Completed Proposal: Improvements to Scrubbing - Phase-1

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Proposal pages help us get from feature requests into actual plans. This page is a proposal to clean up the existing user interface for Audacity's Scrubbing
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

Scrubbing was introduced in Audacity 2.1.0 but QA and members of the TLC recognize that, while the underlying technological implementation is excellent,the user interface could do with some improvement. There are insufficient visual cues to indicate to the user that they are in scrubbing mode (which has led to some users being trapped in Scrubbing mode, not understanding what is going on and worse, having no idea how to escape).

See also Proposal: Improvements to Scrubbing - Phase-2 for a follow on proposal considering changing the User Interface - and see Talk:Proposal: Improvements to Scrubbing - Phase-2 for the condensed email discussion that led to both of these two proposals.

Proposed Feature

Phase-1 is really a bit of a tidy-up with some of James' suggestions, plus some outstanding P3 Bugzilla entries for Scrubbing - but not changing the UI, so in this phase all Paul's current UI gestures will be preserved. This should thus make Phase-1 relatively non-contentious.

Phase-1 will not help the user who accidentally strays into scrubbing, but it will give them (and us) a bit of a clue as to what is going on.

1.1) Change the shape of the green triangle on the cursor, so indicating that it is not recording, nor playing, but some other mode. Change cursor, even before mouse moves.

  • James +1 (but -1 for blinking), Peter +1, Gale +1 (Perhaps even a blinking cursor, the same shape as now).
    • Peter 08May16: Completed: but the Play cursor remains the green triangle in the Timeline as Scrubbing is a form of Playing. But there is now the additional Scrub Bar which carries the scrub cursor (double headed green triangles) when scrubbing is active, this moves to the bottom of the Timeline if the user turns off the Scrub Bar but still initiates or contines with scrubbing.

1.2) Change the green triangle on the play button to indicate scrubbing-play (in both cases possibly a double headed triangle would work, indicating bi-directional). Combined these give a clue that clicking on transport buttons could help.

  • James +1, Peter +1.
  • Gale 0 (I'm tired of ever changing icons on Transport buttons).
    • Peter 03Oct15: Me too, but a changing button now is a quick-win - and the iconography we use now could provide a button template for potential use in Phase-2 (but to be discussed later) .
      • Peter 08May16: Completed: now changes to the same double headed green triangles that are used for the scrub cursor.

1.3) Make ESC take us out of scrubbing.

  • James +1, Peter +1.
  • Gale: Does that do the same as Stop? What would be useful would be if ESC restarted forwards playback from the point reached when ESC was pressed, even if that does not happen until Phase-2.
    • Peter 03Oct15: My understanding of James' proposal is that for Phase-1 it does exactly the same as pressing the Stop button - and I support that.
    • James (talk) 10:29, 3 October 2015 (EDT): James is doer-decides on exact details of what state we are in when ESC gets us out of the mode. I care that ESC gets us out of the mode. Peter is right that as I proposed it, it does as stop does.
      • Peter 08May16: Completed.

1.4) Make clicking outside the track take us out of scrubbing.

  • James +1, Peter +1
  • Gale: Is moving the mouse outside the track allowed? One way of keeping forwards scrub going without keeping the mouse moving is to move the mouse to right out of the track.
    • James & Peter: YES.
      • Peter 08May16: Paul decided not to do this, he believes it is not necessary - and having tested these Phase-1 improvements I am inclined to agree.

P3 Bugs (as part of Phase-1 clean-up)

1.5) 1053 Status Bar messages incorrect after scrub commences.

1.6) 991 Pause button and Pause command are not grayed out as inoperable when in scrub mode

  • Peter 08May16: Completed.

1.7) 1079 Scrubbing is stopped when a tool that is not Select is chosen)

    • Peter 09May16: Completed.

1.8) 1052 No visual indication whether CTRL has initiated scrubbing or not

  • Points 1.1 and 1.2 address this issue
    • Peter 08May16: Completed.

Developer/QA Backing

  • Peter: +1 for all the Phase-1 steps
  • James: +1 for all the Phase-1 steps
  • Steve by email 02Oct15: The "Phase 1" plan sounds good
  • Gale: Phase 1 is only really sticking plaster. We should move from Phase 1 to Phase 2 quickly. My feeling is that relatively few users are using scrubbing, and perhaps not all are finding it as useful as it could be. In contrast to the many user comments welcoming real-time preview, there seem to have been few comments about scrubbing, except for those falling into it by accident. Considering how popular scrubbing was as a feature request, this seems odd to me.
  • James (talk) 10:29, 3 October 2015 (EDT): In practice I think we will do as Gale says and move quickly. Peter's Phase 1, Phase 2 distinction, which I would like to try, is about separating easy consensus from contentious. That seems useful to me.

Use Cases

As we already know from a posting on the Forum we have already had one poor benighted user who stumbled into scrubbing mode by mistake and then couldn't find his /her way out. See: this Forum thread


Explicit in steps 1.1 through 1.8

GUI Examples

Not required.

Previous Feature Requests relating to this proposal

Not applicable.