UI: Change note-rest menus to single-tap toggle buttons

edited August 2014 in Symphony Pro
Currently SP provides a pop out menu containing 1 rest for each note-length button on the Note Entry toolbar. The menu rules follow the same rules as for other menus, which are: tap once to enable the desired note-rest length, tap a second time to pop out the menu, tap a third time on the single menu choice to flip from note to rest (or from rest to note), and then start tapping on the score to enter the selected note or rest.

The current implementation does not seem optimal because it feels like it takes too many taps to enter a rest in the midst of a stream of notes.

A better approach would be to convert all the note-length menu buttons into either single or double tap toggle buttons, as follows:

Single tap approach:

For one length -- Tap once to choose a note length, and enter your notes. Tap on another note length button, and enter more notes. When you need a rest, tap the note length button again, to toggle it to a rest of the same length. Tap it again to toggle back to a note, and so on.

For multiple lengths of the same type -- Suppose you're entering a sequence of notes of varying lengths. Tap on a length to make it active, and place some notes on the score. Tap on another length to make it active (the previous button is disabled), and place more notes on the score. And so on, until you need a rest, at which time you can tap the active button to toggle to a rest, and proceed.

For switching both length and type at the same time -- If you need to simultaneously choose a different length AND switch from note to rest (or vice versa), only two taps would be required - one to choose the desired length, and a second tap to flip the note/rest type. (The order of the taps doesn't matter -- you can flip note/rest first, then choose a different length, or vice versa. This lack of order sensitivity is convenient for users.)

Double tap approach:

In this approach, double tap a button to flip between notes and rests. This approach uses about the same number of taps as the current "menu" method does, but the double taps are conceptually easier to understand (less thinking is required because no menus are involved), and less dexterity is required (because fewer tapping locations are involved).

For my two bits, I would go with the single tap "toggle" approach, since it's a single tap operation, requires the least thinking, requires the fewest thumb taps, and requires simpler code under the hood in the program itself.

If this change was implemented, the user experience would be improved, and user productivity would increase because less thinking and less tapping would be demanded of the users. The SP user interface would be simplified (4 or 5 fewer pop out menus to understand), and the SP inner code would be simplified. 


A Dedicated Note-Rest Toggle Button

For completeness, and to locate this comment with the suggestion above, I also thought of a special note-rest toggle key at the top of the note length toolbar, before the whole note button. Single tapping this button would toggle notes for rests in the rest of the toolbar, simplifying the user interface even more than the suggestion above. Users could always go to the same location and single tap to do the toggle. Very convenient.

However, a new button like that would take up a precious slot on the side toolbar, which is short enough (and full enough) already, especially in landscape mode on the Ipad. So I record the idea here, in case more toolbar space becomes available one day.


Horizontal Note-Rest Length Menus

A second interesting idea is to change the vertical note/rest length menus to horizontal pop out menus. Only 2 toolbar slots would be used, instead of the current 7 slots used (for whole notes to 64th notes). One button would pop out all the notes, and the other button would pop out all the rests. Two taps would always be required to set a note/rest length each time -- one tap to pop out the note or rest menu, and a second tap to choose the desired length.

The current method already requires two taps to change from notes to rests (or vice versa), but only 1 tap to change lengths among notes. So the current method is more "tap efficient", but consumes 7 toolbar slots. In contrast, the two-button method is less tap efficient, but 3x more "toolbar space efficient" because it uses less toolbar space.

I record this idea here for completeness, but I think the frequency of choosing different note lengths (1 tap each under the current method and the suggested method in this posting) overwhelms the space efficiency of this two-button, horizontal menu idea. So I would not use this method unless I was desperate for more toolbar space.


Show All Note-Rest Lengths All The Time with Second Toolbar

After writing up the ideas in this posting, I get the feeling that the most efficient and smooth way of entering notes and rests is to have both of them showing all the time, so that there is no need to flip toolbar buttons between notes and rests. Instead, just single tap to pick the note or rest that you want, and place it on the score. You can't get more efficient than that, since zero taps would be required to toggle between notes and rests.

But this approach would probably require a second toolbar, which seems like a major change compared to the single-tap toggle approach that I've suggested here. Actually I think a second toolbar on the left side (for my left thumb in Ipad landscape mode) seems quite doable, since there would still be lots of room for the score. (In portrait mode, a second left toolbar would be more noticeable.)

If a second toolbar was implemented, it would make note-rest entry as efficient as possible, and would create more new toolbar slots as well, that could be used to make other note entry tasks more efficient. Using two toolbars for thumb tapping would be easy, and would double the number of controls (buttons) accessible to the user.

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