[LAU] ZynAddSubFX Usability Survey

Mark D. McCurry mark.d.mccurry at gmail.com
Fri Apr 29 03:24:33 UTC 2016

On 04-28, Thorsten Wilms wrote:
> On 28.04.2016 15:11, Mark McCurry wrote:
> >As a next major step for the project is a full rewrite of the UI, replacing
> >the current junk-drawer of knobs with a much easier to navigate and explore
> >interface based off of a mockup by Budislav Stepanov [1][2].
> Those mockups seem to speak of a fear of colors ... or a lame attempt at
> looking futuristic. I once had a classmate with a tendency to create blue
> layouts of blue elements on blue. Came out he had red-green deficient
> vision.
> Color can and should be used as additional means of indicating state and/or
> structure (grouping).

Indicating grouping is a good possibility, though the groupings have to
be established.
For example let's say you have {frequency, amplitude, filter} parameters
and a {non-modulator, envelope, lfo} group for each.
Which one should receive the extra grouping?
Should the coloration be across larger units, such as a background color
difference for adsynth/padsynth/subsynth?
Is it something more fine grained?
You can't choose all the options without generating something that's
painful to look at.

I think that choices like this are hard to evaluate with non-interactive
One area of color which I do think deserves to be investigated though is
colors implying the type of interactability that a particular UI element
For example on interactive visualizations if there's a deadicated color
for pieces which could be grabbed, then I'd say that would be more
intuitive for the user to learn.
If there's a distinct color for inactive controls, then that's easier to
recognize at a glance than many other approaches.

> The flatty flatness makes one wonder if a widget is a command button or
> toggle or a tab, what is selected vs activated. Once everyone is through
> with the fads of first taking skeuomorphism to the extreme, then minimalism
> (actually call that deficitism), could we perhaps enjoy a sane
> middle-ground?

I'm not sure how to best differentiate toggle buttons vs momentary
button with this style, but I'll look into it.
Tabs could have some extra decoration to help show that difference,
though the placement at the edges of the center view should make them at
least somewhat intuitive to identify for the mean time.

> I do not see anything that would guide a user regarding the overall
> structure of Zyn, it's all trees, no forest. From what I recall from my
> brief look at that beast years ago, that's admittedly a tough job.

Honestly I feel that this is more so a task for tutorials and
documentation than for the UI itself.
I've thought about integrating some light support for in app tutorials,
e.g. a click-by-click walkthrough for a supersaw, but I don't think
there will be enough development time in the short term.

Thanks for the feedback,
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