Sonar X1 User Interface… WHY?!?

April 18, 2011 at 7:55 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 11 Comments

I will never understand why software companies feel the need to ruin the user interface that their userbase has come to know and love for years when they release new versions.

I installed Sonar X1 today and I almost had a nervous breakdown. Sonar 1-8 all followed pretty much the same UI; there were some simple things about the interface that made the experience intuitive and efficient… Take the hotkeys for example: When you’re drawing notes onto the sheet music, you’re constantly switching between drawing, erasing, selecting, and using the brush tool. So naturally, it made sense that the hotkeys were D, E, S, and B respectively. Not only were they intuitive because they’re the first letters of each of these words, but also because that’s where your hand naturally rests on the keyboard (just like WASD in FPS games). It makes sense… it allows you to compose faster (which is critical when you have an arrangement in your head that you’re hurriedly trying to notate before it leaves your mind). Randomly changing these hotkeys to F6-9 because you want to use D to represent docking (why the hell do you need a hotkey for that, seriously… I choose the draw tool probably 10,000x more than I choose to dock or undock something).

Also, I much preferred when all of the track information was inside of the track itself, not off to the side. I can’t for the life of me understand the reasoning behind this (besides wanting to add clutter because it looks more complicated). There’s a very distinct design-related justification behind putting the track information on the track: You can look at all of the track information at once! You don’t have to switch tracks in order to see it! Additionally, it takes up less space… there is ZERO reason for the input list to be a gigantic 3 inch tall bar. Again, unless you just want your UI to look more esoteric. I wasted hours today going through help documents, reading manuals, and searching forums just so that I could relearn how to control a program that I’ve used for almost 10 years. You know that the UI has not improved when it takes you an hour just to find an icon that was in plain sight in every previous version of the program.

I hate this. And I hate that they’ve discontinued all of the earlier versions of Sonar that had well-designed UI. And you know, while I’m at it, I hate Google instant search. It’s a gigantic piece of crap. I feel like I am going to cry.


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  1. aww.. dont cry laura.. there is always a rainbow after the sunshine πŸ™‚ there is bound to be something that would cheer up your day or week πŸ™‚

    i hope this message would cheer you up:)

    cause i have been through worse when i am in the army πŸ™‚ but i still keep my heads up

  2. Wow! Sweet Laura is ranting! I know what you mean – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! I was taking several hours to research/learn version 8 (demo) but had to stop due to workload. Thanks to you, I guess I should stop since I’ll have to relearn X1 if I’d bought it. Waah, if only Cakewalk released a demo of the current version.

    =( There there. At least Google has a way for you to turn off instant search (assuming you’re logged in all the time)

  3. I totally understand and sympathize. As a software developer myself, I cringe sometimes at some of the decisions I’ve seen fellow developers and other applications make in terms of user interface decisions. Getting it to work almost always seems to take a priority over making it work well when a company is under economic woes and sadly, sometimes not even then.

    May I suggest at some point when you feel better writing out all your complaints formally (but not as a flame or rant) and submitting them to Cakewalk. At worst they ignore your concerns, at best perhaps they will listen and fix the issues in a patch update or in the next version. Or you might consider organizing an email campaign as well.

  4. If this is going to impact your composing this is HORRIBLE, but you’ll get through it πŸ™‚ you can’t use the earlier versions? D: **not a technology person** xP YOU’LL GET THROUGH IT, switching to Word 07 from Word 03 was horrible for me, but I got the hang of it pretty quickly πŸ˜‰

    oh, and btw you can turn google instant too, like small said. So don’t cry. ;D

  5. use flstudio instead. πŸ™‚ or well…just use your old version its not like it doesnt work anymore or?

  6. At last, someone who feels my pain. I bought X1 in December and HATE it. D, E, S, B…it’s what I have revolved around for 10 years. You don’t go changing critical shortcut keys like that.

  7. well… if you don’t like it, don’t use it.

  8. I know what you mean– it seems like they love change for the sake of change. One solution that I’ve come up with to control the ever-changing software I use is to use an external programmable keyboard. X-keys makes several models of these things, but they are expensive and I’ve never tried them. Instead, I bought a Logitech G13, which can be purchased for around $70 online. It’s intended for gaming, but it works great for non-gaming purposes too. You can map all sorts of commands to its 20 or so different buttons (including a joystick). For example, you could remap the function keys to where DESB “feel” like they should be, or you could make whatever layout you want. You can also record macros, which can then be triggered by a single keypress. It’s a huge timesaver! Hope this helps πŸ™‚

  9. Awww… how cute. πŸ™‚

  10. I’m so glad I’m not the only one having breakdowns like this. I’m currently annoyed about Adobe and their Acrobat X … thing. The just changed some of the keyboard shortcuts I used all the time. BTW Cakewalk was the first MIDI editing program I tried – it was on the Comodore 64. OMG I’m so old … Keep up the nice work, I enjoy your Music and your spirit. Greetings from Germany

  11. Hi,

    I am from Holland, as a hobby musician for 25 year or more, I bought last year a Roland / cakewalk studio 700, a sort of mixing studio / audio interface working in a combination with cakewalk sonar.

    This system was second hand and the cakewalk version provided was v 8.

    It worked rather to my liking; being used to programs as FL studio ans Acid ( and years back even pro 24 steinberg on an atari ), I quickly understood how it all worked and started recording audio / midi tracks.
    But I read that v 8,5 would be a better choice. Problem was that it appeared to be impossible to upgrade to v 8,5 because this was a second hand unit and the license key was not in my name, but on the former owner ( who was not traceable )

    So after some dealing with the shop where I bought it, I received a new license and sonar X1 for “only” 200 euro….

    I installed this and since then ( now approx one year ago ) hardly made any music with this any more. What a horrible, totally incomprehensible software this is indeed! I never figured out what, where, when and how… The so called award winning Skylight interface is a complete nightmare!

    I deeply regret this “upgrade” and actually I am rather disappointed in Roland, for the first time. I own a whole lot of Roland gear, since years and it has always been my favorite over a brand as Yamaha: superior build quality, sound reliability etc.

    But now with this cakewalk sonar x1 sh*t, my confidence in Roland is fading…

    For computer music making I do a lot with FL studio . bought a license and I get lifelong upgrade to the newest version!

    I really like FL studio, but it will not work seamlessly with this v700 studio..

    BTW all these kind of complaints go for adobe programs as well. ( as a graphic professional I am forced to work with their sh*t )


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