Seems like some layout improvements may be long overdue

MusE is a MIDI/Audio sequencer with recording and editing capabilities, aiming to be a complete multitrack virtual studio for Linux. http://muse-sequencer.org/

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windowsrefund
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Seems like some layout improvements may be long overdue

Postby windowsrefund » Tue Aug 07, 2018 12:54 am

As a MusE newb, I realize I may be the only one with these POVs and I'm certainly willing to just "deal with it". However, I thought I'd take a moment to itemize some things that pretty much just make me go "eh?" when I encounter them:

1. No clear method to just close a file. I could just open another and answer no when I'm prompted to join it to the project but that's just dancing around the issue. I just want to close a file I'm working on and know that operation occurred without error before I attempt to open another. I do not want to have to quit the application just to context switch over to another song (file).

2. Menu items seem quite scattered. My suggestions would be

* Move all the windows that can be opened from the Edit menu and maintain that list within the View menu instead. It's pretty obvious to me some types of windows are different than others. For example, Arranger window can't be moved outside of MuSE but a Piano Roll can. Even if the parts under the hood are different, it doesn't mean new users should have to understand there is a difference and have to think along the lines of "I need to manage these windows like this and those like that".

* Move Edit -> MIDI Transform to the Midi menu (maybe under plugins if that's what it is)

* Merge the contents of the Window Config menu into MusE Settings (even if they're different things, there's no reason to have a stand-along menu for 3 "configish" things)

3. I love being able to open useful windows like Piano Roll, Event List and others with keybindings but it would be so productive to be able to use those keybindings as a toggle instead. The only way to close one of the windows now is to use the mouse. Wouldn't it be nice to use the same keybinding that opened the window for the purpose of closing it?

The zoom thing is killing me too but that's been discussed already. I'll file an official issue on that so I can describe i more detail.

Tim E. Real
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Re: Seems like some layout improvements may be long overdue

Postby Tim E. Real » Tue Aug 07, 2018 5:54 am

1. No clear method to just close a file. I could just open another and answer no when I'm prompted to join it to the project
but that's just dancing around the issue. I just want to close a file I'm working on and know that operation occurred without error
before I attempt to open another. I do not want to have to quit the application just to context switch over to another song (file).


Fair enough, agreed, I've thought about it a few times. Will try look into it more.
The reason it has not been done yet is that there are tricky concepts that make a 'close' item tougher than it sounds:
What exactly should close and what should ultimately be showing after a close?
Probably the best answer is close the project of course but afterwards just show a blank canvas with no tracks.
But there are questions about in what state to leave for example the currently defined and selected midi devices,
whether to keep the ones from the last opened project or start fresh just like closing MusE itself and restarting.

Also, I think one of the reasons behind no 'close' may have been that most users would hit New and select a new template
such as 'Default' anyway, which is what MusE does anyway when restarted, if you kinda see the logic there.

2. Menu items seem quite scattered. My suggestions would be

* Move all the windows that can be opened from the Edit menu and maintain that list within the View menu instead. It's pretty obvious to me some types of windows are different than others. For example, Arranger window can't be moved outside of MuSE but a Piano Roll can. Even if the parts under the hood are different, it doesn't mean new users should have to understand there is a difference and have to think along the lines of "I need to manage these windows like this and those like that".

* Move Edit -> MIDI Transform to the Midi menu (maybe under plugins if that's what it is)

* Merge the contents of the Window Config menu into MusE Settings (even if they're different things, there's no reason to have a stand-along menu for 3 "configish" things)


Totally agree it's time for a menu cleanup, I've known for a few years that the Edit menu is way out of hand.

But careful now, look deeper, explore, MusE has a cool feature that precludes us from easily and arbitrarily
moving menu items from one menu to another. The feature also means your statement:
Arranger window can't be moved outside of MuSE

is actually not true.
To demonstrate: Start MusE and click:
Window Config > As subwindow
See how the Arranger moves OUTSIDE of the application main window?

Here's another trick. Now click:
Window Config > Shares tools and menu
See how the Arranger menu bar now moves OUTSIDE from the application main window INTO the Arranger window?
(Actually, notice that the Arranger menu STAYED with the application main window at all - in the first place!)

These features were added by one of the developers. He said MusE wasted a lot of window and menu space.
I think it is a pretty cool thing. Very complicated, though.
Check this out: Click MusE Settings > Global Settings > GUI Style tab (the last tab).
He added the ability to set all the windows in MusE at once, as one of three presets:
"Traditional MusE SDI"
"Cakewalk-like MDI"
"Borland/Mac-like MDI"

These presets simply set each of those 'Window Config' menu settings I mentioned above, all at once.
That last one, 'Mac-like' makes MusE the most compact that it can be. It frees up a lot of space.
(Note, please restart after choosing these presets for best results.)

3. I love being able to open useful windows like Piano Roll, Event List and others with keybindings but it would be so productive to be able to use those keybindings as a toggle instead. The only way to close one of the windows now is to use the mouse. Wouldn't it be nice to use the same keybinding that opened the window for the purpose of closing it?

Sounds plausible in some cases, but possibly some caveats.
I'd recommend posting that one on the bug tracker as a feature request so we can track it.

Tim.

windowsrefund
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Re: Seems like some layout improvements may be long overdue

Postby windowsrefund » Tue Aug 07, 2018 3:50 pm

Tim E. Real wrote:Fair enough, agreed, I've thought about it a few times. Will try look into it more.
The reason it has not been done yet is that there are tricky concepts that make a 'close' item tougher than it sounds:
What exactly should close and what should ultimately be showing after a close?
Probably the best answer is close the project of course but afterwards just show a blank canvas with no tracks.
But there are questions about in what state to leave for example the currently defined and selected midi devices,
whether to keep the ones from the last opened project or start fresh just like closing MusE itself and restarting.

Also, I think one of the reasons behind no 'close' may have been that most users would hit New and select a new template
such as 'Default' anyway, which is what MusE does anyway when restarted, if you kinda see the logic there.


Tim,

I appreciate the balance you're having to maintain between supporting the work-flow that's evolved and the things we're discussing. Let's see... if I were to close a file, I'd probably expect to see the same thing I see when I close the arranger window (and there is no other panel open). Maybe that is what you mean by blank canvas; maybe not. I'm sure you'd know best. The overwhelming point here is that I tend to want to be more "cautious" when it comes to context switching between projects (songs). I don't want to trust that the software is going to "do the right thing". If I'm trying to stop work on project 1 and start work on project 2, I want each of those steps to be isolated. As good as any piece of software is, I don't see the point in having to trust it to figure that transition out if I have another option. The way things are now, I'd rather shut down MusE entirely when I want to stop work on project 1 and then open it again and load project 2. I'm sure you see what I mean. Of course, that work-flow is totally inefficient (but safe).



Tim E. Real wrote:Totally agree it's time for a menu cleanup, I've known for a few years that the Edit menu is way out of hand.

But careful now, look deeper, explore, MusE has a cool feature that precludes us from easily and arbitrarily
moving menu items from one menu to another. The feature also means your statement:
Arranger window can't be moved outside of MuSE

is actually not true.
To demonstrate: Start MusE and click:
Window Config > As subwindow
See how the Arranger moves OUTSIDE of the application main window?

Here's another trick. Now click:
Window Config > Shares tools and menu
See how the Arranger menu bar now moves OUTSIDE from the application main window INTO the Arranger window?
(Actually, notice that the Arranger menu STAYED with the application main window at all - in the first place!)

These features were added by one of the developers. He said MusE wasted a lot of window and menu space.
I think it is a pretty cool thing. Very complicated, though.
Check this out: Click MusE Settings > Global Settings > GUI Style tab (the last tab).
He added the ability to set all the windows in MusE at once, as one of three presets:
"Traditional MusE SDI"
"Cakewalk-like MDI"
"Borland/Mac-like MDI"

These presets simply set each of those 'Window Config' menu settings I mentioned above, all at once.
That last one, 'Mac-like' makes MusE the most compact that it can be. It frees up a lot of space.
(Note, please restart after choosing these presets for best results.)


Right, I've seen and tinkered with all of those options. Again, I appreciate how all these things have evolved over time and I don't want to be the disrupter type trying to change everything. Perhaps there are actually a few distinct categories of things we're talking about here. Perhaps "Cleanup & organization" is a different thing then "functionality and tools"? If so, I think making progress on the former would only result in a cleaner, more intuitive interface which would hopefully result in wins like 1) a more tolerable learning curve and 2) a quicker adaption rate by new users, and 3) maybe even a leaner and meaner, more managable code base?


3. I love being able to open useful windows like Piano Roll, Event List and others with keybindings but it would be so productive to be able to use those keybindings as a toggle instead. The only way to close one of the windows now is to use the mouse. Wouldn't it be nice to use the same keybinding that opened the window for the purpose of closing it?

Tim E. Real wrote:Sounds plausible in some cases, but possibly some caveats.
I'd recommend posting that one on the bug tracker as a feature request so we can track it.

Tim.


Yep, if I didn't already, I'll be sure to.

Thanks again for the conversation.

Tim E. Real
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Posts: 83
Joined: Sat Sep 15, 2012 12:36 am

Re: Seems like some layout improvements may be long overdue

Postby Tim E. Real » Wed Aug 08, 2018 3:59 am

In git master now: From the ChangeLog:

07.08.2018
- Menu cleanups, rearrangement.
Moved several Edit menu items to the Functions menu.
Moved Mastertrack menu items over to View menu since they
don't have much to do with editing tracks or parts.
Eliminated Automation menu. Moved all those items into Audio menu,
since they're all audio related.
As requested: Added a Close item in the File menu. Currently it
does NOT clear the midi devices and ports, they remain as last set.
Added File Save As and Application Exit icons.
Changed name of 'MusE Settings' menu to just 'Settings'.
Added new checkbox in Appearance Settings: "Use theme icons if available",
which activates a dormant feature of using theme icons if they are found.


I'm still pondering a few more rearrangements.
There is a bug which prevents a few items in the View menu from enabling/disabling sometimes,
even when parts are selected/unselected on a track. If that happens simply select another track
and then select that track again. It's a selection bug, working on it...

Try 'er out folks. I hope you'll agree it's quite a bit better.

windowsrefund
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Posts: 35
Joined: Mon Jul 30, 2018 11:04 pm

Re: Seems like some layout improvements may be long overdue

Postby windowsrefund » Wed Aug 08, 2018 5:32 am

Woah! This just made my TODO list for tomorrow night. For now, off to bed. Thanks!!!

Tim E. Real
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Re: Seems like some layout improvements may be long overdue

Postby Tim E. Real » Sat Aug 11, 2018 4:32 am

Oops, sorry folks, I accidentally half-broke Arranger part copy/paste with this one.
Was a simple line I forgot I had commented during testing.

In git master now.

windowsrefund
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Re: Seems like some layout improvements may be long overdue

Postby windowsrefund » Sun Aug 12, 2018 4:00 am

git pull'n like it's hot

Tim E. Real
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Re: Seems like some layout improvements may be long overdue

Postby Tim E. Real » Fri Aug 17, 2018 4:40 am

Hi, just a follow up question.
When you complained of the default zoom level when opening a piano roll editor,
were you actually speaking of the vertical zoom level - the height of the notes?
(This is adjustable by the slider on the right of the piano roll editor.)

I assumed you meant the horizontal zoom which as I explained has several mechanisms available.
MusE tends to automatically adjust the first-opened horizontal-zoom somewhat depending on part length,
and it mostly works OK. It tries to be reasonable about how many notes to be shown versus h-zoom level.

The vertical zoom however, after taking a look, might be a wee bit too small.
Especially since Robert recently added the note names inside the note boxes - it now makes the boxes
seem too short by default.

The next vertical 'zoom' level up form the default one seems a bit more reasonable to me.
Although on my monitor the notes might be a bit too tall at that next zoom level, I realize that resolutions these days
can be much higher than when MusE began.
Maybe that's what you meant?
It sure might be tough to manipulate all those short notes such a case...
It's tough enough on my standard 768-line monitor.

Would you like me to take a look or change the default vertical level?
Maybe a new user-adjustable setting "Default vertical zoom level"? To cover these hi-res monitor situations...

alex stone
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Re: Seems like some layout improvements may be long overdue

Postby alex stone » Fri Aug 17, 2018 10:58 am

Put me down for user defined defaults, not only for vertical zoom, but horizontal as well.

Alex.

alex stone
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Re: Seems like some layout improvements may be long overdue

Postby alex stone » Fri Aug 17, 2018 12:43 pm

This will seem like a dumb question, it does to me, but is there a default setting somewhere that enables me to set my midi inputs as global defaults for adding a new track? I'm using jack midi.

Alex.

windowsrefund
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Re: Seems like some layout improvements may be long overdue

Postby windowsrefund » Fri Aug 17, 2018 2:32 pm

Tim E. Real wrote:Hi, just a follow up question.
When you complained of the default zoom level when opening a piano roll editor,
were you actually speaking of the vertical zoom level - the height of the notes?
(This is adjustable by the slider on the right of the piano roll editor.)

I assumed you meant the horizontal zoom which as I explained has several mechanisms available.
MusE tends to automatically adjust the first-opened horizontal-zoom somewhat depending on part length,
and it mostly works OK. It tries to be reasonable about how many notes to be shown versus h-zoom level.


Yes, I am talking about the horizontal zoom. I mapped "Zoom In" to PgUp and "Zoom Out" to PgDown but I'm still having to lean on these too often IMHO since the window "resets" to whatever it uses (seems like 10% to me) each time a Piano Roll (or Drum View) is opened. Of course, I'm also willing to admit I may not be using the all of the tools available as I never find myself clicking on or using the zoom or pan tools. From what I remember when looking at them and/or reading some comments, one or both appear to be best used with a trackball? I don't have that kind of device and would prefer to interact with my keyboard as much as possible anyway. To be honest, I really have no desire to use mouse-driven scrollbars either as a keyboard is just faster. Of course, I would use the scrollbars or any other mouse-driven tool needed but it's that "reset" thing I've been mentioning where the work-flow just needs to be done over and over again....

Tim E. Real wrote:The vertical zoom however, after taking a look, might be a wee bit too small.
Especially since Robert recently added the note names inside the note boxes - it now makes the boxes
seem too short by default.

The next vertical 'zoom' level up form the default one seems a bit more reasonable to me.
Although on my monitor the notes might be a bit too tall at that next zoom level, I realize that resolutions these days
can be much higher than when MusE began.
Maybe that's what you meant?
It sure might be tough to manipulate all those short notes such a case...
It's tough enough on my standard 768-line monitor.

Would you like me to take a look or change the default vertical level?
Maybe a new user-adjustable setting "Default vertical zoom level"? To cover these hi-res monitor situations...

[/quote]
I'd be a big fan of a default setting for both horizontal and vertical (if it's not too much trouble).

windowsrefund
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Joined: Mon Jul 30, 2018 11:04 pm

Re: Seems like some layout improvements may be long overdue

Postby windowsrefund » Fri Aug 17, 2018 2:36 pm

A real nice way to provide this might be to include some kind of button (not a button per-say but something that operated like one) right next to each zoom. When "set", the user-specified zoom would then be "set" as default for either horizontal or vertical.

Tim E. Real
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Re: Seems like some layout improvements may be long overdue

Postby Tim E. Real » Fri Aug 17, 2018 4:15 pm

You know, I was reminded yesterday that we DO in fact remember a few settings for each opened piano roll:
For example the last used piano roll size is remembered and used for the next opened piano roll.

That sort of negates the reasons I mentioned for not including zoom levels.
I'd forgotten about the size thing.

So it seems a mechanism therefore exists that we might remember the zoom levels as well as other things.

I'll take a look...

Tim E. Real
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Joined: Sat Sep 15, 2012 12:36 am

Re: Seems like some layout improvements may be long overdue

Postby Tim E. Real » Mon Aug 27, 2018 3:59 pm

Hi, just a follow up comment.
Somewhere, you mentioned something about indicator 'lines' and asked if they could be turned off.
I wasn't sure what you meant, but I noticed yesterday that the background 'grid' that is shown in all editors
is much too dense at low zoom factors. So dense that the Arranger for example becomes obliterated with
with the blue vertical lines and becomes ALL blue. The piano roll becomes so dense with grid lines that
it's hard to see anything. Maybe that's what you meant?
Looks like something got regressed in there, it is supposed to self-adjust the density of grid lines when too dense, but it is not.

So I just located the code and fixed it in my branch which I will merge soon.
Hang in there...

windowsrefund
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Re: Seems like some layout improvements may be long overdue

Postby windowsrefund » Mon Aug 27, 2018 6:59 pm

Sounds good. I was actually talking about the hardcoded "2 3 4" between measures. These represent beats but honestly, I'd really prefer not seeing them at all if possible. The lines are good enough in terms of understanding where each beat is.


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