A new modern look-and-feel for Ardour

Waves Tracks Live is based on Ardour? Nice. It really looks clean and modern.

I own several DAWs, too much. But I know, which DAWs I like to use and which I don’t. The GUI is a big part (but the biggest). All have their pros and cons. Ardours big pro are the features, big con is the GUI, especially the mixer. No clear lines and big lack of quick overview of whats happening.

I’d love to see an improved GUI! If you have the chance to get help from designers - ffs use it. There is nothing to lose.

Hmm… as far as I’m concerned, the GUI stuff is not too important. I remember that it took a bit time for me to get accustomed to Ardour’s surface (after having worked with Samplitude for years) but then I was comfortable - so comfortable that today when I switch to Samplitude I mistakenly use Ardour shortkeys often ;-).

For me it’s more important that a DAW is a reliable machine. Since Ardour 4 has come out I’m really content.

Would be nice to see Ardour moving to GTK3 at least.

corebots: not happening. we’re moving away step by step from any desktop toolkit toward doing things the way we need them. GTK3 doesn’t offer us anything useful and will cause a world of pain because of plugin GUIs in GTK2.

fwiw - I like the utilitarian feel… it’s practical and works well… maybe there are improvements, but I don’t see much need for a major overhaul…

I love the interface, especially the way it has been moving. It stays out of the way while being pleasant to look at.

As long as there are never any knob-style controls. I’m happy.

heh, there are knob style controls (gain and attenuation in the monitor-section and the “Trim” since Ardour 4.2), but IMHO they fit for the specific cases at hand.

Hello guys, I would like to contribute my grain of sand with an opinion as a regular user.

I love working with Ardour, also using FOSS is a thing that I encourage the most, making donations when I’m able to (as I’m doing currently with this project). However, I must say that I’m not that pleased with its GUI. In fact, every musician that I’ve worked with made a not-so-nice comment on the interface of the application. Each and every time I received that type of comment I just had to agree and “defend” the program with its other excellent aspects. This, of course, does not mean that Ardour is no good for regular musicians, but the GUI may be putting off a good amount of potential users.

People love to interact with a nice interface (specially when making art); of course that this is a subjective issue, but I’m starting to think that the looks of Ardour are not pleasing a high amount of users (perhaps this could be solved with a poll?). I understand that there are a lot of more important items in the project’s “to do” list, but maybe the interface is being underestimated.

I strongly feel that a different GUI could boost the user base. I hope that this can be considered in the near future.

Thanks for all the hard work! Cheers :slight_smile:

PS: I’m not a native speaker, sorry for my English. My post is not intended to be aggressive, I want to clarify that if it comes out like that is due to my language skill level.

1 Like

I ignore comments about subjective opinions on Ardour’s appearance. And when I say “ignore”, I mean “ignore completely”. On the one hand, for every person who says “I don’t like it”, there is someone else who says “I love it”. And on the other hand, there’s the fact that subjective opinions (mine, yours or anyone else’s) are completely useless for making good software. That requires proper workflow analysis, careful documentation of user behaviour and more. If someone does that sort of thing for Ardour, I for one will be extremely interested and willing to pay attention. Same for specific, actionable suggestions. But comments of the form “I think it could be better” or even “Lots of people think it could be better” are a complete dead end.

Sorry if this seems harsh, but I need to make this as clear as I can.

1 Like

As Linux applications go, I’ve always thought Ardour was ahead of others in terms of visual design. As Ardour sees increased usage on other platforms, I suppose expectations are raised as users compare its GUI to that of other DAWs. Personally, I think Ardour looks great, so I’m a bit surprised when I hear others complain. However, I also do not use any other DAW besides Mixbus, so I’m not accustomed to other designs or workflows. Different strokes for different folks, I guess. If you polled me, I would not vote in favor of major revisions to the current look of Ardour. I think time and effort is better spent improving upon other features.

Thanks for replying Paul, I really appreciate it, considering your likely tight schedule.

Your point is understandable and not harsh at all, I know that you spend your energy in several other aspects of this software too.

I completely agree on the subjectivity of these things, but if (at least hypothetically) a high percentage of users -or potential ones- think that it’s not looking good, wouldn’t be worthy to make a change? If that scenario happened, I would assume that changing (democratically of course) the interface would be the thing to do, as a majority would want such change.

Cheers.

PS: I hope my comment is not received as a disregard of the hard work that is being made; it’s just that I think that if an interface can get more users this should be a matter to take into account, utilitarianly speaking.

I can think of two reasons why users might not like the interface when it’s not the fault of the software at all.
One is when the user has never used any application of that type before and doesn’t understand the thing it’s modelling - for example if you’ve never used a real mixing desk and learned about what it does and how it works, you’re going to have a struggle with any DAW, just learning basic concepts.
The other problem is when the user is already very familiar with a different application. That’s the argument something like “Ardour sucks because it doesn’t work like ProTools” when the real issue is simply that the user has to learn some new habits, and maybe discover that Ardour is better at doing some things. I’ve even seen comparisons with Audacity, which usually show lack of understanding of how Ardour works or what it’s intended to be used for.
Finally - I think the UI of Ardour has improved lots over the years. It is getting better!

Hello anahata, I think that you are making some valid points.

I can think of two reasons why users might not like the interface when it's not the fault of the software at all. One is when the user has never used any application of that type before and doesn't understand the thing it's modelling

Of course, there are lots of inexperienced users and the problem in those cases is not so dependent on the design but rather on the skills that are brought into play, they would not be worthy of consideration (regarding a UI change). On the other hand, attention should be paid to the community part that does have knowledge on the subject.

The other problem is when the user is already very familiar with a different application. That's the argument something like "Ardour sucks because it doesn't work like ProTools" when the real issue is simply that the user has to learn some new habits, and maybe discover that Ardour is better at doing some things. I've even seen comparisons with Audacity, which usually show lack of understanding of how Ardour works or what it's intended to be used for.

This is an issue that lots of musicians have faced, however I feel that it’s not the only factor to consider (an interface can be not pleasing to a person no matter the experience). Also, it is perfectly feasible that a proprietary software is seductive to more people that a free one (vice-versa too certainly), and if that’s the case we can use that information to our advantage.

The main issue, in my opinion, is that if an interface can be appealing for more people, it should be taken into account (either for the current users or potential ones). Democratically speaking, if a majority wants a change (and I’m not saying that this is the case, that’s why an examination can solve the argument) it should be likely to happen.

Why is this different from other subjects (like technical decisions)? Because this is a matter that concerns directly the users.

Finally - I think the UI of Ardour has improved lots over the years. It is getting better!

Indeed, the UI has gotten really better! In fact, this is an example that a visual change can make Ardour more appealing for more people.

Cheers.

Just to be clear: I’m really pleased with Ardour and I plan to keep contributing monetarily, I’m also learning C++ (having a C background) so in the future I can help fixing bugs in projects like this one.

It’s not my intention to start a flame war, just to call attention to something that I consider that could improve significantly the user base.

For now, I will try to customize it with the colors options, in my case it may be a matter of tweaking it a bit.

Cheers.

but if (at least hypothetically) a high percentage of users -or potential ones- think that it's not looking good, wouldn't be worthy to make a change? If that scenario happened, I would assume that changing (democratically of course) the interface would be the thing to do, as a majority would want such change.
But how would it change? Even if there is concrete data that 1 million people think the interface should change, that is useless to the developer. Changing it just because people say it should will just be guessing and very unlikely to please even a measureable number of the unhappy users. If 1 million users want the play button to be be 50% larger, or 85% of the user base wants the record button to only be activated with a left click or the timeline to go right to left (I'm just making things up to illustrate the point), these are useable data with an actionable outcome. "Not looking good," "Outdated," or "Needs a change" is entirely useless to a developer.

I’m sure if you can generate valid data that indicates specific, actionable changes are wanted, I’m sure the developers will be happy to apply those improvements. But the developers can’t (and shouldn’t at this point IMO) spend time on gathering this data, or worse, guessing what these changes should be every time someone makes a nebulous comment. They have a specific workflow that this software focuses on; the developers make their design decisions based on that, and so far many many users are pleased with the results.

If you feel inclined to try to conduct some useful research in how to improve it, I can’t imagine anyone discouraging you. But keep in mind you’ll have to prove some statistical significance of your data. Take careful note of your sample sizes and any selection biases due to intended workflow, previous experience, whether they’ve actually done work in ardour, etc.

Hello ssj71, thanks for your input.

It’s true that comments on the appearance of Ardour are generally vague and useless by themselves. However, if there is concrete data that 1 million people think the interface should change, it could be a good idea to at least offer two or three options regarding, for instance, buttons looks; or make a poll to see what things could be modified (even if it is at least a few thinks).

Would it really be a good idea to conduct such a research? If there’s no intention to change UI at all, this may be simply a waste of time.

Now I understand, by reading some of Paul’s comments, that changing the interface maybe more complicated than most of complaining users know. I’m aware that there is probably a very tight schedule, but I still think that it can be a very effective improvement to have at least one or two more themes/skins.

I would not like to extend this thread too long, I just wanted to express my point of view regarding this particular matter (which I consider relevant); so I apologize if it came out disrespectful at any point as it was not my intention at all.

Cheers.

Would it really be a good idea to conduct such a research? If there's no intention to change UI at all, this may be simply a waste of time.
After some discussion with some of the developers, I think really, there is an issue that design by commitee doesn't really work. A poll is the wrong way to go about it. If instead you did some case studies of people using the program for a certain workflow, then we could get some useful data, such as "this should be a dialogue," "these two buttons are too far apart." Useability tweaks. But as for colors, styles, shades, shapes, most of this is just software fashion. These styles will change in a couple years anyway, so isn't worth spending developer resources on. The developers are very interested in data regarding useability changes, rather than purely visual changes, regardless of how many people think so, because in a few years the trends will change, but the useability is constant.

However, if you or someone writes some code that makes ardour “in style,” it would get merged (provided it doesn’t hurt useability and follows code style). But for now there are no plans to make any appearance-only changes to the UI (though there is a user-contributed light-theme coming along). The look is the least of their concern when they currently have a design that works. Function, then form. I’m completely behind them on that. Cause I want to get work done, not just look at it :slight_smile:

I’d just like to chime in that this over-edgy style of responding to user concerns is what made me cancel my subscription and go to Qtractor.

1 Like

I have been following Ardour for years and have finally become capable to contribute in making a financial subscription but reading Paul Davis replies totally changed my mind. What a disappointment if this person represents Ardour’s philosophy and has any serious discretion in the development of this product. The lack of tact, despotic attitude and complete disregard for any other vision other than “his” is astonishing. His entire “objective-subjective” views are completely out of line with a product made for ARTISTS! Dude, sure we apreciate reliable engineering but art/music is about aesthetics: i.e. grammar doesn’t write poetry, and perfect technique and accuracy in a performance won’t save a composition made without emotion, talent or passion (all subjective). Can’t wait for Reaper to support native Linux plugins. You can completely skin Reaper. Ardour should consider the input and contributions of graphic artists. To an extent, it feels, YES feels like an eye sore in many respects but no one should be offended by that. It would be idiotic to feel offended by such a subjective word: Eye sore, unartistic, rude, cinical, close minded, unimaginative, despotic, short sighted etc.

1 Like

Thank you for reading what I wrote so carefully, and sharing your careful understanding of the nuances and details. It is much appreciated.

1 Like