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chrisA

Transparency and Gradient Tool

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It is supposed to work in two steps:

- Click on an object

- drag the handles

 

But - after clicking there is no handle. The handle appears only after you start dragging. 

 

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If you already have the object selected then just drag and you will get the linear transparency applied. If you want to select another object then yes, you click the object and then drag out the transparency. This is by design. Is it causing you a problem?

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Obviously I didn't make clear what I mean. After you click the object there should be something visible to drag from. But there isn't. There is no visible feedback until you drag. If you immediately start dragging you might not notice. But when you first click and then think a little bit about what's next, you are lost. Handle - what handle?

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When you click an object with a gradient or transparency applied the handle is immediately visible on the object when you select it with one of the corresponding tools. The case you are describing only happens when you select an object without any of those properties applied (gradient or a transparency), that is, with a solid color for example. In this case the handle doesn't appear because it doesn't make sense (it's a solid color not a gradient - there's no color or transparency variations to show/represent through a handle).

 

The first time you use the program you may not know that you can drag directly on the canvas, over the object to establish those properties (because not all software allow this), but after you learn it the first time, it becomes second nature.

 

There's no need to display controls for properties that aren't being used. It just adds visual noise.

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I'm not new to software development. In fact I was in the business for over 20 years. But your ideas of usability seem quiet weird to me.

 

I have an object with no transparency. I want to have some. So I use the transparency tool. I click on an object. So the expectation is, that now there is some transparency. For some odd reasons after clicking this transparency is zero. This is a usability problem found in many open source projects. There should be a reasonable start value. The user doesn't know if she really successfully activated the tool for any object. The status bar still says "click object to select it." You should be in a state where the object is already selected and this doesn't make any send.

 

It says "Drag handles to change selection's fill."  But there are no fucking handles right now. 

 

If you want to deter beginners that's the right design decision. Otherwise you should think again. It may be helpful to look at the discussions within the Blender community concerning UI last year. Blender is a great tool, but a lot of thinks are unnecessary difficult, because the developer doesn't care about first time user of a tool.

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So you think merely selecting a different tool should change how the current object draws, in this case by making it transparent? And selecting a different object should also make it transparent? What if you merely wanted to check whether it was already transparent? Or if you were trying to deselect the current object, and accidentally clicked on another object instead of the page?

 

Generally in Affinity, selecting a different tool is like picking up a different pen in real life: the pen doesn't magically change the drawing, it affects what you will draw next. The drawing only gets changed when the user tells it to. Similarly, selecting objects merely picks which object you are going to work on next. It is a safe action that doesn't change anything. These are important metaphors, and consistency matters even for new users, because it makes it easier for them to predict what the tools will do.

 

Would it be less confusing if we dropped the word "handles" from the hint line? I don't think it's needed, as dragging anywhere will change the gradient (by starting a new one), and once the handles are visible it will be pretty obvious that they are for editing the current gradient.

 

Aside from that, this may be an area where the best behaviour for experienced users is different to the best behaviour for newcomers.

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We use click in most of our tools for selection. This is fundamental to usability, consistency and productivity. So when you click with the transparency tool it can't do anything different otherwise it would lower productivity. Currently I can click on an object to drag out a linear transparency and then click another object and then also 

drag out it's transparency gradient. 

 

That's not to say we couldn't give more on screen indication of what the user should do.

 

If we lower productivity for the benefit of beginners then that's a bad thing in the long run and it exclude professionals.

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When I'm using the transparency tool and I'm selecting some objects I do this with the clear intent of having transparency on this object afterwards. So I really don't see, why it would lower productivity if there is transparency added. This transparency may be even 0. 

 

I don't want you to change the workflow. But I don't agree with your point that initially handles would make no sense. One basic principle of UI design is that there needs always be a visual feedback to any of the user's action. Right now I have no idea, if I hit the right objects before I start dragging.

 

The other thing is that currently Affinity is a brand-new product so that nearly everybody is a beginner coming from other programs. Also I think that the majority of users will not make a living of using Affinity everyday. A lot of users need a powerful program every now and than. So it's harder to get used to all the rough edges in usability.

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When I'm using the transparency tool and I'm selecting some objects I do this with the clear intent of having transparency on this object afterwards.

...

 

I don't want you to change the workflow. But I don't agree with your point that initially handles would make no sense. One basic principle of UI design is that there needs always be a visual feedback to any of the user's action. Right now I have no idea, if I hit the right objects before I start dragging.

 

 

You have answered your own question. If you selected some objects and changed to the transparency tool with the clear intent to add transparency to those object afterwards, you don't need a handle to know you have selected the Transparency tool.

 

You always know if you have hit the right objects, because you have to select them first - which adds the bounding box and controls around them - and then when you change to the Transparency tool, Affinity Designer still keeps an outline around them. 

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Another important reason why the Gradient tool works as it does -

Our gradients have positioning relative to their object.  When you drag out a new gradient fill, you are specifying the origin (and size) or your gradient.  Before you do this, there is no defined position - so where would we show this abstract handle?  A solid fill has no logical origin - it is infinite.  A gradient fill, with end points defined, can have it's origin outside of its object.  It has a definable position.

 

Also, I would find it very irritating if the simple act of changing my selection applied a default gradient to my object.  That would result in the document becoming modified, even if I had made no obvious change myself. Not great if all I wanted to do was copy a gradient from a selected object and I accidentally selected the wrong object.

 

I am pretty sure most of our users understand (and probably expect) the way this tool works.


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