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Mark Oehlschlager

Request: Replace "Leading Override" with "Leading"

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I'm not sure what UX logic drove the decision to place the "leading" attribute in the Paragraph panel rather than the Character panel. Nor do I understand the logic or necessity of converting the "leading" attribute in the Character panel into a "leading override" attribute. However, this UI/UX design runs contrary to the way those who set type think about type setting.

I'm writing to request a rethinking here of the Character and Paragraph panels to more accurately reflect the way that designers think about type and type setting; that the "Leading" attribute be removed from the Paragraph panel and that it replace the pointless and confusing "Leading Override" attribute in the Character panel.

When designers go about specifying type in documents, the most basic and essential attributes of a type setting idea are typeface, weight, point size, and leading. In most design applications these attributes are presented together in a single character panel. It matches the way designers think about type settings: "Jim, set that passage in DIN Next Regular, 10 over 12". As that is a whole thought, it just makes sense that these basic attributes would be addressed together in the Character panel, leaving the Paragraph panel to shape the paragraph: indents, lines before and after, rules before and after, drop caps, etc. 

Why force the extra step of flipping to the Paragraph panel to set "Leading"? It's extra work, a point of friction and a cognitive break from the way the designers think about setting type.

Moreover, what is the point of the "Leading Override" attribute in the Character panel? It's a very idiosyncratic thing to introduce here in place of the more traditional "Leading" attribute, and serves no apparent purpose. Further, as it is separated from the "Leading" attribute in the Paragraph panel, there's no point of reference for the override value, and it's misleading to designers who are accustomed to specifying point size and leading together. 

Character styles are where designers would traditionally record a local interruption in the leading of a paragraph. Or, less formally, one would just select a word or phrase in a paragraph and apply a different leading value. The override would be expressed as a "+" symbol appended to the paragraph style name.

So, for the sake of the logic with which designer think about setting type, eliminating confusion, and eliminating needless mouse clicks to switch between panels to specify the essential idea of a typeface, weight, point size and leading, please consider replacing the "Leading Override" attribute in the Character panel with the "Leading" attribute, and removing the "Leading" attribute from the Paragraph panel.

Thank you for your consideration.

869526565_ScreenShot2020-07-22at11_48_52AM.png.fd745af52361afc19872ca9f77d899b3.png

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Leading is a paragraph style setting. If set explicitly, that it can be overridden in a character style also makes sense, for example, say setting a single line containing an in line image that needs a bit more leading. 

Having it also in the paragraph panel can aid in adjusting it for visual effect prior to updating the affected style.

I'm probably just not following your argument. 

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@MikeW

Approaching this from the perspective of a typesetter, and thinking of practice and efficiency, the designer conceives of a basic idea for setting a passage of text. He/she thinks, "This should be set as Avenir Medium, 12 over 14." It's a whole thought. It's foundational for everything else. And so logically, and from the perspective of efficiency, one expects a single panel for recording that thought. Every other design program recognizes this.

Affinity forces the designer to break the thought in two parts: 1) record the typeface, weight and point size; 2) avoid the trap of mistakingly recording leading values in the "Leading Override" field; 3) switching over to the Paragraph panel to recored the leading value. It's inefficient, adds an unnecessary step, and introduces an unnecessary "Leading Override" attribute. 

If one wants to override the standard leading for a paragraph, one simply selects a word or phrase and changes the leading value locally. That's it. Why confuse matters by introducing a "Leading Override" attribute where every designer in the world expects a "Leading" attribute?

I suspect that a software engineer with no actual experience in setting type came to the conclusion that leading should be considered a paragraph attribute and therefore divorced it from the Character palette, which is where typesetters expect it to be.

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51 minutes ago, Mark Oehlschlager said:

leaving the Paragraph panel to shape the paragraph: indents, lines before and after, rules before and after, drop caps, etc. 

Space between the lines is also a paragraph attribute, to my way of thinking. That's why it belongs in the Paragraph panel.

 

51 minutes ago, Mark Oehlschlager said:

Moreover, what is the point of the "Leading Override" attribute in the Character panel? It's a very idiosyncratic thing to introduce here in place of the more traditional "Leading" attribute, and serves no apparent purpose. Further, as it is separated from the "Leading" attribute in the Paragraph panel, there's no point of reference for the override value,

It starts out being set to the Paragraph Leading value, and you can tell it's the default leading value by virtue of it being shown as "(value)" rather than simply "value". Once you've overridden you can also set it back to the paragraph's value by using Auto as the leading override. Also, there is a point of reference (though it's a ways away) in the Context Toolbar, which shows the leading associated with the paragraph.


-- Walt

Windows 10 Home, version 2004 (19041.388),
   Desktop: 16GB memory, Intel Core i7-6700K @ 4.00GHz, GeForce GTX 970
   Laptop:  8GB memory, Intel Core i7-3625QM @ 2.30GHz, Intel HD Graphics 4000 or NVIDIA GeForce GT 630M
Affinity Photo 1.8.4.693 and 1.8.4.693 Beta   / Affinity Designer 1.8.4.693 and 1.8.4.693 Beta  / Affinity Publisher 1.8.4.693 and 1.8.4.687 Beta.

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2 minutes ago, Mark Oehlschlager said:

3) switching over to the Paragraph panel to recored the leading value.

Or, if you really want to set the leading for the whole paragraph, just set it up in the Context Toolbar.

3 minutes ago, Mark Oehlschlager said:

If one wants to override the standard leading for a paragraph, one simply selects a word or phrase and changes the leading value locally. That's it. Why confuse matters by introducing a "Leading Override" attribute where every designer in the world expects a "Leading" attribute?

Because the implementation in Affinity allows you to have a paragraph set at a leading of "x" pts, but have an individual line that is set at "y" pts because something special is required there. And that's why it's a "leading override" in the Character panel and a "leading" in the paragraph panel. Your suggestion doesn't allow that flexibility.


-- Walt

Windows 10 Home, version 2004 (19041.388),
   Desktop: 16GB memory, Intel Core i7-6700K @ 4.00GHz, GeForce GTX 970
   Laptop:  8GB memory, Intel Core i7-3625QM @ 2.30GHz, Intel HD Graphics 4000 or NVIDIA GeForce GT 630M
Affinity Photo 1.8.4.693 and 1.8.4.693 Beta   / Affinity Designer 1.8.4.693 and 1.8.4.693 Beta  / Affinity Publisher 1.8.4.693 and 1.8.4.687 Beta.

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Still not following. 

Leading overrides are just that, overrides. 

Whether such a thing belongs in the character panel could be debated in my mind, but still believe it is an appropriate location. 

ID, Q, VP, et al are as per APub.

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You are, of course, Mark, free to request whatever you want. But I hope our discussion can help you understand what Affinity has now, and why.

And I hope it does not change, as I like the way it is now.


-- Walt

Windows 10 Home, version 2004 (19041.388),
   Desktop: 16GB memory, Intel Core i7-6700K @ 4.00GHz, GeForce GTX 970
   Laptop:  8GB memory, Intel Core i7-3625QM @ 2.30GHz, Intel HD Graphics 4000 or NVIDIA GeForce GT 630M
Affinity Photo 1.8.4.693 and 1.8.4.693 Beta   / Affinity Designer 1.8.4.693 and 1.8.4.693 Beta  / Affinity Publisher 1.8.4.693 and 1.8.4.687 Beta.

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@walt.farrell

This logic make perfect sense in the abstract, which is probably why an engineer who does not set type set it up this way,  but does not respect the way that type setters think about and work with type.

It breaks the typesetter's conceptual model, introduces unnecessary confusion with a new "Leading Override" attribute field, and introduces the workflow friction point of extra clicks to record the basic idea: typeface, weight, point size and leading.

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31 minutes ago, Mark Oehlschlager said:

@MikeW

Not true. See below.

Leading is leading. Local overrides are achieved by selecting a word or passage and then changing the leading value there. One can record the exception as part of a Character Style.

760452269_ScreenShot2020-07-22at1_33_44PM.png.6c40f8ac61ded34f401b41ee8c4fcfe8.png

 

Really?

Capture_000671.png.e239fd595b0ddc5b6cc7fb4fd3816225.png

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@MikeW

What you are pointing out is InDesign's contextual toolbar, where the Paragraph and Character panel fields are collected and shown together as one. What I illustrated above are the actual separate Paragraph and Character panels.

Moreover, you will note that Adobe does not invent a separate "Leading Override" attribute field in place of the standard "Leading" attribute field. And, the "Leading" attribute field is grouped with "Typeface", "Weight", and "Point Size", precisely in the way that typesetters think about the basic attributes of a passage of text.

You'll notice the way Adobe's UI presents one, and only one, "Leading" attribute field. You've illustrated the simplicity of selecting a line or phrase within a paragraph, and using the "Leading" attribute from the Character panel to override the leading value for the paragraph. You will note the "+" appended to the paragraph style name, which signifies that you have locally overridden the leading value for the paragraph.

Adobe does it correctly. Affinity has been too clever by half, divided the "Leading" attribute from the "Point Size" attribute, and introduced an unnecessary "Leading Override" attribute.

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That Adobe chose not to add it to (or overlooked adding it to) the floating panel isn't material. That is in both the p.style and c.style edit dialogs is. That Serif chose to name the leading found in the character panel leading override is also not material. It's just a (appropriately named) label.

We have differing views on this subject. And as it is a feature request, I do apologize for the debate. I'll leave the thread now. 

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Stepping away from software for a bit and thinking instead of the printed result, leading is neither a character nor a paragraph attribute, but a line attribute. Each printed line in a column of text could have different leading, but you could not normally have multiple leadings in a single line. However, when we get back to the software, we see text is conceived as being in a character->paragraph hierarchy; there is no separate line paradigm to which we could attach such "line attributes," nor would it be very helpful if we could, given that the delineation (ha!) of a line is not fixed because of the concept of reflow. So we can apply different leading to each character in the line if we wanted to, but in the end, that particular line will have only one actual leading.

I point that out only to illustrate why it may be hard to settle on a definite way of thinking on this subject, because it doesn't fit the character->paragraph paradigm so neatly as other attributes. For my part, I tend to think of it primarily as a paragraph attribute with the option to "override" the paragraph default in specific (and even rare) cases.

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@garrettm30

It's a good point. Some of these attributes do not fall clearly into one class or another. Sorting these attributes out into separate "Character" and "Paragraph" buckets can seem arbitrary. For example, although kerning is quite specifically about adjusting the relationship between two characters, tracking is perhaps in a grey area, but mostly applied on a paragraph level rather than a word or phrase level.

Nevertheless, approaching the matter from the practical perspective of a designer / typesetter, one thinks of setting paragraphs as a basic unit of design. A complete foundational thought is "Avenir, Bold, 12pt over 14pt", and the software interface should make it easy and convenient to enter that basic information in one panel, not separated over two or more panels. Any tweaks at the character level (e.g., kerning, super- / sub-script) are overrides of the attributes conceived of for the paragraph.

This is my argument: I see no reason or benefit to replacing the "Leading" attribute field in the Character panel with a newly invented "Leading Override" attribute field, when the simple act of selecting a word or phrase within a paragraph and altering the leading value already accomplishes a local leading override. But more grating to the workflow of a designer working out ideas for text setting is the elimination of the "Leading" attribute field from the Character panel and moving it to a separate Paragraph panel. For every idea a designer has about a look for a paragraph style, he/she must constantly flip back and forth between two panels.

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19 minutes ago, Mark Oehlschlager said:

A complete foundational thought is "Avenir, Bold, 12pt over 14pt", and the software interface should make it easy and convenient to enter that basic information in one panel, not separated over two or more panels.

That is in one panel: The Context Toolbar.


-- Walt

Windows 10 Home, version 2004 (19041.388),
   Desktop: 16GB memory, Intel Core i7-6700K @ 4.00GHz, GeForce GTX 970
   Laptop:  8GB memory, Intel Core i7-3625QM @ 2.30GHz, Intel HD Graphics 4000 or NVIDIA GeForce GT 630M
Affinity Photo 1.8.4.693 and 1.8.4.693 Beta   / Affinity Designer 1.8.4.693 and 1.8.4.693 Beta  / Affinity Publisher 1.8.4.693 and 1.8.4.687 Beta.

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On 7/23/2020 at 10:08 PM, Mark Oehlschlager said:

I see no reason or benefit to replacing the "Leading" attribute field in the Character panel with a newly invented "Leading Override" attribute field, when the simple act of selecting a word or phrase within a paragraph and altering the leading value already accomplishes a local leading override.

But this does not happen. When you select a word in a paragraph and adjust leading it applies to whole paragraph. Leading override applies only to that one line that word resides in.

Personally I do not think this topic makes a big difference, I can use the UI either way. While I usually set leading in style parameters, occasionally I do adjust it by paragraph (or set of consecutive paragraphs) for copyfitting reasons or when designing flyers and posters.

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@Fixx

Coming from Adobe and other creative apps, one does not find a "Leading Override" attribute field. It's unnecessary because, as I described, one simply has to select a word or phrase and change the leading value locally using the "Leading" attribute field.

Affinity has departed from convention here by moving "Leading" to the Paragraph panel and introducing a new "Leading Override" attribute field to the Character panel where the "Leading" attribute field normally resides. There is no compelling reason for this special function field, and no compelling reason for breaking the UI up in a way that interferes with a typesetter's fundamental design concept of face, weight, point size, and leading.

What is this weird duck, the "Leading Override" attribute field? Why does it even exist? Apart from some expressionist, avant garde setting of poetry, what is the use case? Why did Serif move the "Leading" attribute field? None of it makes any sense to the designer / typesetter. 

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I also use ID as my main tool. It is true that leading works a bit different there: if you select a word adjusting leading affects only one line, if you just place cursor to a text and adjust leading nothing happens. It is economic, but possibly not as clearcut as Affinity devs want. But then I do not usually need locally override leading values – either way works for me.

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On 7/26/2020 at 9:46 PM, Mark Oehlschlager said:

Coming from Adobe and other creative apps, one does not find a "Leading Override" attribute field. It's unnecessary because, as I described, one simply has to select a word or phrase and change the leading value locally using the "Leading" attribute field.

Here is the catch: the "leading override" value in the Affinity apps takes priority over the paragraph leading. This allows one to change the overall paragraph leading freely, while keeping the local leading set to a fixed "override" value. This is something you cannot do in InDesign.

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@tudor

In InDesign, or any other document layout application, set a paragraph style to express Avenir Medium 12/14. Select a word/phrase in the paragraph and change the local leading to 12/30 using the "Leading" attribute field. That would be a local leading override. Go on to redefine the paragraph style to Avenir Medium 12/18, and the previously applied leading override remains 12/30. 

Having said all of that, what's the point of the introduction of this unnecessary "Leading Override" attribute field that displaces the "Leading" attribute field to a separate panel? What is the use case scenario that justifies breaking a standard UI for capturing basic text setting attributes? Why force designers and typesetters to click through to additional panels to record the basic typesetting idea of "face; weight; point-size; and leading"?

And if Serif insist that it's necessary and useful to introduce a new "Leading Override" attribute field, then at least don't displace the "Leading" attribute to a separate panel, and please make the distinction between their "Leading" and "Leading Override" fields clear with very different panel symbols.

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11 hours ago, Mark Oehlschlager said:

In InDesign, or any other document layout application, set a paragraph style to express Avenir Medium 12/14. Select a word/phrase in the paragraph and change the local leading to 12/30 using the "Leading" attribute field. That would be a local leading override. Go on to redefine the paragraph style to Avenir Medium 12/18, and the previously applied leading override remains 12/30. 

That's not exactly the same behavior like the "leading override" in Affinity and I've explained above why. You may not need that separate leading override option, but it may be useful for others, so I wouldn't call it unnecessary. Affinity just provided an additional option which InDesign hasn't. That's a good thing.

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