Talk:Proposal Focus And Multiselect

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Robert wrote:

I think that the most important mode isn't listed here. I use it all the time and very seldom need multiple selections:

"The track with focus is always and exclusively selected."

Some advantages:

  • you can remove the prefix "Selected", it's always on unless you toggle the track to "not Selected". (Apart from that, you know that single-selection is turned on if you hear the pure track name)
  • On opening a project, you don't have to check which tracks are selected.
  • The message "No Audio Selected" is rarer, actually only in the case when no time range is selected.
  • You can still select multiple tracks with Shift+Up/Down (if it is properly implemented as suggested by David).
  • You could temporarily switch on non-contiguous selection. Reaper uses Shift+Space and you would keep holding down the shift key for going through clips (Control+Left/Right), tracks (Up/Down) etc. while toggling them on/off by pressing space again. The space might be replaced with Enter.


David wrote:

Question about the proposal: - Are there any concrete examples of what users find confusing confusing?

Changing the states of tracks without changing the audio selection:

  • In Audacity, track selection is a necessary condition for selecting audio.
  • Currently, if one or more tracks are selected, then using a mouse, you can change various states of any of the tracks in the project, for example mute, without changing which tracks are selected.
  • Using the keyboard, you can do the same using the commands which act on the focused track (see more below).
  • I'm assuming this ability is important. But it's an assumption.

Selecting multiple tracks. In lists where there's a need to select multiple items, then there are two standard schemes. You can optimize for:

  • Single, or single range selection. Unmodified mouse clicks and standard navigation keys set the focus and selection, and any previous selection is deselected.
  • Non contiguous selection. Unmodified mouse clicks change the selection of the clicked item, leaving the selection of other items unchanged. Unmodified standard keyboard navigation keys move the focus but don't change the selection. An additional keystroke is needed to change the selection.
  • Audacity uses the first scheme for the mouse and the second for the keyboard. It's non-standard to use different schemes. However that's been the case for ages. Has it caused problems?
  • Choosing which scheme to use should be based on expected use cases.
  • The current scheme for the keyboard allows the user to easily move the focus to another track, and apply a command which acts on the track, without any danger of accidentally deselecting tracks. It can still be done using the other scheme, but the user has always to remember to use the Ctrl key modifier.

Commands that act on the focused track. It isn't usual to have commands that act on the focused item. However:

  • a track is a lot more complex than a normal list item, and has multiple states a user may want to change.
  • commands which act on the focused track allow a keyboard user to change the state of a track, for example solo, without changing what audio is selected.
  • It would be possible to make it so that once the user was focused on a track, they could tab to the solo, mute buttons, etc. In practice this wouldn't be that useful, as it would require too many keystrokes for a common task. But you could think of the commands acting on the focused track as shortcuts for the necessary keyboard navigation and activating the button or whatever.
  • To change a given state of the track you could have both a command which acted on the selected tracks, and a command which acted on the focused track.

Comparisons with Reaper. A key relevant difference between Audacity and Reaper, is that in Reaper, to select audio you select clips (items in Reaper speak). So changing the track selection doesn't change the audio selection.

  • The selection of tracks is optimised for single or single range selection. You can select clips in selected tracks, and so easily select select clips either in contiguous or non-contiguous tracks. Moving and selecting another track doesn't accidentally deselect any clips.
  • There are commands for changing the state of the selected tracks, and keyboard users can execute these without changing the audio selection.

Changing existing behaviour. If it's decided to make some changes in this area, for example the keyboard keystrokes for selecting tracks, it needs to be done with caution, as the change will cause disruption. It would be best to consult with users who may well have differing work flows, and to have user testing of any changes before any release.