Audio software manufacturers are starting to talk about user interfaces. I guess they ran out of superlatives to redefine the sawtooth wave…
It’s about time though:
I have always wondered who got the struck of genius that emulating the hardware interfaces on a screen would make software instantly usable? Yes, there is the same “familiar from real world” excuse that’s been touted with the desktop interface. Well… there are a couple of problems:
Emulating the real world is not a perfect metaphor. Especially in something as tactile as synthesizers: it’s like using real synths with a pointed stick. Needless to say, it doesn’t work.
A huge part of the users have never seen or used the originals, the world that is being emulated. So much for familiarity. Look at the OS X Finder or Windows Vista, and it’s obvious the same goes for the desktop metaphor.
Did nobody ever think that maybe, just maybe no particular attention was paid to the original hardware UIs being copied? Especially when it comes to copying UIs of digital synths that were made in the early 90s. Take for example the Wavestation UI:
…faithfully replicated in the recent software version (except there are 5 views from the original fitted into one):
The visual emulation of an interface doesn’t work. A UI is not simply a visualization decoupled from the interface. Rather, UI is an extension of the input mechanisms: the UI can and should be different depending on whether you have scrollers, knobs, sliders, keys, or only a mouse available.