Making Visible focus the default

• Jun 17, 2020 - 15:33

I wasn't absolutely certain what to name this post, so bear with me. It originates in a discussion with Marc Sabatella, ( ) which should probably be held here (and should have been broached here in the forum in the first place - my bad).
It's about focus and being able to maintain a smooth workflow without having to click on the score to get focus back while editing (e.g. adding articulations, dynamics, etc.).
Here's just one specific case:
- select one note, add hairpin. The hairpin gets selected. Press Escape: the note from which I started is still selected, and I can continue editing.
- select two notes, add hairpin. The hairpin gets selected, but now in edit mode, where one of the handles is focused. Esc removes focus from the handle, but the hairpin is still selected. Esc again removes the selection altogether. The only way I can continue editing is by clicking on the score or using the new "Get Location" command (Shift-L).
I guess the difference, technically, is between note selection and range selection, but there are two problems here: one is the inconsistency in the workflow as perceived by the user (THIS user anyway), the other is the complete loss of focus in the second case.
Now, as I've learned through the discussion with Marc, Musescore keeps track of the location of the "cursor" even though it is not visible and active.
So my first question is: are there cases when it is NOT desirable to be able to see in the score where focus is and interact with the score? The only case I can think of is if one thinks there is no focus and whatever key combo one enters would be destructive, but does that case even exist?
My second question is related: When is it useful to have nothing at all selected? Marc has mentioned Shift+Click in order to create an instant range selection, possibly even certain other commands. I welcome examples of this, and of how often it is used - how important it is to users.
And I suppose the question that lies behind it all: Should the Shift+L command be the default when pressing Esc, at least as an option? I.e.: when I edit a score (in Normal mode), I never really want to lose focus. Now, I can get it back with Shift+L, but I'd rather get straight back to where I was working when I'm done fiddling with entering a hairpin, rather than having to press a key combo every time. Am I the only one with this problem?
And one last question: Is it useful with a more explicit distinction between a visible "location marker" (the one that can be brought to live with Shift+L) and a visible AND active "cursor"? E.g., is it sometimes useful to have NO visual cues as to where in the score MS considers you to be? And: is it sometimes useful not to be able to interact with your score, even though you know visually where you are?


At the point where the hairpin is selected but no longer in edit mode, pressing Alt + left arrow takes me onto the note of the chord where it started.

There are a bunch of commands (transpose for example) and plugins that operate either on the selection or on the full score. So yes, having nothing selected is very important

Also note that in the current redesign for MS4 the Inspector will be populated with for example page settings when nothing is selected. Things you can currently only easily access by right-clicking the canvas.

In reply to by jeetee

I get that - and as I said in the original post, I'm not after an always-on state, but rather that the intuitive and internally stored location is automatically activated if no other obvious scenario is present, e.g. - in the example mentioned with the hairpin causing active focus to be lost: would there be any problems with letting a right-arrow-press reactivate the visual/active focus and move on to the next note?

In reply to by eyolf

Perhaps you aren't aware that Alt+arrows already does this? Not just for the hairpin, but for other elements as well.

Click a note
Press Esc
Now use Alt-Left or Alt-Right and the next/previous element will be selected

Now that I've tried it, I think I perhaps would prefer the first press to just restore focus rather than immediately moving it.
And I think I agree that a normal arrow keypress probably should be made to work in such a scenario as well.

In reply to by jeetee

Yes, I was made aware both of the Alt+Arrows and Shift+L key commands by Marc. Absolutely useful. In the situation that you describe, I would prefer Shift+L since the Alt+Arrows can move to any element, not just to the next note.
The ideal thing (for my workflow, at least, which is keyboard-based and centers around moving around in the score with the notes as anchors, seeing anything else as additions at a different level) would be if I could move seamlessly between note-level and addition-level. I initially thought of Esc as a way to get back to the previous level (and not all the way up to the top level with nothing actively selected), but anything will not disrupt that flow, such as grabbing for the mouse, will do. (Here's what I wrote there, just to, possibly, make things clearer: "In sum: I don't necessarily want Esc to work in a different way than it does - it seems to be consistent - but ultimately to have a smooth and intuitive workflow. The way I visualize what I do in a score involves separate levels, where I would e.g. (1) be on a note; (2) enter a hairpin, (3) edit its endpoints; press Esc to get back to the previous level (2), and from there get back to level (1) again. Esc now does that from (3) to (2), but to get back to (1) again, I would have to press Shift-L. Why not let that happen automatically?")

In reply to by jeetee

Aside: I've in the past been tempted to switch the shortcuts of default [left/right arrows] to take [alt+left/right]'s place for making this very purpose easier. And I could potentially see the "Get Location" action be default after ESC., but only if a non-note/rest were selected (hairpin/dynamic/etc) so that ESC. would select a rest or note first before pressing again to remove all selection.

In reply to by worldwideweary

Yes, that's exactly the behaviour I'm looking for. It would feel intuitive, at least to me (and consistent with the other cases when ESC exits from some kind of "edit mode" and back to normal mode again but with selection still preserved and visible), and it would not, I believe, interfer with the cases where a non-selection is needed.

In reply to by jeetee

As long as it's consistent. I'm thinking of this case:
Select note, which needs both a fermata, a hairpin spanning three notes, and a staccato, together with the next five notes. Using the first element of the selection would allow me to first add the fermata, then extend the selection two notes to the right and add the hairpin, then the same thing only covering five notes, and add the staccatos.
Currently, though, when the staccatos have been added, RightArrow will move to the next note AFTER the last note of the selection, as was pointed out to me by Marc.

In reply to by eyolf

Forgot my main point: BUT on average, I would very rarely add this many different extras to one single note, so extending the way arrows currently work with articulations would probably be best (i.e. most intuitive): move to the next note AFTER the selection.

In reply to by eyolf

One problem I noticed after attempting range-based selection for a hair-pin (using < shortcut) is that after placement, ESC. doesn't actually escape from the hairpin but selects it once again with different functionality: The first time around there's only one node at the end. Press Escape, and the first node appears. Maybe this is by design, but it feels awkward to me. I usually start a hairpin without a range selection and then [Shift+Right] to extend, and the double-escape situation doesn't happen when doing that.

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