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There it goes, my inspiration that is, out of the window, and I lost it trying to change who knows what shortcut key... again.

As a professional in video, animation, 3d and audio I have used many many applications over the years, and find Affinity package a real refreshing leap forward. However, I must admit that the preferences window across all three Affinity apps (Photo, Designer and Publisher) is one of the most useless I have ever encountered. I am not afraid to switch and learn applications and am ready to customize the new ones I learn to my own best practices, and the preferences window is my friend or it should be, but Affinity's is not at all. Please let me try to explain what I find is wrong with and suggest some changes which I did not think a lot about, but seem much simpler to use. Let's start:

1. The preferences window uses a unique visual paradigm, completely different from any other dialogue I have encountered in the rest of the application. It has a header with Back/forward buttons, "home" button (with an odd icon and a drop-down menu) and search bar. No other panel, toolbar, manager, assistant or any other window in Affinity uses this paradigm or at least my humble knowledge of the app does not bring any into the mind. I doubt that this is good. For instance having tabs, like some other windows would do the trick no need for back/forward buttons, no need for home button, no need for drop-down menu, just 7 simple instantly accessable tabs.

2. search bar is a sneaky red herring! It is in fact dangerously useless! I'd like to change a shortcut for brush size in pixel persona? typing any of these terms does not help me to find where to do it. It seems that this search bar is good for searching only a couple of dozen words which does not make any sense at all, either you make every single preference item that can be change searchable or get rid of the search bar because the way it is now is frustratingly useless.

3. I will not go in depth on my thoughts about "General", "Color", "Performance", "User Interface" and "Tools" pages as I do see some benefit of "bite sized" preferences pages even if some items on them seem to belong to another page, and the number of these pages could actually be decreased. (for instance half of the "Tools" preferences could easily belong to "User Interface" tab)

4. Checkboxes, since they have really powerful results would benefit from tooltip help with a more verbose description of what they do.

5. "Miscellaneous" could easily be renamed to "factory resets" or something on that line, as that is what it does.

6. And now I come to my nemesis, the "Keyboard Shortcuts" page. Where to start?!

a) there is a search bar on the upper right, that is as we said a sneaky trap, and a red herring. It does not help us here, and will take us "home" probably finding nothing of interest.

b) we need to use these two fiddly drop-downs. The first one could easily be replaced with beautiful Draw, Pixel and Export icons cutting the number of actions for picking persona to edit to only one click (or even better none.. read on). The second one is really unintuitive as its items partially overlap in different personas. It took me a while to get the idea that this second one is contextual to the first one (as the list changes "behind the curtain")... I got it only after learning my way a bit around the app so I recognised that some items belong to some personas.

c)  a quick overview of other buttons and check boxes in this upper region of Keyboard Shortcuts page;

"Apply to all" -what? to all what? I had to dig through the manual to see what it does, and all it would take to fix it is to call it "apply shortcut changes to all personas" without this information there is no way to know that there actually are some connections possible between personas. As if the for instance, brush size in pixel and draw persona must be separate.

"Ignore Modifier—Lets you create shortcuts using a single letter designation instead of using keyboard modifiers." says the manual, and I still do not get it. Does it allow me to pres only the letter in application without modifier keys and get what I want? No, as Ctrl+S is stil "save" and "Ctrl+Shift+S" is stil Save as. Does it filter out the input of Modifier keys while assigning new shortcuts? No. So what does it do? Maybe a better explanation in manual would help, and a more verbose checkbox title or tooltip.

"Load/Save" what? it loads and saves what? a file obviously, but what does that file contain? All shortcuts, or only those in focus? Maybe "Load Shortcut configuration" or something on that line would be better. to be continued...

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...continued

"Reset" what? does it reset the shortcuts in focus or all? the manual says all customized, but a first time user, trying to find its way around the app will have to dig, and all it takes is that button to say "Reset all shortcuts to factory defaults" (or something on that line)

"Clear all shortcuts" ok this one is self explanatory.

7. the shortcut list itself...

a) c'mon, it's a list and it is restricted to show only 8 lines at a time it is wider than it is tall, and the window cannot be resized to see all items on the list :-D that's silly. I need to constantly scroll up and down this miniature list although I could dedicate a whole monitor for it, as I am unable to search for an item on it because the frickin' search bar is bonkers.

b) If I pick a new key that overlaps with existing combo, I get great little yellow icon telling me so, mouseover will give me the info, great. And now I need to go back to those two fiddly drop-downs fo find my way to the duplicate if I want to change it, why not give me an opportunity to solve this conflict here and now, by doublee clicking on the yellow icon or something.

Here is my suggestion for solving the Keyboard Shortcut preferences mess. Why not making a table with horizontally foldable categories of shortcuts (foldable like "Assets" sub categories) these categories would be "File", "Edit", "Text" etc.. First column would stay the same, that is, the description, Second column would show Draw persona shortcuts, third Pixel persona, fourth Export persona. It would make the features that are parallel across personas obvious, those that are non-existent in a certain persona would be "grayed out"  And make the preferences window resizable, please. That way we could edit our shortcuts many times more quickly, and enjoy the switch to Affinity apps much more.

Please, pardon my ignorance, as I am not a professional UI designer but a frustrated user. I have written this overly long post to try and make Affinity better. I have lost precious time and artistic inspiration because of the design of this window and decided to spend some more time, trying my best to alleviate the problem somehow.

Please try and read it with an open heart, as it was written in the best of intention.

 

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Yes… <reads more paragraphs> Yes <reads more> Still yes <more> OMG yes! <reads to the end> Yup, agree with everything you wrote.

I asked for an upgrade to the search function back in 2016, still got my fingers crossed.

But as you say, the whole Preferences dialogue needs an overhaul.


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Version 1.7 still has just as hideous Preferences window as before. Such a shame, all those nice new features' shortcuts hidden under a black magic wall that the "Keyboard Shortcuts" window is. Using it hurts like my fingers are broken. For a graphical design app this is embarrassing. Take a look at Reaper digital audio workstation app for instance how "search" should work. The program might be ugly but it works and is 100 times more intuitive and quicker to set up.

Excuse my strong language, but for someone working in several 3D, game engine, audio, graphical and painting apps daily switching them back and forth (think 5-6 daily) setting up shortcuts easily is absolutely important. Being able to set up most of shortcuts the same in all graphics apps quickly for me is the first base and Affinity leaves bitter taste at the very start.

People do not think of features of an app in terms of categories but as tools or features. Affinity pleases don't make us search for them via two mutually dependant dropdowns like it is 1990. It is 2019 for god's sake, filter the list while I'm typing into search bar at least. or as in Blender 3d allow me to set a new shortcut immediately in the program with right-click on the button on the main UI.

Please, please, please!

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33 minutes ago, Nikola Kovac said:

Take a look at Reaper digital audio workstation app for instance how "search" should work.

REAPER is an excellent example.

As is XYplorer file manager, which has a searchable list of 100s if not 1000s of actions.

I've said it elsewhere, but it bears repeating, we must be able to search both for actions, and existing keypresses.

And, be able to jump instantly to the opposite half of any conflicting shortcut, so that it can be resolved.


Win7 Ultimate x64   |   i5-3570K @ 3.4GHz   |   16 GB RAM   |   120 GB SSD   |   nVidia GTX 660 Ti   |   Huion 1060 Plus

How I make GIFs >>> ScreenToGIF (Windows only, Open Source, Portable, ~600kB)

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On 6/12/2019 at 3:52 AM, angelhdz12 said:

Totally agree. Preferences window is a mess.

One quick fix for efficiency is simply to make a list of categories in a panel at the left which bring up the options for that category on the right, so you can click through them super fast rather than having to go forward and back. "Aammppaa" mentioned Reaper and Blender (2.8 presumably) as examples, and both of these applications (as with Adobe apps) use this type of system. A lot of "preference" options are things I'm changing frequently so faster access would be very helpful.

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As a Mac user I see that the Affinity Preferences window is "inspired" by macOS System Preferences window,... but not as nearly as polished (are these arrows in fact < and > glyphs?? 

The buttons behave the same.

But I would argue the arrows should instead allow you to "click-through" all sections for fast adjustments when manually synchronising the settings in the three affinity-apps (plus the three betas...) Yeah this could be irritating for the group of Mac-users, which are not familiar with adobes way.

The third, the drop-down/button hybrid is the most useful and should stay the same for fast access.

The search field should go deeper and allow you to directly go to the respective element (or highlight it at least)

 

 

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11 hours ago, woefi said:

As a Mac user I see that the Affinity Preferences window is "inspired" by macOS System Preferences window,... but not as nearly as polished (are these arrows in fact < and > glyphs?? 

 The buttons behave the same.

Agreed - I don't have much trouble navigating it because of that, but there is plenty of room for improvement (for Apple's System Preferences too - they should take a cue from the Control Panel they had back in the days of System 4 through System 6; it was much better overall - for those not familiar: https://www.versionmuseum.com/history-of/classic-mac-os).

"Modern" macOS derives from NextStep, which used a somewhat similar design to the one from System 4-6 (the icons for the individual preference panes are horizontal as opposed to the vertical list of control panels used in System 4-6): http://toastytech.com/guis/openstep.html

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