Usability, Plain English, and a Help Guide Search tool

Feedback and Reviews for Audacity 2.x
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philiptory
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Usability, Plain English, and a Help Guide Search tool

Post by philiptory » Fri Nov 30, 2018 1:47 pm

Hello,
I’ve been having problems recording audio from web sites onto Audacity. It works fully OK on my laptop, so I’m trying to find the problem in my desktop PC settings. Both machines use Windows 10 Pro, 64 bit. Anyway, while digging to see what could be wrong, I noticed a couple of things that I thought I’d write to you about. . .
1. There are bits of the screen that just do not allow the width to display the text properly – I can’t read the full text:
Image
I cannot find a way to increase the column width for these, so I guess it’s down to the programmers. There is no need to restrict the column width here – at the moment, the whole lot only take up a third of the screen window width.

2. Could we have some of these error messages in Plain English? We’re not all programmers or advanced Sound Engineers! For example, what is the “recording device” on a PC? What is a “host”? What is MME? Whats is SPDIF?
Image

3. You have a comprehensive Help Guide, but it lacks a Search tool. I want to be able to search for any occurrence of my search word/phrase, e.g. show me every occurrence of “recording device”, or “host”. As a former Technical Author, I know what the end users think: a thorough “Index at the Back” (for a manual) or a Search tool (for an online help guide) is the most useful part of any help resource of more than 15-20 pages. Otherwise they might have to read 30,000 words to find what they want. . . . The Audacity Manual is 375 pages!

waxcylinder
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Re: Usability, Plain English, and a Help Guide Search tool

Post by waxcylinder » Fri Nov 30, 2018 4:37 pm

philiptory wrote:
Fri Nov 30, 2018 1:47 pm
1. There are bits of the screen that just do not allow the width to display the text properly – I can’t read the full text:
Image
I cannot find a way to increase the column width for these, so I guess it’s down to the programmers. There is no need to restrict the column width here – at the moment, the whole lot only take up a third of the screen window width.
See the little resizer vertical parallel bar at the right of the toolbar - just click on that and drag it rightwards (or you can even float it out of the tooldock and resize it).

See this page in the Manual: https://alphamanual.audacityteam.org/ma ... s_Overview

philiptory wrote:
Fri Nov 30, 2018 1:47 pm
2. Could we have some of these error messages in Plain English? We’re not all programmers or advanced Sound Engineers! For example, what is the “recording device” on a PC? What is a “host”? What is MME? Whats is SPDIF?
Image
A recording device is what you are recording from: a microphone, an turntable or whatever

Host: see this page in the Manual https://alphamanual.audacityteam.org/man/Device_Toolbar

SPDIF - see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S/PDIF

WC
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waxcylinder
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Re: Usability, Plain English, and a Help Guide Search tool

Post by waxcylinder » Fri Nov 30, 2018 4:40 pm

philiptory wrote:
Fri Nov 30, 2018 1:47 pm
3. You have a comprehensive Help Guide, but it lacks a Search tool. I want to be able to search for any occurrence of my search word/phrase, e.g. show me every occurrence of “recording device”, or “host”. As a former Technical Author, I know what the end users think: a thorough “Index at the Back” (for a manual) or a Search tool (for an online help guide) is the most useful part of any help resource of more than 15-20 pages. Otherwise they might have to read 30,000 words to find what they want. . . . The Audacity Manual is 375 pages!
Do you realize that the image of the Audacity interface on the front page of the manual is a clickable imagemap endbling you to drill to the appropriata page ?

That, for example, is how I found both ethe links I gave you in my previous post.

And many other parts of the Manual have clickable imagemaps amd many clickable links.

WC
________________________________________FOR INSTANT HELP: (Click on Link below)
* * * * * FAQ * * * * * Tutorials * * * * * Audacity Manual * * * * * Audacity Wiki * * * * *

steve
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Re: Usability, Plain English, and a Help Guide Search tool

Post by steve » Fri Nov 30, 2018 5:34 pm

philiptory wrote:
Fri Nov 30, 2018 1:47 pm
I cannot find a way to increase the column width for these,
There is a "Resizer" at the right hand end of the device toolbar:
Image
9/10 questions are answered in the FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ)

steve
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Re: Usability, Plain English, and a Help Guide Search tool

Post by steve » Fri Nov 30, 2018 5:46 pm

philiptory wrote:
Fri Nov 30, 2018 1:47 pm
2. Could we have some of these error messages in Plain English?
...

Image
This message comes from "Port Audio", which is a software library that connects Audacity to the computer sound system.

In previous versions of Audacity, only the fact that "something went wrong with the recording device" was captured, so we could only give a vague message indicating that "something went wrong with the recording device", and a blind guess at what might be causing the problem. The "blind guess" was frequently wrong.

Audacity now shows (in plain English, or any supported translation):
"Error opening recording device"

In addition, Audacity now shows the Port Audio error code (in this case "Error code: -9999", and the error text: "Unanticipated host error."

In this specific case it still does not tell us much more than "something went wrong with the recording device", but you (or I) could Google for that error code and error text and find that it means that the audio stream was interrupted. The most common cause for that is if a USB audio device becomes disconnected, but a break in the audio stream "for any reason" will cause that error.
9/10 questions are answered in the FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ)

steve
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Re: Usability, Plain English, and a Help Guide Search tool

Post by steve » Fri Nov 30, 2018 6:11 pm

philiptory wrote:
Fri Nov 30, 2018 1:47 pm
what is the “recording device” on a PC?
The device used for recording :?
philiptory wrote:
Fri Nov 30, 2018 1:47 pm
What is a “host”?
Most modern computer operating systems provide a number of different "systems" for handling audio. For Windows 10, the options are: MME, DirectSound and WASAPI (and optionally ASIO, which is a 3rd party system made by Steinberg). These "systems" are collectively known as "audio hosts". (It could also be described as an "application programming interface and protocol", but "host" or "host audio system" is shorter and less scary.)

philiptory wrote:
Fri Nov 30, 2018 1:47 pm
Whats is SPDIF?
Sony / Philips Digital Interface


The long names for the recording / playback devices come from the drivers for the sound card (or other "audio device"). A "driver" is software that enables a computer to recognise and use a device. Audacity itself has no idea what hardware is connected to the computer, other than the description it gets from the device driver.
9/10 questions are answered in the FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ)

steve
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Re: Usability, Plain English, and a Help Guide Search tool

Post by steve » Fri Nov 30, 2018 6:18 pm

philiptory wrote:
Fri Nov 30, 2018 1:47 pm
but it lacks a Search tool.
A built-in search tool would be a terrific addition in my opinion.

Unfortunately, we don't know of any search tools that will work reliably on all machines that Audacity supports. JavaScript based search tools are available, but unfortunately Windows blocks JavaScript unless it comes from an Internet server (an on-line web page).

Fortunately, most modern operating systems provide effective search tools, but they need to be configured.
There's an article here that shows how to configure Windows 10 search tool to search through the contents of files. For the Audacity manual, you would need to configure it to search through the HTML files. https://www.intowindows.com/how-to-make ... -contents/
9/10 questions are answered in the FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ)

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