So I hear about this program that lets you examin the world in which we live with amazing topographical detail, and which allows you to zoom in so close you can even see the streets and buildings in your own neighborhood. (slashdot)
I think, "wow that's neat" and I download it to check it out.
The program installs, and starts, and I see the globe. I try rotating, tilting, zooming, etc. just to check out the program's capabilities. But, when I zoom-in all I get is a massively pixelated image that did not change.
I play around some more, and turn on the 'borders', but nothing happens Then very slowly, a few U.S. states are outlined, then a few european countries, then a few more states. After a few minutes, no more boundaries appear. Apparently Canada and it's provinces don't seem to exist. And Mexico has no borders either.
So I get bored of that, and try to open some of the "animated earth" functions, but nothing ever seems to happen, no matter what I select.
At this point, after about an hour of random experimentation, I decide to check out the FAQs on the website forum. It's here that I find out that everything I just did tries to download data from one internet connected server or another, and I probably just generated way too many data requests. But, I don't know if the data I requested is qued to be downloaded when available, slowly downloading now, not available, or what. I also find out that the ability to view the streets and buildings in your own neigborhood only applies to the U.S.A.
Now I think I'm a fairly average computer user when it comes to a program like this, so I think a _lot_ of other people have probably done the same thing.
So, I suggest that the program be changed to interact more with the user, and let them known the consequences of their actions. Such as how much new data has just been requested, and how long it will take to obtain before it can be displayed. Or even a "close-up images must now be downloaded. O.K. / Cancel" dialogue box when the user ties to zoom-in. Even a "street-level images are not available for this region / country" message if the user ties to zoom-in very close. Anything that's "in-your-face" to let the user know what's going on, so he/she doesn't sit there wondering why he/she can't see what's expected.
Just my two cents worth.
This gives me an idea.
Maybe someone who has access to "RoboDemo" or a similar workalike product can create a "first time user walkthrough" of the application, showing the basic features needed to make the program "interesting" for people who do not already have baseline knowledge about Landsat, MODIS, USGS 1m, Topo, etc. To someone who has not delved into any of these things before, I'm sure they are quite foreign.
You are right that the program needs better "explaining" for people unfamiliar with the jargon of mapping.
World Wind enthusiast
One thing we didn't anticipate is that the program would be so wildly popular that it would bring down our data providing servers. Now that this is happening, the user definitely deserves more feedback about these types of scenarios. If all was well and good, this probably wouldn't be so much of an issue, but then again, we should prepare for it.