Proposal Easy cfg Reset

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Revision as of 16:53, 14 April 2011 by James (talk | contribs) (Updated delete to reset.)
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Proposal pages help us get from feature requests into actual plans. This proposal page is about adding a "Reset Preferences" command to Audacity.
Proposal pages are used on an ongoing basis by the Audacity development team and are open to edits from visitors to the wiki. They are a good way to get community feedback on a proposal.

  • Note: Proposals for Google Summer of Code projects are significantly different in structure, are submitted via Google's web app and may or may not have a corresponding proposal page.

The Problem

The audacity.cfg file can become corrupt leading to unexpected behaviours in Audacity that can only be fixed by "initializing" the contents of that file to NewPrefsInitialized=1. Trashing the file is not an option as Audacity may read previously-installed 1.2.x preferences and that preferences file may be corrupt. So the user must edit the audacity.cfg in a plain text editor and overwrite the file in its original location without changing the file extension. On Windows and Linux the user must show hidden files in order to open audacity.cfg.


  • VST plug ins can stop Audacity starting properly, so a feature within Audacity, for example menu item or preferences reset-button might not work.
  • Display preferences can leave Audacity not appearing, i.e. underneath other windows, so again features to resolve this within Audacity might not be enough.

The Proposal

An easy way for users to reset the audacity.cfg file to a clean state - in effect setting the contents to "NewPrefsInitialized=1" or filling it with the default values that Audacity would use on first launch when it finds an audacity.cfg file that contains only "NewPrefsInitialized=1".

A "Reset Preferences" menu command

Where does it go in the menu structure and how does it behave? What warnings are given and how are they worded?

  • There is consensus that some warning at least should be given.
    • A UI Q&A site has some recommendations about 'are you sure' wording. The gist is to keep it short, be specific and label the buttons specifically, not just Yes/No.

Current suggested wording:

Title: Reset Audacity Preferences?
Reset Preferences?  

We could have a hyperlink to online help. Specifically NOT local help in case the location for that is messed up. Hyperlink won't help if the user does not have a normal browser, but could help many users.

  • Bill: I prefer "Reset" over "Delete". It's what we're doing, and I believe most apps use that word.
    • +1. So do I. James 16:53, 14 April 2011 (UTC)

Alternative suggested wording:

Title: Reset Audacity Preferences?
Reset Audacity preferences to default values?
[Reset|Cancel] where Cancel is the default
  • James: A bit wordy? 'Audacity' becomes 'verbosity'? See the tip in the UX link.

A "Reset" pane in Preferences

The avoids adding another menu command at the expense of a new prefs pane. What would this pane look like? What would it say and what steps would the user need to perform in order to reset preferences.

Some kind of 'reset' before getting into Audacity

To handle the 'additionally' case (where the user might not successfully launch Audacity due to VST and other .cfg issues):

  • Googlable i.e. online help that explains how to delete the config/remove the problematic VSTs is a partial solution. It has to have the symptoms as far as a user is concerned', or they will not find the help. It should also explain what is going on.
  • James believes that we should address cases of fail-to-start actually within Audacity start up.
    • We should not be killed by dud VST plug-ins when not using them. We will need this kind of protection when we have other kinds of plug-ins too. In general we should not load plug-ins merely because they are there - so we should have a mechanism to show plug-in effects on the menu and delay loading the DLL until the effect is used. That's just one example.
    • If Audacity was exited unexpectedly, i.e. was started but was not closed properly, we could/should start in safe mode. That could mean disabling all plug ins, disabling simplified-audacity, using English language, default positioning and showing of toolbars and similar measures.