Talk:Completed: Proposal User-safe Aliasfiles

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Revision as of 02:37, 23 January 2010 by BillWharrie (talk | contribs) (extensive comments)
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  • BillW 20Jan10: IMO changing the default in Import / Export Preferences to "Make a copy of uncompressed audio files before editing (safer)" would go a long way towards shielding new users from this problem. We could then possibly dispense with "Rule #3" in Audacity for the Impatient (or wherever the "3 rules" are eventually placed).
    • New users are presumably downloading Audacity for the first time, and many are complete novices. Rule #3 may be incomprehensible to them.
    • Seasoned users who prefer this option will have it set in their preferences which will be retained when they upgrade to a new version.
    • Performing an effect on an entire imported track (such as Amplify or Normalize) completely negates the disk space saving nature of the "read directly" preference as Audacity must save (internally) the changed version of the track. It seems to me that if the "Normalize all tracks in project" preference is checked then this will happen automatically.
    • Surely Audacity could check if referenced aliasfiles are available and warn the user rather than blithely playing silence while simultaneously displaying a waveform? This check could be done on opening a project and a comprehensive error message displayed.
    • Perhaps a warning when importing using "read directly"? This could be turned off in the warning dialog or in Warnings Preferences.
    • Is there better wording/description to "read directly"? This confused me initially. What's the opposite? Read INdirectly?
  • Peter 21Jan10: I wholeheartedly support the idea of making the "Safer" option the default. It is mainly inexperienced users (but not always) who fall foul of this. My understanding is that the "faster" option was chosen as the default to make working with Audacity faster for power users. But my contention is that power users are the ones most likely to probe and understand the various settings in Preferences - and in particular understand the import settings there. With Audacity OOTB we should aim to make things as foolproof as possible for the new user.

Bill 22Jan10:

  • Regarding the warning when importing using "read directly". What information do we need to impart?
    • The file you are importing will not be copied into your Audacity project
    • Audacity will read from (depend upon) the original file for all unedited portions
    • You must not delete, move or rename this file unless you first copy it into your project using the "Check Dependencies" command in the File menu, or when you are prompted to do so when saving your project.
    • |_| Don't show this warning again (button:)I Understand
  • Regarding the dependencies dialog
    • It needs to be bigger so it can show the entire path. At present, on Mac, the dialog is too small to show this, is not resizable, and there are no horizontal scroll bars in the list.
    • "Project depends on other audio files" gets lost as the title of the dialog
    • Note that the button "Copy Selected Audio Into Project" remains enabled even when nothing is selected in the list
    • Improved messages?
      • Dependencies (title of the dialog)
      • Your project depends on the following audio files which were imported using the 'read directly' option in Import / Export Preferences.
      • As long as your project depends on these files you must not delete, move or rename the files.
      • You can choose to copy the contents of these files into your project, which will remove the dependency.
      • This may require more disk space, but is safer and will make your project self-contained.
    • The dialog that appears when saving a project with the "ask user" option in Projects Preferences is wider, but has a silly third column with nothing in it. A savvy user can drag to make the first column wider but it still may not be able to show the full path (which includes the most vital information - the name of the file).
    • IMO needs expanded explanation as above
  • Regarding what happens when an alias file is not available
    • What happens now is that the user sees the "blue wave" but hears no sound, and is thoroughly confused.
    • I feel strongly that Audacity should check for the existence of alias files when opening a project and give the user an explanation if any files are not found.
    • Perhaps a dialog similar to a (revamped) dependencies dialog (listing the missing alias files), with the message:
      • This project depends on the following files, but Audacity could not find them.
      • You can choose to open the project, but portions may be silent even though a waveform is visible.
      • It is recommended that you quit immediately, find the files on your computer and return them to their original locations.
    • Even fancier would be a "Browse" or "Find" button that allows the user to find the moved/renamed files and point Audacity to their new names and/or locations, although this is potentially very dangerous as the user could easily point Audacity to the wrong files!
    • If the user chooses to open the project anyway (why would they?), could the waveforms for the missing sections be rendered in a different colour, say pink?
  • Conclusion: IMO (as of today, and I reserve the right to change my mind), I could be persuaded that "read directly" would be the default option if the above were implemented, that is:
  1. warning when importing using read directly
  2. improved dependencies dialogs
  3. check for missing alias files when opening a project
    • In the meantime I believe that "copy in" should be the default until these improvements can be made.
  • Other issues:
    • I think it is worth noting that using "read directly" can actually increase disk usage. Consider a 16-bit project that depends on an external file, say a raw interview with lots of irrelevant stuff. The users edits out the bad stuff, reducing the length of the interview by half. If this audio were copied in, its length would be reduced by half, but instead the project continues to depend on the original file, making the disk footprint of the project bigger than if the audio were copied in. Furthermore, Audacity will create .au files (containing audio) to cover the edit points that certainly will not fall on block boundaries - so the project is now bigger than the original file. It is easy to conceive of situations that would have a similar effect. For this reason "removing dependencies" on saving a project is to the user's benefit - there is not longer a speed penalty when opening the project and disk usage is reduced (assuming the user then deletes the original file).