Proposal Space Savers

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Revision as of 18:29, 30 October 2014 by PeterSampson (talk | contribs) (Text replace - "drop-down" to "dropdown")
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Proposal pages help us get from feature requests into actual plans. This page is a mix of proposals for saving space in the GUI.
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.

Proposed Feature

  • Various features to save space on the Audacity interface.
  • The most important ones save space on the track panel.

Developer Backing

Use Cases

  • Users working with large numbers of tracks. Five or more is large in this context.

Multiple tracks

There can be many more tracks in a project than can be displayed easily on one screen. Solutions:

Redesigned Track Control Panel

Suggestion by Sergei Chebankov: Currently if the vertical track height is set so that Mute and Solo buttons appear, the track takes about 90 pixels (Track "STE-000" in the image below) and not many tracks fit into the screen.

Space-saving Track Control Panel with mute/solo at top and rollup button to left of it

How about swapping vertically the order of "Mute/Solo" segment and the segment displaying track data ("Stereo, 48000Hz,32-bit float", STE-001). In such case the height of a track with still visible Mute/Solo buttons can go down to about 58 pixels.

Additionally, it would be even better to combine the Mute/Solo buttons and the roll-up/down arrow button into one segment (STE-006). This would allow the minimal 40-pixel-high display of a track to have the most necessary bits on the left panel - its name (with dropdown arrow) and the Mute/Solo and restore buttons.

Track Groups

The Shift-Ctrl-F (auto-fit all tracks) feature in Audacity 1.2.6 does a good job of making all the tracks visible in a project with many tracks. However the tracks end up having to be of very shallow height to fit on screen. Mute buttons etc. become hidden. As long as there are not too many tracks, that problem can be overcome by redesign of the Track Control Panel (see above), but the difficulty remains with really large numbers of tracks. The same issue can occur in Adobe Photoshop (a graphics image editor) if an image has many "layers". An elegant solution to this problem has been implemented in recent versions of Photoshop in the "layers palette". The same idea would work very well in Audacity. This is how it would work, translated into Audacity language:

  1. A menu option "Create new TRACK GROUP" creates something that looks like a new track - it has a name, delete, balance, volume, mute and solo buttons - but it is not an audio track - it is a track "set" or "folder" or "group" or "collection". It also has an expand/collapse button on the left. I will call this thing a "group" for now.
  2. Let's name this group "Rhythm", for example.
  3. If any audio tracks are dragged onto the "Rhythm" group they are displayed under that group.
  4. But if the "collapse" button of the "Rhythm" group is clicked then the single "group" track is displayed as one horizontal strip but all the audio tracks inside it are hidden from view.
  5. Balance, volume, mute and solo buttons on the Rhythm group strip control the playback of all the audio tracks inside that group (though each audio track still has its own specific settings).
  6. The Rhythm group, and other groups, can be manipulated in their collapsed state by dragging up and down, collapsing, expanding, muting, adjusting volume, etc.
  7. Individual audio tracks can be dragged from group to group, or dragged out of a group completely.
  8. The visual appearance of the waveform area of a "group" strip could be just blank, or it could show for instance a simple normalised sum of all the audio tracks inside - that would aid usability.
  9. Most of the audio editing functions would NOT be implemented for working on a "group" - that would still be done on the individual audio tracks visible in an expanded group.

Here is an example of what a user might create in a working project using this idea: Groups named "Rhythm", "Vocals", "Backing", "Count-in", "Roughwork", "Soundeffects", and "ScratchPad". Each group might contain about five separate audio tracks. That would be about thirty-five audio tracks in the project. Most of the groups would be displayed in the collapsed state with just one group expanded. All the tracks in the project would be available to view as desired without the confusion of all the tracks being in one unwieldy long scrolling list.