Someone talk me out of this tileset

August 12th, 2015

Is it too bold? It has to be too bold, right? Cause I think I kind of like it a lot.

See this version of the app directly!

In any case I got a couple new things working since yesterday:

  1. ┬áTrigonometry: I don’t totally understand it, but it is orienting those arrows that appear after a minute to tell you which way the bus is heading.
  2. That tileset. Yum.
  3.  Route numbers have been removed from the second or third appearance of each route. Is anyone reading this colorblind? Can I get some feedback on that?

Yet to accomplish:

  1. Still need to accommodate portrait oriented screens (I’m using CSS vmin a lot right now).
  2. De-emphasise departures which are not real-time.
  3. Vehicle locations! Make them real instead of generating them randomly ;-)

5 responses to “Someone talk me out of this tileset”

  1. AJ Knee says:

    Hey Nate! This is a really exciting project! Thank you for taking the lead on it. I have a couple comments to make as a “casual transit user.”

    I actually really like the colors and basemap of this iteration. Much cleaner than the last one.

    A couple of things that confuse me as I’m watching this play out:
    1) What are the blue pins and circles that appear along the route beyond the stop? It’s not clean what they’re supposed to represent at first glance.
    2) The directional arrows are more abstract than helpful. I’d much rather see a stop name and direction. If this display is in a window facing West and the arrow is pointing up, I’m not sure the average person will be able to figure out the conversion to North. I’ve been shocked a few times with how few people really understand that.
    3) Why did you take away information from 2nd and third trips? I was hoping for more information. As it stands in both versions, I can’t tell which direction any of the following trips are headed. The arrow isn’t useful if you’re bad at orientation (as mentioned above). If I see the words “to downtown” or “to Mt Airy” it would be much easier to follow.
    4) I can’t figure out which bus stops we’re looking at. I won’t know which stops were clicked by the owner, so I don’t know exactly where to be in XX minutes. The circle is helpful, but a dot in the center marking the stop would go a long way. Listing the stop name would be even better.
    5) Adding the option of “You are here” in some way would be very very nice. That way I can look at the map and see my location, the streets, and the bus stop location to figure out where I’m supposed to go.

    Hopefully this helps. I’m sure it will turn out great! Thanks again for all of your hard work on this.

    — AJ

    • Nate Wessel says:

      Thanks for the suggestions! Some of this is really helpful :-)

      1. These are a randomly generated stand-in for actual vehicle locations. They’re only there right now because I’m actively playing with how to show these, particularly while they’re off-screen, which will likely be most of the time. The idea here is really that it should be a super-helpful bit of information if you know what you’re looking at, but it should also be subtle enough that it doesn’t bother/distract people if they don’t get it.
      2. I might agree with you, at least if I try to think of how the average user will probably be able to interpret them. The difficulty is that the only information I might have to replace it is the SORTA-provided headsign string. Those can get pretty long (“DOWNTOWN – MT AIRY – NORTHGATE EXPRESS” or something) and it’s not clear how they could be made either large enough to be legible or how they could be shortened algorithmically to just show the most important place name.
      3. I took away the route numbers on those to allow a bit more room for the map/spatial-context-area. Depending on your screen configuration, that part can get pretty small, so a little more room can help there. Also, since those departures are farther out, they are presumably less important at the moment. The next arrival for any route would always have all of the information.
      4. Yes! I was planning to put a point in the middle eventually, and I will now definitely also try to add a stop name label if at all possible. Hopefully those don’t get too long and cumbersome. I was also thinking of wrapping a “you are here” string around the circle, but it hasn’t quite looked right so far.
      5. It might not be necessary, or it might not best be placed on the screen, since that is such valuable real-estate. The idea, at least for the grant, is to get the tablets into businesses which are arbitrarily close to bus stops. Like right there, or across the street or just a few buildings down. It just wouldn’t render well at this scale. Perhaps a sign next to the display would help though: “the bus stop is across the street ->” or something like that.

      If you don’t mind, I’ll drop you a line when I have the next iteration ready!

      • Neil C says:

        I know it might involve a lookup table of sorts (which coming from a tech background myself I understand would be time consuming given the amount of variations involved), I’d try to figure out a simplifed version of what SORTA provides. Like if a route is to downtown, just state downtown. Think of how transit lines in a lot of big cities work – in Chicago for instance is Blue line – O’Hare or Blue Line – Forest Park, with the actual display just reading Forest Park. Now Cincy is a much more convoluted city not having a grid, but I feel your visual that shows the bus route helps people understand that so long as the neighborhoods along the way are clearly marked.

        TLDR: make the buses just show simplifed destinations, all inbound routes = Downtown, All outbound = simple names like Mt Airy or ZOO etc.

        Perhaps on the right simple name, on the left more complex name with key nodes like 17 – Downtown – OTR – Clifton – Northside – College Hill – Mt Airy/Colrain? Just a thought…

      • Nate Wessel says:

        Neil,
        I think that would be helpful. Now I need to pull down a list of all the current headsigns to see how much variation there is… I might just be able to use those as a clue, or I might need to do a spatial check to see if things are going into or out of the downtown area. Actually, the later option might be easier, but it wouldn’t help with the outbound destination. Hmm.

      • Nate Wessel says:

        It seems it may be surprisingly east to just use the headsigns :-)
        (As long as SORTA doesn’t change their system)