make XBMC easier to use, as well as help people figure out why something is acting differently. These don't even have to be hit-you-over-the-head spelled out. Even an unexplained indicator or icon at least tells the user "something has changed" and can be a great help. I don't think this is a case where the user should be expected to go online and read a manual. The natural assumption when things disappear is that they are gone or something went wrong, and not that they need to look for a button in a hidden menu. The button can still be located in the slide-out/blade menu, but some visual feedback, even something very subtle, will make a big difference.

How to actually do this, and in a way that looks good and doesn't get in the way, is the challenge.
Yes, I think this is important, and at least for some things (shuffle/repeat for example) it's easy to slot them in.

For other stuff it's a little less obvious. Watched status is one such thing - it's tricky to get it done in a way that isn't intrusive.

For playlists, one idea is to have a current queue node in the libraries that just shows the current queue. Part of this could be solved using a notification to indicate that something has happened.

Extending the notification idea a bit further, if we stored the queue of notifications and allowed that to be accessible, then clicking on a notification would do the reasonable thing (e.g. if you queued something, it'll take you to the queue, if an add-on downloaded, it'll run the add-on, or take you to the add-on manager etc.)
For the add-on manager, "auto update" and "notifications" are two more examples.
@addon-manager we talked about a redesign of it at last devcon, maybe we can continue with it. Also we should again do a UX improvement session
+1 to the UX improvement session. Frankly, if there are any major (non-team member) skinners in the Deutschland area, I'd suggest we set aside time on Sunday and invite them, on their own dime, to come visit for the UX session. Input would definitely be valuable there.
idea for indicating "hide watched" being on:

How about showing the sort order and watched/unwatched/all videos labels in the pagecount bottom right:


I would also suggest changing the hide watched radiobutton to the watched/unwatched/all videos button for this to work.
I like it!
Not sure about the sorting, but the All Videos thing is a nice addition.
I just wanted to bump this again, as I think some of the ideas here might be good candidates for small, quick, non-breaking changes for v15. We also have some more skinners and graphics people since this was last discussed. If anyone, even in the community, has any ideas for quick little skin changes, please speak up.

On that note, I'll move this thread to the dev forum so that non-team members can comment as well. While this is technically confluence-specific, I'm hoping the concept is kept in mind for any future default skins.
How about adding queued color label?


User hits 'q' and immediately sees the queued item's colour change.

As for 'Watched/Unwatched' simply add the status after the 'Title' label.


Videos > Title > Unwatched
What about placing watched/unwatched in front of Movies, eg. Watched Movies, Watched Episodes, Watched Videos etc. ?
@Hitcher I love the queue label color idea!

@butchabay You mean at the very top next to the clapperboard icon? Hmm, that might work.