Proposal Locking and/or Hiding Pan and Gain sliders

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Proposal pages help us get from feature requests into actual plans. This page is a proposal to provide mechanisms to hide/display and/or lock/unlock Pan and Gain sliders.
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.


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The Problem

It is all too easy to accidentally nudge the Pan or Gain sliders in a track's Track Control Panel and not realize or see that you have thus made potential changes to the audio (on rendering or export). The visual cues for non-zero default state are not very good, particularly for small changes.

Proposed Feature

  1. Add the ability to hide/restore the Pan and Gain sliders (many users don't need them at all) - leave them visible by default.
  2. Add the ability to Lock/Unlock the Pan and Gain Sliders - either per (selected) track or global.
  3. Improve the visual cue for non-zero default state of the Pan and Gain sliders.
  4. Additionally consider making the track information text (Rate, format etc.) optionally hideable

Developer/QA Backing

Peter +1 for nos 3, 1 and 4 & +0.5 for no. 2

Use Cases

From real-life reports on the Forum:

  1. A way to delete or disable these controls in the preferences. There has been several times when working with several audio files at once these controls get bumped, so my gain is bad or my balance is out. I will backtrack tying to figure out how I "screwed this up" usually think the filter I applied didn't work right or something. I normally NEVER use them when editing. Typically I minimize the tracks I'm not working on to maximize the workspace which will hide a tweaked gain or balance control. See this archived Forum thread
  2. Lock pan and volume sliders in Track Control Panel: I repeatedly bump pan or volume in my efforts to move tracks around and I usually can't figure out what is wrong for a while. Unless there is already a way to lock them, I think that would be a useful feature. See this Forum post for details. Plus (2 votes).
  3. Users working with many tracks would like the controls to be at the top so they are the last to disappear as the track size is reduced vertically.

Details

1) Visual Cue

  • Gale suggested in the related Forum thread: Or the knobs could light up when moved away from centre ... ?
  • Ed suggested in the related Forum thread: Maybe change the knob image when it is not centered/zeroed?
  • I (Peter) would suggest that we change the color of the sliders to say green to indicate that they are active and non-zero default.

2) Hide/Display Pan&Gain sliders

This to be a global setting. Add a commands to the Tracks menu:

  • Pan & Gain Sliders

with on on/off toggleable setting - default = "on" (for discoverability)

Both must either be on or off in unison, no independent settings.

Cannot be set to "off" if any tracks have non-zero settings for the Pan or Gain sliders.

3) Lock/Unlock Pan&Gain sliders

This is trickier as one may want either a global or a per track setting:

  1. For a per track setting we would need a lock/unlock command in the audio track's Track Control Panel dropdown menu.
  2. For a global setting this would be a Lock Pan and Gain Sliders in the Tracks menu with toggleable on/off setting - default to be "off".

We may (and probably do) want both settings, in which case I would suggest that an individual track's setting from its TCP would overrided a global setting.

4) Option to hide the track rate and format text

This is also tricky as again one may want either a global or a per track setting:

  1. For a per track setting we would need a hide/show command in the audio track's Track Control Panel dropdown menu.
  2. For a global setting this would be a Display Track info. in the Tracks menu with toggleable on/off setting - default to be decided.
Peter 16Feb17: DarkAudacity has done away with this textual information as "redundant clutter". The information is readily available from the track's dreopdown menu - but I do recognize that some user may still want and need this information on display.

We may (and probably do) want both settings, in which case I would suggest that an individual track's setting from its TCP would overrided a global setting.


Alternative proposal from John Colket

  1. Eliminate the ability of clicking on TCP "white space" to select a track. Instead, require that the new "Select" button be depressed.
    • This option would likely be the most effective.
  2. Draw a box around the pan/gain sliders to clearly delineate them from available "white space".
    • I think the boxes of (2) and (4) combined could be the ticket. Just draw a box similar to that for Mute and Solo. As an aside, just now, I'm thinking why not make them appear to be 3-d buttons with a depressed state when they are off zero.
  3. Decrease the size of the click/drag region around the sliders.
    • Originally I thought decreasing the click/drag rectangle was a good idea, but now I am considering the downside for handicapped individuals. I certainly don't want to make anything harder for them.
  4. Eliminate the white space around the sliders, instead replacing it with blue/gray space.
  5. Highlighting the the sliders when they move off of zero.
    • Highlighting the off-zero sliders, may be a good idea for these sliders and for the Mixer Board and for the Play-at-Speed sliders as well. I am thinking however, it is unlikely to change the user behavior as this is done after-the-fact.

Support

Peter 14Apr21: I would support this approach


GUI Examples

Not required

Previous Feature Requests relating to this proposal

As listed in the use cases.