5 min. screencast: Live Geometry overview

Microsoft sponsored a usability study for my side project Live Geometry, and I have to say, it was awesome. It was a lot of fun watching the participants using the software and I got a ton of great and useful feedback.

I have to confess, I didn’t realize that it’s not obvious how to use Live Geometry (especially if you’ve never seen it before). Since I was the one who developed the software, I subconsciously assumed that it’s all intiutive and trivial. Well guess what, it turns out to be not the case. I am not the end user. Things that are obvious for me, might not be obvious for others.

So I developed a plan on how to make things better. There are two ways: improving User Experience and investing in User Education. The former will be a slow and gradual process of me designing the features and the UI, fixing bugs, reworking the UI and thinking through UI details.

Today I’ll start approaching the task of User Education and present a 5 min. screencast – a brief overview of the Live Geometry software and its possibilities (Hint: double-click the video for fullscreen viewing):

Get Microsoft Silverlight

You can also download the .wmv file (15 MB).

More documentation will follow later, but this should at least give a quick start and give you an idea of how things work.

Any feedback is welcome!

Comments (28)

  1. Ivan says:

    That was great, but veery fast 🙂 I think you should make a separate 2 or 5 minute video for each tool that would explain in a slower fashion, what this tool can be used for. E.g. using a point and segment tool to draw a point and segment respectively is rather obvious, but using them to draw a circumcircle requires some deeper reflection 🙂

  2. Ivan: thanks for the feedback 🙂

  3. ronmurp says:

    Hi, Have to disagree with Ivan; I thought the screencast was just right. And a fabulous tool.

    Had one problem. I was toying with (i.e. trying to remember) trig identities, and wanted to get to some by trial and error, for which this tool was great. Ended up with a few plots on screen, so I hid some. But, I didn’t know how to get them back again, since I didn’t know where they were to click on them. Could see they were still present using settings debug of xaml, but didn’t know to make them visible.

  4. ronmurp: yeah, that’s a good point. I think I need something like a list of all figures (even hidden) so that in case you "lost" a figure, you can click it to still show it’s properties.

    Good idea! I’ll see what I can do 🙂


  5. Clinton Gallagher says:

    Way to go Kiril you da’ man!

    But why spend the time writing code for what has been done much better a thousand times already?

    Autodesk has CAD applications operating in a page through their labs for example. And what about SketchUp? Ever hear of a little toy called 3ds Max? I think I know you know about them and more.

    CAD itself has been invented a long time ago.

    Speaking from experience as an architect and someone with C# skills IMO we need more tools that can be used to work with the 3D data models developed by the well-established user-friendly CAD applications and services that are already developed by "the big boys" because those applications and services are already being used by tens of millions of users asking for more.

    For example, could you think about using Live Geometry as an editor that can be used to import and convert existing 3D CAD models into vector formats expressed in XAML?

    I’ll be looking for it to show up on codeplex someday 🙂

  6. Clinton:

    why? The answer is simple: because I have a lot of fun coding it 🙂 This whole project is one big side effect of me having fun 🙂

    I know about existing CAD applications and I’m explicitly NOT writing a CAD application (at least for now). Reasons being: 1) my goal is more educational software and not industrial software 2) I don’t know anything about this domain 3) 3D is hard. But it looks like if I run out of geometry, I could totally start adding CAD features, why not.

    I’m guessing that converting from 3D CAD models to XAML should be a separate tool orthogonal to Live Geometry. I might be wrong, of course 😉

    Anyway, thanks for the feedback!

  7. Alexey says:

    Nice 🙂 Now – where’s API/scripting engine for this control? 🙂

  8. http://livegeometry.codeplex.com –> Source Code –> MainDynamicGeometryLibrary

  9. Johnathan says:

    Love your software. It helps with my study(Not really help). Now I am going to fail in the exam 🙁

  10. Shreedhar says:

    Very helpful software. I have used it to explain certain properties and relation between geometric shapes to my nephew and he seem to grasp the realation very quickly because of its visual nature.

    Thanks againg for shaing this.

    On a side note, which software did you use to create your screen cast?

  11. andrew blair says:

    Have to disagree with "why do it if autocad does it better"; we went down that path and it is not what it needs to be. Using Autocad is so foreign from a dot net point of view.

  12. Thanks, Shreedhar. I used free Camstudio (www.camstudio.org). It’s really great. Then I used Expression Media Encoder to compress the video.

  13. rs says:

    i think it was awesome, pretty interesting, thanks

  14. Clinton Gallagher says:

    Take a look at these 3D CAD applications [1]. Project Dragonfly is particularly interesting but then again so are many other contextual implementations.

    [1] http://labs.autodesk.com/

  15. Alan says:

    SWEET!!! I do agree with Ivan in a good way – it’s like going to the Louvre and having the tour guide point out the mona lisa over there but we won’t stop coz there are more things to see. I could sit and play with the parabola locus thing for ages. In fact I think I will now. So I guess it was an effective way to get me heading off to the site, instead of working. hehehe 8).

  16. Thanks 🙂 That’s great to hear! I’ll definitely make sure to provide a more slow-paced and detailed tutorial at some point.

    It’s just for this particular video I had a limitation of 5 mins 🙂

  17. Chad Knudson says:

    Fabulous tool!  I think this should be a required download for every math teacher 🙂  It helps to visually convey these concepts and can make learning about geometry a lot of fun for kids.  Kudos to you on an excellent application!

  18. grahamsw says:

    That was wonderful. I used to teach high school math, and have been following the world of math educational tools for a while.

    Now, how do you use this to create the examples? It looks like this either can, or is very close to, be able to create animated demonstrations of concepts – with the student being able to watch the demo, try it themselves, watch it again, and so on. Possibly even with tests of their understanding….

    This could be a wonderful tool for math teachers to create (a repository of) examples. Any thoughts on that front?

  19. Anthony Gatlin says:

    I love this little tool you created. It’s fabulous. You did a great job on it. Nice work!

  20. Thanks again everyone! It’s really great to hear!

    Graham: yes, definitely, educational content is one of the main goals. For now, you can just save your drawings as XML and open them up later. This already gives you a possibility to create a library of drawings that illustrate certain facts about geometry. I also plan to add step-by-step construction playback (to replay the construction as it was made), and animations (animate point A from here to here with this speed, then animate this point from there to there, then show this text for 3 seconds, then go to this hyperlink, etc. etc.)

  21. Ilia Esartia says:

    Thanks Kirill!!!

    That’s great tool! I love it 😉

  22. Igor says:

    Hi Kirill,

    first of all — awesome tool!

    Second, I know I’m so stupid sometimes — still can’t solve Locus enigma 🙂

    I’ll be appreciated if someone will explain me 🙂

  23. Djordje says:

    GeoGebra is one fine example of educational geometry software that everyone should know about. I think you should visit their website http://www.geogebra.org should you ever need more inspiration.

  24. Nice tool and great screencast. I like that the screencast is so condensed and quick.

    I tried the tool afterwards and was able to use it.

    One feedback on the demos: it is tricky to "reverse engineer" some of the demos, for example the Pentagon construction.

    I think this is something where Live Geometry could be improved on.

  25. Thanks a lot Julien!

    Indeed, I have a plan to build in a "Step-by-step Construction Playback" tool that will have VCR-style controls to step-forward, step-back, slide-show etc. The user will be able to annotate every step with a custom text to create a PowerPoint-like presentation. Maybe even export PowerPoint slides, we’ll see.

  26. Taoffi says:

    Very good work. I just think that GeoGebra (http://www.geogebra.org) is worth to be mentioned here: i.e. What are LiveGeometry differences / added values using silverlight in comparison to GeoGebra.

    Ignoring GeoGebra work in this domain would otherwise be misleading.

  27. Hi Taoffi, thanks for your feedback. Indeed, I should have posted a link to other dynamic geometry software:


    I might post a separate blog with an overview of these packages.

  28. Vinnie says:

    How about being able to draw any shape and superimpose it on a document or a chart in another platform.

    As an exmample if I want to open a Graph or Chart I created and then Draw A Triangle or Circle right over

    the drawing or data Im trying to measure with the Geometric Shape in real time?