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Proposal Non-grayed-out editing commands

Peter Sampson-2
Hi Paul (as RM),

I am lobbying for 2.2.0 to have this proposal implemented:
http://wiki.audacityteam.org/wiki/Proposal_Non-grayed-out_editing_commands
It involves:
a) not graying out the Effect and Analyze commands when the user has made
no selection to operate on,
b) popping an educative error message if they do so,
c) providing a Help button in the error message (link to Manual),
d) changing the default setting for "select all if none" to be "off".

We have general QA support from this with Bill, Steve and myself in favour.
Gale is agaist - but note that we are taking nothing away from from him - merely
changing the default setting for "select all if none selected" to be "off" by default
rater than "on" -  all he has to do is turn it "on" in Prefs. 

Everthing else is just additional to what we have now and is likely to be useful
to many users.

The new setting is designed for the benefit of newbies/tyros and occasional
users, to help to avoid theconfusions that our current behaviors can cause
them  (as evidenced by many posts on the Forum over the years).

James is in favour of this proposal too and has offered to develop the
implementation for us.

Thanks,
Peter

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Re: Proposal Non-grayed-out editing commands

Gale
Administrator
On 8 May 2017 at 17:00, Peter Sampson <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Hi Paul (as RM),
>
> I am lobbying for 2.2.0 to have this proposal implemented:
> http://wiki.audacityteam.org/wiki/Proposal_Non-grayed-out_editing_commands
> It involves:
> a) not graying out the Effect and Analyze commands when the user has made
> no selection to operate on,
> b) popping an educative error message if they do so,
> c) providing a Help button in the error message (link to Manual),
> d) changing the default setting for "select all if none" to be "off".
>
> We have general QA support from this with Bill, Steve and myself in favour.
> Gale is agaist

It is not a simple "against" as you know, even though improving autoselect
and keeping it as default would have been my preferred solution.

I have given a very detailed evaluation of the proposal with reasoning,
and a version of the modeless dialogue I would find acceptable at:
http://wiki.audacityteam.org/wiki/Proposal_Non-grayed-out_editing_commands .

You have not responded to that, as I write.

I can lobby too, hard, if I feel we will recreate user support issues that we
had before autoselection by being too uncaring about the dialogue text.
The fundamental thing it must say, IMO, is how to Select All.


> but note that we are taking nothing away from from him -
> merely changing the default setting for "select all if none selected"
> to be "off" by default rater than "on" -  all he has to do is turn it "on"
> in Prefs.

As I asked in the Proposal, are existing users with select all "on"
allowed to keep their setting ?


> Everthing else is just additional to what we have now and is likely to be
> useful to many users.
>
> The new setting is designed for the benefit of newbies/tyros and occasional
> users, to help to avoid theconfusions that our current behaviors can cause
> them  (as evidenced by many posts on the Forum over the years).

There are nothing like several dozens of e-mails/posts per week
as we had before autoselect.

If the posts you refer to are about how to make partial selections,
user can use the Help button in the proposed dialogue. If the user
has a selection in one track and doesn't know how to put it in the
other tracks, your dialogue won't help that.

Regardless, my concern is with the less able who are mainly
interested in Select All and gave us so much trouble before.


Gale


> James is in favour of this proposal too and has offered to develop the
> implementation for us.

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Re: Proposal Non-grayed-out editing commands

Peter Sampson-2


On Mon, May 8, 2017 at 7:03 PM, Gale Andrews <[hidden email]> wrote:
On 8 May 2017 at 17:00, Peter Sampson <[hidden email]> wrote:
> Hi Paul (as RM),
>
> I am lobbying for 2.2.0 to have this proposal implemented:
> http://wiki.audacityteam.org/wiki/Proposal_Non-grayed-out_editing_commands
> It involves:
> a) not graying out the Effect and Analyze commands when the user has made
> no selection to operate on,
> b) popping an educative error message if they do so,
> c) providing a Help button in the error message (link to Manual),
> d) changing the default setting for "select all if none" to be "off".
>
> We have general QA support from this with Bill, Steve and myself in favour.
> Gale is agaist

It is not a simple "against" as you know, even though improving autoselect
and keeping it as default would have been my preferred solution.

I have given a very detailed evaluation of the proposal with reasoning,
and a version of the modeless dialogue I would find acceptable at:
http://wiki.audacityteam.org/wiki/Proposal_Non-grayed-out_editing_commands .

You have not responded to that, as I write.

I do have another life too apart from Audacity y'know ;-)
I was partying yesterday at a friend's 60th ...

But I do think we should let James get on (as "doer decides") with the error message
of his choice.  If that proves insufficient then we can always upgrade the message
and make it more verbose and give it more bells and whistles - but I'm thinking that
that is unlikely to be necessary.

Note that we have many other error messages in Audacity that are not overly verbose
and involve a trip over to the Maual for the user.  A prime example being "Error
opening sound device ..." for which we get lots of "support calls", where we send them
over to the FAQ in the Manual. 

Which makes me think that not only will we benefit from adding Help buttons with links
to the Manual for Prefs dialogs and E/G/As but also for many of the error messges
with "Error opening..." being the prime candidate.  Is this an idea you would support?

 

I can lobby too, hard, if I feel we will recreate user support issues that we
had before autoselection by being too uncaring about the dialogue text.
The fundamental thing it must say, IMO, is how to Select All.

I do think you are overestimating/overstating the number ofsupport issues that
will arise as a result of this proposal being implemented - as the whole purpose
is to educate the user in the need for and use of selections.

The dialog text should anyway be something that we can change easily if required,
it is only a text string - and we deal with changes to those via Wiki>Wording.

I'm planning on working on a better landing page in the Manual for the proposed
Help button here with the basiscs of select all, select all in a track and how to
turn on "select all if none" if the user/reader requires (with links, of course, to the
more detailed existing page for those that are keen enough to explore and learn
more.

I note that James has already made some tweaks to that existing page to make
it less intimidating TL;DR
 


> but note that we are taking nothing away from from him -
> merely changing the default setting for "select all if none selected"
> to be "off" by default rater than "on" -  all he has to do is turn it "on"
> in Prefs.

As I asked in the Proposal, are existing users with select all "on"
allowed to keep their setting ?

I am assuming so, unless that is the user opts for a cfg reset as part of the
installation - or purges their audacity.cfg file.  This is Audacity's normal modus
operandi - and thus was not explicitly mentioned in the proposal.

Just for completeness I'll make an explicit not about that.
 


> Everthing else is just additional to what we have now and is likely to be
> useful to many users.
>
> The new setting is designed for the benefit of newbies/tyros and occasional
> users, to help to avoid theconfusions that our current behaviors can cause
> them  (as evidenced by many posts on the Forum over the years).

There are nothing like several dozens of e-mails/posts per week
as we had before autoselect.

But before we had autoselect we also had no educative error message either, the
hapless user was just presented with grayed out effects/analyzers and they couldn't
figure out why.

Many of us think that the wrong solution was chosen at that time - hence this proposal
which does let us nicely get away with not graying out the effect and analyzer commands.

But we do recognize that some users (yourself included Gale) find autoselect useful
hence there is nothing in the proposal about taking it away.  Originally my and others'
thinking was that we should remove autoselect altogether - but we listened to your
arguments and changed our minds

I'm betting that with the educative message in place that we will also similarly get a low
level of posts on the Forum.  If I, and others, are proved wrong then we can always turn
on autoselect by default - but I'm forecasting that it won't be necessary

If the posts you refer to are about how to make partial selections,
user can use the Help button in the proposed dialogue. If the user
has a selection in one track and doesn't know how to put it in the
other tracks, your dialogue won't help that.

No, but nor does autoselect, not at all - all that does is an invisible "Select All".

I do (sincerely) look forward to your proposal for the extension and enhancement
of autoselect - particularly how it may help with the use case you have here, as that
is certainly one of the trickier non-obvious, hard to discover actions in Audacity.
 

Regardless, my concern is with the less able who are mainly
interested in Select All and gave us so much trouble before.

All of us share that concern - and that is why we made and support this
proposal to educate them through the error message and its associated
page(s) in the Manual.

Autoselect, in contrast, does nothing to educate the user regarding selection.
 


Gale


> James is in favour of this proposal too and has offered to develop the
> implementation for us.

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Re: Proposal Non-grayed-out editing commands

Paul Licameli
I have caught up in the Wiki page, but not yet including its long Discussion tab.

Opinions, without my RM hat on:  I'm mostly neutral.
  • "Users really do need to learn about making selections, it is one of the fundamentals of Audacity usage." That's not compelling to me.  I thought everybody with any acquaintance with click-drag-release conventions in other applications will figure out selection just by exploring a bit.  There was a comment by Bill that has disappeared from the Wiki but I felt the same.  So this inclines me against.
  • But I found the "select all if none selected" option, defaulting on, to be a source of confusion and a nuisance when I first explored Audacity.  I don't like it and turn it off and forget about it.  So this inclines me in favor.
  • But than I read Gale's rationale for this default behavior, and I defer to his longer experience.  So this inclines me against again.
  • Gale's comments of 8 May refer to "improving" of autoselect as an alternative proposal, but I do not understand what this means in detail, if there is more than the suggested dialog box.
My own suggestion for the new feature, which might strike a compromise with Gale's objections:
  • See what I write in Wiki, that is the appropriate place.
My understanding of what is agreed on by all:
  • If you do use the default auto-select preference, and keep your audacity.cfg from 2.1.3, then behavior will not change when you upgrade to 2.2.0 -- except perhaps that James will change its effect when there is no time selected but there is a non-empty set of tracks selected, right?

With the RM hat on:

I see no reason to oppose these developments as risky and destabilizing or difficult to document.  Whether to go will depend on my sense of consensus emerging, with my own opinions about feature counting only as one of equals.  I don't know we are there yet, and await reactions to what I write at the Wiki.

PRL



On Tue, May 9, 2017 at 7:05 AM, Peter Sampson <[hidden email]> wrote:


On Mon, May 8, 2017 at 7:03 PM, Gale Andrews <[hidden email]> wrote:
On 8 May 2017 at 17:00, Peter Sampson <[hidden email]> wrote:
> Hi Paul (as RM),
>
> I am lobbying for 2.2.0 to have this proposal implemented:
> http://wiki.audacityteam.org/wiki/Proposal_Non-grayed-out_editing_commands
> It involves:
> a) not graying out the Effect and Analyze commands when the user has made
> no selection to operate on,
> b) popping an educative error message if they do so,
> c) providing a Help button in the error message (link to Manual),
> d) changing the default setting for "select all if none" to be "off".
>
> We have general QA support from this with Bill, Steve and myself in favour.
> Gale is agaist

It is not a simple "against" as you know, even though improving autoselect
and keeping it as default would have been my preferred solution.

I have given a very detailed evaluation of the proposal with reasoning,
and a version of the modeless dialogue I would find acceptable at:
http://wiki.audacityteam.org/wiki/Proposal_Non-grayed-out_editing_commands .

You have not responded to that, as I write.

I do have another life too apart from Audacity y'know ;-)
I was partying yesterday at a friend's 60th ...

But I do think we should let James get on (as "doer decides") with the error message
of his choice.  If that proves insufficient then we can always upgrade the message
and make it more verbose and give it more bells and whistles - but I'm thinking that
that is unlikely to be necessary.

Note that we have many other error messages in Audacity that are not overly verbose
and involve a trip over to the Maual for the user.  A prime example being "Error
opening sound device ..." for which we get lots of "support calls", where we send them
over to the FAQ in the Manual. 

Which makes me think that not only will we benefit from adding Help buttons with links
to the Manual for Prefs dialogs and E/G/As but also for many of the error messges
with "Error opening..." being the prime candidate.  Is this an idea you would support?

 

I can lobby too, hard, if I feel we will recreate user support issues that we
had before autoselection by being too uncaring about the dialogue text.
The fundamental thing it must say, IMO, is how to Select All.

I do think you are overestimating/overstating the number ofsupport issues that
will arise as a result of this proposal being implemented - as the whole purpose
is to educate the user in the need for and use of selections.

The dialog text should anyway be something that we can change easily if required,
it is only a text string - and we deal with changes to those via Wiki>Wording.

I'm planning on working on a better landing page in the Manual for the proposed
Help button here with the basiscs of select all, select all in a track and how to
turn on "select all if none" if the user/reader requires (with links, of course, to the
more detailed existing page for those that are keen enough to explore and learn
more.

I note that James has already made some tweaks to that existing page to make
it less intimidating TL;DR
 


> but note that we are taking nothing away from from him -
> merely changing the default setting for "select all if none selected"
> to be "off" by default rater than "on" -  all he has to do is turn it "on"
> in Prefs.

As I asked in the Proposal, are existing users with select all "on"
allowed to keep their setting ?

I am assuming so, unless that is the user opts for a cfg reset as part of the
installation - or purges their audacity.cfg file.  This is Audacity's normal modus
operandi - and thus was not explicitly mentioned in the proposal.

Just for completeness I'll make an explicit not about that.
 


> Everthing else is just additional to what we have now and is likely to be
> useful to many users.
>
> The new setting is designed for the benefit of newbies/tyros and occasional
> users, to help to avoid theconfusions that our current behaviors can cause
> them  (as evidenced by many posts on the Forum over the years).

There are nothing like several dozens of e-mails/posts per week
as we had before autoselect.

But before we had autoselect we also had no educative error message either, the
hapless user was just presented with grayed out effects/analyzers and they couldn't
figure out why.

Many of us think that the wrong solution was chosen at that time - hence this proposal
which does let us nicely get away with not graying out the effect and analyzer commands.

But we do recognize that some users (yourself included Gale) find autoselect useful
hence there is nothing in the proposal about taking it away.  Originally my and others'
thinking was that we should remove autoselect altogether - but we listened to your
arguments and changed our minds

I'm betting that with the educative message in place that we will also similarly get a low
level of posts on the Forum.  If I, and others, are proved wrong then we can always turn
on autoselect by default - but I'm forecasting that it won't be necessary

If the posts you refer to are about how to make partial selections,
user can use the Help button in the proposed dialogue. If the user
has a selection in one track and doesn't know how to put it in the
other tracks, your dialogue won't help that.

No, but nor does autoselect, not at all - all that does is an invisible "Select All".

I do (sincerely) look forward to your proposal for the extension and enhancement
of autoselect - particularly how it may help with the use case you have here, as that
is certainly one of the trickier non-obvious, hard to discover actions in Audacity.
 

Regardless, my concern is with the less able who are mainly
interested in Select All and gave us so much trouble before.

All of us share that concern - and that is why we made and support this
proposal to educate them through the error message and its associated
page(s) in the Manual.

Autoselect, in contrast, does nothing to educate the user regarding selection.
 


Gale


> James is in favour of this proposal too and has offered to develop the
> implementation for us.

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Re: Proposal Non-grayed-out editing commands

Darrell Walisser
In reply to this post by Peter Sampson-2

I didn't read the whole proposal, but I don't think this was mentioned. If you open a new (empty) project, some effects are not disabled, and will happily show their dialog. These effects use modeless dialogs and have "Apply" buttons. If there is no selection, the "Apply" lets you know (I suppose it could be grayed out).

Is it a better solution, to make all effects modeless dialogs, and add the apply button with the helpful message? Or, make them all modal, without the Apply button? I vote modeless, one can tweak an effect without going back to the menu each time.

As for the proposed changes, as far as ease of use goes, I think it's a wash - the problem of breaking the recognizable selection pattern is still there. Which is, if the function requires a selection (or any precondition isn't satisfied), it is disabled.

To help users out, what about tooltips instead. For example, hover over any disabled menu item, and it tells you in a little floating text box why. No need for obtrusive dialogs popping up when the experienced user forgets to make a selection.


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