[Ardour-Dev] Ardour interface simplication?

Adam Dingle 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 
Ardour 3)
- 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 
related functionality.)

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?


More information about the Ardour-Dev mailing list