[Updates added June 18, 2017:   We want to thank the users who participated in the comments on this blog.  We have made some decisions & put some of them into a beta with new view picker iterations.  See this video for a preview of updates coming to the View Picker in Informant 5:    https://youtu.be/Cy4FGPGLNmw   ]

What is taking so long?   “The enemy of the productivity is the vague” – Alan Stark

We have been having numerous discussions about the best solution for the view picker for many months now. And as of today, the debate continues. If the answer was crystal clear it probably would have been done already. Our purpose with this blog post is to invite you into the internal discussion and to invite some comment on the topic to ensure that we are solving the real issues as you, the customers and users of Informant 5, and Informant 4.94 see it.

First off, for anyone who is wondering “Why did you change it anyway?” please take a look at Chris’s prior post here:

What are the real issues with the new View Picker
We have identified the following 4 Primary issues with the new View Picker. Please let us know if you agree or if you have others.

Issue #1) It now takes 2 taps to change to any view. A valid concern, but which views are users most likely to switch between? The crux of this issue goes all the way back to some of the reasons why the original view picker needed to be re-designed. Too many different options, and too many maintenance issues with the old custom tab bar (which, now looking at iOS 11 would have only grown worse).

Issue #2) Each view change takes you through the “Informant Home” screen, so simple view changes now “feel” like heavy operations

Issue #3) When 5.0 came out, the view buttons were no longer customizable – though, we addressed this in 5.03, so now you can turn off views that you don’t ever use.

Issue #4) It’s harder to see where I want to go because there are no more text labels on the view icon. (This one has not been as vocal lately. If this matters to you, please comment below)

Issue #5) iPhone vs. iPad  The new Smartbar buttons hide features because of limited space on the iPhone, but there is plenty of room on an iPad.  Maybe there is more of an issue with the iPad users experience?


What were the “wins” with the new View Picker?

  1. Consistent navigation. There is one main button that initiates most navigation functions.  This made it easier for new users to get familiar with the app and provided a consistent place in the interface for things like the settings button. While some people initially had trouble finding things like settings, it is a very familiar navigation & keeps the buttons in the same area on the screen.
  2. Moved more action buttons lower on the screen. This is more in line with Apple’s guidelines (to make it easier for one-handed use on larger devices).
  3. No more special/fidgety calendar menu.

We’ve taken a few steps forward, and perhaps a couple steps back….so we’ve been talking a lot internally about how to best address those
“steps back”.

Possible Solutions:

[update added: June 18, 2017:  Here is a link to a video showing the new “Shortcut bar” ]
New View Picker Shortcuts Setup

So far we have identified 5 possible variations. Have another idea? Please comment on the solutions that you like below.
1) Quick Access SmartBar  or Combine Tab Bar + Smart Bar: 
This is an option that keeps the Smart bar but adds some additional buttons on the Calendar & Task pages.
Pros: the One-click between commonly used views is regained.
Cons: it can make the UI a bit crowed.

Fig 1a: Combined/ QuickAccess Smartbar

Fig 1b: Combined Task View (with focus & calendar)
Contacts & Notes would still be accessed from Smartbar

Figure 1c: Tasks

Figure 1d: Combined bar with 8 buttons on

Figure 1e) Ipad version  Combined bar

Figure 1f (Combined Tasks w/ button for focus and calendar)

Figure 1g) 2 buttons for Focus and Tasks



2) Stacked 2-Bar Navigation: Bring back a tab bar on screen for view switching (similar to what we had in PI4, but stick with the Apple Stock tab bar – so no sliding back and forth and no special calendar menu.  This means you could use it to store 4 of your favorite views to switch between with one tap.  The I5 view picker would remain to get to all the other views.  The toolbar would then sit on top of that – again keeping it on the bottom of the screen for easier use on large devices.

Pros: the One-click between commonly used views is regained.
Cons: it stacks two bars of buttons on top of each other – it feels a tad cluttered and it could lead to mis-taps between the toolbar and the tab bar.

Fig 2a: Stacked Nav Bar

3) Go back to the old PI4.94 view or create a mode that would be more like the old one.

Pros: the One-click between all views is regained.
Cons: we re-inherit all the problems with the old tab bar (non-discoverable sliding bar for new users and a 3-tap calendar view change).  Also, we re-inherit a lot of bugs in the process and we very likely break even more with some of the new stuff that Apple is bringing out in iOS 11.
(This option has been considered, but is really not a top contender)

Fig 3a: Old Style

4) Tap-Slide-Release: This is an idea that would make use of the current SmartBar but would allow you to “tap and slide” your finger to the view you want to change to and then release to switch.  This would be coupled with getting rid of having to go “through” that Informant Home screen so that you don’t ever lose sight of the current view.

Pros: While not quite a “single tap”, it’s pretty close and potentially could feel a lot faster to use than two taps.
Cons: While the feature would be available, it wouldn’t be easily discoverable.  We would have to rethink how to invoke “text dictation” since we currently invoke it with a tap-hold gesture on the view picker button.


5) Improve the current SmartBar.  (possibly includes versions of…
a. Remove the focus screen.
b. Swipe-left swipe right.
c. Tap Smartbar button returns to “last viewed”.
d. Faster animation of the smartbar menu. (or no animation)


Fig 5a

Fig 5b. Variation on Stacked Nav


Fig 5c.
This is a variation on the “return to 4.94” but just doesn’t provide enough room for all the options we need to have.


Fig 5d. Variation on the “combined” view

Fig 5e.

We encourage your comments below. If you are referencing a certain image in this blog post please list the “Fig #”  reference.  Also, please comment on “Issues 1-4” to let us know if we have it right.

We look forward to the dialogue & getting some new view picker options out to you as soon as possible.