[LAD] User eXperience in Linux Audio

Fons Adriaensen fons at linuxaudio.org
Wed Apr 22 22:14:00 UTC 2015

On Wed, Apr 22, 2015 at 08:43:11AM -0400, Paul Davis wrote:

> Just one little note here. Back in 2001, I read an article in the US
> Keyboard magazine that made a strong case for stopping the use of
> skuomorphic GUIs (knobs etc) for a variety of reasons. It wasn't written by
> a software developer, but a musician. He was bemoaning how limited GUIs for
> audio software were because of their attempt to present things that look
> like hardware controls.

There are different grades of that of course. Chickenheads, screws,
handles and ventilation holes in a plugin GUI just look silly IMHO.
But an 'abstracted' version of a rotary control can make sense, it
has some advantages over most alternatives.

On the other extreme, I find the 'standard' widgets offered by
most GUI toolkits completely useless on anything that is supposed
to be 'technical' (including audio apps) rather than an office 

People writing 'GUI standards' and trying to force them on everyone
should have a look at e.g. a modern 'glass cockpit'. I mean the real
thing - Boeing or Airbus, not the Garmin etc. thingies used by sports
pilots that look like (and probabaly are) Windows apps.

This is a very complex environment. A large amount of information, 
often competing for attention, has to be displayed accurately and
unambiguously, in a way that is comfortable to be viewed for hours 
on end, and that also remains functional in emergency situations 
that may require split-second decisions. A lot of research and
effort has gone into designing these things.

You won't find a single 'standard' widget on those displays. Nor
skeuomorphic imitations of traditional flight instruments. The
only thing that still looks a bit traditional would be the attitude
indicator on the PFD, but even that will be a very abstract version
of the old mechanical one. 

All of it is designed to be purely functional, no frills, no eye-
candy. Even the MCDUs (the things on the central console that look
like a calculator on steroids) have their own interface style and
conventions that will be quite different from what you may expect.

And that's not because this is a primitive, conservative, or 'ten
years behind the state of the art' technology - these systems are
among the most advanced you can find anywhere. 

The same, but probably less extreme, you'll find in almost all
'technical' environments where function is more important than
looks or tradition.



A world of exhaustive, reliable metadata would be an utopia.
It's also a pipe-dream, founded on self-delusion, nerd hubris
and hysterically inflated market opportunities. (Cory Doctorow)

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