ToDo: Unstick 'Stuck In a Mode'

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This page attempts to identify times when a user can easily get stuck in a mode and not know what to do to get out of it

Stuck in a Mode

Users often:
  • Inadvertently get into some special mode.
  • Do not know about the mode.
  • Do not know how to get out of it.
When we attempt to address such problems, our first defense is to make it less likely to accidentally get into one of these special modes. We sometimes can do better by making the mode self-cancelling, e.g. it only operates whilst you drag. Even better, sometimes we can avoid having a special mode altogether.
Quick Fix:

This new menu item may help some users. It displays 'Fix' buttons for some of the common stuck-in modes (if that mode is active).

  • Sound-Activated Recording
  • Sync-Lock
  • Snap-To
  • Done.png Sync-Lock. Why am I getting all those clocks? Why can't I edit clips individually?
    • ToDo.png More to do to make a more intuitive sync-lock that does not use clocks.
      • Peter 02Nov18: how about the chain icons we used to have? I used to like those.
  • Done.png Snap-To. Why can't I select in smaller units than a second?
    • Zoom in far enough and snap-to is cancelled (in DA) which is how most users try to get out of it.
  • Done.png V-Zoom. Help! My waveform has disappeared.
    • ToDo.png Consider longer-term solutions.
It is quite common for users to activate vertical zoom by inadvertently clicking in the vertical ruler - and then being unable to understand how to restore normal vertical zoom
Short term amelioration
Two modes for for VZoom
  1. Simple (default): no left-click zoom, right-click delivers a context menu
  2. Advanced/Expert: left-click zoom-in and range zoom via drag as 2.2.1 and earlier, right-click delivers a context menu
Long term improvement
Consider a VZoom bar OR major overhaul of zooming for rulers.
  • Done.png Stuck-In-Pause. None of my effects will apply any more.
    • Pause now is over-ridden if the user tries to select and apply an effect or other edit
  • Done.png Select-less. All my effects are grayed out.
    • They aren't now, and they prompt you to make a selection.
  • ToDo.png Stuck-in-Tool. Wave moves and selection no longer works. Solution will be proper implementation of multi-tool.
It's too easy to click the buttons unknowingly, worse still, the shortcuts for switching tools in the Tools toolbar are all single keystrokes F1 though F6 (plus A and D when Full set is selected) which makes it far to easy for the inexperienced user to press these and not understand why their view of the waveform has changed and why stuff doesn't work.
  • Done.png Stuck-in-Sound-Activated-Recording.
    • ToDo.png The amelioration is done via Quick-Fix menu, but there are probably other improvements that could help.
    • Seems to be pretty common. One recent (Jan 2017) user even realised they were stuck in sound activated recording, and set the volume to -59dB to work around it.
    • Another recent user asks 'Why does my recording keep starting and stopping?'.
  • ToDo.png Stuck-in-Scrub.
We have three ways of invoking scrub/seek: Transport menu, Scrub Ruler and Scrub Toolbar. None of them invokes a form of scrubbing familiar to users of other audio or video editors - and it is too easy to get stuck, too hard to escape from. Redesign (and simplify) the GUI - make it so that releasing the mouse action for scrubbing just stops the scrub - rather than leaving you adrift in scrub mode.
  • ToDo.png Scrub ruler.
It's far too easy for the unwary to inadvertently click in the Scrub Ruler and get stuck in Scrubbing (see below). So it should be off by default. Scrubbing is easily "discoverable" via the Transport menu - and the Scrub Ruler is "discoverable" and capable of being turned on in Transport>Scrubbing or via the Timeline context menu.}} so we don't need it on by default.
Longer term, consider removing it altogether - we don't need three ways to invoke scrubbing.
  • ToDo.png Stuck in overdub.
Overdub is on by default. Newbies usually don't need overdub turned on (unless they are very bold and start our straight off doing multi-track overdubbing). Although we are a "Multi-track editor" - overdubbing is a somewhat advanced piece of functionality. Turn overdub off by default.
  • ToDo.png Stuck in Type to create a label
It is too easy to inadvertently create a label with this as the current default is on. In Prefs>Tracks>Tracks Behaviors checked "on'" should not be the default.
  • ToDo.png Stuck in Show metadata tags before export

    In Preferences>Import/Export - folk often don't know how to turn it off. Suggest an off switch in the metadata dialog on export.

    • Peter 02Nov18: This has been discussed many times (including on the Forum) - it's such a simple fix, why don't we just get on and do it? It surely can't be a contentious thing to do (it would certainly benefit me while QA testing).
  • ToDo.png Stuck with no LAME library
A lot of folk still have trouble locating it - and Buanzo's site has nasty misleading ads with BGBs. Now that the patents have expired we should be able to integrate LAME.
  • ToDo.png Stuck with no FFmpeg library
  • ToDo.png Stuck trying to create custom shortcuts. It doesn't work!
GUI is a mess.
  1. Click on the command entry
  2. then you have to click on (or tab to) the input box
  3. type your chosen shortcut (and deal with conflicts if necessary)
  4. Click Set
  5. Click OK
The big problem is that the user (Peter: often me included) mistakenly think that Set "does what it says on the tin" and makes the setting - but no. You have to use OK to set the set (If you just X out of the dialog after step 4 you lose your setting(s) made in that dialog session).

Other PITAs

These aren't exactly stuck-in-a-mode, but have similar bad consequences for typical inexperienced Audacity users
  • ToDo.png Broken fragmented project
Many users try to open the .au files - many users lose data through renames and other, external to Audacity, manipulations. Solution Proposal Unitary Project
  • ToDo.png Orphan blockfiles
We shouldn't really be getting these - but when we do users are confused about the courses of action offered to them in the dialog.
  • ToDo.png EQ curve management
Currently there are two independent curve management options in the Equalization effect. The user is unsure which to use - there should only be one.
See also: P3 Bug #1722
  • ToDo.png Accidentally nudging the Pan or Gain sliders
Can cause unintended, unnoticed at the time, audio corruption. See Proposal Locking and/or Hiding Pan and Gain sliders
  • ToDo.png No easy way to reset config files
See Proposal Easy cfg Reset
  • ToDo.png Users can lose carefully created toolbar layouts
See Proposal: GUI Custom Resets for Toolbar Layouts
  • ToDo.png Using "Save as..." switches Audacity from the current open project to the saved-as project (which could be the staged safety copy)
See Proposal Save Copy of Project