Traverso, an audio recording and editing tool with an innovative interface

We all love to hate the way applications show their functionality to us with countless buttons, menus and tool bars which consume much of the screen real estate, and are slow to work with!

Traverso uses a contextual interaction interface which allows for an extremely efficient workflow. The concept has been used in computer games of various genres for years, whenever speed, ergonomics and instant access to a large number of actions matter. It has been adapted to digital audio workstations by another project, and was further refined by Traverso.

The concept

Audio applications have a clear structure, one or more Tracks which each contain a number of Audio Clips, a panel that shows information about the Track, and so on. All of these are Graphical Elements.
The classical approach is to use the mouse to control many or all aspects of the Graphical Elements, clicking to select, clicking on a button to change the mouse to a selection tool, and so on. A lot of clicking with one or two mouse buttons, and we have a keyboard and a left hand that are sitting idle!
By using the keyboard (controlled by the left hand) and the mouse together we can speed up our control of the Graphical Elements significantly!

How it works

Let's start with an example: say we want to adjust the Gain of a Track. We would usually have to open a mixing console, or point the mouse to a small gain slider in a Track panel and make very small mouse movements to adjust the Gain value.
This means the mouse hand does all the work!
In Traverso, when the mouse hovers over a Graphical Element , that element is 'soft selected', and all actions become readily available to it. The actions and how they are performed are all listed in the 'Contextual Menu', so let's open it. Right click the mouse on a Track or press Q, and the menu opens. When looking for Gain we see the shortcut notation [ G ]. It means that we should press the G key, and keep it pressed while we move the mouse up/down, or use the scrollwheel.. Here we are essentially using the G key as an extra mouse button that has one very specific task.
And while we drag the mouse while holding the G key, the cursor shows us the Gain of the Track!
(IMPORTANT: We're always anxious to have a mnemonic connection between the functions name and the key we used as the center-key. So in this case we used G since it is the first letter of Gain)

Why we love it

Keys are bound to specific actions, and apply to all Graphical Elements that feature that action. So once you know that the G key controls the Gain variable, you can adjust the Gain for the Master Out (Sheet Element), Tracks and Audio Clips by using the [ G ] action on each Graphical Element! The need for space consuming slider widgets have gone, the mouse doesn't need to be moved over long distances speeding up the action, and finally both hands do an equal amount of work reducing the risk of RSI!.

Further reading

For more in-depth discussion about soft-selection and traverso's input method, look at Traverso's User Manual.