Proposal Improvements to the Timer Record time data-entry spinbox controls

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Revision as of 16:30, 2 April 2016 by PeterSampson (talk | contribs) (The Problems: The Timer Record TimeText controls do not interact intuitively with the Date controls.)
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Proposal pages help us get from feature requests into actual plans. This page is a proposal to improve Timer Record
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 Problems

The Timer Record TimeText controls do not interact intuitively with the Date controls.

Proposed Features

  1. Add optional forced Save or Export on Timer Record completion and optional ability to close Audacty or the computer.
    • 2.1.0 has an automatic/forced Save - the interface could benefit from improvement
      • Peter 16mar16: Mark Young is currently working on this - we anticipate it being ready for 2.1.3
  2. Improvements to the "waiting to start" dialog
  3. Add a Confirm dialogue when the user uses Stop/Spacebar/Esc (while Waiting or Recording) to prevent accidental stoppage
  4. Error handling (or warning) on potential disk full.
  5. Ability to change the event times
  6. Timer Record to enable access to the normal set of recording controls.
  7. Add a Timer Stop to be available for manually initiated recording.
  8. Re-size the "Progress" box smaller. (Fixed by Leland Presumably as part of his wx3 widgets work)
  9. Ability to minimize the Timer record Window
  10. Improvements to the time data-entry spinner controls.
  11. Remove the Cancel button from the Progress box (still allow power user to cancel with window Close or ESC) (Fixed by Vaughan for v2.0.1.)

Developer/QA Backing

  • Peter Sampson:
    • I support the facility for an automatic save/export on Timer Record completion (with the optional ability to close Audacty or the computer).
    • I also support full access to the controls during Timer Record, including adding the ability to alter the ebd-time or duration of the timed recording
      • Gale 25Feb15: I think the lockout while recording is over-enforced. I can see no good reason to dispense with metering and access to Mixer Toolbar. Perhaps, input/output sliders should be available in both the Waiting to Start and Record Progress dialogues. Perhaps a button in the Record Progress dialogue to Add Label at Playback Position.
  • Gale: Am in agreement with the general thrust of improvements here.

Use Cases

  1. User sets up an overnight recording, some time after TR completion the computer crashes (or is rebooted by Microsoft due to updates). User then has to resort to Recovery.
  2. Access to controls: User uses Timer Record while they are active on their computer (on other, non-Audacity, tasks) so that they do not forget to start a live FM broadcast capture from the radio at a time in the future. In that case they need access to the recording controls.
  3. Timer Stop: User has activated a long recording process manually and then has to leave the computer unattended. Timer Stop would provide a safety measure so Audacity does not record endlessly until the hard drive is full and the recorded session becomes jeopardized.
  4. User unexpectedly needs to go out having manually initiated a recording, needs to set a stop time to prevent creating a very large project or disk overflow.
  5. Users find the spinner data-entry for time values to be confusing and un-natural, causing incorrect entry values.
  6. User inadvertently enters an erroneous date causing a timer record event for which there is insufficient disk space.
  7. While Timer Record is recording, user erroneously presses Cancel to halt the recording then presses record, their original one-off recording is irretrievably lost. See this thread in the forum. (Fixed by Vaughan for v2.0.1.)
  8. The "Progress" box is un-necessarily wide and thus has much empty gray space which adds nothing and is visually un-pleasing. fixed by Leland.
  9. Accidental use of the Spacebar when Timer Record is waiting or recording can cause a Timer Record to be inadvertently stopped.


  • Optional forced Save and/or Export on Timer Record completion: add tools to optionally auto-save/export and optionally close down the computer and/or input stream. Would require extensions to the setup dialog box.
    • An option to auto-save and/or auto-export at successful completion of the recording event, to a user-specified name and location (and specified format for export). Would need to be specified at event set-up which would require extensions to the setup dialog box.
    • Optionally close Audacity on successful event completion.
    • Optionally shut down the computer on successful event completion.
    • Optionally disconnect the internet stream (if appropriate) on successful event completion.
  • Peter 24Feb15: For 2.1.0 Vaughan has provided an automatic Save on TR completion if the user has Saved the project prior to starting the timed recording, otherwise on completion the user is invited to make the save. This interface need a little more work for the next release as the behavior is somewhat opaque and not very discoverable.
  • Peter 22Mar16: Mark Young has been working on implementing the changes requested in this proposal with an extension to the Timer Record dialog box giving access to the new options for Automatic Save, Automatic Export and completion action. This makes the automatic save much more "discoverable". There is no explicit option for disconnection from an internet stream that a recording may have been made from, but if the user chooses "Shutdown System" or "Restart System" as the completion option then the webstream will de facto be disconnected.

  • Waiting for Start dialog enhancements:
    • Under "Waiting to start recording at: dd-mmm-yy hh:mm:ss", add duration and scheduled stop time:
      • Recording duration: hh:mm:ss
      • Scheduled to stop at: dd-mmm-yy hh:mm:ss
    • Add post completion actions selected:
      • Automantic Save Enabled: Yes/No
      • Automatic Export Enabled: Yes/No
      • Post Timer Recording Action: <action(s)>
    • Remove "Elapsed Time: hh:mm:ss". It adds nothing is of no real clue to the user.
    • Rename "Remaining Time: hh:mm:ss" to "Recording will commence in: hh:mm:ss"

  • Add a Confirm dialogue when the user uses Stop/Spacebar/Esc:
    • Effected (while Waiting or Recording) to prevent accidental stoppage.
    • Simple Yes/No two-button dialogue
    • "No" to be the default
      • Thus two accidental presses on the space bar cannot halt the ongoing Timer Record.
Peter 01Apr16: The recording/waiting can easily be accidentally stopped while waiting or recording by a single press of the spacebar. This is due to the fact that focus is on the "Stop" button in the dialog.

  • Error handling (or warning) on potential disk full situation
    • When a single Timer Record event is created (or set of Timer Record events if the multi-event feature is added) that would exceed the potential remaining available record time that Audacity calculates (and which would lead to a full disk and a failed recording) generate either an error message (or possibly a warning to enable the user to free up disk space).
    • Would need to be further invoked if the Ability to change the event times as below is implemented

  • Ability to change the event times:
    • Add the ability to change (extend or shorten) the recording stop time during recording. Would require a modification to the "Audacity Timer Record Progress" dialog box.
    • Add the ability to change (extend or shorten) the recording stop time or the start time while waiting to record. Would require a modification to the "... Waiting for Start" dialog box.
      • This is less critical than the ability to change while the recording is ongoing as the user has the workaround of Cancelling the waiting Timer Record dialog and setting up a fresh Timer Record.
    • Would need to invoke the "Error handling (or warning) on potential disk full situation" if and when that is implemented

  • Controls: Timer Record to facilitate availability of all the normal set of Audacity recording controls:
  1. use of the Mixer Toolbar sliders to adjust the signal level
  2. drop markers/labels with Ctrl+B and Ctrl+M,
  3. zoom in/out,
  4. pause and un-pause recording (Note that this merely temporarily interrupts the recording; it does not extend the recording time),
  5. change the track size,
  6. rename the track,
  7. change the waveform display type.

  • Add a Timer Stop to be available for manually initiated recording.
    • Provide a Timer Stop to be available for a manually initiated recording to be stopped after a settable time, possibly implemented by making the Timer Record dialog available after recording has been initiated.
    • Presumably this could be implemented by providing access for the user to the Timer Record setup dialog while a recording is active.

  • Re-size the "Progress" box smaller
    • The "Progress" box is un-necessarily wide at 22 cm
    • Reduce the width of the "Progress" box to 10.5 cm to match the width of the "Waiting for Start" box
    • This would still leave the progess bar wide enough to be useful (cf. progress boxes for Effects and Analyze tools which are only about 8.25 cm wide).
      • This has been completed.

  • Ability to minimize the Timer record Window
    • Timer Record to behave like a proper Windows window so that it can be minimized to the Applications bar with the minimize button in the Audacity window.
      • Gale: Bug 104 relates to this.
      • Gale: It would be quite odd on Windows to be able to minimize an app having a modal window (though Ubuntu allows it). So making Timer Record dialog modeless (for the current project) would be one solution.

  • Improvements to the time data-entry spinbox controls
    • Simplified spinner controls for time entry with hh:mm only (I doubt that anyone uses seconds except when testing).
    • hh (and mm) to be a single field rather than separate digits of units and tens. Thus the up/down arrows would operate on hh (and mm) as an entity.
    • No ripple-through interaction from the hours field to the date field.
    • No ripple-through interaction from the minutes field to the hours field.
    • The minutes field to be limited to its logical maximum of 59 minutes.
    • The hours field to be limited to its logical maximum of 23 hours.
      • Gale: There are at least two cases where the Start and End spinboxes interact unintuitively with Date:
        • You cannot type a spinbox character that results in a time in the past; the input is ignored and the selected digit is advanced. In particular there is a clearly expressed expectation that setting hours to the past would advance the date forwards.
        • The hour spinbox increments the date perfectly in a forwards direction by typing or up arrow (even incrementing by a day and changing hours to "07" if you have 21 hours and increment the "2" to "3"). However incrementing hours backwards with down arrow does not move the date backwards when you reach "00" hours (even if the previous day would still be a time in the future); moreover a further down arrow from "00" hours zeroes all the digits.
        • The above are not apparently bugs but arguably reasonable behaviour for TimeText controls as used in Selection Toolbar. Perhaps these are not good behaviours in a Timer and may suggest using another type of control integrated with the date. Or perhaps time controls should increment date backwards and a time in the past can be set, but it greys out OK.

  • Remove the Cancel button from the Progress box
  • (Fixed by Vaughan for v2.0.1.)
    • Simply remove this button from the box
    • The box has a de facto cancel already in the X in the top-right corner
    • A second de facto cancel is available by use of the ESC button
    • User can achieve the same effect by using the Stop and then optionally deleting the recorded track if required (this is safer).

GUI Examples