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Starship Krupa

Step Record dialog

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There are features of Cakewalk that I wouldn't have messed with but for making themes, and there are areas that my themes gloss over until I start using the feature(s).

Never much bothered with recording in Step mode until last week. And it is hands-down the ugliest themeable element I've yet to encounter. A Windows for Workgroups 3.11-era text dialog with a spray of graphical buttons that look like no other buttons in the rest of the program. Even though the feature seems to work as expected (so far), the dialog for it is so fugly that it gives me a gut feeling that something must be messed up for it to have such a paleo look. Like the underlying code is probably written in 16-bit Visual BASIC. It sort of looks like it was being converted from text to GUI and the person taking care of it left the company.

In a user interface made up of convex buttons, this thing has concave ones? And they're a combination of blue and grey not seen anywhere else in the program? And the iconography is a pair of Robinson Crusoe/Pink Panther footprints to symbolize "steps?" How about just the word "Step?" It's getting a universal red-with-pink dot "record" button for sure, the current Crusoesque footprints with a red tint is confusing regarding whether one is in the state of recording, or needs to click it to turn recording on, or whatever. I think I figured it out, when the dialog opens, you're already in Record mode, but you can change all these options while you're doing it. And you can click the red footprint button to pause recording.

I'm also changing the Adv./Bas. button to More/Less.

Just venting here.  Commiseration welcome, however. Thank heavens at least the buttons are themeable, but we're not miracle workers.

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How could you also miss out the choice of old style system font for the drop-down font too?!!?

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2 hours ago, Kevin Perry said:

How could you also miss out the choice of old style system font for the drop-down

There's so much to scatter the gaze about in this dialog that I plumb missed it. Yeah, system font, and bold at that.

Behold, the work in progress. I can't make it look prettier, but I can at least try to make it less confusing (and slightly resemble the rest of the program). I'd make a joke about the "ticks" being appropriate for a dog of a dialog, but that would be an insult to dogs.

image.png.5bbdf2506f200f4baac22a068221c48e.png

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Posted (edited)

Yeah, this was lifted right from the ProAudio days I think, and never updated (EDIT: Although looking at the blue highlights, it might have gotten a minor facelift around the first couple of SONARs in the early 2000s). I don't reckon I've used Step Record since those days either, now I think about it 🤔

Edited by Lord Tim

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Posted (edited)

Pro Audio, that sounds about right. And early SONAR, getting their feet wet by putting a few graphical buttons in what is essentially still a text dialog. I'm sure there were to do lists with "overhaul Step Record dialog" on them for a very long time.

It's very useful for my electronic music, where I'll come up with a bass or lead phrase on a soft synth and want to get it into PRV as fast as possible. It can be easier than recording a MIDI performance, depending on the situation.

I'll do my best to try to make it more visually appealing, but sow's ear/silk purse.

I understand why it hasn't been touched in 20 years, it does work well, it's just that the dialog is hopelessly funky.

If there's one feature I would add, it would be to add an option to have it follow the note values already set in PRV rather than always having to set them in the dialog.

BTW, what's up with the "ticks?" Does anyone measure MIDI with ticks any more? Is it for lighting control?

Edited by Starship Krupa

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I wish I could get it to do anything (yeah, I know, Help file time)!  Have yoy tried putting it into Advanced mode?

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Posted (edited)
11 minutes ago, Kevin Perry said:

I wish I could get it to do anything

Keep in mind that when you launch it, it's already in Record, so if you (as did I the first time out) click on the little red "record" button in the dialog, you're actually pausing it. It's confusing, because we expect the flow to be that you select the options, then start recording. But Step mode doesn't actually start recording until you hit a note, and you can change the note values and steps on the fly.

It's poor UI design, but as I said, once you figure it out, it works and is versatile.

 

Edited by Starship Krupa

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1 hour ago, Starship Krupa said:

BTW, what's up with the "ticks?" Does anyone measure MIDI with ticks any more? Is it for lighting control?

https://cecm.indiana.edu/361/rsn-timing.html

This is definitely a hold over from the early sequencer days. My MC-500MkII had 240 ticks per quarter note and I had it memorised where each note division was represented so I could shift around notes using my little jog wheel.  It sucked. 

I did do a lot of electronic music using its step sequencer back in the day though, so I'm not really sure why I never took to Cakewalk's one.

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Posted (edited)

Ticks??? Sounds like another "bug" to report. :D

Clock resolution (ticks per 1/4 note) set in Preferences.

Sonar used to go up to 120 but was increased to 960 a few many years ago.

Edited by sjoens
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Huh, maybe my MC was 120 or less then, Cakewalk definitely had better resolution than it did even way back in the day.

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Given the number of hours I put into this and the ho-hum results....well, it will at least remind me that Step Recording Mode exists as a useful tool. Since this thing pops up whenever you're in Step Record mode, at least I can look at it knowing that I tried.

Yes, I know that the asterisk means "freeze track" in Cakewalk's visual language. I'm using it for the button that indicates that you're using a step size that you've entered in "ticks." The default button image is a lower-case "n," which in mathematics means "natural number," so I suppose it applies, but I think it looks ugly and weird so I replaced it with what is known as a wild card symbol. It's no more or less indicative of the button's meaning. Maybe I'll change it again. I bet that I could change it to a blank square of pixels the same color as the background and nobody would ever notice that they couldn't enter note values in ticks. I'm just thinking that ticks aren't such a big deal these days unless you're worried about lyme disease.

I tried to make the Basic/Adv. button as much as possible resemble the ones in other dialogs like Paste Special, although I really didn't like using the abbreviation "Adv." in a dialog where so many other buttons cause the write position to ADVANCE.

I also got rid of the Pink Panther footprints and quarter note and cheese grater images and replaced them with "Step" and "Beat" and "Bar," all of which I think are less confusing indications of how far the note writing point will advance when you click on them. Two buttons next to each other saying Step Step, Beat Beat and Bar Bar look kind of silly, but my hands are kinda tied here. I see below that I used the wrong type size for "Bar," but at least you can figure out what the button does by looking at it. I'll fix it when I can stand to open Paint,Net again.

Step size buttons are adapted from note draw duration buttons. The "Recording" button now looks like you're ready to record notes rather than take dance lessons.

It still looks like a Windows for Workgroups dialog box that someone accidentally got graphics on. There's nothing that the graphical buttons do that couldn't be more tidily accomplished with radio buttons and so forth. Why are there buttons for single and double dots, yet a checkbox for tuplets? Don't you love that cute little transport slider that it has, all its own? Why is there no help button?

image.png.06806f9cbcbc7e5ed09161a224da2334.png

 

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15 hours ago, sjoens said:

Sonar used to go up to 120 but was increased to 960 a few many years ago.

I always thought that was because 960 was a multiple of 96 ppq (a standard) where as 120 wasn't.  

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1 hour ago, Starship Krupa said:

Never much bothered with recording in Step mode until last week...   ...something must be messed up for it to have such a paleo look.

That's why it hasn't been updated.... not worth the effort for the handful of Neanderthals still using it. ;^)

Personally I like the warm fuzzy feeling I get when I am suddenly transported back to 1990 by some long forgotten corner of the UI. 

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1 hour ago, David Baay said:

That's why it hasn't been updated.... not worth the effort for the handful of Neanderthals still using it. ;^)

Personally I like the warm fuzzy feeling I get when I am suddenly transported back to 1990 by some long forgotten corner of the UI. 

Like sipping a well-aged Scotch

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This is it.

Still not winning any beauty contests, but I think it's easier to understand what's going on and it sort of looks like the rest of the theme. There's a "recording" button instead of red cartoon footprints. The note value buttons aren't concave and the MIDI ticks button is a MIDI symbol rather than the letter "n." The step buttons say Step, Beat, and Bar rather than being Cartoon Feet, Quarter Note, and Cheese Grater. Basic and Advanced view buttons say "Basic" and "Adv."

Step recording neanderthal emits reluctant grunt of satisfaction.

image.png.4fa00a16a4ab3286138ebae6b24f83c6.png

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