Pattern Commands Context Help

Just thought of what I think would be a really useful feature, particular for beginners.

In the pattern arranger when you hover over a pattern command a tooltip appears telling you what that command is.

Simple, but extremely useful as it would mean that using renoise no longer relied on retention (or reference) of arbitrary codes. It would lower the barrier for beginners to give it a go and strongly aid the learning of codes.

I’m sure some advanced users would find this feature annoying so being able to turn it off in settings would be a god idea.

What do you think? Does this idea have legs?

At the bottom of the Pattern Editor you can find the Pattern Editor Control Panel. (Right-click the Pattern Editor and choose ‘Show Control Panel’ if this is hidden for some reason)

In the control panel you can see an ‘FX’ drop-down menu, which will reveal all of the available pattern commands. Additionally, if you have any DSP devices added to the current track, you can also see all of the available commands for that device.


3301 renoise-fx.png

I realise this is still a reference point you need to manually check, but surely this covers everything you might need to know?

Yeah, that does cover everything you would need to know, but it’s still a reference, and still requires looking. Workflow would be improved if that help could be displayed in the context of where you were in the pattern editor.

Effectively to reference the relevant information is 4 steps:

Show command description automatically

It’s no biggie, but I do think that it would be a good usability improvement for some users.

We got some hardware too (as printout): ;)
(not saying it’s a bad idea, but maybe this helps)

I have that card printed off and laminated! It was that which made me think of the context help.

It’s true that when newbies hang on and learn the pattern command mechanism, they become more efficient and productive with renoise. A tooltip-like feature could help. But the pattern commands are only just one aspect of Renoise, that anyway needs a more complete & intuitive tooltip / help system. Each functionnality should have a “?” button somewhere that leads to an “internal” help window with rich content where things are explained.

  • Did you noticed that lots of other places, such as a large number of DSP buttons, checkboxes, and sliders, could also get a few more tooltips ?
  • Every VSTs have a “?” button that lead to more detailed info about the plugin compatability and launch modes, but lots of native DSPs could also get a “?” button where you click and get most of the info read some explanations, tips & tricks located in this webpage reference.
  • There’s also another way to help : an “intelligent status bar” where you could read some usefull informations, that could contain lots of messages depending from the area hovered by your mouse.

Take for example the Multitap beast. This is one of these DSP that probably need the more tooltips, specific status lines, or a help window that accept rich content and even include some kind of schematics.

Some good suggestions there Kurtz. I like the intelligent status bar idea. It could provide feedback for a fuller description of what a particular button/slider was or feedback based on the current operation. There is a blank area in the bottom left that could be used for just this purpose without taking up any more screen real estate.

For instance I was trying to arpeggiate some notes last night and it’s not working. The commands (A37) appear in red which I am taking to mean there was an error, but I am not sure what the error was or how to correct it. If the status bar could give me a fuller explanation of the problem then I would be able to sort this issue quickly. As it is I will end up asking here or on IRC, which is a longer-winded solution.

Error-flagging could be taken one step further and word similar to a programming IDE by underlining the error in red and providing an explanation of the error when you hover, possibly with a link to the documentation for that feature.

I should add that I am a total renoise beginner, so I really do have a beginner’s perspective here!

Actually just spotted that area (bottom left) is already used for status messages such as when I’ve played a sample. In that case there’s definitely scope for its use to be extended.

The red does not indicate an error. We simply have some syntax/colour highlighting for certain commands.

In the default theme:

  • Red indicates a command related to pitch.
  • Green indicates a command related to volume.
  • Yellow indicates a command related to panning.
  • Blue indicates a command related to delay, playback position, etc.
  • Pink indicates a global command.

And so on… (there are a few others)

Back to the Arpeggiator command… A value of A37 is perfectly valid, but you should keep in mind that this command only works on sample-based instruments, not VST/AU plugin instruments or MIDI instruments.

And, yep, you’ve already discovered the status bar. This will show helpful information whenever you are actually editing the pattern itself, like when you’re actually inputting pattern commands, for example.

And there’s my mistake - I was trying to arpeggiate a VST!

It’s exactly that sort of error that context help/error checking could highlight directly. The software must know that it cannot process an arpeggiate command on a VST but what is missing is that feedback loop to inform the user of the issue.