[Date Prev][Date Next]   [Thread Prev][Thread Next]   [Date Index][Thread Index][Author Index]

Re: Air Intake of the Echoplex Manual

Hi Jeff, thanks a lot for the manual suggestions, that's really useful 

At 11:08 AM 11/1/2004, Jeff Larson wrote:
>First, I found the transition from the User's Guide to Parameters
>disorienting.  I think Functions should have been first.  I was
>expecting more depth on the User's Guide material but got lost in
>parameter details without having a good mental model for how those
>might actually be used.

that makes sense.

>Functions should be presented in order of "popularity" rather than

Yes, this part is a challenge. I dislike alphabetical order also. The 
original manual was totally alphabetical for the whole reference section, 
which meant lots of strange juxtapositions like Input Volume next to 
Insert. It made no sense. I split everything into categories for the new 
manual to make that work better.

But then I left it alphabetical in the individual chapters because I 
figured that would make it much easier for someone to pick up the manual 
and quickly find a specific item. It doesn't work so well for reading 
straight through. If the reference section were ordered for readability it 
would then be much harder to find a specific thing quickly when you are 
looking back at it for reference. It is hard to decide which way is right.

In the end I was way past the deadline and it was already alphabetical, so 
the decision got made that way!

>Sure everyone has a different way of approaching the
>EDP, but I'll bet the top 10 functions of interest will be pretty much
>the same for 99% of new users.  Put brain contorting features like
>InterfaceMode and Loop Windowing last.  There is enough to digest
>without having those bombs dropped on you in the middle.  Possibly an
>"Advanced" section to contain those things that you won't understand
>until you already have a good grasp of basic functions.

That's probably a good idea. The "Quick Start" chapter in the beginning is 
supposed to cover the basic stuff for beginners. I really expect people 
would spend a few weeks just learning that part before moving on the more 
advanced functions. But perhaps the quick start needs more. Still, most 
people stick to the functions in that section for a long time.

The whole "user guide" portion got shortchanged in the first Echoplex 
manual because time ran out to finish it. I had the same problem again 
time for the new manual, the reference section took a long time but I felt 
it was necessary for that part to be complete and accurate. I managed to 
a few passes over the whole User Guide half of the manual before I had to 
wrap it up, adding some new material and making it more clear and 
It is a lot better than it was in the old manual, but I still wish I could 
do more in there.

The problem I see is many people buy a looper with an expectation that it 
is like a simple effect, where they plug into it and it makes some noise 
and there is fairly instant gratification. You can figure the effect 
parameters out in an afternoon. They don't realize that they have just 
bought a new musical instrument that they will need to learn how to play 
it, and this will take some time and practice, just as it does with any 
other instrument.

>The problem with this approach is that some parameters like Quantize
>affect lots of functions and you don't want to duplicate it

I did try to make sure the effect of quantize and some other parameters 
included with functions where it mattered. It is hard to make a judgement 
about that, since it can end up with a lot of duplication if the effect of 
every parameter is included in each function. It is clearly needed 
sometimes, however.

>For this and a few other things I would add a "Concepts"
>section that precedes Functions.  Here you introduce what functions,
>parameters, and presets are.  Then a few broadly applicable concepts
>like like Feedback, Quantize, MoreLoops, maybe SwitchQuant, and some
>things in the Functions section that aren't really functions like SUS
>Commands and LoopDivide.

In the beginning is the section called "Terminology" that does some of 
this. I added to that over the original manual to cover more of the 
concepts as you suggest. I agree it could have still more, and maybe it is 
better named "Concepts" and given a whole chapter.

>I might move interesting but not very practical information like
>"Undo/Under The Hood" to an Appendix.

There I don't agree, if you really want to use Undo well, it is essential 
to understand how it works internally. I don't want to make people bounce 
around so much to reach that understanding, I want to lead them into it 
soon. Or at least leave them with the feeling that there is some important 
details still to learn. If it is in an appendix most people will never see 

I have noticed with the new manual that people are reaching the more 
advanced looping concepts a lot faster than they did before, since so much 
of it is now explicitly described. Before you had to intuit so much that 
most never got there. Plus it helps that today there are many more 
experienced loopers creating good music and using more advanced looping 
techniques. Much more is taught that way than by manuals, I think.

>The "Parameter Presets" and "User Interface" felt sort of buried, I
>would probably place them higher, certainly above Synchronization and
>MIDI Control, and maybe after Concepts.

The User Interface part especially. I don't really remember why I had that 
towards the end, it doesn't make sense to me now either! Probably another 
thing where I just ran out of time and left it where it was.

>Now, I don't want to sound too critical.  These are debatable
>editorial choices that should not detract from the fact that the
>manual is extremely comprehensive and accurate.  I have great respect
>for the authors, writing for complex systems is a very hard job.

Well, thanks a lot. Criticisms are fine with me when they come along with 
useful suggestions and specific examples of where the problems are. So 
is quite helpful.


Kim Flint                     | Looper's Delight
kflint@loopers-delight.com    | http://www.loopers-delight.com