Proposal for changing engine control screen workflow

After delving deep into the code of the UI I’ve been able to introduce a small, but albeit almost life-changing to me:

When you are in a control screen, seeing the list of parameters for a layer, back button currently goes back to presets with a short click, back to main menu with a bold one and back to admin with a longer one.

Select button on the other hand, goes down the list with a short click. This creates a situation in which if you press select once more then intended you either need to use the touchscreen to go back up one entry on the list or bold-click select, turn the encoder and click select again
This makes it so that for the opposite action of going down the list, a very different and longer set of actions need to be taken.

I made it so that back goes up the list the same way select goes down. Bold click on back takes you to the preset list, and long click takes you to the main menu.
This makes back the opposite and immediate action for select, without removing the ability to go back into the preset selection.

After testing this with some parameter groups this IS much more intuitive!!!

If anybody wants to test, I’ve got this branch where it’s set up. @jofemodo not many changes really so maybe we could merge into the ctrl-groups?

I see no compromises with this approach and it really makes the whole experience way less un-intuitive and frustrating (which, for me at least, at times it was).

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Hi @Pastitas !

I’ve a conflict with your approach. The “bold-back” click for going to the “Main Menu” is a global action (non contextual). We had a nice discussion about this some time ago and everybody (more or less) agreed that we wanted a “non-contextual and immediate” action for jumping to the main menu.

Of course i understand your POV, and agree the current “control-screens” workflow is sub-optimal. We must improve it. So … let’s take your proposal and think deeper. Perhaps we could find a better way :wink:


I feel like moving the global action to the longer click does not compromise on the quick access to such menus, as i feel admin menu is not something that needs inmediacy, and by moving long click to ‘main’
you gain 2 ways of interacting with contextuals, without losing much, as ‘admin’ is one click away from Main.

If having to scroll down in main to get to admin is an issue it might even be possible to go to main and set the selector on admin menu by default, if admin menu is really something that needs a shortcut.

I understand this might have been decided before but i urge you to test with my branch (which right now I’m not sure if it includes the jump to main or still points to admin) Since I feel like now my zynthian is more usable by anyone, I’ve tested with some family members (none technical) and without further context they do agree with my approach.

I also feel like having bold back in the main menu or admin take you back to control would be better then the current loop that happens with short back button

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I would like to read more opinions about this :wink:

I agree that forward and reverse navigation being asymmetrical feels wrong and I don’t like the cyclic back button behaviour but interface changes need to be considered holistically so that and existing conventions are retained or altered in a considered way. I use the long press to reach admin occasionally but don’t think it necessary. It feels like admin gets preferential treatment and many users may seldom use it. If bold BACK took us to Main menu then we could use bold BACK from Main menu to go to admin. I must admit that I find navigation a bit confusing and the maps on the wiki are tricky to follow and I think may be inaccurate.

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My rationale on that was, if there’s a need for main menu and admin access globally, a long press action that takes you to main should be close enough in regards to ui workflow since its fairly obvious how to get from main to admin.

Of course I’d like to hear from what others think, though I’m not sure how I’m gonna go back now :wink:

I tend to agree. In the early days admin had more of a need but as things have developed I tend to use it occasionally for network configs and reboots.

Agree with this as well.

Hi @zynthianers!

From my point of view, changing the bold-back and long-back actions is not a big issue. The real issue is changing the short-back action, that is currently bond to “presets”. This change is highly disruptive and for sure, a lot of users won’t be comfortable with it. Selecting presets is something you want to do very fast and moving this action to bold-back is not something we should decide without thinking deep about it. This action remains unchanged from day 0.

Anyway, i’ve an alternate proposal for the control screen workflow:

  • short-select => enter controller screen selection mode (what is currently done by bold-select)
  • bold-select => layer options
  • bold-learn => snapshots menu


  • The new controller group functionality , when totally deployed, makes less useful the “one-click step forward” , while navigation gets more interesting. Now you know where is the controller you want.

  • Restoring the original “Snapshot” functionality and moving the “layer options” to “bold-select” has sense and it’s more coherent than current workflow in testing, which i’m not convinced of.

I know this is not perfect. I like the “one-click step forward” functionality, but i can’t figure a better option.

All the best,

I really like some of the options that you’re proposing, I however do urge you to test the current modification that I made since “going back to presets” functionality is still there, just in the bold-back click. Maybe it would make sense to get my branch into the repo so that people can test the different approaches.

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OK @zynthianers!

I just merged Pastitas proposal so we can test it. I implemented my proposal too, so you can compare :wink:

You can test both proposals simply changing your zynthian-ui branch from the webconf’s repositories menu:

  • workflow_ctrl-pastitas
  • workflow_ctrl-jofemodo

And this is a brief description with my opinion about the 3 workflow proposals we currently have for the Control Screen:

Current workflow on testing

  • Bold-learn => Layer options
  • Short-select => Step forward on controller-screen list
  • Bold-select => Enter select mode on controller-screen list
  • Short-back => Presets
  • Bold-back => Main Menu
  • Long-back => Admin


  • We have not direct access to Snapshots
  • We have not quick “step-backward” action on controller-screen list
  • Having “Bold-learn” for “layer options” is incoherent. From Layers, you access “layer options” with “bold-select”.


  • We have quick “step-forward” action on controller-screen list (short-select)
  • We have quick access to presets (short-back) and main menu (bold-back)

Pastitas Proposal

  • Bold-learn => Layer options
  • Short-select => Step forward on controller-screen list
  • Short-back => Step backward on controller-screen list
  • Bold-select => Enter select mode on controller-screen list
  • Bold-back => Presets
  • Long-back => Main Menu


  • We have not direct access to Snapshots. Accessing main menu is slow (long-back), so accessing snapshots is slow too.
  • Accessing presets is slighty slower than using short-back
  • Having “Bold-learn” for “layer options” is incoherent. From Layers, you access “layer options” with “bold-select”.


  • We have quick “step-backward/forward” actions on controller-screen list (short-select/short-back)

Jofemodo Proposal

  • Bold-learn => Snapshots
  • Short-select => Enter select mode on controller-screen list
  • Bold-select => Layer Options
  • Short-back => Presets
  • Bold-back => Main Menu
  • Long-back => Admin


  • We have not step-forward/backward for controller-screen list


  • Toggling select-mode in the controller-screen list is faster (short-select). As now we have controller groups, navigating controller screens is more interesting, and stepping forward and backward is less.

  • Quick and coherent access to snapshots. We recover the global “bold-learn” action for accessing snapshots menu.

  • Quick and coherent access to “layer options”. We keep the same “bold-select” action that is used from layers menu.

  • Quick access to presets and main menu.

Of course, i’m not totally objective, and tend to prefer my own proposals, so i hope you will add your POVs and help to take the right decissions. Of course, if you have a better proposal, don’t hesitate to add it to the list. We all want the better workflow for having the better zynthian experience.


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Hi @zynthianers!

As we need to release the staging-2109, i will merge @jofemodo’s (it’s me!) workflow proposal and release the staging this evening.
The staging period will last for 1 week aprox. (if no serious issues are detected) so we have time to change to @pastitas proposal if it’s preferred by the community.



I find the use of BACK button for moving up the list to not be intuitive, sorry @Pastitas. I’m still trying @jofemodo workflow. A bit worried about adding a change of workflow / control so close to stable release!!! That’s the Spanish way I guess :wink:.


It’s more jofemodo’s way :sweat_smile:
But don’t worry, these changes are mostly trivial and we have 1 week to test.


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UI control looks good. Up/down arrow on (QWERTY) keyboard moves parameter select bar but does not change parameter screen unless in select mode which feels a bit odd. It would be advantageous to change parameter page with up/down (as it does when in select mode).

[Edit] I am loving being able to access layer options directly from parameter screen. No more endless back and forth to tweak an existing layer. Long press on LAYER to reach step sequencer and BACK to return to layer parameter screen - excellent! I still don’t like the endless BACK cycle :frowning_face:.


You are right! CUIAs should be improved for allowing this to work.

But my dear @riban, everything is an endless cycle in life, and much more on music! And as you may know, zynthian is a kind of buddhist-like project, so cycles are unavoidable. Ohmmmmm!!!

BTW, have you listen this performance?


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The finest feature of the many excellent characteristics of the Ampex VPR-3 1" video recorder was the home button.
Back to a known good starting point however stressed the environment.
Just saying.


I didn’t follow all your discussions about UI change, sorry for that :slight_smile: But it’s quite nice to separate Filter, enveloppe, LFO, etc, it’s what I expecting !

I just tried the testing branch, and directly something seemed to me little bit strange and less intuitive : Now when you use the touchscreen, nothing happen, you cannot access to the different section of controller settings.

Something else, I was used to “short-select” to access to the different section, maybe i need to get used to it, but something always happening, when i want to “short select” to enter in the “select mode”, I’m going often to “layer options”, because “short-select” and “bold select” are close, and in Live performance, this kind of problems can happen every time !

You can configure the duration of each in webconf.

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Perhaps we might learn a little by considering how we might use only two or possibly one encoder to drive a zynth?. That might refine and develop the indexing of functionality. We might wish to limit this to must haves over nice to have.

Thanks ! I just figured out this thing.
But always the fact that the touchscreen not responding at all, it’s not intuitive at all.

Edit : I don’t know exactly why, but i prefer the old version of UI management. It’s my personal thinking but I like the “one-click step forward” functionality, because you just have to do one gesture, and repeat it if you want to go down. Now with the new version you have to do 3 gestures, click then turn the wheel then click again. It’s not very intuitive when you just want to go one step down.