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View Poll Results: Do the ReaPlugins need a clearer GUI structure?
Yes, definitely! Relax my eyes! 30 61.22%
No, please no changes! It's all great as it is. 9 18.37%
I do not care about that ... 10 20.41%
Voters: 49. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 07-19-2019, 05:50 AM   #1
Zeno
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Default What's wrong with ReaPlugins UI: LAYOUT & ERGONOMICS

ReaPlugins UI: LAYOUT & ERGONOMICS



A good UI should NOT ONLY be functional !


A good UI should be ergonomic and intuitive!

Because an ergonomic and at the same time intuitive UI design (not GUI) does have a positive influence on the workflow and helps the eyes to focus on the right parameters.




Please read the post until the end, before you vote!

Make sure you understand what it's all about!

Please write in the comments how you came to your decision.


(I'm sure, it helps Cockos to make their decisions and I'm also very interested in your opinion)



So, what's wrong?


It's not that the ReaPlugins are "ugly" (whatever that means)...

It's about the layout overwhelming the eyes. Where exactly should someone look at?

An interface that looks the same all over the place, without a very clear separation of the parameter sections makes it difficult to find quickly the right parameter in hectic situations.

It should guide the eyes through the interface. It needs some contrast and separation.

In addition, the placement of the parameters is not always logically traceable. at least not for me.



Contents:

1) ReaComp (I have compressed most of the information to this section. So I don't have to explain everything again to every ReaPlugin.)
2) ReaDelay
3) ReaPitch
4) ReaVerb
5) ReaEQ






1) ReaComp:




- Why is "Pre-Comp" the first parameter in the envelope section?
Pre-Comp aka Lookahead is a delay of the audio signal, while the compression continues to be based on the non-delayed sidechain.
It doesn't affect the envelope itself! It's more an SC-thing like RMS Size, so it should be in the side-chain section!

I understand why Pre-Comp was set BEFORE the time parameters, but in general practice this parameter has a low priority.
Putting it in the first place has more disadvantages (non-clarity, poor ergonomics) than advantages (it is PRE compression).


- Why does "Auto Release" come before "Classic Attack"?
What comes first? Attack or release?
Sorting alphabetically makes no sense here IMO. Especially because the words that are crucial to the alphabetical order are "classic" and "auto".

- Why is "Weird Knee" ranked by the time parameters and not by "Knee"?
That makes no sense at all.


- Why is "Preview Filter" not on the SideChain Section?
I know why "preview filter" was placed on the output. It decides whether the filter is active on the audio path (output) or only on the SC.
Nevertheless, the main purpose is to preview the filter. It interacts with the filter. It is only logical to place it at the filter !!

- A 1:1 ratio makes no sense as a default preset.
I know that we can save our own preset as default. But a change from 1:1 to 4:1 as stock default preset would still be fine.
Because only if a compressor compresses the input signal, it is possible to set the threshold and the time parameters correctly!
And 4:1 is a perfect starting point to hear how the compressor works.

And if you think: "When I drop a plugin onto a track I want it to be neutral at first!" Yes! It will be neutral! And then, my friend, just lower the treshold!



Just a quick sketch on how ReaComp could be improved (as an example):

This makes ReaComp more manageable.
It's about the workflow & clarity, not the look itself !!


(So please stay fair, guys! It's just an example to demonstrate a layout with clearer separation between parameters and ergonomic placement.
I'm not a GUI designer and the entire thread is NOT about fancy GUIs!)



- The sections are more separated from each other.

- "Classic Attack" and "Auto Release" are in the right order.
- "Weird Knee" is located at Knee.
- "Preview Filter" is located in the side-chain section above the filter. Where you expect it to be.
- "Pre-Comp" and "RMS-Size" are near the Side-Chain Section. They are where you expect them to be.
- The parameters in the side-chain section have a different fader background color. So that they are clearly separated from the remaining parameters.


Another way to visually separate the sections is to place them in white background boxes, like "taps" on other ReaPlugins.
Or just with empty lines. It's even more simple.



For those guys who don't quite understand what the whole request is about:

Paths with the mouse! Ergonomics! Clarity!
Maybe your workflow is a little bit different than mine and therefore the paths with the mouse are different.
Not all parameters are always needed etc, but that doesn't matter overall. The results will not be much different for you and me. And that applies to all requests here!

Because:

1) If you're an audio novice or new to Reaper, the redesigned layout will help you to find your way around easier and faster.

2) If you work with a lot of processing, eg as a professional sound designer, the improved ergonomics will save you a lot of time.
I mean A LOT OF TIME! Several HOURS a week! You know what I'm talking about!

3) Even if you use presets as a starting point, your preset can not compensate for all the negative aspects of a poorly designed layout!

4) Maybe you are worried that a restructuring will affect your workflow negatively. Sure, I understand that! That will be the same with me.
But keep in mind that an ergonomically optimized UI gives you an incredible WORKFLOW-BOOST after a short period of adjustment. FOREVER!



So, paths !! I think these pictures speak for themselves:







What's good for ReaComp, of course, is good for all other ReaPlugins.
However, I do not have the time to design a mockup for every ReaPlugin, just to show how much you would benefit from a redesigned layout.
So it's up to Cockos to transfer these principles to the other ReaPlugins.

Nevertheless, I have some suggestions as a jump start:





2) ReaDelay:




In ReaDelay the sections also should be separated from each other in favor of the overview.

- It would be great to be able to add and delete taps directly in the Tap section!
For example, with a plus symbol in the tab section. Or with a context-sensitive right-click menu.
In addition to the already existing buttons !!

- Why is Length (musical) measured in eighth notes?
A switch with subdivisions in 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/16 etc is more up-to-date and also more intuitive.
It would also be cool if we could just type 3/4 or 3/8 in the textbox, and ReaDelay will do the calculation.

- The level / pan section is messed up!
The placement of the faders and number boxes is confusing. Besides, Panorama is not labeled!

Probably a change in order would also make more sense:
Pan -> Stereo-Width -> Level. But hey, that's just my opinion



3) ReaPitch:




A fundamental separation between the sections Pitch and Formant shift would be desirable.


- It would also be useful to have full-range visually separated from the other modes.
ReaPitch is visually really damn confusing! It sounds incredibly good, but I hate to work with it.

- The order is unintuitive because the parameters are displayed in ascending order of value.
For all other manufacturers, the order is descending. Octave -> Semitones -> Cents.
First the rough, then the details!

Here's the same as with the ReaDelay:
- It would be great to be able to add and delete taps directly in the Tap section! In addition to the already existing buttons !!

- The level / pan section is messed up!




4) ReaVerb:



The layout of ReaVerb is not that bad! Of course I would make some small adjustments here and there, but overall it is good!

So my only request for ReaVerb is: Please Justin, please make it possible to add generators directly by right-clicking in the white box !!



5) ReaEQ:




One thing first: ReaEQ is awesome!

But it would be cool to have the Script function:
"mpl_Sort focused ReaEQ bands by frequency.lua" directly as a button in the ReaEQ.


Personally, I find a horizontal arrangement of the parameters more accessible, but that's just a personal preference.




Please VOTE!
Write in the comments how you came to your decision.
Or participate in the discussion on Facebook!

Last edited by Zeno; 07-25-2019 at 07:02 AM. Reason: grammar errors, color coding, additional informations
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Old 07-19-2019, 07:45 AM   #2
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I like Presonus S1 approach to GUI-less plugins, with its generic knobs.

IMO knobs is more ergonomic and easier to use than sliders. Considering current GUI-less plugins on REAPER (including ReaPlugs) are using slider from theme, thus it’s possible to use knobs from theme also.
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Old 07-19-2019, 09:22 AM   #3
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I would like to see White Tie design the themes and the plug GUI’s for Reaper
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Old 07-19-2019, 10:18 AM   #4
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Some excellent ideas, Zeno. Very well thought out.
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Old 07-19-2019, 10:41 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jrengmusic View Post
I like Presonus S1 approach to GUI-less plugins, with its generic knobs.

IMO knobs is more ergonomic and easier to use than sliders. Considering current GUI-less plugins on REAPER (including ReaPlugs) are using slider from theme, thus it’s possible to use knobs from theme also.
Thanks Jreng! I fully agree with you!

Due to the fact that buttons occupy less space, they can be integrated more flexibly in their position than faders.
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Old 07-20-2019, 05:07 PM   #6
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I agree with everything you say, especially regarding the delay. I don't like having to do basic math when setting delay times.
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Old 07-20-2019, 11:07 PM   #7
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Some good suggestions there Zeno. I like your ideas.
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Old 07-21-2019, 04:34 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Klangfarben View Post
Some excellent ideas, Zeno. Very well thought out.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ReaDave View Post
Some good suggestions there Zeno. I like your ideas.
thanks for your feedback


Quote:
Originally Posted by puddi View Post
I agree with everything you say, especially regarding the delay. I don't like having to do basic math when setting delay times.
I agree. however, I see the slightest chance of implementation on this point due to the backward compatibility.

If any of you have an idea of how to work around this problem, write it in the comments please!
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Old 07-21-2019, 07:22 PM   #9
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I'm going the other way....

No sliders... No knobs... just numerical readouts, checkboxes and meters, where relevant.

Totally minimal.
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Old 07-21-2019, 09:23 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aeolian View Post
I'm going the other way....

No sliders... No knobs... just numerical readouts, checkboxes and meters, where relevant.

Totally minimal.
This is absolutely great idea!

For a calculator.
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Old 07-22-2019, 04:04 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aeolian View Post
I'm going the other way....

No sliders... No knobs... just numerical readouts, checkboxes and meters, where relevant.

Totally minimal.
This shows wonderful how different people perceive the things differently.

But the idea is to make reaper more user-friendly for the majority of people.
Not to make it deterrent!
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Old 07-22-2019, 04:53 AM   #12
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Although I'm really used to the rough visuals of the reaplugs, this would make it easier for the new user.

I know its a empty argument when someones says that he doesn't like reaper because of the plugs UI looks. So this would be some kind of an improvement.
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Old 07-22-2019, 08:01 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Input_studio View Post
Although I'm really used to the rough visuals of the reaplugs, this would make it easier for the new user.

I know its a empty argument when someones says that he doesn't like reaper because of the plugs UI looks. So this would be some kind of an improvement.
Thanks for feedback!
I'm also not a GUI-slut and I use reaper for 6 years as a professional.
But the points mentioned above cause that I rarely use reapers stock plugins, even though they are super sonic.
That's a shame, really!
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Old 07-23-2019, 05:46 AM   #14
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I have added some additional information to the main post to prevent misunderstandings!

Some misinformation has landed in the comments of some users at FB groups.
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Old 07-23-2019, 06:37 AM   #15
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Such a great post. Have a look at the grid settings window (accessible by right-clicking on a snap toggle button )
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Old 07-23-2019, 10:10 AM   #16
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My biggest problem with reaper plugs is that you can enter out of range values in any text field. For e.g., oops I put an extra zero on 60db of gain... Has been the cause of a few headphone tosses
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Old 07-23-2019, 10:32 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bFooz View Post
Such a great post. Have a look at the grid settings window (accessible by right-clicking on a snap toggle button )
Thank you Yes, exactly!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fergler View Post
My biggest problem with reaper plugs is that you can enter out of range values in any text field. For e.g., oops I put an extra zero on 60db of gain... Has been the cause of a few headphone tosses
Oh, I hope you did not get hurt. I'm not sure if this is really a Reaper issue or a user error. It is advisable to insert a transparent limiter in front of a monitoring channel outp. The ear will appreciate this.
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Old 07-23-2019, 10:40 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fergler View Post
My biggest problem with reaper plugs is that you can enter out of range values in any text field. For e.g., oops I put an extra zero on 60db of gain... Has been the cause of a few headphone tosses
Well, there is an option in Preferences to automute Master or a track, which exceeded the treshold.
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Old 07-24-2019, 06:14 AM   #19
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I absolutely agree with the poster, and your rendition of the ReaComp is excellent. It clearly shows how a bunch of parameters could look so much more logical and easier, faster to use. Has anybody noticed that it seems like there are some parameters missing? But they're all there. That's the effect of great UI design - it seems less complicated than it actually is.

But I have to say this is only the tip of an iceberg... whole REAPER is plagued by these design and usability problems.
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Old 07-24-2019, 06:45 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DuX View Post
I absolutely agree with the poster, and your rendition of the ReaComp is excellent. It clearly shows how a bunch of parameters could look so much more logical and easier, faster to use. Has anybody noticed that it seems like there are some parameters missing? But they're all there. That's the effect of great UI design - it seems less complicated than it actually is.

But I have to say this is only the tip of an iceberg... whole REAPER is plagued by these design and usability problems.
Thank you!

Yes, that's absolutely correct!
Reaper can be absolutely confusing. Especially for new users.

But here is the thing:
I know that Cockos is a very small company and they have a lot of work to do! I mean A LOT!
They're constantly adding new features to reaper, so it's not easy to keep the UI clean.
ReaPlugins are not that extensive, so it should be easier to clean up there.
Also, ReaPlugins are not Reaper-exclusive. I think, a UI optimization would also be good PR for reaper.

Last edited by Zeno; 07-24-2019 at 07:06 AM.
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Old 07-24-2019, 08:20 AM   #21
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From my experience of how they think about, feel and treat the UX stuff, they would need to hire someone to clean up things.
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Old 07-24-2019, 03:29 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bFooz View Post
From my experience of how they think about, feel and treat the UX stuff, they would need to hire someone to clean up things.
Yes, that is quite possible. I mean, Justin Frankel is a really smart guy. Reaper is great! And winamp was it too. I think the desire for pretty GUIs or the statement, reaper does not look "professional", is due solely to the catastrophic UI.
Not because it is "ugly" but because it does not balance the complexity of Reaper with clarity.

It's not impossible, as the thread shows it very well. I am certainly not the first who has considerations in this direction. I think it's just as important to inspire cockos guys with our requests and to trust them to make good decisions. I hope they will.

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Old 07-24-2019, 05:49 PM   #23
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1- I use presets so this reduces some of your complaints

2- Your workflow may not match my workflow
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Old 07-24-2019, 07:21 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fergler View Post
My biggest problem with reaper plugs is that you can enter out of range values in any text field. For e.g., oops I put an extra zero on 60db of gain... Has been the cause of a few headphone tosses
yep

Reaplugs should limit out of range entries to the parameter min/max.


Although you may find yourself in a situation where you need to hit a track with 600db of gain.... ya never know .
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Old 07-25-2019, 02:19 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by junh1024 View Post
1- I use presets so this reduces some of your complaints

2- Your workflow may not match my workflow
That's the first comment on a neutral/negative vote that has substance... lol

Anyway, thanks for your feedback! It really helped me to focus more on some things. Thank you

Last edited by Zeno; 07-25-2019 at 06:53 AM.
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Old 07-29-2019, 03:55 AM   #26
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Silly season? Bump!
I wanna read your opinions!
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Old 07-29-2019, 04:09 AM   #27
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It is true that everyone's workflow is different but it is not much different. It's the same as to say every person is different. But they differ in something and are the same in something else.

The goal is to make USEr interface and USEr experience as fluidly usable for majority as possible. There are sciences about this. https://medium.muz.li/gestalt-princi...n-6b75a41e9965 And it cannot be done by a coder no matter how good he is (unless ofcourse he is also a designer).

Reaper has great functionality but comparable poor usability. It just permeates through all aspects of it.
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Old 07-29-2019, 04:49 AM   #28
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Zeno, you've done a lot of work. It's a very well thought out post, thanks. The problem I see is that you propose to replace one layout (which everyone is using now) with another (which also everyone will use). In this century, imho, we should be asking for customizable UI similar to what Reaper currently offers for its TCP. If it were me, I'd probably ask for some sort of a command line -- it's much easier for me to enter "r 1.5<Enter>" to set ReaComp ratio than to try to pinpoint a slider drag with the mouse (yes, Ctrl helps but it's yet another hand motion). I use Tab a lot to get to input fields but you have to tab through each and every slider. I'm not sure these days UI designers even remember about accelerators (those underlined letters).
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Old 07-29-2019, 05:26 AM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bFooz View Post
Awesome! Thanks for the link!
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Old 07-29-2019, 05:56 AM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ivan.lt View Post
Zeno, you've done a lot of work. It's a very well thought out post, thanks.
Thanks for your feedback!


Quote:
Originally Posted by ivan.lt View Post
The problem I see is that you propose to replace one layout (which everyone is using now) with another (which also everyone will use). In this century, imho, we should be asking for customizable UI similar to what Reaper currently offers for its TCP.
Ok, I see your point. IMO this isn't a good idea, because although customization brings some benefits, the disadvantages are very obvious! Reapers processors are specialized workhorses. Their layout should be designed to perform the job they are intended for as efficiently as possible.


Quote:
Originally Posted by ivan.lt View Post
If it were me, I'd probably ask for some sort of a command line -- it's much easier for me to enter "r 1.5<Enter>" to set ReaComp ratio than to try to pinpoint a slider drag with the mouse (yes, Ctrl helps but it's yet another hand motion).
That's a really great idea! For me it sounds like a job for ReaConsole, but of course it could also be integrated directly into the plugins. Maybe you should make a request about it?
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Old 07-29-2019, 06:11 AM   #31
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If the reaper is going to be slower, it's better if nothing changes.

If you really want gui innovation first you need to increase the resolution and then do this work by taking pro tools as an example.

Original reacomp gui better than the above, I have to say it.

Last edited by alphoc; 07-29-2019 at 06:18 AM.
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Old 07-29-2019, 06:22 AM   #32
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All the points raised in this thread have a lot of merit, and I gotta say I agree with all of them.
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Old 07-29-2019, 06:42 AM   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alphoc View Post
If the reaper is going to be slower, it's better if nothing changes.
Huh? Why should reaper slow down by repositioning parameters?

Quote:
Originally Posted by alphoc View Post
If you really want gui innovation first you need to increase the resolution and then do this work by taking pro tools as an example.
1) That's not innovation. It's logical!
2) Resolution is a completely different topic. And as far as I know, this is already being worked on.
3) Pro Tools is a really bad example when it comes to "innovation"!

Quote:
Originally Posted by alphoc View Post
Original reacomp gui better than the above, I have to say it.
ok ... but why? why do you think it is "better"?

Last edited by Zeno; 07-29-2019 at 06:57 AM.
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Old 07-29-2019, 06:45 AM   #34
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Originally Posted by EvilDragon View Post
All the points raised in this thread have a lot of merit, and I gotta say I agree with all of them.
THANK YOU!
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Old 08-01-2019, 07:34 AM   #35
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How about knobs vs sliders be optional, as a global setting and as a per JSFX setting?
And there be general flow changes or specific layouts for the alternative "knob" view.
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Old 08-01-2019, 08:42 AM   #36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ozman View Post
How about knobs vs sliders be optional, as a global setting and as a per JSFX setting?
And there be general flow changes or specific layouts for the alternative "knob" view.
Yes! I personally would be absolutely in favor. The thing is: changing a few parameters in their position is associated with "relatively" little effort. Creating a whole new layout that's focused on knobs, on the other hand, costs a lot more effort.
This doesn't mean that the idea wouldn't be good, but it's unlikely that this will be implemented in near future.

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