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Feature request: make the "transform" dialogs non-modal

Feb 5, 2013 11:46 AM

Tags: #feature_request #transform #transform_object #modal_dialog

Currently, the transformation dialogs accessible at Object>Transform are modal. I'm talking about "Move…", "Rotate…", "Reflect…", and so forth. These dialogs, when open, lock the user out of any interaction with the artboard other than the "preview" button, until the dialog is closed.


Even more problematically, they lock the scroll and zoom factor of the current user view, so that there's no way to inspect how a precise numeric adjustment affects a part of the layout outside the current window (or within the current window but very small inside it) without committing the change, inspecting it, and then later undoing if necessary. This creates cycles of tedious user adjustments (especially on small monitors) that really should be possible in one user step, by toggling the preview button on and off, and zooming/scrolling.


This is contrary to most modern UI design principles, which suggest avoiding modes unless they are truly and meaningfully necessary. I don't think this is one of those cases. Photoshop made dialogs for adjustment layers non-modal with CS4, and while there are issues with the newer interface (see John Nack's Configurator workaround), I think it's a win overall. Illustrator needs to catch up in this regard. I realize there is some pretty serious refactoring involved to do this, but it has to be do-able.


In the words of Larry Tesler's immortal Subaru license plate: "NO MODES"!

  • Currently Being Moderated
    Feb 5, 2013 11:51 AM   in reply to bellandwhistle

    erm.... Transform panel.

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    Feb 5, 2013 1:01 PM   in reply to bellandwhistle

    So, what you're posting, just so I'm clear, is that the Transform Panel works and solves the issue. However you still have a problem with the menu items?


    Of course novice users will struggle with MANY aspects of the application. I'd hate development time to be alotted to an area just because a novice hasn't discovered there's a panel.


    Out of all the dialog windows in the entire application, I'd suggest the transform dialog are the LEAST problematic. And, for the most part, the least useful give the Transform panel and the Control Panel. Simply put, if the Transform panel works, then why even trouble yourself over the menu items? Simply ignore them and move on.

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    Feb 5, 2013 3:43 PM   in reply to bellandwhistle

    You do realize that this is a user to user forum, right? This is not a direct route to the Adobe dev team. There's no telling if any member of the AI team will every read anything here.


    I guess I simply find it funny that new users struggle with modal dialogs. It's not as if Illustrator is the ONLY application with this behavior. it's very common across hundreds of apps from hundreds of developers. I'd suggest, if you really wish modal dialogs to change, you invent something better and spec' it out. Because, to date, I've not seen any app, anywhere, work around modal dialogs compeltely.

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    Feb 5, 2013 3:50 PM   in reply to bellandwhistle

    Why go to Object > Transform?

    Why not use the right tool for the job? Hit R for Rotate, S for Scale etc. and your into the tool straight away

    They can all be used either numerically (by option-clicking) or manually.

    Most of them have keyboard shortcuts and you can make your own for those that don’t.


    And then there’s the Bounding Box that has its points; many people like it but I don’t much.

    Some users seem to have forgotten that the specific tools are there at all.


    Sorry, but I don’t think I appreciate your problem.

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    Feb 5, 2013 6:01 PM   in reply to bellandwhistle

    ...make the "transform" dialogs non-modal...

    What, and bring Illustrator out of the 1980s?! Are you mad, man?


    Just so you know you're not alone; I've been complaining about AI's archaic dependency upon modal dialogs for many years.

    ...I'm fully aware of the Transform panel...observing that there's another way to do it...doesn't really address any of my points here...

    But it's not "another way to do it," because the functionality is not the same. The modal dialogs include crucial functionality that cannot be done in the Transform palette. For example, moving something in terms of distance and direction (diagonally), instead of merely by lame X and Y factors. Or transforming about an off-object center of transformation, rather than merely by the 9-point proxy.


    ...the "preview" isn't updated on keyboard entry, and the "preview" checkbox need to be manually toggled on and off...

    But the preview does refresh (and does not have to be toggled) in response to keyboard entry if that keyboard entry is by the arrow keys. For example: Select something, doubleClick the Scale tool, click your cursor in the Uniform value field, and tap the up/down arrow keys (or press and hold them). The value will increment and the preview will update with each key tap. (Be sure to teach that to your students.)


    That does not, of course, negate the complaint, but it does ameleorate it somewhat. The increments are preset; there are no preference settings for them. (Don't even get me started on preferences that should be doc-specific settings, and vice-versa).


    Nor does the valid point that problematic dialogs abound beyond just those associated with the transform tools, but I do agree with it. For just one of many examples, it's nothing short of idiotic that the Scale fields of Transform Each do not have a uniform scaling lock, and that only percentage fields are provided and no explicit dimension fields. Illustrator is quite saturated with such inconsistencies and half-baked implementations.

 're often arguing with the emotionally attached Illustrator devoted here. So I wouldn't recommend holding your breath. It would probably be more effective teaching Illustrator's shortcomings to your beginning students. Probably one of the easiest ways to explain the problem of modal dialogs is to point out that you can't change the current selection with the dialog open.



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