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JGD

Make Refine Selection modifier-activated toggles visible to the user

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So this request is a follow-up to the one I made on this thread: 

Apparently, according to fellow forum user @toltec, this feature was already implemented, which is absolutely great. What is not so great, however, is its discoverability (or, in this case, its blatant [edit: partial] lack thereof). [edit: user @R C-R made me realise that the Status Bar already has a “cheat-sheet”/tooltip with said shortcuts, but I still feel that is not enough and that my suggestions are very sound, so please bear with me…]

 

Please, for the sake of other users who may not frequent the forum or wish to spend hours perusing user manuals and tutorials (because this feature is, after all, something that pro users expect and may try for themselves [edit: even without, as was my case, paying any attention to the tips provided :P ], as it is a staple in brush tools not just in AP but also in other competing packages), make it [extra] visible and [even] more obvious. Basically, when pressing each modifier, please do make the appropriate tab (Matte | Foreground | Background | Feather) become temporarily highlighted/selected.

 

This feature would, then, become easily discoverable to more seasoned users like myself, because as it stands, the UX feels “broken”. I mean, it will still feel that way to me even if I already know the feature is there, because visual feedback is just nice to have, as it shows that the app is working as it's supposed to. As it currently stands, you always display the same tab selection and, when pressing modifiers, you get a different, incongruous and non-explicit – even if completely desired – behaviour, which is indeed confusing, muscle-memory notwithstanding. It really is important for us to always have a “sense of place” when it comes to our tools.

 

If I may offer another completely on-topic suggestion, I wonder if you could add some further visual feedback to the brush cursors themselves (and that would obviously be extensible to the Selection Brush tool), such as plus/minus signs floating outside of their outline (quite unlike their current behaviour in Ps – which centres them inside of said outline –, so as not to conflict with the cursor crosshair for those users who may have it configured to be visible)? I know that small as this suggestion may seem, it would add some visual clutter (I guess it could always be off by default and be selectable on the preferences dialog, just like the crosshair), but it I believe it would further enhance ease-of-use and differentiate AP from the competition.

 

Thank you for your attention and keep up the good work!

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On 8/19/2017 at 6:44 PM, JGD said:

Basically, when pressing each modifier, please do make the appropriate tab (Matte | Foreground | Background | Feather) become temporarily highlighted/selected.

They are called modifier keys because they do nothing on their own -- they only modify other actions like regular (text) key presses or button clicks. So at best, the Refine buttons could only become highlighted when a user clicks somewhere on the canvas with one of the keys pressed to use the refine brush in that button's refinement mode.

 

Any other behavior would conflict with other uses of the modifier keys, including those reserved for activating OS level functions.


Affinity Photo 1.7.3, Affinity Designer 1.7.3, Affinity Publisher 1.7.3; macOS High Sierra 10.13.6 iMac (27-inch, Late 2012); 2.9GHz i5 CPU; NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660M; 8GB RAM
Affinity Photo 1.7.3.155 & Affinity Designer 1.7.3.1 for iPad; 6th Generation iPad 32 GB; Apple Pencil; iPadOS 13.1.2

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On 21/08/2017 at 7:47 AM, R C-R said:

They are called modifier keys because they do nothing on their own -- they only modify other actions like regular (text) key presses or button clicks. So at best, the Refine buttons could only become highlighted when a user clicks somewhere on the canvas with one of the keys pressed to use the refine brush in that button's refinement mode.

 

Any other behavior would conflict with other uses of the modifier keys, including those reserved for activating OS level functions.

 

Well, we'll have to agree on disagreeing. That would only make sense if the modifiers affected the action after the click, such as, say, the Alt-to-duplicate mid-drag operations on the Finder. In this particular scenario, pressing Alt does indeed switch to a different mode temporarily, and even though it sticks if you click and drag around for a brush selection, you absolutely must press Alt before clicking.

 

Functionally, it works, yes, but the UX is *broken* because the UI does not fully reflect said changes as they are happening (and, no, as I said on another post, a tooltip is not enough to make it feel right *as you are using it*. Just because you, as a professional user, may get used to that, it doesn't make it any less broken). The right way would to give feedback be: press Alt, and the appropriate tab in each tool is highlighted; if you let go before clicking, it will revert to its default state, if you click and let go of Alt, it will still reflect their temporary state until you let go of the mouse/trackpad button, and if you don't let go of Alt, it will stay put until you do.

 

Is this that hard to grasp and implement? It seems like a no-brainer, IMHO. Photoshop does this almost right (it isn't perfect because it only gives you the appropriate feedback after clicking, but at least it does eventually give you some UI feedback), while Affinity plainly doesn't even try to when using either the Brush Selection tool or the Refine Selection brush. This is one of those cases where Serif's attention to detail could very well allow them to, once again, one-up their competition.

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First, I want to make it clear I am not a professional user!

 

Second, it is not true that pressing Alt switches to a different mode temporarily -- technically, that does not happen until you click, at which time the OS (not the app) records a "mouse down" event & polls the keyboard to see if any modifier keys are pressed. (It is actually considerably more complicated than that, involving class and/or custom I/O device drivers, polling frequency, FIFO buffers, delay timers, sandboxing, user agents, & so on but for simplicity's sake we do not need to consider that.) The next thing that happens is this event information is passed to the app so it can perform whatever it is programmed to do on a click with that combination of keys pressed (since one or several keys might be pressed). Only then can the UI reflect that sequence of events. A similar sequence occurs on a click & drag & on a mouse up event.

 

The point of all this is that while it all seems to the user to be happening at once, that is just an illusion because these complex sequences are executed so quickly.

 

So, while it is possible for the Refine buttons to be programmed to highlight on the appropriate modifier+click event, they can't be programmed to highlight on a modifier keypress alone (at least not without making the raw event data directly available to the app, which is a bad idea for several reasons I won't go into unless you really think that is necessary). Cosmetically, this might be of some value to some users, but considering that the usual focus at that time is not on the refine window but on the canvas, I doubt it would be worth the effort.

 

I suppose we will have to agree to disagree on that.


Affinity Photo 1.7.3, Affinity Designer 1.7.3, Affinity Publisher 1.7.3; macOS High Sierra 10.13.6 iMac (27-inch, Late 2012); 2.9GHz i5 CPU; NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660M; 8GB RAM
Affinity Photo 1.7.3.155 & Affinity Designer 1.7.3.1 for iPad; 6th Generation iPad 32 GB; Apple Pencil; iPadOS 13.1.2

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Though I came to this thread trying to find out what is meant by Matte, I would like to echo the OP's plea for more app feedback. I and other newbie contributors have often wasted time trying to do something that is not permitted for a variety of reasons, but nothing happens from the app. A little window with a hint of the error if possible would save some frustration.


AP 1.7.3, MacOS 10.14.6 (usually latest of each, but not going to Catalina until more issues are resolved)

Mac Mini, Late 2012, 2.5 GHz Intel Core i5, 8 GB; HD replaced with SSD

 

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