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zooey

Helix navigation proposal

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Amid the various talk about different ways of setting Helix up for optimal access to presets, snapshots, and stomps, I can't help feeling that the fundamental problem is that you can't get to all of all of those quickly. The Mode switch lets you switch between two footswitch configurations, which was fine when we were only dealing with presets and stomps, but now that snapshots are in the mix, you can either split the available switches between your choice of two different functions, which doesn't give you enough of either of them, or you're stepping on two switches simultaneously to get to snaps.

 

Line 6 has proven that they're usually way out ahead of us in coming up with interface ideas and making them clear and easy to use, so there's a good chance they'll knock this one out of the park too, but I thought I put a proposal out there for comments.

 

The basic idea is that the Mode switch isn't inherently a two-state toggle. It's a configurable loop of footswitch setups, and hitting Mode goes to the next one. For example, if it's configured to do Presets, Snapshots, and Stomps, and presets are showing now, pressing it once gets you snaps, again gets you stomps, and again gets you back to presets.

 

In addition, in place of the Snapshot Mode Footswitches Auto Return option, you can explicitly configure what shows after recalling a preset, and after recalling a snapshot.

 

Those settings plus the existing Preset mode switches really give you a lot of navigation flexibility.

 

As I thought about this, I really want to see how it actually felt in use, but I don't have the knowledge to modify the Helix firmware (yet!), so I built an HTML mockup you can try. The top section imitates the relevant global settings, and the bottom section simulates the resulting footswitches, with Preset, Snapshot and individual Stomp indicators. There's a minimal explanation next to each of the global settings.

 

This may be more complex than people want, and of course there's no perfect world, but I'm interested in what folks think of it.

 

Please let me know if how it works is confusing, and I'll either try to explain better here, or if you have ideas on how to make the thing itself clearer, I can do that when I get a chance.

 

(Just to say it, use a recent mainstream browser. This isn't commercial software, and near zero effort has gone into cross-platform testing, it's just to get the ideas into peoples' hands. That said, it works ok with several of my desktop browsers, and on my phone.)

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Zooey --- this is definitely fun to play with, and thanks for taking the time.  As with anything "new" -- an initial reaction is that it is a bit complicated, but nearly anything with so many configurable options is likely to be.  Personally, I like that sort of flexibility - and once you figure out how it can work for you -- it's all good.  But I would suspect that many Helix users would have a tough time with this to begin.  Would you be the guy manning the forum for all the "I can't get this to work the way I want it to" posts?   :P

 

In all seriousness -- I too think the Mode switch could be used as a configurable loop of some sort. 

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Back when I first heard about snapshots, and was given the rundown about how they would work, one of the things I first asked about was tying the snapshot mode to the Mode Switch instead of the Bank Up and Down switches. I think the reason they didn't do that is because of what DI said in another thread here about wanting to make snapshots totally transparent in the sense that if you didn't want to use them, it would be like they weren't there. So they wanted to make it so you couldn't accidentally get into snapshot mode and have a "what the heck did I just do?" moment.

 

I like the concept of what you've laid out here, but I do think it introduces a layer of complexity that Line 6 isn't probably willing to implement. I can see users getting confused. I think the problem is that with every different configuration option, you get exponential growth as to the possible configuration. I think people would have a hard time keeping all the options straight in their head.

 

Personally, I think the one thing I could see being implemented is maybe another option for Stomp mode which would allow anything to be assigned to switches - snapshots, presets, stomps or controllers.

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Personally, I think the one thing I could see being implemented is maybe another option for Stomp mode which would allow anything to be assigned to switches - snapshots, presets, stomps or controllers.

 

+1000

 

At the time, as I don't want to leave stomp mode, to change snapshot, I assign a MIDI message to a footswitch, send it to a computer, then the computer send a MIDI message to the Helix to change snapshot.

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I like the concept of what you've laid out here, but I do think it introduces a layer of complexity that Line 6 isn't probably willing to implement. I can see users getting confused. I think the problem is that with every different configuration option, you get exponential growth as to the possible configuration. I think people would have a hard time keeping all the options straight in their head.

 

Personally, I think the one thing I could see being implemented is maybe another option for Stomp mode which would allow anything to be assigned to switches - snapshots, presets, stomps or controllers.

 

Yep; it seems that some folks are 'running out of switches'  :lol:

Maybe an 'addon pedal' (MIDI extension pedal) would make it easier for those guys...

I'm happy that my floorboard had become so 'tiny', anyway ;)

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OK, the reactions so far that it's too complicated for users are pretty much what I expected, thanks for looking. (Just to be clear, I'm not trying to shut down further reactions, not at all, keep 'em comping.)

 

 

I've modified that mockup so the initial settings are closer to today's Helix -- Mode toggles between stomps and whatever setup you chose for Preset mode switches, and selecting presets or snaps leaves the footswitches unchanged. (Actually, in real Helix that depends on whether Snapshot mode footswitches are set to Auto Return or not, but No Change is clearer here.)

 

Navigate to the page again, via the link or otherwise, to see that change. Doing Reload probably won't do it, because browsers typically remember the state of most form fields in that case.

 

 

klangmaler is right that we're kind of out of switches now that there are snapshots. Yes an external MIDI controller would help, but it's another piece to carry, set up, and have malfunction, and more importantly, unless it has scribble strips that are automatically in sync with an attached Helix -- hello Line 6 :) -- it's a bit of a drag.

 

 

Both logically and from the reactions, I gather there's some interest in the idea of the Mode switch being more than a two-position toggle.

 

I honestly don't think the loop-of-switch-setups idea itself is complex at all. Neither is the idea of choosing what you want to see after recalling presets and snaps. And the Preset mode switches setting actually has fewer choices in it than today, since you can choose all-of-anything directly.

 

So then, Logical Me says "hey, it's not actually complicated", but Software Developer Me says, "yeah right, that's not what users think, you're a programmer, your usability opinions mean less than zero". Ideally, we figure out what to do with the core ideas that's powerful enough for most users, and obvious to your 10 year old shredder neighbor.

 

I considered posting this with no configuration at all, just a fixed loop of Mixed, Stomps, Snapshots, basically a slightly extended version of what we have now. But the nice thing about this as-is is that you can set it up better than that for how you actually work, whether you that's using one preset permanently (Snapshots, Stomps), you don't use snaps at all (Presets, Stomps), etc.

 

If anyone has any other ideas on how to configure that loop flexibly but in a less intimidating way, I'm all ears. Or some whole other concept?

 

 

Thing is, every night when I go downstairs and play, I have a blast, but I still don't know how I should set up Helix for optimum cool. It's a question I can't make go away.

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At the time, as I don't want to leave stomp mode, to change snapshot, I assign a MIDI message to a footswitch, send it to a computer, then the computer send a MIDI message to the Helix to change snapshot.

 

It may be that you need to the computer there, but wouldn't it be easier (if you didn't need the computer) just to connect Helix MIDI out back to MIDI in and set the footswitch to send CC69 (value 0 - 7)?

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It may be that you need to the computer there, but wouldn't it be easier (if you didn't need the computer) just to connect Helix MIDI out back to MIDI in and set the footswitch to send CC69 (value 0 - 7)?

 

The Helix not being capable of sending several MIDI messages with a footswitch (and not offering any functions you find in a good MIDI controller), yes, I need the computer to handle some of the MIDI work. And so I can't do the thing with the cable, because I need the MIDI IN/OUT ports to communicate with the computer.

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The Helix not being capable of sending several MIDI messages with a footswitch (and not offering any functions you find in a good MIDI controller), yes, I need the computer to handle some of the MIDI work. And so I can't do the thing with the cable, because I need the MIDI IN/OUT ports to communicate with the computer.

 

Actually, with snapshots, you can have up to six MIDI commands assigned to a footswitch. It's just that, technically, they're assigned to a snapshot change and not necessarily a footswitch, but in reality, there may not be much difference. I guess it depends on what you're wanting to do. I'm not understanding your comment about "not offering any functions you find on a good MIDI controller". Like what, exactly?

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Actually, with snapshots, you can have up to six MIDI commands assigned to a footswitch. It's just that, technically, they're assigned to a snapshot change and not necessarily a footswitch, but in reality, there may not be much difference.

 

Well, you mean apart for the fact that I can't have access to that while in stomp mode? That's a huge difference, and doesn't allow me to use it that way.

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Well, you mean apart for the fact that I can't have access to that while in stomp mode? That's a huge difference, and doesn't allow me to use it that way.

 

Sure, but you can do the mixed snapshot and stomp view in Preset Mode right now. What is your setup like? What are you controlling in Stomp Mode that you couldn't do with Snapshots?

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I'm not understanding your comment about "not offering any functions you find on a good MIDI controller". Like what, exactly?

 

Just go and check any good MIDI foot controller, while these controllers are allowing you to do almost anything, with the Helix, you pretty much can't do anything but sending ONE message by switch (apart from changing preset/snapshot where you can send several, but that's not a viable option to launch samples during a song for example)

 

Take for example the great Gordius Little Giant, a few features that I'm missing:

 

- Send as many messages as you want from any footswitch

- Timers to delay actions

- Global variables to do specific actions depending on conditions

- Random function to randomize some events

 

I'm not saying the Helix should propose these features, absolutely not, but I think that the absolute minimum for the Helix to be called a MIDI controller would be that we can in stomp mode make any footswitch do what we want (change snapshot, etc.) OR being able to send several MIDI messages. That would not make a great MIDI controller, but a whole lot better.

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Sure, but you can do the mixed snapshot and stomp view in Preset Mode right now. What is your setup like? What are you controlling in Stomp Mode that you couldn't do with Snapshots?

 

Not possible at all with my setup.

 

Just the fact that you have to have one row of each type is not viable.

 

As we can't change a preset during a song without a silence (that huge 80ms sound drop...), and I'm playing sometimes 14 minutes song where I don't have any silence, and where I must launch at least 10 different samples, etc., I often must think about a good way to make it 12 footswitches only. So if I lose the liberty of chosing what footswtich does what, and I must have one row of each type, I'm dead.

 

Not saying I don't have specific needs. Not saying the Helix should do all that. The snapshots have made it really better. But not enough to being able to use it without a computer handling the MIDI work.

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If you're talking about live use (didn't read back to check if you said), a decent MIDI foot controller would be preferable to a computer IMO. Something like an FCB1010, with or without the UNO mod, depending on exactly what you're doing. Those do a lot, especially for the money.

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If you're talking about live use (didn't read back to check if you said), a decent MIDI foot controller would be preferable to a computer IMO. Something like an FCB1010, with or without the UNO mod, depending on exactly what you're doing. Those do a lot, especially for the money.

 

Thank you but yes, indeed, I don't think you read my posts.

 

(I'm not asking for anything, was just "+1" some post, explaining why and then answering some questions. And no, no MIDI controller comes close to a computer with Bome MIDI translator on it, even the mighty Gordius Little Giant. And certainly not the FCB1010 that is really limited.)

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I love the concept Zooey, I use the 10 stomp mode, and have to switch back to preset mode whenever I want to change a snapshot so, for now, I don't think I'll use both "modes" (snapshot and stomp) on the same song. Your idea would be perfect for me, and I'd be willing to pay for it, if they decided to do it as an option some users could choose to have while others wouldn't bother with such a thing.

You should post it on Ideascale and see how it goes. Maybe in one or two years... No offense (to L6) intended, I'm just stating that such a thing would take a lot of time to implement and it wouldn't probably be on the top ten most wanted features.

Really, I love it. Thanks

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Apologies for the drive-by comments stephane, not enough time in my days lately to pay attention to the things I want to.

 

 

Inerzia, I actually don't think the core logic is that hard to build, and some extent I actually know, because I just did it, in Javascript though, not Shark DSP code.

 

To me the bigger problem is that you and I seem to be the only people who aren't put off by its seeming complexity. Even having the default behavior be pretty much what we have today didn't help, the existence of the other options was enough to spoil it. Thanks for your feedback, it lets me know I'm not comopletely off in the weeds here.

 

I'm hoping Line 6 sees this, and some aspects of it make it into a future Helix design, but with their great sense of simplification and accessibility applied. I did this before posting it to Ideascale, in the off chance it might get improved on my the community first, but I'll try to put it up there over the weekend as-is if something further develops here. We'll see.

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