Balloon help

• Apr 26, 2017 - 23:07

I would love it if, in some of the more obscure windows, there were instructional balloons to help out. For instance, if you go to Styles/General/Page, there are some controls for things that we all recognize because we read music, but even experienced musicians may not know these names for them, eg: Staff distance, Grand staff distance, Min. system distance, Max. system distance. What do these things mean?

Of course one can look them up, and I have; but the differences somehow don't stick in my mind.

If, when you hovered over these, some kind of explanation of what they do popped up, it would be incredibly helpful. I have been using these controls for a while now, but I still forget which one moves which part.


In reply to by xavierjazz

I found the names reasonably easy to guess -- remember that almost none of these are really "traditional" terms, since traditional composers never had the chance to adjust the spacing of things in the way software allows. But I think that some of them could be better: for example "Grand staff distance" should be "Grand staff spacing".

There is a related problem in learning which of the style categories applies to which: for example, page settings are split between Layout / Page settings and Style / General... / Page. Having found something called Page, it is somewhat mystifying that one cannot set the page size on it.

But yes, it would surely be useful to have a carefully made diagram with all the bits marked. Anyone could do this, and produce an A4 PDF, which could usefully be printed, since while* you are trying to find your way through an interface is the worst time to be looking somewhere else as well. (* I fear this 'while' may be ungrammatical, but I bet many other languages have just the right word to fit here.)

In reply to by jeetee

Wow, that would be fantastic, is it possible? (I don't think it would need to be full size)

For me, the picture would be enough. The second idea, of making it show the changes as you changed the setting, would be nice, but it sounds really complicated. I'd be in favor of getting the simple image done because it could probably be done easily and quickly. The responsive part is a good idea, but not as important.

In reply to by kuwitt

There are actually a lot of places where "contextual help" (is that what it's called?) would be good. I gave the Style/General/Page things as just an example. I'll try to make a list of the places where I have had trouble when making a score and post it with this stream soon.

You realize MuseScore is going to need some sortof mascot helper, sortof like MS Office's Clippy...


"Hi there, I'm Mr. Musey. Let me explain how Staff distances work! :)"

We do offer some contextual help via the F1 button - try it! But it's probably not as complete as it could be. But FWIW, I have long been a fan of the idea of an active helper as well, mr. musey or whatever :-) I can envision lots of things it could do, like pop up if you try adding a slur between two notes of the same pitch to say "hey, did you really mean a slur and not a tie?", etc.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Yes, via F1 - or via selecting a element->right click->help. I suppose, a part of users is more familiar by using the mouse. So in this mentioned example I could imagine a solution would be: right click (or pressing F1) of the label text "staff distance" and the contextual help will open….

I took a look into the the code, but I didn't really got a clue which files changes are necessary therefore.

I think, this would be the easiest way to improve the usability above score elements. I can also imagine some kind of "clippy" or a popup window as you described, but at time I don't really know, how it would look like/work.

In reply to by kuwitt

Well whenever user tries to do a command which is forbidden, such as marcs example of adding slur to notes of different pitch. I wouldnt want a modal popup...cause modal popups get in your way and cause you have to close them to continue working. But maybe Mr. Musey appears at the corner of the screen and says, "You're trying to add a slur but can't because..."

In reply to by ericfontainejazz

Wow, Mr. Musey has become a reality in our minds even as we contemplate this! Is there a Ms. Musey somewhere—or maybe Mr. Musey is into guys? Well, really, he is only about 2 days old, so he's still a little young for that, right? Or maybe not! What if Mr. Musey used to be Ms. Musey but is undergoing gender transformation and that is why we haven't heard of him before? I am sure there is a tell-all biography coming out soon with a mini-series to follow.

Oh, sorry, I got distracted.

It seems though there is a fine line between "helpful" help and too much help. I like those balloon help windows that pop up only after you hover over something for a few seconds. That way, you are not constantly having to fight your way through intrusive and not necessarily helpful web-junk that is actually obscuring the thing you want to see (particularly important to those of us working on laptops or, worse, tablets, and don't have a lot of screen space).

I was assuming that Jake's suggestion of balloon help was asking for more "tooltips" (don't like that name but that's what seems to have become standard). E.g., in the Style/General palette (not sure if it's called a palette...) you get a tooltip for "Header Text", but not for "Grand Staff Distance". It would seem like a lot of bang for the buck, to add some of those absent tooltips.

The diagram from jeetee could be a popup from a button on that Style/General/Page page: "Show handy-dandy layout diagram". Maybe all this was what people were thinking, but details weren't clear to me.

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