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A problem I see with the viewer is that finding the correct direction to navigate a synth can sometimes be trial-and-error. Just happened to me again with this one: http://photosynth.net/preview/view/edfd3458-ed9a-4d85-8d5a-9fb9454f0eb8
First, I assumed it's a walk but quickly noticed that I don't come far with dragging vertically. Then I took a closer look at the cursor and recognized it's a wall. Dragged left but, again, I chose the wrong direction because the synth's start location is at the right end.
One thing that could help is special cursors that indicate in which direction the current view can be navigated. The cursors would look identically to the current ones but one of the small arrows in the cursor would be removed. Left edge of synth: right arrow, right edge: left arrow, everywhere else both arrows.
I think such cursors would be an option if no better solution is found (they probably wouldn't work for touch).
A more general problem is that there is no way to see the edges of a synth without running against them (i.e. it's often an unexpected abrupt end in a walk or pano). I think it should be clear from the first glance where the current view is located in the synth and how far one can navigate forwards/backwards or left/right. Maybe something like a small subtle scrollbar (does not need to be interactive although it could be), e.g. http://bit.ly/1k1BWKz . Currently, the only option to get an idea where one is in the synth is the path from the advanced options but it's too distracting to be visible by default and shows more info than is needed.
How about displaying the camera map in a neat way.
"Left edge of synth: right arrow, right edge: left arrow" may prove confusing to mouse (or touch) users, who will have to move the mouse cursor (or their finger) in the opposite direction that the single arrow cursor is pointing in order to move in that direction into the synth.
It makes sense for keyboard users, though.
The single image on each border of the synth can go by pretty quickly.
Were you thinking of showing the one directional cursor arrow only on the very last image on both ends of the synth or perhaps the last few images on each end?
If the starting point is at one of the ends, most people will have the synth starting to play before they can begin manually navigating. This means that they would quickly have moved away from the one image at the end where the one directional cursor is shown and by the time they see their cursor, they'll be into the two directional images.
That's where your request for some sort of progress bar enters, though.
Like Joscelin, I would like to see the camera path cleaned up visually and used to give navigational context.
Aside from the current color choices and being drawn inside of a box, the overhead camera map currently has the unfortunate attribute of being randomly rotated to that it fits vertically along the right hand edge of the viewer.
I understand the need to have interface elements appear at a predictable place on the screen but the unpredictable orientation of the overhead map in Photosynth 2 has always bothered me.
Christoph, you say that the overhead camera map "[is] too distracting to be visible by default and shows more info than is needed".
Color choices and being drawn in a box aside, all that is really being shown is:
1) camera path and
2) current position and orientation.
Since the synths are currently linear, you can argue that a straight line will suffice for progress/position and perhaps you claim that orientation is not needed for navigation?
Oops, I actually meant "Left edge of synth: left arrow, ...". I was thinking about the cursor concept again and, as you point out, it has some flaws.. I suspect no one would look at the cursor anyway, it's simply faster to drag into one direction and see what happens.
I wish even more about the camera map. If the synth's geo data is available, then I want to see the camera map projected on Bing Maps with controls to select road or aerial view and zoom controls. The camera map should move in its frame as Wall or Walk synths progress.