UI: Reorder left Symbol Menus to save 25% of keystrokes

edited August 2014 in Symphony Pro
I sent the whole (much longer) text of this idea to the support guys, because it wouldn't fit here, and because I couldn't see how to attach a PDF. So I'm posting this summary here so others can comment, if they would like to.

This suggested change concerns the top level slide out Toolbar Menu – Notes, Dynamics, Articulations, Text.

The description below is a fairly long one – skip it if you’re not interested.

If SP was my product, I’d code this suggestion up to test it out in a heartbeat, since it has the potential to shave 25% off the cost of entering symbols for all users, all of the time. That seems like such a big win for both the product and users (who doesn’t enter symbols?) that it seems worth investigating to me. After all, how often can you shave 25% off the tap count for _anything_ that’s used by essentially all users who use dynamics, articulations, or text?

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Currently SP provides a top level (top left corner) Toolbar Menu to change the left side toolbar items to one of 5 possible sets: Notes, Dynamics (p, mf, f, etc), Articulations1 (rit.), Articulations2 (> accents, crescendo, bow up/dn, slurs, etc), and Text. The Toolbar Menu is the first menu level, and the 5 items are the first level of menu items in the program.

When a first-level menu item (such as rit.) is selected, a second level menu of choices (toolbar items) is shown on the left side. And when many of the toolbar items displayed on the left side are tapped, they pop out a third level of menu items.

For example, the menu chain to ff runs from the top corner icon (first level Toolbar Menu), which pops out choices for the five sets (the first level of choices); the second level menu shows various second level menu choices (p, mp, mf, f, etc); choosing ‘mF’ pops out a third level menu showing choices “f, ff, fff, ffff.” So you can see there are 3 levels of menus to navigate when you want to apply many of the common symbols to the score.

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The current menu layout is not optimal because (1) it requires more keystrokes than necessary, (2) it requires users to disturb their local spatial focus on the score by forcing them to navigate their attention away from the score to the far upper left reaches of the screen to choose a root Toolbar Menu item (mF, rit., text, etc) for the next desired symbol to be entered, and then (3) it requires users to navigate the 3 levels of menus and choices before finally tapping a note to place the activated symbol.


A More Efficient Symbol Entry Menu Structure

A better approach would be to change the current top-level Toolbar Menu (offering 5 sets) and make it a “single tap to toggle mode” menu to toggle between only two top level toolbars (2 sets instead of 5 sets). The two sets would be (1) Notes (the familiar bar with note-length buttons) and (2) Symbols (meaning “all those special musical symbols that are not notes”.)  Tapping the top left button would toggle between entering notes and entering symbols.

When Symbols mode is enabled, the side bar would change from displaying note length buttons to displaying 4 (or more, if you like) symbol groups. These were 4 of the 5 sets that used to be on the original Toolbar Menu, but displayed vertically on the side bar, not horizontally like they were on the original Toolbar menu.

Here’s a simple ASCII representation of what the new left side toolbar would look like in Symbol mode:

MF  - pop out menu is [p, mp, mf, f, <, etc]

rit – pop out menu is [treble clef, rit., a tempo, etc]

>0  -- accents – pop out menu is [. (staccato), >, _ (sustain), etc]

Text – pop out menu is [C7, T1, .. A]

These 4 categories of symbols are always visible when Symbols mode is active. So when placing symbols from different groups, you don't have to switch among major symbol sets using a menu (eg between MF and rit and >0). 

Advantages

Simpler menu structure -- The new approach has split the top level menu into a two-way toggle between Notes and Symbols. Now all symbol groups (and even new groups) can be shown together on the left side toolbar with better symbol group visibility, usability, and consistency – notes and symbols are never mixed after they are split by the top level toggle.

Fewer context changes -- As long as users are placing symbols in Symbols mode, they never have to use the top level toggle, which means that they will never have to move their context/focus up to the far top level corner of the screen.

Fewer keystrokes, closer keystrokes -- Since switching symbol groups using a top level Toolbar Menu is no longer part of the normal symbol-placement keystroke sequence, users will enter fewer keystrokes. In addition, users will never have to stretch their thumb up to the top left corner as part of the normal per-symbol-placement keystroke sequence. Therefore users enter fewer keystrokes, and closer keystrokes. No awkward, far reaching keystrokes. 
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