Toolbars are now part of workspaces; custom toolbars coming soon?

• Jun 2, 2016 - 16:37

Currently in the nightly builds, there are different options in the toolbars depending on whether you're in the Basic or Advanced workspace. However, as far as I can tell, the toolbars are still locked; the user can't customize which options appear. I can't seem to find the previous forum discussion of this that I know I participated in, but are custom toolbars in the works?


Comments

For now you can customize the note entry toolbar only. Check Edit > Edit toolbar.
The idea is indeed to have custom toolbars.

In reply to by Nicolas

Sweet! If I may weigh in on the UI before it gets too hard-baked (I wish I could find that previous conversation):

MuseScore already has some basic toolbar customization where, if you right-click on the toolbar, you can add or remove basically "pieces" of the toolbar: "File Operations," "Transport Tools," etc.—and the Concert Pitch and Image Capture buttons can actually be controlled on their own.

I think the best way to go forward is more or less as follows: Make every button in the toolbar(s) separate, like Concert Pitch and Image Capture already are, and modify the existing right-click UI like this (click image to open animation):

toolbars.gif

This is from Mozilla Thunderbird, but it's similar in many other applications—on OS X, Preview is another good example:

Preview.png

I just had a go with the new toolbars. The "basic" workspace should make things much less intimidating for beginners. However, I have a couple of suggestions for toolbars and MuseScore UI in general:

  1. Group related icons under toolbutton menus.
  2. Use a Ribbon interface (tabbed toolbars).
  3. Show/hide features depending on the current context (e.g. hide toolbars during playback, etc.).

These feature are mainly inspired by office software, in particular MS Office (for Microsoft get wrong elsewhere, their Office suit is still far ahead of the competition in my opinion).

1) Toolbutton menus are toolbar buttons with a little arrow next to the button - click the button to perform the default action (e.g. add an augmentation dot), or click the arrow to choose from a list of alternative actions (e.g. add two or more augmentation dots). My new Note Entry Modes menu is a toolbutton menu (it should be possible to use icons instead of text if desired/appropriate - e.g. for augmentation dots)
note-entry-toolbutton-menu.png

2) MS Office has used a Ribbon interface since Office 2007. No double some people prefer the good old menu-driven interface, but that I am a big fan of the Ribbon because uses space very efficiently. The basic idea is that you have one toolbar and a row of tabs. Clicking a tab populates the toolbar with the relevant icons. E.g. clicking a "general" tab would display the main toolbar icons (print, save, copy, paste, etc), but clicking the "note input" tab would" tab would hide the general icons and display the note input icons instead. The closest MuseScore currently gets is the Pallet.

3) Customisable menus are all very well, but it can be a pain to have to go into the Master Pallet/Menu Editor to find some feature that's not available in the current pallet/menu, especially if you don't know where to look. I think MuseScore could do a better job of determining what should be visible in each score state (normal, note-input, edit, text edit, playback, etc) and what can be hidden. For example, the Inspector could be hidden when nothing is selected, the Mixer and Play Panel could be hidden in Note Entry Mode. This is where a Ribbon interface really helps, because MuseScore could simply switch to the relevant tab and repopulate the toolbar rather than having windows appear and disappear all over the place.

In reply to by Thomas

A mystery from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ribbon_%28computing%29#Patent_controversy

"The Microsoft Ribbon Licensing Page has been retired, therefore it is no longer possible to license the ribbon control from Microsoft."

To my mind, the big downside to the ribbon isn't that it replaces toolbars; it's that it replaces menus. Putting aside whether people are more comfortable with menus, this is a problem for Mac OS X, which mandates that every application have a menu bar. If you have the Sibelius trial version on a Mac, you have this uncomfortable situation where the menu bar is basically empty/useless. On the other hand, Microsoft Office for Mac copied everything from the menus into the ribbon, but also still kept the menus! I would not like to go either route.

In reply to by Thomas

Apparently there were programs using "tabbed toolbars" long before Office did so the patent should be unenforceable, at least as long as you don't make it look exactly like Office. It probably wouldn't be a good idea to put a big round button in the top left that functions as a menu, but tabbed toolbars should be fine. In any case, I'm not suggesting actually copying the Office Ribbon or removing the menus. I'm just thinking of replacing the two existing toolbars ("General" and "Note Input") with a single empty toolbar and a row of buttons to choose whether to populate the toolbar with "General" or "Note Input" commands. No doubt there would also be room for more types of toolbar, such as "Text Formatting", "Playback", "Voice Actions", etc. Bringing those functions out of the menus makes them easier to find and easier to use. The menus are still useful for accessing preferences and global styles.

In reply to by shoogle

"Bringing those functions out of the menus makes them easier to find and easier to use. The menus are still useful for accessing preferences and global styles."

That is a personal opinion and a matter of individual taste and preference. It should not be stated as fact or assumed to universal.

In reply to by [DELETED] 448831

Ease of use and improved discoverability were the reasons cited by Microsoft for changing to the Ribbon interface, presumably after extensive user testing. No doubt individuals prefer menus, because it is what they are used to, but I find it hard to accept that any new user would seriously find navigating one, two or even three levels of sub-menu easier than clicking on an icon in the toolbar.

In reply to by shoogle

Programs become more complex and add new functionalities as they evolve through version numbers. Why would priority be given to new users' perceived need for 'ease of use and improved discoverability' rather than to power users' wish for a UI that works for us and is easily and heavily customizable?

It's a delicate balance, but I don't think it should be weighted in favor of what new users like (even assuming that claim about ribbon vs. menu is valid). As it is, there are countless people who think they should be able to just sit down in front of MS and automatically know what to do without understanding that there is a learning curve and that looking at documentation is a wise investment of time. And when they run into a basic problem, they again find it simpler to crowdsource the answer than to look at documentation. In my opinion, that's not the approach that an increasingly sophisticated program should seek to accommodate in its UI design.

In reply to by [DELETED] 448831

@stevebob, once existing users got used to it clicking an icon in a toolbar would be much faster than navigating a system of menus for *everyone*, not just new users. As pointed out above, tabbed toolbars are used in many programs (e.g. Sibelius, Dreamweaver, Photoshop) and many programs use tabbed pallets or something similar (e.g. GIMP, Inkscape, OpenShot, kdenlive).

I agree that new users should be prepared to look at the documentation, but even when they do it won't be much help if they don't know the technical term for the particular feature they need. An icon with a helpful tooltip would be much more informative than a mysterious entry tucked away somewhere in the menu system. The fact that so many users do resort to using the forum does not speak in favour of the current interface.

You are right that MuseScore is an increasing sophisticated program, and I think we need an efficient way to organise the new features rather than burying them under an ever-expanding system of menus. However, I explicitly said that I was not suggesting removing the current menu system - only adding some features that are currently in the menus to some new toolbars that could be hidden if desired.

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