Re: [linux-audio-user] Opening up the discussion

From: Reuben Martin <reuben.m@email-addr-hidden>
Date: Mon Jul 25 2005 - 13:42:40 EEST

Back on Sunday 24 July 2005 07:15 pm, Jono Bacon was like:
> -> Cubase is not actually that easy to use, and some of you found it
> quite difficult.
> Something that some people have been referring to is whether existing
> knowledge can make other systems more difficult to use. I am not going
> to deny that people approach 'ease of use' in different ways.
> Personally, Cubase works very easily for me, and Ardour seems pretty
> complex. I think the key question is about usability from the first
> minute the application is loaded. Sure, I can go away and read copious
> amounts of documentation about either Cubase or Ardour, but if an
> application is intuitive, it means less reading and more recording.
> In some application domains, there seems to be a view that research
> and pre-reading is required. This has typically been applied to
> graphics as well as audio. As much I think that you need to research
> the topic to do anything vaguely complex in your recording, the target
> for usability should be to limit the required research to a minimum.
> When I started out, I used to use Magix on Windows for my recording. I
> was astounded to discover that I could not figure out how to simply
> cut a wave into parts - simple editing. This operation is intuitive in
> Cooledit, Audacity and even video editing tools such as Premiere. To
> me, this is a real flaw in usability. When I switched to Cubase, the
> entire interface was far more intuitive. I still need to look things
> up, but the 'looking up' process is far less than with other
> applications. I think Linux applications just need some usability love
> to make this happen.

I think one of the main problems with the comparisons being made here is the
lack of distinction between "pro" software and "pro-sumer" software.

Software like Cool Edit, Audacity, Garage Band and their ilk are geared
towards the pro-sumer who is a member of a local band, knows how to run his
Mackie mixer, and likes to record in his basement so he can give copies of
his CD to friends. This is not what Ardour/jack/jamin etc are aiming at. This
is more for the type who is willing to spend money on the full version of
Pro-Tools, has a good grasp on SSL, collects hardware with brand names like
Neve or Neumann, subscribes to TapeOP, and drools over brocures of Midas
consoles instead of porn.

If you are the pro-sumer type, I would always encourage you to expand your
horizons by trying to learn Ardour, but quite honestly, unless you are an
avid Linux fan, you will probably be much happier using a Mac.

The latter type is much more concerned with function than form, reguardless of
the complaints from the pro-sumer group. As most of the developers are a
member of this group, functionality has received much more attention than
polishing the looks.

> I do agree that the needs for a new user and pro user are different,
> but the only real difference is that the pro user goes into a far
> deeper level of detail. As such, I don't see how usability necessarily
> has to be different. If you look at a different type of application
> such as a word processor, the tool can be as useful for my dad writing
> a letter as it can for a writer who writes a book. The key point is
> that the application scales to the differing requirements of the user.
> This can certainly apply to audio production.

I disagree here. I think you tend to confuse "pro-user" with "experienced
user". They are not necessarily the same. A "pro-user" would pass over the
word processor for writing a book and get to work using LaTex, even if they
are totally new to LaTex. They would take the time to lean LaTex because they
know the output will be much more elegant, and they will be able to focus on
writing as opposed to formatting. The "experienced user" would never touch
LaTex with a ten foot pole because 1) it does not fulfill the mental
presumptions they have formed about what is required of a writing
application, and 2) LaTex is a bit overkill for writing a letter.

Received on Tue Jul 26 04:15:08 2005

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