Some improvements to the mixer

• Jun 16, 2019 - 05:02
Reported version
Ergonomical (UX)
S5 - Suggestion

The Mixer window presents a number of issues.

1) It is too big and invasive, especially when used on a laptop with scarce screen area.
2) Grabbing the top border and dragging downwards reduces somewhat the track area and hence the window, but it does until the track names at the bottom are half visible and a vertical scroll bar appears. In other words, it reduces just up to the point where an esential part (the track labels) becomes useless, without making any real difference respect stopping a bit earlier. The scroll bar has a very short range.
3) If the details area (see idiomatic note at the bottom) is colapsed, instead of reducing the window size (the expected and usually desired result after colapsing) the track area grows to fill the available window space.
4) At this point, if the window is reduced up to just before the behavior described in 2), then enabling back the details area causes said behavior (partial hiding of track labels).
5) The details area doesen't inform the SoundFont corresponding to a track or channel, nor the bank, nor the program number.
6) The patch list seems poorly organized and it is very hard to pick the right instrument.
7) There is a box to check Play part only that is permanently checked (cannot be unchecked) . This feature isn't documented yet, but I have seen it is functional only when seing an exported part, so it shouldn't appear in the general mixer (I guess it is to be able to toggle when being in the part view mode, but I think the part view is not necessarily the best place to manage the mixing level of other tracks.
8) If accidentally the Drumset box is checked, unchecking it clears the "history" and Grand piano is selected.

So I think the Mixer has to undertke a reingineering process similar as happened with the Play panel. Here some ideas.

1) The Track area should be reduced significantly.
a) The faders should allow to be vertically shrinked much more than is currently possible and probably it would be better if a less fanciful version such as the one in the play panel, were used, with the benefit of design consistency of similar parts across the application. If precision is needed, then use the details section fader.
b) The channels should be narrower, allowing more channels to be visible at a time.
c) If there is no room for the full part name, use the short name;
d) The Solo and Mute buttons should be smaller and presented horizontally instead of vertically, saving vertical space.
e) The panpot could be smaller.
f) The Part name should be above, since the sight concentrates above, where most control options and info are (panpot, solo & mute, midi channels).
g) Disable the appearance of a vertical scroll bar. It is unnecessary, opposite to the spirit of a visual presentation imitating a mixer, and takes space from the tracks.

2) The Details area should be also reduced through a more efficient use of the available space.
a) Remove the "Play part only" check box while in the general score view. It takes a full line.
b) Reduce to 50 % the vertical space between lines.
c) Eliminate or reduce to dots the ticks below the sliders. They aren't necessary since numerical information is provided and take space.
d) Locate in the same line Track color and Mute voice, somewhat reducing the width of the color sample. This will save one more line.

3) Improve the Patch selection interface. How to do this is highly debatable, and it has been indeed discussed. Some ideas: Clicking on the Patch button, a menu opens presenting several ways to select patches:
a) A text box where the name of the instrument, or part of it, is entered, below which the list of all matching patches, in alphabetic order will appear as a drop-down list. For instance, entering "flute", all instruments of this family would appear, such as Alto flute, Bass flute, Flute, Flute (1), Flute Expr., Flute Expr. (1), Pan flute, Pan flute (1), Pan flute Expr. , Pan fluteExpr. (1), etc.
b) An instrument family selector where one can choose, for instance, Woodwinds, then Flute and then all the available patches included in the installed Soundfonts corresponding to the selected instrument.
c) A Calc-like or Excel-like spreadsheet including details such as Patch name, SoundFont, Bank, MIDI program and may be other information. This information could be in a spreadsheet accompanying each soundfont or extracted from it and converted to spreadsheet format.

4) Provide information on SoundFont, Bank and Program number along with the patch name. OK, adding this information probably will require more space, in contradiction with 2), but hopefully the space saving will compensate the space required for the new information. One idea may be to identify the data with short or abbeviated names, such as "Prog.", "SF" providing a contextual tip with the complete name when the mouse cursor is over the abbreviation

Idiomatic note: In the handbook the term "details area" is used (and I replicate it here for consistency), but I think it would be better "detail area" (as, by the same token, "track area" is used instead of "tracks area").


at Idiomatic note: In the handbook the term "details area" is used (and I replicate it here for consistency), but I think it would be better "detail area" (as, by the same token, "track area" is used instead of "tracks area").
I've fixed the handbook, to read 'tracks area', as in either area there are multiple tracks/details. Strangeness: there are 2 headings for that, "Track(s) Area" is there twice

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

I think it should be the other way around: when in English a noun is used as an adjective (attributive noun) it isn't used as a plural, even if it refers to more than one thing (a classic example is the phrase "the million dollar question"). So the correct usage would be "Detail area" and "Track area".

In reply to by Xianyue賢越

Xianyue賢越, note that in your case there are only two instruments, so the minimum width dependes on the upper panel (detail area). In the case of a large ensemble such as a symphony orchestra or a concert band there will be no spare space in the track area at the right of the tracks.

In reply to by Xianyue賢越

I guess most users won't use several external MIDI instruments, which seems to be the main application of these controls. The MIDI Section could be enabled with a single button.
Note that the MIDI section doesn't include voices, but this feature could also be enanbled through a button.

Could you post pictures of a more realistic setup, with say 15 - 20 staves? I furthermore use 6 channels per Instrument (customized instrument.xml).

In reply to by Xianyue賢越

I also think the current mixer is much too big and space wasting.
A horizontal arrangement of the instruments (including solo, mute, volume, balance control) doesn't make much sense in the mixer, because the mixer in MuseScore can only be docked to the right or left and should therefore be high and narrow. You will never be able to see many instruments at a glance, but you will always have to scroll from left to right (= mouse unfriendly).
99% of the monitors are widescreens, i.e. docking right and left is OK, because you have more space in the width than in the height, but the dockable menus should have a vertical arrangement of their settings to keep the working area as large as possible:
narrow mixer.png
I've left both options to adjust the volume+balance of an instrument. Maybe you can merge the upper one with the instrument specific one. The upper one can be set to a value of 0-100. This may be more precise, but the volume and balance controls for each instrument can be changed directly with the mouse, without first selecting an instrument. This is much more intuitive.
The upper part of the mixer can also be hidden, which makes the mixer even smaller and creates more space for the instruments.
As I said, today's widescreen monitors are much wider than high, so the dockable menus should be as narrow as possible so they don't constrict the workspace too much and should be organized vertically. This would definitely be desirable for the future.

Attachment Size
narrow mixer.png 71.44 KB