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Jezric

Export UI Inconsistencies

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2 ways to export, either using the quick export module in the top menu or using the Export dialog. 

The issue is that in the Export dialog, even when you choose "Entire Mix" for Source Category and "Entire Project" for Range, if there is anything selected in the timeline (a clip, or track), it will only export that track, not the entire mix/project. 

The contrast is, the quick export module, when you select the Project radio button and then choose Export to Wav (or another format), it will export the entire project/mix even if something is selected.  (Which is what I would expect both of these scenarios to do). 

This to me seems like a bug. Anyone else?

 

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This isn't a bug - the quick export module provides quick short-cut to the most common use-cases, i.e. exporting your entire mix, or just what you've got selected.

The Audio Export Dialog however is intentionally selection based.  This allows you to limit, by selection, what feeds the sources within the "What to Export" category to give maximum flexibility during export.

Having something selected (either before opening the dialog, or within dialog's selection flyout), effectively results in a temporary project being created, with only the selected items in it.  This then affects what is fed to the sources, and also what sources you can check within your chosen source category.

For the most part, no selection is the same as everything selected, with the exception being source category "Tracks".  For tracks, a time selection will export all tracks at the selection length, whereas no selection will export tracks at their actual length.
 

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Ok so not a bug, but intended behavior? :)  

To me at least, it is not a good user experience and there is nothing in the dialog that indicates what it's going to do based on if you have something selected or not. I understand the behavior, however I would think that if you selected Entire Mix and Entire Project in this dialog that it would actually export the entire project and not the temp project it created based on your selection (which, again, is not at all clear in this UX that that is what it's doing). I mean at least there could be a checkbox in this dialog that allows you to override this default selection based temp project behavior and always export the entire project/all tracks. 

This is merely feedback, and I can see how it can easily turn into a debate on personal perception and opinion, not my intention. Just pointing out the confusion with this interface. I think there is opportunity to improve. 

Thanks

 

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Yes - many times myself the export comes out not what was chosen based on what Jezric is saying. It is like the export dialogue box selections do not consistently override what is going on in track view such as selections.

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Yeah, there seems to be a bit of controversy around this behavior. I started a thread on the CbL Facebook group and the result was very polarized. One camp seems to think this is all fine and it makes perfect sense and don't change anything (a lot of this may derive from the fact that this has been the export behavior in CW since before the new export dialog). The other side is, yeah, it's a bit confusing and/or not expected that it would default to exporting just the selection when using the export dialog. 

The way I see it and trying to look at it from a very logical standpoint:

  • The quick export module in the top control bar has 2 options. Project and Selection. This behaves just like you'd expect, one is the entire project (all tracks/busses regardless of what is selected) and the other is just what is selected. 
  • The export dialog however is always in the context of what is selected and there is no option in it to override this to export the entire project regardless of the selection. There are options for Source Output (what tracks/busses/features that produce sound be exported) and then the Range, which is Entire Project or Time Selection. There is no option to have it export everything regardless of selection. 

I think that the way to "fix" this (by fix, I mean make it more consistent with the quick export option) would be to add an option (a radio button like quick export, or another dropdown) that specifies Project or Selection (default to Selection to make all the legacy users happy that default behavior didn't change) and have this option be saved with the export template and/or last export state (so you don't have to reselect it each time you export). 

I would love to hear about the backstory around when the folks at CbL developed the new export dialog. Like, what were the considerations, user feedback analysis, etc. 

Edited by Jezric
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9 hours ago, TBK said:

Entire mix or selected tracks/busses. I'd like that too.

You're misunderstanding what "Entire Mix" means in the context of source category. It doesn't mean "My entire project", it means "All selected tracks and buses as heard through the hardware outputs" - in other words it's the selection through the entire mix.

If all you want "Entire Mix" (i.e., entire project) or "Selected Tracks/Buses", then just use the Export Module.  

I'll say it again: The Export Module is designed to give quick access to the two most common workflows, the Audio Export Dialog is far more flexible and is purposely based on selection. 

There is however a selection flyout section that allows you to change selection while you're in the dialog.  CTRL + SHIFT clicking any track or bus's checkbox within the flyout will toggle between Select All / Select None.

There're also the export tasks, which you can use should you be unsure about whether something is selected or not when you re-open the dialog.  If you ensure nothing is selected, then create a task for an entire mix, exporting that task will always be the entire project regardless of selection.

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Please accept my apology. I misunderstood. I will work with it until I understand why I sometimes get single or multiple tracks in the export unexpectedly. The key word is "selected."

Edited by TBK

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I think a subtle wording change on the Audio Export Dialog ("Entire Mix (Selection)" or similar) would keep everyone happy and make it clearer.

That said, given the number of people over the years who've complained about selections being accidentally applied (or who have probably had it happen and not complained, like me!), an "Entire Mix (No Selection)"  option which did what it says wouldn't go amiss either.

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4 hours ago, msmcleod said:

You're misunderstanding what "Entire Mix" means in the context of source category. 

Yep, and that's the problem, misunderstanding things in the Export dialog seems to be a pretty normal thing for a lot of users. It is quite confusing (for some of us at least). Also, which aspects are stored with a task. I have tried numerous times to setup tasks exactly as you describe and it never quite works right (or as I expect it to), so every time I go back and try to figure out what I'm doing wrong, give up and just manually export everything (then realize I had some clip selected deep in my project and then have to go and deselect everything by clicking in an empty space in the timeline and then export again! :D)

Yes, easy to say to users, just use the export module. But that seems like an attempt to circumvent the notion that the advanced export dialog is not consistent regarding terminology and to a lot of users is just confusing. The process of exporting and all the possible options is by no means a trivial user experience to nail, that's for sure.

I've worked in user experience for many years and one thing I have found to be true, if you find yourself having to repeatedly say "you're just misunderstanding it" ... then there is likely a problem with your UX. (I mean that as constructive feedback and not trying to be difficult or rude ;))

BTW: I had NO IDEA that there was a way to select/deselect what is going exported in the export dialog (see attached), not very discoverable. As suggested above, it would be so nice to have a checkbox in the Export dialog that just said, "ignore selection" or perhaps the same radio buttons that the export module has "(x) project ( ) selection" (this is the "inconsistent" thing I keep mentioning btw).

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cw2.JPG

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I can't tell you how many times I've done Exports and gotten unexpected results due to my having accidentally had tracks or time selected, but I can say that it has probably happened at least once in the course of every single project I've ever done in Cakewalk.

I finally just mapped my "~" key (unshifted) to Select None because I use it so much and it's easier than Ctrl-Alt-A.

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I think this is a case of PEBCAK rather than anything being amiss with CBB.

"Entire Mix" doesn't mean the same thing as "Entire Project "..this is where people go wrong

Edited by Mark Morgon-Shaw

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9 hours ago, Mark Morgon-Shaw said:

I think this is a case of PEBCAK rather than anything being amiss with CBB.

"Entire Mix" doesn't mean the same thing as "Entire Project "..this is where people go wrong

Nowhere in the export UI is it obvious that export selection is the default behavior. Yet, with the Export module, it is obvious. In my opinion this is not consistent UI. 

I personally understand the export behavior as I've been using CW for 20+ years and this has been the default behavior as far back as I can remember. Doesn't make it the best user experience though imo. I can see how new users would be confused by this and it's clear that even for us experienced users, it's still gets us more frequently than it should.

Seems a simple fix for this is to just add this same option the module has. :) 

 

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On 11/27/2022 at 5:43 AM, Mark Morgon-Shaw said:

I think this is a case of PEBCAK

I agree, inasmuch as the "problem" is exacerbated by dialog(s) that multiple experienced users have chimed in to agree are confusing.

For that matter, it took me months, YouTube videos, and input from experienced forumites, to figure out that "Entire Mix" meant that the export comes from the hardware outputs. I couldn't figure out why I had such variable results with levels. I use multiple hardware outs (to drive headphones and different sets of speakers). I couldn't figure out why, when my signal was nice and hot at the Master bus (where I thought Entire Mix came from), it wasn't nice and hot in the exported file, and my headphone mix caused some mixes to sound "off." So the levels at the hardware outs needed to be good and hot, and all hardware outputs except one needed to be muted.

And all this was after I gained access to the Reference Guide and refer(red) to it religiously.

I wound up just creating a "mixdown" bus and taking my mixes from that instead of messing around with "entire mix."

Even with the new amazing Export dialog, "why does my exported mix sound different from playback?" still pops up in the Q&A forum.

Mixing a song down to a stereo track is one of the most basic functions a DAW can do, and it doesn't need to be confusing. I don't subscribe to the notion that a confusing UI is remedied by "just getting used to it." It can probably be solved or eased with a slight rewording of the dialogs.

Edited by Starship Krupa
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4 hours ago, Starship Krupa said:

I agree, inasmuch as the "problem" is exacerbated by dialog(s) that multiple experienced users have chimed in to agree are confusing.

For that matter, it took me months, YouTube videos, and input from experienced forumites, to figure out that "Entire Mix" meant that the export comes from the hardware outputs. I couldn't figure out why I had such variable results with levels. I use multiple hardware outs (to drive headphones and different sets of speakers). I couldn't figure out why, when my signal was nice and hot at the Master bus (where I thought Entire Mix came from), it wasn't nice and hot in the exported file, and my headphone mix caused some mixes to sound "off." So the levels at the hardware outs needed to be good and hot, and all hardware outputs needed to be muted.

And all this was after I gained access to the Reference Guide and refer(red) to it religiously.

I wound up just creating a "mixdown" bus and taking my mixes from that instead of messing around with "entire mix."

Even with the new amazing Export dialog, "why does my exported mix sound different from playback?" still pops up in the Q&A forum.

Mixing a song down to a stereo track is one of the most basic functions a DAW can do, and it doesn't need to be confusing. I don't subscribe to the notion that a confusing UI is remedied by "just getting used to it." It can probably be solved or eased with a slight rewording of the dialogs.

I fairly agree!

And aside from the "Entire Mix" and "Selection" problems (that I am used to nowadays) the new Export Dialog made things worse IMHO, because it added a lot of new functionality. Just look at the size of this dialog on a 15" laptop, it fills the whole screen! In this new dialog it happens very often to me that I forget to select/choose something and I have to redo the export. The old one was clearly arranged and simple in comparison!

What makes things worse for me, is the fact that values are reset to the choosen preset when I reopen the dialog, although I had overwritten them before. In contrast re-opening the old dialog always had the values as you had set them in the previous call.

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it took me a few times to finally get the main variations in the export dialog understood. then i discovered "tasks". so being lazy, i set up a few tasks which default to "mix" based on my "print" buss (a buss defined to take the master output). and a "tracks" tasks which outputs the tracks - full length all - to an "audio export\tracks" folder (which i create on my recording projects). saved into my record and mix templates.

then, in a project, i "recall" the settings, tweak some of the selections and the time length, "update", and then run tasks. now i get my mix and my tracks exported together or one or the other. 

otoh - i think the UI is good for me as i'm often using complex export/import functionality for my drafting and rendering work, but if you're not used to a complex I/O UI + the idea that a) "entire mix" is somewhat ambiguous and maybe calling it/adding "hardware output"? b) the module and the dialog have some conflicting concepts (?) which need to be rationalised...

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9 hours ago, Glenn Stanton said:

....my "print" buss (a buss defined to take the master output)....

So I'm not the only one who sets up a dedicated bus for this. Mine's named Export and is pleased to know Print. 😀

I have yet another bus that comes after Export, called Output that basically serves as my speaker switcher, so I can just flip its output around to various outputs on my interface. I finally did get a dedicated hardware speaker switcher, but still switch around among 3 different outputs.

The Output bus is also where Mastering the Mix' LEVELS sits, and any other full mix metering or analysis as necessary.

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10 minutes ago, Starship Krupa said:

I have yet another bus that comes after Export, called Output that basically serves as my speaker switcher, so I can just flip its output around to various outputs on my interface. I finally did get a dedicated hardware speaker switcher, but still switch around among 3 different outputs.

I did something funky with groups that enabled me to switch between outputs using a single click rather than having to change the output drop-down.  A bit of a pain to get working (and I gave up with it in the end) but nifty if it works well for you.

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All I have to do is switch the output in the bus strip; it's not a burden. I refer the heavy lifting to the hardware switch.

But I used to have my 4 sets of monitors all with their own power amps. The cool thing about it was that it forced me to really get my hands dirty with Cakewalk's mixer. The mixer is absolutely my favorite feature.

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