Bitwig UI makes Live look old-fashioned

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Angstrom
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Bitwig UI makes Live look old-fashioned

Post by Angstrom » Fri May 10, 2019 5:02 pm

I don't own Bitwig, but looking at that new modular interface of theirs the design is really exceptional. The visual aspect of course is very apealing, modern, shiny, stylish, etc. But the interaction and signal flow seems very well thought out and delivers a complex interaction with a modular environment that doesn't require a massive manual.

Live most people here I spend at least 2 hours a day staring at Live and it not only looks old but the interactions are clunky. Take a look at some UI elements. Look at the chain selector : small, medium, large view. What the hell is this? Where is the scaling? Look at the Sampler, the key view. Shouldn't this share a visual metaphor with the chains? Nearly, not quite. Both are abominable and unweildy in unique different ways.

How about routing signals? Who loves drop down menus? Fancy routing your drums all through the same effect? Well press the marble to unhide the nested return and then set each drum to route through that effect chain. Really. It's brutally clunky but OK.
OK, now how about the Instrument rack, how does that route ? Same way? Nope.
There are so many abandoned UI projects in Live it's absurd.

I'm sure people will say "I love the way Live looks, never change it". But I can provide you with a nice long list of UI failings which have lain unrepaired for about a decade. Live is looking and acting OLD and OUTDATED

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stringtapper
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Re: Bitwig UI makes Live look old-fashioned

Post by stringtapper » Fri May 10, 2019 5:51 pm

I have to agree, that modular environment in BitWig looks pretty hot.
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pottering
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Re: Bitwig UI makes Live look old-fashioned

Post by pottering » Fri May 10, 2019 7:21 pm

That is a single device loaded in a single track, like Reaktor or Oscillot, not the DAW.

It just unfolds in the DAW itself, since it is a native device, much like Sampler in Live.

It doesn't do the routing you think it does.

May not even modulate parameters in other tracks like you can do easily with the "Map" button in most M4L devices.

pottering
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Re: Bitwig UI makes Live look old-fashioned

Post by pottering » Fri May 10, 2019 7:24 pm

Also, that's just a generic modular with fake cables, just like multiple other systems, like Max, Reaktor, Audulus, etc.

Fake cables are just a disguised drag-and-drop mouse operation.

pottering
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Re: Bitwig UI makes Live look old-fashioned

Post by pottering » Fri May 10, 2019 7:37 pm

Funny how the Bitwig evangelists are attacking all the older modular systems (mostly Reaktor and Max) in forums like KVR.

Angstrom
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Re: Bitwig UI makes Live look old-fashioned

Post by Angstrom » Fri May 10, 2019 7:38 pm

No. What I mean is ... as they talk about that device and demonstrate it. As they talk about their DAW and demonstrate it ... it shows both progression and forward thinking.
It shows an end to end mentality.
When watching all videos or using the software, there are gaps in implementation, but the progression and evident ideology is coherent. It reminds me of early Ableton Live, from the days of "you dont need a manual".

The reason I use their new Modular tool as an example is because it IS an example. An example of what ableton could be doing. It could tie up all its loose ends. It could make better more elegant and bolder choices. It should do.

I DO NOT OWN BITWIG AND THEREFORE CANNOT BE AN EVANGELIST.
BUT LIKEWISE I DONT OWN A MAC - I CAN STILL USE THEM AS AN EXAMPLE OF WHAT IS POSSIBLE.
If someone says "its not possible to have 4 wheels on a car, and somebody puts 4 wheels on a car ... Well fuck I am gonna point at that thing and say LIKE THIS!!!"



In their case the solution to "Map an LFO to any parameter" in both this Modular, and in their app as a whole ... is very fluid and intuitive. It feels coherent. It represents visually very well and is learnable in about 10 seconds and then that UI pattern is learned throughout the entire app (same UI for all modulation, everywere)

If we compare the similar story in Live we have an LFO Device which can now map to a listed multiple destinations through a rather clunky audio device metaphor. But the problem? Because it was a 3rd party device which iteratively improved vrom the first version I now have THREE official LFO devices in my Browser. All are simply called "LFO" by the author Ableton. I can drop any of them in, but only the one with the creation date of Nov 2018 is the most recent one, If I delete the other LFO device my old sets will die. Also noteworthy, they exist in a flat folder structure called Max -> Audio Devices. Epwher the user must search them out amongst approximately 300 other "audio devices" (note, not "modulation devices") theres no nice menu, or UI for modulation insertion or management.

So, on the one hand we have an intuitive any to any modulation UI metaphor which is repeated througout the app with minimal cognitive load and on the other we have a fractured and broken system which just about works.

Again, this is just a single EXAMPLE of Abletons UI becoming outdated, of various components being abandoned with a "thats good enough" mentality. Compare the two and its easy to see that one company is making coherent learnable simple elegant UI strategies.

pottering
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Re: Bitwig UI makes Live look old-fashioned

Post by pottering » Fri May 10, 2019 8:18 pm

I was not talking about you or your comment with my 3rd comment.

pottering
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Re: Bitwig UI makes Live look old-fashioned

Post by pottering » Fri May 10, 2019 8:46 pm

I have my M4L devices in organized in categorized sub-folders (like "delay" and "distortion" for Audio FX, "sequencer" and "generative" for MIDI FX, "FM" and "subtractive" for Instruments) within each main M4L folder in User Library (there are 3, 1 for each main type, MIDI Effect, Instrument and Audio Effect), then I added those 3 main sub-folders to Places for faster access.

Angstrom
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Re: Bitwig UI makes Live look old-fashioned

Post by Angstrom » Fri May 10, 2019 10:26 pm

Well, yes, I'm aware of all the workarounds for the abominable browser, but my point is that they are lagging a decade behind on interaction design. Not "the visual style" I mean - interaction design is very bad. it is not matching the competition in quality.

Lets set ourselves a beginner's UI design challenge.
Lets say we want to provide a way for a user to modulate a parameter on an EQ8 device with an LFO. Just as an example.

Our goal: lets imagine the very simplest way we might guide a user towards adding an LFO the pictured EQ curve. First off lets pitch every idea we might have. We could for instance right click and choose a menu item "LFO", that's one potential solution. Or we might perhaps decide to create a whole new screen called "modulations" and allow it to be populated with modulators. Or we might decide to put modulations in the clip view and add a toolbar. We might decide like Bitwig to allow any existing modulator on screen to modulate anything else with a simple click.
No suggestion is off the table in this phase. We test the suggested solutions and see which is the most elegant and future proof. We want the easiest to understand and most powerful.

Lets say that someone around the table suggests the following: The user wants to modulate the EQ frequency and they must now open the File Browser, they must know to go to the Max For Live section, in there they must know to open the sub section "max Audio Effect" (despite it being a modulator) and in that section they must scroll and look for an LFO. To make the search fun we make it so the column isn't in alphabetical order. Now, The user must drag in the Max Audio Device to the relevant chain, otherwise the device will lose focus. They must then hit the map button and that deletes any previous mapping or automation the specified control might have. If they want to multi-map several parameters they must know about the unlabeled menu item which hides the multi mapping, which is limited to 8 maps.

How might we rate this solution against the competing solutions.
I'm giving it 1 out of 10

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[jur]
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Re: Bitwig UI makes Live look old-fashioned

Post by [jur] » Fri May 10, 2019 11:06 pm

I've played a bit with Bitwig recently because I accidentally grabbed a 8-track version of the software.
The interaction is definitely awesome in its modular part, sure way "easier" than with M4L.
The MPE and midi implementations are rad.
I've played with this new The Grid a few days ago and it's a lot of fun, and yeah its UI is very slick and lovely...
But I found the whole DAW GUI horrible, nowhere as efficient and slick as The Grid... and Live. It's a really overloaded interface.
They've been very inventive with the modularity of their DAW, but they missed any improvement in the interface and it's miles behind the simplicity (I'd rather say efficiency) of Live imho.
And as cool as The Grid is, if you're a Max/M4L user you very soon see the shortcomings, or at the least the limitations ("what, I can't build a custom filter, or a reverb with this thing!"). It's definitely not meant to be a rival to Max or Reaktor, but I didn't realize it at first.

But yeah, Live has a few things to steal from Bitwig Studio...
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pottering
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Re: Bitwig UI makes Live look old-fashioned

Post by pottering » Sat May 11, 2019 12:31 am

@Angstrom

I agree with the basic "let's improve Live" suggestion (how not to?), but disagree Ableton is not doing anything about UI.

(I also disagree with all the adjectives you loaded your posts with).

Live 10 introduced GPU-enabled resizing, Grouping Groups, plus several UI changes (can't even remember all of it, it was a lot of stuff). The GUI is clearly different from 9.

Ableton bought Cycling74 and merged M4L into Live 10. Clear sign they are not just sitting and watching.

Max 8 itself got released and got several improvements, including shift+drag to connect, easy MIDI Assign and that crazy MC thing that goes way over my head, but looks amazing. Max 7 was slow in my computer, Max 8 is waaaaay faster. Much like Live 10 to Live 9, Max 8 is better in each and every way.

Dillon Bastan's MC Movement Studies Package alone is more innovative than anything in Bitwig.

Check this tweet from a Japanese artist, it is a single kick loaded in a patch from MC Movement Studies:

https://twitter.com/ksk_nhr/status/1115140730228330497

Both Live and Max are constantly improved, Live 10.1 brought even more UI improvements, Max 8 is already in the 8.05 version (one of those 8.xx updates clearly improved performance here with M4L devices).

The notion that the modulators (like LFO) themselves are not improved is not entirely true, the "multi mapping" you complain about is not present in the older modulator devices, and the new "CV Tools" are basically another improvement to Live's modulators.

About finding stuff like LFO in the Browser:

I type short keyword combinations like "amxd" (the Ableton Max Device file extension) + the M4L file name (can be shortened, like "amx lf"), it finds all my LFO devices fast just fine. Another example, "amx cv" finds all the new CV Tools devices easily. Or "vst ser" finds Serum VST pretty easily too. I have "Places" enabled, so I know if it is in Core Library, Pack X or in my projects folder.

In short, using the file extension in the search can save time.

Angstrom
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Re: Bitwig UI makes Live look old-fashioned

Post by Angstrom » Sat May 11, 2019 1:58 am

Well, yes we can certainly agre that Ableton are improving Live. And the addition of several features such as grouping groups and HiDef fonts on Windows were of course welcome. I'm not saying "each version is exactly the same as the last" though, I'm saying "many UI elements are left as loose ends" and "many UI projects seem abandoned"

Yes, it's possible to type a suffix and a search string into the browser search. But surely we can we agree that this is not the optimal solution.

Yes, we can type strings into the browser. But this is evidence that the browser is failing, not succeeding.
My presets are all titled things like this. author tag [ang], device tag [Op, wavetab, analog], | tonality tag [fat, dark] , class tag [piano, strings, pad], variant tag [], version letter [A,B,C].
So i can search for "Ang dark 808 fat B"
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That is not a sign of a great success! Oh wait .. we got some totally useless "collections". So now how does that help me filter a query such as "Presets I authored between May and July using Operator". ? It doesn't. But that crappy-browser horse has been beaten relentlessly with no results.

If I were to point at a very obvious example of a UI dead end I always use the rack navigator.
Drag in an instrument rack. In the very botton right corner of the GUI right click the small image and see teh 1/10th completed rack navigator. There is so much which could have been done here. Routing, grouping, management. But nope, it's the perfect poster child for abandoned dead end UI projects.

Well, I always feel like I'm the one saying the emperor has no clothes, and people always point at things which are totally unrelated, or in fact evidence of my point.

EXAMPLE: A max package?
tell me the elegant way I can read about this. Or install it?

Just really examine the steps and say "is this elegant" and "is this really integrated"

I cannot find out anything about what "Dillon Bastan's MC Movement Studies Package " is.
On this page nothing is clickable. https://cycling74.com/packages/page/1

Where is this information accessed?
In Live's package manager?
On Live's site?
nope.

No, of course the ONLY way to find out about this device is, so slick and elegant
Drag in a M4L device, Go into edit mode (Max 8, hangs my computer for 60 seconds"it looks like Max previously crashed dialog") . wait. Open package manager from unlabeled sidebar. Click the name "Dillon Bastan's MC Movement Studies Package " find out that it is "Exploring MC audio with JSUI with concepts form Shiffmans Nature of Code".

well.
That really is an elegant demonstration of an intuitive UI experience.

So I may as well stop. It gets me nowhere.
if people cannot see that there is huge improvement to be made in the UI of Live or that there are broken and abandoned elements and interaction models, then it's not possible for me to convince them.


My apologies if I seem terse and anoyed.
It really bugs me when i spend time pointing out flaws and people say "no that's fine" when there are obvious and very evident problems

pottering
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Re: Bitwig UI makes Live look old-fashioned

Post by pottering » Sat May 11, 2019 3:12 am

"Presets I authored between May and July using Operator"

Cltr+F > "operator adg" (plus "ang" in your case) > right-click "Name" in Content Pane, select Date Modified > Click Date Modified column to sort by date.

Again, I'm not against improvements in the UI.

Don't complain about people not engaging your pet UI theories when you treat everybody like idiots and dismiss what other people wrote in clear English.

[jur]
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Re: Bitwig UI makes Live look old-fashioned

Post by [jur] » Sat May 11, 2019 3:21 am

Angstrom is not treating anyone as an idiot here imho. We know how pissed of he is with Live browser!
Of course, there's still so much to improve in Live's UI, I think everyone agreed here.
Here's a videofrom ADC 2017 where someone from Ableton talks about "The Development of Ableton Live". It's quite interesting, and the UI topic is talked about a bit.
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[jur]
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Re: Bitwig UI makes Live look old-fashioned

Post by [jur] » Sat May 11, 2019 7:34 am

Pottering, I removed your "posted by mistake" post.
This thread could be quite interesting, why not just trying to keep on discussing like cool cats?
Angstrom, you've already been quite vocal about the Browser for the past (8? or more ?) years and I'd personally be more interested in your opinion about anything else that the Browser, UI and workflow wise in the context of this thread.
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