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AUTOMATION: Add “Transform Again” + “Duplicate” buttons to contextual state of Transform Panel when Point Transformation Tool is selected and/or fix limitations in Power Duplication feature

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So yep, here we are again.

When discussing Power Duplication with another user, I tried recreating the effect I did on this old poster of mine, and ran into some limitations:

Programa-A5-X-Congresso-APNUG-2015-capa-b.thumb.jpg.1da0539a8e0d21cd87a03525bbb1fe96.jpg

My attempted workflow went as follows (and looked like this right before I performed the last step):

368526653_Capturadeecr2019-07-27s03_13_18.png.8fef7a7af38bdfc38a196dd392a87da0.png

• I created a circle;

• Snapped a square to it;

• Duplicated the square by pressing Command+J;

• Used the Point Transformation Tool to set the square's point atop the circle's centre point;

• Rotated the square x degrees;

• Finally pressed Command+J again, fully expecting Designer to create another duplicate, offset another x degrees centred on the same point.

 

This is what I expected:

1300920409_Capturadeecr2019-07-27s03_14_28.png.90f3534719e3e95ec71b0d771e696a38.png

 

This is what I got:

2055081673_Capturadeecr2019-07-27s03_15_45.png.36f6c17cc2d309e7dd51e91ed2ac88ed.png

So… the new duplicate didn't budge, even though Command+J is very much still a valid shortcut when the Point Transformation Tool is active.

I guess the chain broke, and Designer can only make sense of either manual, mouse-driven drag operations, or transformations done by adding/subtracting X and/or Y coordinates or rotation values in the non-contextual state of the Transform panel, only when the Move Tool is selected.

And then I realised: Serif could very well emulate Adobe's “Transform again” and “Copy” functions on this Point Transformation Tool contextual state of the Transform panel (or, since this opens a bit of an UX can of worms for multiple transform operations at the same time, as it would be hard for the user to know exactly which actions would be repeated, create a modal dialog similar to this under Layer > Transform), as there's already a large, blank space on there already. Easy-peasy, mac-and-cheesy:

1315159077_Capturadeecr2019-07-27s03_21_43.png.6deaf2f2a18d82f9dfd2334a2fbbf0d0.png

But I guess that for single, discrete actions, it might just work and be usable, as these buttons would only repeat the last action performed on the panel; let's see how it might behave:

• Press “Transform Again” before committing to that “30°” value by pressing Return or Tab or selecting another field with the mouse, and boom, Designer allows you to indefinitely rotate the thing by 30° increments without the value ever going away (obviously, if you commited to the value or selected a different field with the mouse, the chain should be broken for consistency and predictability);

• Press “Duplicate”, and boom, you get the same behaviour, except with a nice trail of objects behind it;

• Press “Command+J” with a value inserted into any of those fields and boom, you get the exact same behaviour as pressing “Duplicate”.

 

Simple enough? This is a suggestion in addition to fixing the Power Duplication feature, in its current “voodoo-like” implementation (that's the term I'm going for henceforth, deal with it :225_chicken::27_sunglasses:), when using the Point Transformation Tool. I'm just not filing the limitation I just described as a separate bug report, for basic economy of writing (uhh, what a concept! :D), but if you'd rather have me do that, I can deliver.

You see, even in its current, functional state when used with the regular Move Tool, this feature is just not very discoverable. I know there are tutorials explaining how the feature works, but currently it feels more like a game cheat code than anything else.

And yes, I did try it, and even when it worked as advertised, I found it really cumbersome and finicky. If the aforementioned bug and lack of discoverability weren't damning enough, it's not very forgiving of mistakes, since if you switch tools midway during an operation, the automation chain will immediately break. Yes, it will break even if you don't do anything with the other tool and revert to the Move Tool, which means a single, inadvertent key press will force you to undo any transformations you did and the original duplication task, and you'll then have to start all over from the beginning. So perhaps a modal solution would be better suited for more complex, precision tasks like this one I've tried to demonstrate here.

It should be reasonable, then and IMHO, to expect at least a basic fix for Power Duplication feature when working with the Point Transformation Tool in v.1.7.x or 1.8, and the full-blown modal dialog thingy (perhaps even with “Preview” functionality like in Ai) by v.2 or later… leaving this non-modal, contextual and more limited incarnation I'm proposing right now for intermediate tasks as a v.1.9-ish thing. What are your thoughts on the matter?

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7 hours ago, JGD said:

...

This is what I got:

2055081673_Capturadeecr2019-07-27s03_15_45.png.36f6c17cc2d309e7dd51e91ed2ac88ed.png

...

Well, the Power Duplicate has a limiation - you must never deselect the source object you're about to transform. It must stay highlighted, then you have to transform it (either manually by the mouse or using the Transform Studio Panel) then it remembers such settings and does exactly what you want to achieve.

Once you deselect it, you are going to lose all the transformation info and duplicates.

Edit: But yes, you have obviously found another bug - transformations done by Point Transform Tool ale ignored by Power Duplicate exactly as you described (hadn't too much time to check

 

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8 hours ago, JGD said:

I tried recreating the effect I did on this old poster of mine

Well, I tried to copy your design, and here is the result that's almost the same, to a very good degree (except for the bad -intentional- choice of colors and the lack of some text... and a different Font).

Now, I didn't use the Power Duplicate function, but a simpler yet functional approach:

  • Noticing how the pattern is, I made a single speech bubble.
  • Then, I duplicated and Flipped the object vertically.
  • Then, I positionet them based on your Design.
  • Then, I copy and pasted both objects, and rotated them 15°.
  • Repeated the same until I had a complete circle.
  • Then, grouped that circle and rotated it 7.5° (Ungroup and Regroup so the bounding box is again a square without rotation).
  • Then, copy and pasted and resizing them to match your own pattern.

Sounds cumbersome but in fact, it's not that time consuming (considering that I based it on your finished design, which saves time). What do you think of the end result?

Now, this is not to say that the Power Duplicate Function doesn't need more Power, but to show that even with its shortcomings, much can be done in Designer. :)

1739811830_EjercicioPster.thumb.png.c48694fca6055092f83b24a5711bc175.png

Best regards!

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By the way:

  • The pinty parts of my speech bubbles become smaller because the use of the Corner Tool, because it's set to pixels and not to a percentage.
  • I just noticed that I mispelled "Neurourologia"... the Spanish in me thought on simple "Neurología".
  • What's the Font you used for this?

Best regards!

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8 hours ago, JGD said:

I guess the chain broke, and Designer can only make sense of either manual, mouse-driven drag operations, or transformations done by adding/subtracting X and/or Y coordinates or rotation values in the non-contextual state of the Transform panel, only when the Move Tool is selected.

We obviously need a general solution to the problem, but in this particular case your “x degrees” is 30°, easily achieved with a “mouse-driven drag” operation by holding down the Shift key to constrain the angle as you drag.

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12 hours ago, Mithferion said:

Well, I tried to copy your design, and here is the result that's almost the same, to a very good degree (except for the bad -intentional- choice of colors and the lack of some text... and a different Font).

Now, I didn't use the Power Duplicate function, but a simpler yet functional approach:

  • Noticing how the pattern is, I made a single speech bubble.
  • Then, I duplicated and Flipped the object vertically.
  • Then, I positionet them based on your Design.
  • Then, I copy and pasted both objects, and rotated them 15°.
  • Repeated the same until I had a complete circle.
  • Then, grouped that circle and rotated it 7.5° (Ungroup and Regroup so the bounding box is again a square without rotation).
  • Then, copy and pasted and resizing them to match your own pattern.

Sounds cumbersome but in fact, it's not that time consuming (considering that I based it on your finished design, which saves time). What do you think of the end result?

Now, this is not to say that the Power Duplicate Function doesn't need more Power, but to show that even with its shortcomings, much can be done in Designer. :)

1739811830_EjercicioPster.thumb.png.c48694fca6055092f83b24a5711bc175.png

Best regards!

Well, that's a great effort right there, congrats! :)

But I must ask: how long did it take you to achieve this? I worked a 9 AM to 5 PM schedule, and I probably had to whip up that pattern by the morning and finish up the rest by the afternoon (this is a piece I made much later on for the programme/book of abstracts cover; the first incarnation was a poster, so there was more information to be had, including the obligatory logo strip on the bottom), and everything had to be thought and done from scratch (just picking the fonts, considering how disorganised our collection was, would take me around 1-2 hours; my boss and colleagues didn't really “get it”, and all my pleas for us to purchase a decent font manager fell on deaf ears, so I had to use Apple's Font Book, ugh).

The copying part of the entire thing was probably the fastest one. That's what I keep hammering on: Designer must work faster, or else using it won't make business sense. :P

12 hours ago, Mithferion said:

By the way:

  • The pinty parts of my speech bubbles become smaller because the use of the Corner Tool, because it's set to pixels and not to a percentage.
  • I just noticed that I mispelled "Neurourologia"... the Spanish in me thought on simple "Neurología".
  • What's the Font you used for this?

Best regards!

Ah, I didn't even notice that. I just copied mine from the APNUG logo, so they don't have that issue, but it's really imperceptible.

And yes, it's really “neurourology” (except in Portuguese, which, as you know, isn't that different from Spanish); I never attended medical school, but I did learn a bit on the job, so to speak, and apparently there's a branch of urology that focuses on the importance the nervous system has in its control… It makes a lot of sense, when you think about it. ;)

The font is Foundry Sterling. It's a nice alternative to the Myriads of this world… You know, for a change.

Thanks for your attention. As for the feature itself I'm proposing… don't you reckon it would've made the task a bit faster, or at least slicker and more pleasurable? I mean, if you had to duplicate each object, and then rotate it, then duplicate it, rinse and repeat, didn't that get tiresome after a while? There's a lot of them, and I'm guessing that pressing “Transform” a bunch of times was waaaay quicker back then. :P

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11 hours ago, Alfred said:

We obviously need a general solution to the problem, but in this particular case your “x degrees” is 30°, easily achieved with a “mouse-driven drag” operation by holding down the Shift key to constrain the angle as you drag.

Indeed you are correct. As a tester I am, however, in the “job” of anticipating problems and proposing, as you so well put, general solutions… Being able to specify “x degrees” is great because you can just make some simple calculations and do pretty much any even radial distribution you can think of. ;)

Yeah, I mean, I don't really care how Serif solves it. But the Power Duplication feature shows promise, as does the Point Transformation tool and this ∆X/Y/R thing. They basically have an embryo of a great Power Transform tool and advanced (and modal) Transform dialog right there already; only the UI and some coding is missing. And they needn't be mutually exclusive, as I've said.

By the way, do you know what? Maybe if Serif created a dedicated “Power Duplicate” shortcut (they could just call it that and expose it in the menus, with a dedicated keyboard shortcut and all), Designer could even allow for longer chains of actions between duplication operations (maybe even with some tool switching in the process), without making it more confusing, as that would be expected by default from a “Power” feature.

Now that would be cool, and likely solve the discoverability issue in one fell swoop (even if the feature itself required a tutorial for the user to grasp and master it, its exposure with a dedicated name would spike the end-user's curiosity and make it discoverable on Google/YouTube/Serif's website, as that would give them a point of reference; as it stands, it's just “hidden”).

Let's face it: not everyone will watch all the tutorials that are available, and if the learning curve can be smoothed out a bit… why not?

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14 hours ago, JGD said:

Well, that's a great effort right there, congrats! :)

Thanks!

 

14 hours ago, JGD said:

But I must ask: how long did it take you to achieve this? I worked a 9 AM to 5 PM schedule, and I probably had to whip up that pattern by the morning and finish up the rest by the afternoon (this is a piece I made much later on for the programme/book of abstracts cover; the first incarnation was a poster, so there was more information to be had, including the obligatory logo strip on the bottom), and everything had to be thought and done from scratch (just picking the fonts, considering how disorganised our collection was, would take me around 1-2 hours; my boss and colleagues didn't really “get it”, and all my pleas for us to purchase a decent font manager fell on deaf ears, so I had to use Apple's Font Book, ugh).

Since I was just copying the Design, this was easy; and I believe I spent 20 minutes doing this, at most. As I said, the real Design was already there (having the idea in your mind and making adjustments of the overall concept). Music also helps keeping a good pace.

 

14 hours ago, JGD said:

And yes, it's really “neurourology” (except in Portuguese, which, as you know, isn't that different from Spanish); I never attended medical school, but I did learn a bit on the job, so to speak, and apparently there's a branch of urology that focuses on the importance the nervous system has in its control… It makes a lot of sense, when you think about it. ;)

Yes, when I realised my mistake, I didn't bother to change it, but re-reading I understood what that was about. Know how the human body works is fascinating to me.

 

14 hours ago, JGD said:

The font is Foundry Sterling. It's a nice alternative to the Myriads of this world… You know, for a change.

Thanks. I love humanist Fonts (specially the one that I consider the Father of all: Frutiger), and knowing more that the Myriad from Adobe is a good thing.

 

14 hours ago, JGD said:

Thanks for your attention. As for the feature itself I'm proposing… don't you reckon it would've made the task a bit faster, or at least slicker and more pleasurable? I mean, if you had to duplicate each object, and then rotate it, then duplicate it, rinse and repeat, didn't that get tiresome after a while? There's a lot of them, and I'm guessing that pressing “Transform” a bunch of times was waaaay quicker back then. :P

I agree. There are areas where you could save valuable time. As for the rinse and repeat... well, I am used to do tedious work, so it's a matter of... listening to music.

Best regards!

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