Organize keyboard shortcut actions by mode (note editing or not).

• Nov 27, 2011 - 16:26

Currently, all keyboard shortcuts are displayed in a single two-column table: Action and Shortcut.

However, there are two distinct types of action: Those available in Note entry mode and those available in "normal" or "navigate" mode. (If this isn't the case, then I have discovered multiple keyboard navigation bugs, e.g., selection via shift-up/down works differently in note entry mode than it does in navigate mode.)

It would be beneficial to group keyboard navigation into note entry and "just navigate" modes. Having overloaded shortcuts should be quite acceptable (shortcuts that do one thing whilst navigating, another whilst entering/editing notes).

For example, simple up/down arrow could take me up/down a staff, allowing me to change the instrument I am navigating. When in note entry mode, simple up/down would raise/lower the pitch of the current note.

(As I think about this, perhaps up/down would be more useful for selecting the note in navigate mode, e.g., when working with piano clusters, switch to note entry and up/down becomes pitch up/down, etc. Ctrl-up/down could be used for switching staves in navigate mode and for raising/lowering by an octave in note entry mode, etc.)


I'm yet to submit a report, in which I was also going to bring this up (waiting until other shortcut issues are fixed first), but I have also wondered whether there should be different parts of the Shortcuts menu. Depending which one you're in, the same keyboard actions may produce different results for whatever section/mode (during playback, no playback, etc).

I agree that the list of shortcuts is long and could be sorted by "categories". But I don't think it's a good idea to sort them by "mode" or even to allow the same shortcut to do different action in different mode. Mode should be exposed as less as possible to users IMHO.

Possible categories could be Playback, Note entry, Navigation, File, etc... An example is Qt Creator, see attachment.

Attachment Size
qtcreator-shortcuts.jpg 84.13 KB
Peter Whittaker
Dec 7, 2011 - 23:24

In reply to by Nicolas

I've of several minds about this, I suppose: I want my shortcuts to be simple to remember and simple to type (the more modification keys, the more likely I am to twist something and hurt myself), so I tend to like the mode idea, but modes in general can be problematic, especially for the uninitiated: so many users these days have experience with modeless editors that switching to a mode-based system (à la vi/vim) is quite the leap into unfamiliar territory. "Why doesn't this work, dammit?" Consider the getting started tutorials for MuseScore that highlight the fact that not switching to note-entry-mode is one of the most common causes of error. This is something that is evident in neither concept nor indication for users.

But but but, scores are such complex beasts and there are so many things we might wish to do with them that a modeless system could be problematic. Often, we might just wish to browse, to zoom in on a particular section, to jump back and forth from one part to another, all of are browsing activities. We might be dismayed to accidentally make a change because we are not watching our mode.

But but but, in all likelihood we know for sure whether are opening a score for read-only (study, play, compare) or update (compose, transcribe) purposes.

I like the QT Creator example. But that does draw the distinction between modes: Playback and Navigation are read-only modes, note entry is an update mode. If a user wishes to have different shortcuts mean different things in different modes, that really is their business.

A thought occurs, one that I am not sold on, but a potentially interesting one.

Right now, the default MuseScore screen is Palettes on the left, Connect on the right, the current spot in the score in the center, and position in the overall score on the bottom. Connect is huge and takes up a lot of real estate. What if, what if....

What if we split the right hand side into two (resizable and dismissable) parts, made the bottom 40% Connect and the top 60% "overall", as a set of six "pages", six thumbnails (think the page thumbnails displayed in some PDF readers): Once onto pages 3 to N-2, the current page would always be of the middle two, with the top two and bottom two being the others, e.g., if I am on page 1, I would see

1 2
3 4
5 6


If I am on page 17, I would see

15 16
17 18
19 20


and I would be able to resize and dismiss as necessary, so that perhaps I would have the thumbnails for 20-30 on the right.

With me so far?

Then, replace the current "where in score" section at the bottom with an "editing" line. By default, the editing line is empty, but if one navigates to it (by mouse or keyboard shortcut), the first few bars of the few two staves appears in the edit window. As long as one is in the edit window, one can navigate therein and make changes therein; when one navigates away (by mouse or keyboard shortcut), one returns to simple "read only" mode.

What we need then are three things: A way of indicating in the main window the part of the score we are updating in the edit line (A), a way of indicating that the edit line is active (B), and a way of differentiating between the two parts (C).

I've attached a PNG of how this could look. Because I am a poor graphics guy, I've not included "A" and I've used white-on-black to show the difference between the two parts ("C", but coincidentally this gives us "B" as well).

For "A", the simplest thing is probably to keep the currently-being-edited staves in the center of the main box, with arrows or a frame or some other effect to highlight them (but nothing that obscures the staves above and below, we want to be able to continue to read to make sure our updates makes sense); perhaps "italicization" (where the staves being edited have all notes/rests angled slightly..?).

At first I didn't like the reversed colours and was just using that to show C quickly and easily, but it works somewhat OK; when in edit mode, the reversed (but perhaps not as dramatically reversed) staves appears, when in pure read mode, the edit line is empty, giving both B and C.

These can be A/B tested to find the most suitable alternatives.

Attachment Size
musescore redesign.png 431.03 KB

In reply to by Peter Whittaker

"Connect is huge and takes up a lot of real estate. "

You mean you haven't disabled it form default startup?

I'm afraid I prefer to focus on the job in hand, and consequently MuseScore Connect is disabled by default as a distraction.

It's easy enough to pull it up from the menu when you want to upload a score :)

Peter Whittaker
Dec 8, 2011 - 00:17

In reply to by ChurchOrganist

I had - or at least I thought I had. I've just come to ignore it.

I'm fortunate enough to have an HP DV7 with a 17" (~43cm) screen. I ignore Connect because I don't use it and the central score display area is close to "just the right size", not so small I cannot read what's in it, not so large that scanning requires me to move my head (cf appropriate articles on ideal column width).

But sometimes when I zoom in I want a bigger area and dismiss Connect.

As long as we avoid the mess that is The Gimp, we'll be OK.

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