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IDProjectCategoryView StatusLast Update
0008232ardourfeaturespublic2022-08-09 23:56
Reporterunfa Assigned To 
PrioritynormalSeverityminorReproducibilityhave not tried
Status newResolutionopen 
Product Version6.0 
Summary0008232: We really need a vertical scroll bar
DescriptionIf you'd rather listen to me talking about this and show you what I mean, here's a quickly made video:

If you prefer to read, here goes:

My Ardour sessions tend to have a lot of tracks.

I scroll the sessios a lot trying to find the stuff I need.

And I realized there's a very simple, but missing component in Ardour.

A scroll bar.


A scroll bar clearly shows the user how much stuff there is , and what portion of the stuff they are currently looking at.
It may also allow to quickly jump to a different place, if the user knows what he's looking for.

I can't tell you how much time I'm wasting simply scrolling up and down trying to find that one track. The lack of a scroll bar makes it very hard for me to create a mental image of the vertical space in my session. And even if I had one, I can't immediately jump to that part.

A very basic scroll bar (like the horizontal one in the Mixer view) would do, but Ardour could go a step further and make the scroll bar actually represent the session contents to make the navigation easier.

What if the scroll bar shown colored horizontal bars representing the tracks buses and VCAs? What about vertical lines showing groups?
This could make the vertical navigation of the session so much better. it is terribly inefficient right now.

Unless there's some secret techniques I haven't discovered yet.

Yes, there's the Tracks & Busses side bar. I probably should start using that more. The problem is - for this to be useful I need to give it at least 200 pixels in width, which takes away from the precious editor space. And if I give it less space it's gonna be very easy to misclick and disable a track. It's a sharp tool, so I need to be careful not to cut myself.

What I'm thinking of would not need more than 32 pixels of width, and it would be used *only* to navigate - no data entry allowed (so you can't screw anything up).

The horizontal session navigation is very good - the "Overview" allows me to clearly see what is there, and what part of it I am looking at as well as allowing me to jump places quickly.
But there is no such thing for vertical navigation.

I think once in the past the "summary" on the bottom served for vertical navigation as well, but not any more. Even when it did - the amount of pixels vertically was just not enough to make it useful. A vertical scroll bar needs to be tall.

What do you think?
TagsNo tags attached.



2020-06-15 04:15

reporter   ~0024465

What i do is, i open the panel on the right, and select the tracks and busses tab. In that tab, there is a list of all the tracks and the various switches such as record, mute, active, viewable. Clicking on the names gets ardour to focus on the track in the editor panel. I can even select multiple tracks on this list and ardour will display those. The hot key 'z' will also maximise and focus ardour on selected tracks. Used in conjunction with 'shift - z', which undoes this view, I can zoom focus on one view, and undo to return back to a previous view.

Hope that helps


2020-06-15 05:06

reporter   ~0024466

I agree that a vertical scrollbar is a simple but valuable tool and I really miss it. It may be easy enough to navigate without it when you have 10 tracks, but not anymore when you have 50. Also as unfa mentioned it also lets you see your vertical position in the track list and the size of the scroll bar shows your vertical "zoom" level also. This helps you create a mental image of your position when you move around. So when we lost the scroll bar we lost three functionalities.


2020-06-15 05:57

reporter   ~0024467

The workflow which i described really comes into its own when trying to align clips within multiple tracks. By selecting tracks to focus on, and pressing 'z', only these tracks are displayed by ardour. In this way the editor view with the tracks becomes a fluid changing interface. Though i do see why the lack of a scrollbar to be a strange omission in any widget that displays content as a list.


2020-06-15 15:43

reporter   ~0024473

I tried the workaround and I agree this is helpful. You can fit 35 - 40 track names there and focus on single or multiple tracks. I didn't know this feature existed :)


2020-07-01 16:14

administrator   ~0024539

"The horizontal session navigation is very good - the "Overview" allows me to clearly see what is there, and what part of it I am looking at as well as allowing me to jump places quickly.
But there is no such thing for vertical navigation."

It shows the whole session vertically also.


2020-07-01 16:33

reporter   ~0024550

Paul - that's not enough though. You can't see much with 60 pixels of height in the summary panel. You also can't scroll vertically using it.

Have you read my report or watched the video?


2020-07-01 16:48

administrator   ~0024551

Sorry, my mistake. It once allowed for vertical scrolling.


2020-07-01 16:49

administrator   ~0024552

(side note: the summary panel can be resized).


2020-07-01 18:58

reporter   ~0024556

Yes, vertical scrolling was possible at some time, but even then it was quite limited due to the vertical space available.

(no problem)

Right now the summary panel doesn't visualize what vertical part of the session the user is currently looking at - so it's not helping to build a mental image of the session contents in that dimension. I honestly liked that function, but it wasn't still ideal, as to have any decent precision in vertical scrolling, one had to make the pane quite large, stealing precious space from the track contents themselves.

I think a narrow vertical scroll bar could do a great job with a relatively small pixel cost.

The summary can be resized, true - but for sessions with 50+ tracks, it'd need to be quite big to be of any use (IMO), and it'd use up a lot of pixels for that, while a narrow vertical bar could be much more efficient with it.

I could try and prepare a mock-up to show you what I imagine it could look like if you're interested.


2020-07-02 20:03

administrator   ~0024566

"...And even if I had one, I can't immediately jump to that part..."
As you mentioned yourself, click on the track in the editor's sidebar, that moves the track into view and selects it.

There are various issues with a vertical scrollbar. Firstly there is no good place to put it. Left of the editor's sidebar is no good place, it's hard to hit it with the mouse.
The bar in the scroller changes its size every time a track's height is resized (which is very common when using "F" and visual-undo), it also snaps in intervals that are not even (due to different track heights and automation lanes). The scrollbar was removed a few versions back because it was pretty much useless due to those issues (and more).


2020-07-03 09:14

reporter   ~0024594


> As you mentioned yourself, click on the track in the editor's sidebar, that moves the track into view and selects it.

That is true, though because there's a bunch of active controls and the track names are very small it's really hard to do.
I think that it could be modified or extended with a different mode to facilitate the problems I'm having with the current design.

> There are various issues with a vertical scrollbar. Firstly there is no good place to put it. Left of the editor's sidebar is no good place, it's hard to hit it with the mouse.

Well, I'm not sure what you mean - a default place virtually all software use is the right edge of the container the scoll bar affects. I think it would make sense between the timeline and an extra panel opened.

> The bar in the scroller changes its size every time a track's height is resized (which is very common when using "F" and visual-undo), it also snaps in intervals that are not even (due to different track heights and automation lanes).

I didn't think about this - but I think it could be solved. The scroll bar should represent a scaled down version of the track, bus, lane and VCA layout and reflect the size of these elements (to help the user connect that with what he sees in the timeline canvas to build a mental image of the session. I think that the snapping shouldn't be that much of a problem.

> The scrollbar was removed a few versions back because it was pretty much useless due to those issues (and more).

Ah I see. I don't remember when I last saw it, but I think I used it, and suddenly I realized I'm missing something.

Maybe then the Tracklist tab could be extended to ease vertical navigation?
I think it'd need three things:

- Give an option to hide the toggles so users can't disable or hide track by misclicking
- Hilight tracks currently visible on the screen to show the user what he's looking at.
- Add a search box so user can quickly filter the tracks and jump to a place of his interest

However I'd still want to give a mini-map scroll bar a try - I'll make a mockup. It would be very useful even if it was non-interactive and only provided visual feedback. However I don't think allowing the user to click and drag to scroll or jump should be that big of a problem once the basics are there. What do you think?


2020-07-03 09:38

reporter   ~0024595

Maybe I'll show you one of the session I'm currently working on:

This session has all sound effects for a small video game.
Being able to have them all in one session is very convenient and allows me to make corrections quickly.

But the session is large so navigating it becomes clunky. But I believe a few simple tools in Ardour could greatly aid with that, because there's not muhc otehr problems with such large sessions (maybe high RAM and CPU usage even when no sound is being produced).

Open the file, set the scale to 100% and scroll. I've joined screenshots from Ardour to make this.

During the process I had no idea how much work is left, because there is simply no visual indication of what part of my session (vertically) am I currently looking at.
Even something like hilighting currently visible tracks in the Summary panel would help - I'd have at least a very rough indication of where am I.

But what would be excellent IMO would be a 24-pixel wide vertical mini-map showing only headers, track types, states and groups. I can't manually prepare a complete mockup, but I'll draw a basic one to show you what I mean.


2020-07-03 10:04

reporter   ~0024596

Here's a mockup of a minimap-scrollbar I have in mind.

As you can see this shows:

Master Bus, Tracks, Buses, VCAs (I forgot to add one), automation lanes - all in scale to the "real world" session size.

Groups with their colors and if they're active or not

Record / Mute / Solo status on each track.

Hilights the currently visible area.

It's a little bit ugly, but I hope you get the idea.

Because everything is a simple square, this should scale up pretty well.

I believe if I had this kind of a navigational aid, I could spend much less time scrollign back and forth never finding what I want.

What do you think?
Mockup.png (159,460 bytes)   
Mockup.png (159,460 bytes)   


2020-07-03 10:44

reporter   ~0024598

Also: if we could integrate a simple level indicator ( a bar changing color from black to green to clipping red) to each track and bus - that'd be absolutely insane In such big sessions I'm spending a lot of time trying to find which tracks produce sound in any given part of the timeline. I haven't added that in the mockup, but that'd be like extra 2-3 pixels vertically to the right of the Rec / Mute / Solo indicators.

What do you think?


2020-07-03 10:56

reporter   ~0024599

Just for the record, the MeterBridge is far more handy for hunting down what channels are playing. Just open it with: alt + b and drag it open as it might only show a couple of tracks at first. Then you can just open and close it when needed with alt + b. In the screenshot below only channel 7 is outputting audio in a 50 channel session. Pretty easy to spot it, isn't it.
MeterBridge.png (32,909 bytes)   
MeterBridge.png (32,909 bytes)   


2020-07-03 12:01

reporter   ~0024600


Thanks! Though without a scroll bar or an option to search tracks y name this really doesn't help if I have a really large session - have you seen the stiched screenshot I linked before?

Here's how the meterbridge looks here:
Screenshot_20200703_140046.png (105,320 bytes)   
Screenshot_20200703_140046.png (105,320 bytes)   


2020-07-03 12:03

reporter   ~0024601

If the meterbridge allowed to jump the editor to a selected track/bus - it'd be at least somewhat helpful, but it doesn't :D


2022-06-19 16:02

reporter   ~0026485

I've been missing this feature as well. What's the status? No dice?

I use the up and down keys to scroll between tracks vertically (sometimes the keys work for this, other times they seem to be "occupied" - still unsure what contributes to the keys' different behaviors). 'Page up' and 'page down' can obviously speed up vertical scrolling as well, yet a more robust way to vertically scroll would be of benefit. If there's still an issue with placing the scroll bar, Unfa's suggestion is still good, and an invisible scroll bar could work, too. "Invisible...": say; clicking and dragging on a track (In EDITOR: under its name) would scroll vertically.


2022-08-09 19:55

administrator   ~0026536

1. scroll bars require mouse motion to place the pointer in the scroll bar. This is almost always a time-waster and is generally considered non-ergonomic.

2. Do none of you have mice with a scrollwheel?

3. @unfa I do not understand your mockup image at all. Can you explain it?


2022-08-09 23:00

reporter   ~0026540


1. Scroll bars provide a clear immediate visual indication of "you are here" and "this is how much stuff is out there".
With very large Ardour sessions (dozens and dozens of tracks many with half a dozen automation lanes open) I often find myself lost scrolling tracks up and down endlessly, trying to find that one track. Having a scroll bar would give me some more spatial awareness about where am I currently.

2. My issue is not about not being able to scroll up and down, it;s about how hard it is to find yourself. The "scroll bar" could not even be a scroll bar, just a visual indicator of which tracks are currently visible on my screen and how many tracks are above and below what I'm currently looking at.

3. I think my mockup is not that great. Let me use a working example instead. I am attaching a screenshot fro a popular text editor Kate.
   1. This is the editing area - it's what the timeline is in Ardour
   2. This is the "mini map" which also functions as a scroll bar.
   3. This is a highlighted part of the mini-map that represents what portion of the edited document is currently visible on screen.

When you have a huge Ardour project with a hunderd tracks - it's as if you'd be editing a source file so large you cannot remember everything that is in it (say 50 various functions), while having no scroll bar, no mini-map, no line numbers, no method list, no code block folding and no search function. That's how it feels to me when I have 100+ tracks in Ardour in a project I've been working on for months.

In software development one can (and probably should) break a huge source file up into smaller ones, making things easier to manage - in Ardour that's not possible. Surely a tiny part of Ardour's userbase is going to be making projects this big, but even smaller ones would greatly benefit from navigational improvements.

Did I explain the problem better?


2022-08-09 23:09

administrator   ~0026541

OK, so I understand the issue, but the mini-map idea is dead on arrival, at least for me. In the text editing case, generating this is relatively trivial (its the same contents, with "automatically" scaled down text. There's no trival way of doing this for region/track displays. In addition, the start of tracks (which is all you would likely see (as in Kate, where only the start of lines is visible), unlike some text, will not do much to identify where you are.

You might like the track-color-as-bg-color commit that I just pushed recently., (see 0008022) It doesn't really address things in the way a scroll bar would, but could offer you visual guidance via color.


2022-08-09 23:56

reporter   ~0026542

@paul In Kate the mini-map works in 2 dimensions - it shows each line of text with it's start and end. That's not what I'd imagine for this feature, as it would be too complex and also hard to read visually if the minimap represented track clips. What I imagine is having full-width horizontal rectangles representing track/bus/automation lanes. Their color would indicate type (track, bus, automation lane, VCA) or a custom color if provided. So we don't care at all about regions on tracks or data on automation lanes, just tracks and lanes themselves. An important part is showing a rectangle that highlights what is currently seen on screen.
I am not sure if using proportional track height in the mini-map (or scrollbar preview? vertical preview?) would be a good idea - on one end it'd help users visually correlate the timeline and the scrollbar preview, but it could also make things a but more cluttered. It could be helpful though. Otherwise the "visible window" highlight would also need to change size.

One important function would be to scroll the timeline vertically immediately to chosen position after clicking on the scrollbar/minimap - this is how it works in Kate, and I think that's great..

That track-color-as-bg-color seems like a step in the right direction - and having such custom track colors be reflected on the minimap / scrollbar preview would greatly help users orient themselves in a huge session.

Issue History

Date Modified Username Field Change
2020-06-14 12:42 unfa New Issue
2020-06-15 04:15 muzikermammoth Note Added: 0024465
2020-06-15 05:06 mhartzel Note Added: 0024466
2020-06-15 05:57 muzikermammoth Note Added: 0024467
2020-06-15 15:43 mhartzel Note Added: 0024473
2020-07-01 16:14 paul Note Added: 0024539
2020-07-01 16:33 unfa Note Added: 0024550
2020-07-01 16:48 paul Note Added: 0024551
2020-07-01 16:49 paul Note Added: 0024552
2020-07-01 18:58 unfa Note Added: 0024556
2020-07-02 20:03 x42 Note Added: 0024566
2020-07-03 09:14 unfa Note Added: 0024594
2020-07-03 09:38 unfa Note Added: 0024595
2020-07-03 10:04 unfa File Added: Mockup.png
2020-07-03 10:04 unfa Note Added: 0024596
2020-07-03 10:44 unfa Note Added: 0024598
2020-07-03 10:56 mhartzel File Added: MeterBridge.png
2020-07-03 10:56 mhartzel Note Added: 0024599
2020-07-03 12:01 unfa File Added: Screenshot_20200703_140046.png
2020-07-03 12:01 unfa Note Added: 0024600
2020-07-03 12:03 unfa Note Added: 0024601
2022-06-19 16:02 Alkukoira Note Added: 0026485
2022-08-09 19:55 paul Note Added: 0026536
2022-08-09 23:00 unfa Note Added: 0026540
2022-08-09 23:00 unfa File Added: Screenshot_20220810_004558-1.png
2022-08-09 23:09 paul Note Added: 0026541
2022-08-09 23:56 unfa Note Added: 0026542