DarkAudacity

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Dark Audacity is a customised 'auteur' variant of Audacity with a modified user interface.

  • It has a dark theme, orange on black, and modern icons from Google's 'Material Design' icon set.
  • DarkAudacity's aims to give Audacity a more professional and easier to use user interface.
  • The majority of the code in DarkAudacity is the same as in Audacity. That audio processing code is identical.

DarkAudacity is an Audacity side project by James Crook

 Website: www.darkaudacity.com

Controversy

Changes pioneered in DarkAudacity were originally controversial. For example DarkAudacity reorganized the menus so that the most used commands were at the top. Commands were put into clearer logical groups. Less widely used commands were moved to lower down in the menus. Similar ideas had been proposed for Audacity. The ideas were discussed extensively, without agreement.

The light on dark theme was originally felt to be wrong for Audacity, as not fitting in with the traditional colours of Audacity. Now it is (or will in Audacity 2.2.0 be) offered as an optional theme choice. The rearranged menus of DarkAudacity 2.1.3x are being adopted for Audacity 2.2.0, with further changes such as a new 'select' menu, made possible by the initial rearrangement.

Other changes were felt to be bad because they entailed extra work (a tour guide of features was thought to be unnecessary extra work) or they made changes to behaviour that users were familiar with (record-beside as the default is not familiar, but saves new users getting a mix). The changes also took the sync-lock button out of a toolbar, probably better for most users to not have it there, but users who did use it would need to find the equivalent action in the menus.



Screenshot

DarkAudacity 2.1.3.x was released in August 2016:

Dark-audacity.png

Status (August 2017)

Many changes from a year ago in DarkAudacity 2.1.3x are likely to make their way into Audacity 2.2.0, which is intended to release in August 2017.

  • Nearly all the new features of DarkAudacity 2.1.3x have been agreed by Audacity team as good for 2.2.0:
    • Rearranged menus (with some further changes)
    • Choice of themes, including a DarkTheme.
    • Reduction of clutter in Track Control Panel (In Audacity 2.2.0 these will still be present if the track is tall enough)
    • Record-Beside as the default. This means new users will not get a mix of the different recordings they make unless they choose to.
    • Sync-Lock button is no longer in edit toolbar. It can still be used from the menus.
    • Some DarkAudacity 2.1.3x changes such as the stuck-in-pause fix and the pin/unpin icons were already included in Audacity 2.1.3.
    • The 2.1.3x tour guide has been improved (pictures and more content added) and has been made an integral part of the Audacity manual.

The main 2.1.3x change that was not agreed on and so did not make it into 2.2.0 was the removal of numbers from the meters.

Audacity 2.2.0 also introduces a Light Theme, based on the bonus content from the DarkAudacity project, and a High Contrast theme that was requested by the Audacity team.

Release Process for DarkAudacity

DarkAudacity and its new features are developed outside Audacity's QA approval process. However, DarkAudacity shares code with Audacity itself. That means that early adopters and testers of DarkAudacity alphas can help the test process for Audacity. Confidence in DarkAudacity code, e.g. on different platforms and with different sound cards, increases confidence in Audacity, since so much code is shared. This is particularly relevant for new code under development between Audacity releases.

DarkAudacity development can be a bit more rapid than Audacity development because:

  • Features do not need to be agreed and refined by the whole team.
  • DarkAudacity can implement for Windows only, only later adding support for Mac and Linux when porting the new features back to Audacity.
  • Unlike Audacity, DarkAudacity user interface is not translated into other languages besides English.
  • It is released without a dedicated manual. Most of the features are very similar to the corresponding features in Audacity. Documentation is on the DarkAudacity website and documents the new features and differences only.
  • QA is lighter weight and focuses just on the new features.

DarkAudacity is trailblazing possible changes for Audacity. It is intended to help Audacity move faster, rather than to supplant Audacity. Mostly it will be used by early adopters, with most users, who want a fully QA'd fully documented program waiting a year or so for the features to appear in an official Audacity release. One aspiration for DarkAudacity is to build a community of engaged users/testers interested in trying out new features and giving feedback.

UI Changes

  • Recording is now by default Record-Beside rather than Record-Below. Multiple takes are in sequence rather than all mixed together.
  • Pause does not lock the user interface. Editing actions will 'pop' pause up.
  • Streamlined menus. Most menus are shorter and more logically organised. The 'price' is that the menus are deeper to fit the same functions on.
  • Clutter reduction. Textual information that adds little has been removed. The information is still available if wanted.
  • Time-Lock that locks tracks together no longer an edit-bar button. It was confusing there and is now reached from the tracks.
  • Play and record indicator have distinct 'pinned' (square-pin) and 'unpinned' (triangular marker) versions. This makes the role of the pin-button clearer.

Inspiration

A history of designs that has inspired the DarkAudacity variant is available here: http://www.darkaudacity.com/inspire.html

Icons

The icons in DarkAudacity are based on the icons from Google's Material Design icon set. They have been inverted so that they are light on dark.

Material-design-inverted.png

Bonus Content

The DarkAudacity initiative also brings some bonus content.

  • A short supplement to the manual. A tour guide of existing features (Audacity 2.1.2). Addresses the problem that many users don't know about features, such as labels or spectral selection. Gives users the names of the features, and outline of what they are for, so there is a kind of road map of what is possible.
  • A theme-kit (for Audacity 2.1.2). Gives orange on black and a taste of the theming in DarkAudacity.
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