User Interface Improvements

Hello! I’m really enjoying Scaler 2 and trying to learn it. The user interface is very poor. The A, B, and C buttons are very small and don’t have labels. Also, the entire Performance window is a mess. I learned a bit, took some time off and came back and I couldn’t remember how to use anything and had to start from the beginning again. I am a UX professional at a large corporation, so I’m not just ranting. This is an excellent piece of software, but the interface keeps me from being efficient and productive. Thanks!


You may not be friends with scaler yet.
It is recommended to open PDF file and operate scaler while reading
You’d better go to Youtube and have a closer look at the official teaching video produced by scaler
As you get familiar with scaler and become friends
You’ll know that scaler is great.
I think the interface design is very good, and the interface can also be personalized, font, color, and so on

The above posts show that UI design is just mind blowingly hard because it’s 75% down to individual user preferences.
My most hated application bar none is MS Word - I find it incredibly frustrating. Yet this is an application that has had Microsnot’s finest on it, and there are still pesky users like me who think it sucks - no pleasing some people :grin:

@yorkeman you’re on to something here. I wonder if it would be worth considering for the Scaler dev team to implement a “skin” mechanism, akin to what U-he offers for its soft synths. That provides for an opportunity of the community/after-market to create custom UI, without the burden of the product developer coming up with that magical “one size fits all”. With “skin” I mean separating the implementation of the core features from the visual interaction. A simple example would be a control that goes from 0-100% which could be implemented as a turnable knob, or as a fader. The application only provides the 0-100% control range, but the UI skin would decide whether it is surfaced as fader or knob to the user. Abstract function from interface, a common software development paradigm.

Does that make sense to you @Tim?
@Ed1 would that be a feasible development for Scaler v3?

That didn’t come to my mind when I penned that, but that is a very good suggestion.

As you noted, in the ‘enterprise’ apps world, separation of UI from application matters was common with paradigms like ‘model- view-controller’ (MVC), which then underwent many offshoots of extension, both in web and java worlds.
So is it possible ? Yes. However, it might be thought of as a ‘day 0’ decision, in that retrofitting it could be costly in time, and the Scaler authors have to always ask what is the best use (on a cost / return basis) of their limited hours.

Your specific suggestion, however, brings in a slightly modified approach, which might be described as ‘fixed code logic, variable implementation’ e.g. fader vs knob. This seems to me eminently feasible without the sort of structural re-write which would be needed for MVC if the UI is tightly coupled to code.

It would potentially also allow things to be removed from the UI if you didn’t use them, with the skin sending some default value to the app proper. Then there also comes the oft mentioned issue of colour scheme …

I would say that the last three approaches fall into the tedious (aka. time consuming) but not intellectually challenging category, and I’d commend your suggestion being placed on the wish list.

PS Sonar users will be familiar with the huge configurability for colours in that product However, the best example for user definition was the skin builder for Reason studios RB-303, which spawned scores of alternative skins for their product

(later) I should add I never changed any colours in Sonar because I couldn’t generate the energy to look at their huge list of choices.

Maybe a step in the right direction, but my problem is that something as integral to the application as binding is not labeled, not intuitive, and there’s no reason the buttons are so small. The window with the perform functions makes no sense and the blinking is terrible. The list of scales just repeats and is therefore unnecessarily long. You should choose the root note then the scale. The A, B, and C areas should be labeled with what they do. If you close the B section with the close X in the upper right, you have no way of knowing how to reopen it. The Roman numeral letters have very poor color contrast and are hard to read. They should be paying me a lot of money for free UX analysis!

With all due respect, I think the scaler interface is beautiful.
The logic of the design is also very good, very easy to use.
There’s no need to change the interface.
The main thing is to add more common performances
And it’s better to classify it according to music, intro, verse, pre Chous, Chous@ Tim

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Hi @Tim

“You should choose the root note then the scale.”
Isn’t that exactly what happens ?


It took me 5 seconds to load B Locrian Diminished from the two drop downs, so I’m not sure what would be faster. I’ve never used the list of modes yet.

“very poor color contrast and are hard to read”
for you and the many other users :smile: , especially those over 50. (You wold not be surprised to learn it’s been a frequent topic here). On the’ dark’ issue, I don’t know what music apps you use, but over the last few years they nearly all have moved to very dark screens by default - just look in any issue of ‘Sound on Sound’ mag.

As the ex founder of an enterprise software product company, I do have some sympathy with the Scaler guys. The music world, once dominated by a small number of players, is now incredibly competitive, and to survive, short time to market and (most critically) penetration rate to a stable financial base is essential. If I were faced with limited man days (they are not a big corporate !) and I was faced with the (albeit unenviable choice) between delivering innovative functions which gave me obvious differentiation in the market, but a crap, hacked together UI or the opposite, I’d go for the former. In my old sector, I never lost out to the pretty apps with no depth or differentiation, which I used to call ‘trash with flash’ :slightly_smiling_face:

Yes, users used to moan about the sh***y interface, but they bought the product because it delivered what mattered when the competition didn’t. Then, when we had penetration, and were the ‘go to’ supplier’, we could then spend the profits on the UX.

We need Davide to be able to afford a bigger Merc, and then he will no doubt bend to our every wish … :wink:

I didn’t notice the “All Notes” button! The tutorial video I was watching either scrolled through the list or used the search box. My mistake!

I want to reiterate that I really like what the program does and it is an excellent value. I would like to see more people use it and I think the interface may turn some people off. I have a lot of music software and this is so unlike other applications that it takes a lot of mental load to use it. Really, with a few typographical updates (easy and cheap) this could be improved quite a bit. Thanks for all the responses!

I’m a novice Scaler user (a few months) and still discovering things which I get from this board and trip over accidentally. Since every user will probably focus on different aspects, each learning path will vary, I guess.

However, I’ve been interested in music on computers for some while.

I first bought a copy of Cakewalk (now owned by Bandlab) when I was in Boston USA (they were based there) to learn about midi and sequencers. As you can it was on 3.5 inch floppies and for Windows 2 :open_mouth:, although I’d just bought a machine with Windows 3.1 on.

I bought an Oberheim Matrix about the same time to learn about analogue synths, and Scaler reminds me of it. The ‘1000’ referred to the number of on-board pre-set patches, and rather like Scaler, by the time you got to voice 426, you were thinking about taking up something else as a hobby.

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Hi @Tim and welcome.
I agree with you, as I have mentioned before several times this is an unfortunate byproduct of building a colosseum and then trying to construct a city around it. We never intended Scaler to have so many features, so irksome UI things like the size of the bind buttons has been a continuous bug bear to me. The time has come for a complete overhaul of the UX from the ground up, one that is thought out to maintain what makes scaler great and allow all the other features to be reached with ease. There are several options we are playing with, and there will be several people involved - it is an exciting time.
In the meantime, take a little time to understand where Scaler has come from and the powerful features it encapsulates and you (like me and our many users) will hopefully grow to love that scaler still encourages creativity first irrespective of the necessary UX quirks.


Hi @davide,
If I didn’t think the app was great, I wouldn’t have taken the time to respond. I really like it and it want it to succeed and grow. I’m hoping more artists contribute chords and performances. I’m overly sensitive about UX issues and I was trying to make constructive suggestions rather than complaints. Sorry if it came off wrong. Keep up the good work and I’ll continue to let friends know about this app.


I don’t think you said/did anything wrong, and Davide confirmed the GUI will be improved, so never give up hope!

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@Tim we’re just an awful chatty and argumentative crowd here, don’t mind us :rofl:

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