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AK21

Node Selection Improvements (Ring Selection)

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Hello Affinity Team,

I think the node selection tool could need some improvements for selecting multiple nodes and nodes along a path.
See at my attached video for a use case. I've expanded a stroke and now want to delete the inner shape to make it solid. As of Designer v1.7.3 I have to either select all nodes by hand or use the lasso selection tool (drag + ⌥). With complex shapes this can be quite tricky! And it would be much faster to select all nodes along a path with e.g. ⌘-clicking on a node.

This also includes the problem that it overlaps with the scrolling when keep holding the option-key. I was just accidentally finding out that you can release the option-key to work around this.

Inspiration:

Adobe Illustrator does a great job here. When selecting one node and deleting it all of the missing nodes connected to that shape will be selected after this.

Alternatively Illustrator also allows to select whole objects in one group of shapes. See here (at 5:14):

 

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My suspicion is that internally, Illustrator treats that shape as a Compund (two objects that look like one), so when you clic on the inner outline, it shows you all of the Nodes of that single shape (as it does with any shape/path), and the Alt + Click works the same way Ctrl + A on Designer: it selects all of the Nodes of the Selected Shape (unlike in Illustrator, because there Ctrl + A selects all of the Nodes of all of the Shapes).

Anyway, it's a good suggestion, but maybe internally the A Team might need more work than meets the eye.

Best regards!


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Selection in general still needs a lot of work. It seems that the Node Transform tool itself was added in reaction to shortcomings of the Node Tool. This application now has three primary selection tools, whereas most programs like it have the Adobe-esque two, which FreeHand's functionality always surpassed with but one. Too much "hard switching" between tools (as opposed to using momentary modifiers).

I do appreciate the Node Transform Tool's novel ability to uniformly scale as it rotates (which can be overridden by a momentary modifier keypress) in order to snap to existing artwork. But I don't know why the functionality of the Node Transform tool couldn't or shouldn't be integrated with the Node Tool. As AK21 mentioned, the Node Transform Tool cannot perform its transforms on a sub-selection of nodes.

Much of it seems to be in strained effort to doggedly cling to what I consider the kind of over-the-top obtrusive insistence on bounding box handles for transformations. I know this is part and parcel of Affinity Designer's ability to remember each path's original orientation, which is a valuable capability that many programs (including Illustrator) do not have. But this has long been better implemented in Deneba Canvas (one of the still-surviving venerable Big Four competitors from the 80s). Many Affinity users have complained about the inability to permanently reset the bounding box to the current orientation (which can be done in Illustrator). This is a real stumbling block when working in Affinity. But in Canvas, you can switch between a selection's "transformed" and "untransformed" values at will, with the corresponding bounding box appearing.

A small step in the right direction which would yield disproportionally large improvement would be simply for all nodes of the selected path to not automatically become unselected when merely switching from the Selection Tool to the Node tool.

Another behavior that should be standard fare is that deleting an open path's endnode should result in the adjacent node's being selected. It's a very useful thing to be able to "back up" a path from the last-placed node just by tapping Delete.

Also related to all this is the problem with drawing "lines" (single-segment straight paths) with the Pen's Line Mode. It's hard to think of anything more basic to drawing (even before drawing with software) than drawing a measured line. But with Affinity's Pen set to Line Mode, only dragging out a horizontal or vertical "line" will result in its "dimensions" corresponding to its length, because of that infernal insistence upon referencing everything to the obtrusive bounding boxes. Using the Pen in Line Mode, drag out a diagonal line, and all you'll get is its bounding box dimensions. One can put the bounding box dimensions to use, for example for calculations based on sine and cosine. But it is far more commonly useful to intuitively draw the path at its desired angle in the first place, and immediately know its actual length. And angle.

So I hope none of this is taken as derailing a specific request. I'm just saying that all these things are closely related to devising a truly elegant path selection and manipulation interface, and I suspect the devs still consider it a work-in-progress. For example, I seem to recall a mention somewhere of enabling the Node Transform tool to manipulate sub-selections something still to be worked on.

JET

 

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2 hours ago, Mithferion said:

Ctrl + A on Designer: it selects all of the Nodes of the Selected Shape (unlike in Illustrator, because there Ctrl + A selects all of the Nodes of all of the Shapes)

Awesome, thanks for mentioning that @Mithferion!
I didn't know that it works like this! I thought you can only select all nodes of all shapes ⌘+A (or ctrl+A).

Clarification of others:
Select a node of the shape you want to select and press ⌘+A (or ctrl+A on Windows) to select all nodes only of this shape.

 

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What a in depth feedback @JET_Affinity. Though it doesn't directly correspond to my points I hope Affinity is reading and listening. :10_wink:

14 minutes ago, JET_Affinity said:

Another behavior that should be standard fare is that deleting an open path's endnode should result in the adjacent node's being selected. It's a very useful thing to be able to "back up" a path from the last-placed node just by tapping Delete.

Good idea, better than selecting all connected nodes on a path after deleting the first one (my suggestion).

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31 minutes ago, JET_Affinity said:

Another behavior that should be standard fare is that deleting an open path's endnode should result in the adjacent node's being selected. It's a very useful thing to be able to "back up" a path from the last-placed node just by tapping Delete.

Agreed. On a related note, I’ve always liked the ability in Serif DrawPlus to Tab/Shift-Tab from the currently selected node to the next/previous node.


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My use of Illustrator over the years has been primarily for technical drawings - block diagrams, schematics and similar drawings wherein objects are connected by simple rectilinear lines. There's specific software for such purposes, designed to understand and maintain connections between objects as they're moved about, but it's typically highly specialized and expensive.

A method I use so frequently that I take it for granted is to marquee-select a group of nodes in order to rearrange relative locations of objects while maintaining the "connections" symbolized by the lines between them. So e.g. imagine a box with several objects overlaid on the right border. Say I want to expand the box. I marquee node select (direct selection tool in Illustrator) including the nodes of the upper and lower corners of the box as well as all the objects on the border, then drag (or cursor-key nudge) to the right. Because I'm selecting nodes, not objects, the vertical line segment of the box comes along with the objects, and the horizontal segments of the box lengthen automagically since I'm moving the corner nodes. Select, drag, done.

Or perhaps the objects are connected by multiple line segments instead of sitting over top of one line. If I want to move one or more objects closer together or further apart, again I can marquee-select all the nodes of the objects as well as the line nodes I want to move, so that all the connections are maintained without a lot of futzing around selecting and dragging individual line segment end nodes after the fact.

Am I missing a way to do this in Designer? It seems my only marquee selection option is to use the move tool, so in the above scenario, the box wouldn't be selected since the marquee did not include the whole box object, so I would only succeed in moving the other objects off the border of the box. Then I would have to resize the box as a separate operation.

I could be inventing a memory given the passage of time, but I think Corel Draw(!) actually had this ability before Illustrator even did.

Yes, I am that old.

TIA

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4 hours ago, SolarDude said:

Because I'm selecting nodes, not objects, the vertical line segment of the box comes along with the objects, and the horizontal segments of the box lengthen automagically since I'm moving the corner nodes. Select, drag, done.

Not sure if this is what you want. Use the Node tool and shift click to select the object and the line then use the Node tool and hold down the shift key to select just the nodes you want to move. I then used the arrow key to move the selected nodes down.


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Really appreciate the effort. This is definitely in the right vein. Trying this on a simple object and some associated text, I was able to select objects with node tool+shift, and to select specifically the end points of the lines I wanted to be included in the move, but I was unable use the same individual node selection method on any part of my little graphic and text object. The object(s) would show as selected but I was unable to interact with single nodes. If I tried to select the node it would simply deselect the entire object.

Sooo no matter what I do, only the line end points move when I try to drag. BTW I tried some variations of this method to select the nodes I wished to move. E.g. attempting to combine move tool object selection with node tool selection, which, so far as I've been able to tell, is not possible.

Even if I could get this method to work, I'm sure you can appreciate the relative ease of using marquee selection to select a group of nodes, irrespective of which objects they belong too, and to be able to move them as a unit.

If this really is not possible, I will have to hang on to my creaky old Illustrator license for a while yet. I accept that this specific feature may not be attractive to a wide user base, but for me its use is second nature.

FWIW I'm very much a novice user of Designer so maybe I just need to develop a different approach. I want to move on from my Adobe days, and I gotta say, I'm very grateful for software of this class being offered at such a mortal-affordable price.

 

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