[Doggiebox] Frustrated

Ben Kennedy ben at zygoat.ca
Mon Mar 1 17:36:26 EST 2004

Hi Mike, et al.,

I am both sorry and pleased to hear about your experiences with the new
1.1 lineage.

First of all, it is a bummer that the new paradigm has been such a pain
in the ass for you, and especially that it's resulted in lost or wasted
time.  It makes me grimace because I can appreciate what it's like trying
to achieve something with a tool that is ostensibly broken or malfunctional.

Having said that, I am grateful to hear your opinion, even at this later
stage.  It is just this type of feedback that I seek by putting early
builds into the hands of users, and it's these comments and suggestions
that result from such discussion which shape the design direction that I take.

Many users have asked for a sequence-based composition mode like this for
quite some time now.  I have tried to design it in such a way that it
builds upon the capabilities of 1.0.x while providing more flexibility to
those who want it.  As nobody had raised complaints like you have until
now, I figured we were on the right track with it.

It is instructive to learn that these features are not only useless to
you, but hindering to your current workflow.  That said, I would like to
learn as much as possible so that we can improve the UI to a point where
it again meets your needs.

To that end, I have a few questions and remarks in response to some of
the comments.

>I get the fact that I can choose sections for playback 
>and that is helpful, but it is offset by the fact that I can no longer 
>add sections or insert bars.

As Charlie forwarded, there is a UI bug in 1B3 which makes it impossible
to insert bars under particular circumstances.  There is a workaround as
described, and the bug is fixed in the next build (which hopefully I will
be able to post later tonight).

You can add new sections.  I presume that you are alluding to the 1.0-
style behaviour where "sections" were simply markers around existing
parts of the song, instead of self-contained units of bars.  This is a
conceptual change in the new version.

>Previously, I could highlight some bars, choose "new section" in the 
>section area down on the left, and my selected bars became a new 
>section. Now, when I do this I get a blank new section with no bars.

Again, this is due to the conceptual shift in what a "section" is.  In
the 1.1 world, a section is a discrete grouping of bars, a mini-song if
you like.  Instead of building one giant sequence of bars and then
"bookmarking" regions within it (1.0-style sections), each section itself
is a building block which you are now able to easily re-use many times
within the song.

>I can't add a new "layout" either, 
>whatever that is. Is a layout a section? I don't get it. When I add a 
>new "layout", I end up with a duplicate of the one before it.

The layout list (on the right) is essentially a sequence of "aliases" to
sections (from the left).  It's a playlist, really, in which you can
order and organize the various sections (building blocks) of your song. 
This is a new feature designed to let you re-use parts of a song, such as
verses or choruses, which appear in multiplicity throughout a piece.

When you add a new layout

On this note, I am completely open to suggestions for new terminology to
replace "section", "section marker", "layout", etc.  These were the best
words I have come up with so far, but perhaps someone can suggest some
terms which better convey the meanings.

>As I understand it, this version produces a song file format that is 
>not compatible with earlier versions.

That is correct.  There are a couple of reasons for this, mainly
predicated on a shift to the 10.2+ supported keyed archiving (as opposed
to the old style serial archiving).  This provides more flexibility for
future file revisions, making it a lot more likely that e.g. older (1.1
and forward) versions of Doggiebox will support files created by newer

On a trivia note, we're also gzip-compressing the stream, so you will
note about a 50% or more reduction in file size of .dbsongs created by 1.1.

>I find this confounding User Interface very frustrating.
>It's killed my inspiration for today.

I suspect that you have found this in particular because you have become
very accustomed to the 1.0 style of doing things, and have jumped right
in to 1.1 without a full awareness of the design changes.  This is not a
criticism of you at all.  It is more a testament to the lack of present
documentation, and the fact that I have thrown out the 1.1 beta series to
you folks to play with as it develops.

Getting back to the point of How To Make Doggiebox As Usable As It Was, I
would love to hear suggestions from you and others.  Based on the new
model, now that I have tried to explain it some, and coupled with the
remarks that Charlie and Christoph have added today, do you have any
better feelings about it?  Do you still prefer the 1.0 style of editing
and section marking?   Does anyone have ideas on how we could integrate
these two designs in an inter-operable way?

For example, one idea I had today is that we could provide two editing
modes: "sequence" and "linear".  Sequence mode would operate as 1.1 does
now, with the section and layout lists.  Linear mode would be a
simplified version which works more closely to 1.0.6; in essence, the
layout list would automatically mirror the section list, etc.

Would a facility for "bookmarks" within sections (akin to the 1.0-style
section markers) be a useful addition?


Ben Kennedy, chief magician
zygoat creative technical services
613-228-3392 | 1-866-466-4628

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