[Ardour-Dev] Ardour interface simplication?
adam at yorba.org
Wed Sep 22 14:39:44 PDT 2010
I'm currently coming up to speed on both Ardour 2 and Ardour 3. I'm
impressed by Ardour's feature set and looking forward to the release of
Ardour 3. But I do think the Ardour user interface seems daunting at
first to a relatively unsophisticated user of audio editing software
(like me :). Of course, part of the problem can be solved with better
documentation. But it also seems that Ardour displays many user
interface elements which won't be so useful/necessary for casual audio
editing, and currently there's no way to turn these off as far as I can
tell. For example, I think that some of the following elements might
not be necessary for a casual user:
- two different clock displays (Yes, I know that I can turn one off, but
I still see a black square in its place)
- the shuttle control and associated buttons
- some toolbar buttons (Internal, Time Master, Auto Input)
- the Zoom Focus dropdown (when not present, Ardour could always zoom
around the playhead, for example)
- nudge controls
- the phase reversal buttons in each mixer strip (in Ardour 3)
- the Isolate Solo and Lock Solo Status buttons in each mixer strip (in
- some of the status bar information (free disk space, wall clock)
and so on. A related problem is that some Ardour menus are very long,
which makes it hard for casual users to find the commands they probably
want. The Region menu (both as a top-level menu and when invoked via
the context menu) in particular is especially long. This problem may
conceivably worsen as Ardour's feature set grows.
Maybe I'm the only one who wants this, but I think it might be nice to
have a way to run Ardour with a reduced set of user interface elements
for less professional users. I can think of a couple of alternative
ways to do this:
1. Implement a simplified user interface which omits advanced commands,
and let users choose either it or the full interface.
- or -
a) Make the Ardour interface itself more customizable: let the user
enable/disable the display of all the elements above.
b) To make the menus shorter, refactor them so that some items move into
submenus. And, possibly, shorten the context menus by making some
commands available only in top-level menus, not context menus. Or,
perhaps, give the user a set of checkboxes which allow them to
enable/disable certain sets of functionality in the user interface, so
that features they're never going to use don't show up in the menus at
all. (Perhaps there's just one checkbox called "Advanced commands", or
perhaps there are several corresponding to groups of commands with
c) When a new user runs Ardour, give them a choice of a basic or full
configuration. In the basic configuration, some user interface elements
are hidden by default, and (perhaps) some feature sets are disabled so
that menus show fewer commands.
Of these approaches, (2) seems more attractive to me since users could
start out with a more basic feature set and slowly add more features as
they need them.
I hope it's not sacrilege to suggest all this since I'm sure that many
long-time Ardour users love its full feature set, but I for one would
find a simplified interface quite useful. Would the Ardour developers
be open to this sort of user interface flexibility/simplification?
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