10 Replies Latest reply on Mar 5, 2013 1:01 PM by Sorbsbuster

    Layout Design Tool feature changes in FM12 - why?



      Layout Design Tool feature changes in FM12 - why?


           I have finally been forced to start working with FM12 Advanced.  An FM11 file that has a couple of hundred hours work in it is now being finished in FM12.  I've had maybe under 10 hours of working with FM12, but it is a less-than-pleasant experience.  I accept that change usually brings short-term set-backs, but there are a number of changes that I've stumbled into, and for the life of me I cannot see what the point of them is.  My efficiency has dropped and irritation level increased significantly.  I have not been totally scientific about my research (I just want to get on with the job), but these are my experiences so far.  I would appreciate a few pointers from the more experienced to tell me that it's simply my fault for not exploring the design interface and tools sufficiently.  (All of these observations are from working on that FM11-converted file.)


           I can't remember the last time FM11 crashed on me.  In two days FM 12 crashed 3 times (Windows XP SP3 and fully-patched), and I lost a chunk of work each time.  Even when FM11 did crash, I never lost more than a few seconds' work.  I moved it to a Windows 7 work station and it seems much more stable, but it is 64-bit, and I worry about the compatibility.  I have set the save option to be 10 minutes ('or as necessary'), but I never lost 10 minutes work with FM11 (or any previous version).


           Swopping the control-key-modifier to select 'all objects surrounded' or 'all objects touched' was surely just change for the sake of it.  I don't remember seeing it on popular 'Feature Wish-lists'.  Because the file-format was changed with FM12 (grr, grrr, and double-grrrr....!) I have to work with FM11 and FM12, and making my thumb remember what toggles in which version is just an irritation.


           In FM11 there were 3 modes of moving an object:

           - click-and-drag.  Moved in 'large jumps'.  Fine for me 90% of the time.

           - nudge with the arrow keys - moved in 'small jumps'.  Basically was guaranteed to nudge any object into alignment with another (on every layout I have ever designed, anyway)

           - hold the Alt key - moved in seamless increments.  I never had to use it.  In fact, I think the only times I used the Alt key in moving objects in a layout was to bypass objects stopping me from re-sizing a layout part.

           Now there appear to be only 2 'work-a-day' modes, neither of which do it for me:

           - click and drag.  Rarely aligns for me.  Even duplicating a field and dragging it will not align the duplicate with the original field.  I find that really strange.

           - nudging with the arrow keys doesn't move in small enough increments - the object is often (if not always) mis-aligned by a small amount that needs the use of the Alt key and mouse to align.  It is as if creating or duplicating an object either doesn't align it to any grid (though it still 'jumps' when you drag it), or it is aligned to a grid - just not the same grid as everything else is aligned to.

           It would have ben great to have the original ‘Nudge’ with the arrow keys, then a modifier to ‘tiny increments’ with the Alt-Arrow keys.


           Often I have to zoom the screen to 200% in layout mode to effect the tiny alignment movements required.  Then of course when I go back to browse mode it stays at that zoom, so I have to click again to bring it back to 100%. ( It would be nice if the zoom level was independent for each mode.)  I never had to do that with FM11.


           When I lassoo several fields the widest outline of the grouped set is displayed.  I can see no value in that.  When I shift-click two fields, say top left and bottom right, it will show a large rectangle of almost my complete layout.  So when I then try and shift-click any more fields that are inside that rectangle there is no indication that I have selected them correctly.  I would often pick half-a-dozen objects to move, and I might not always hit each right first time.  I can only tell that I mis-clicked when I start moving them, and then only if I am not Control-dragging to duplicate them.   FM11 showed each selected object clearly with its own handles, and then showed the complete marquee size as I moved them.  That seemed perfect to me.  I can't see any advantage to the change.


           if I have a field in 10-pt, duplicate it, and move it, and I am lucky enough for it to align correctly, the good fortune is often undone when I grab a side-handle and try and extend it sideways.  It will often change the height of the field as well, even when I am pulling the side-handle, so it no longer matches the original field.  Then I am back to using the inspector to resize it or the other fields.


           When I Control-moved an object in FM11 (ie duplicate-and-move) it showed me the location of where the object would be re-positioned to as I dragged.  Now there is no marquee indication as I drag.  If I start to drag a field to move it, I can see the new position indicated as I drag.  But if I then hold down the Control key to initiate a copy-and-move, the new object and location indicator vanish.  I invariably still do a double-take when that happens, momentarily checking if I have pressed a wrong key, or dropped the mouse-click.  Then all I can do is just drop the duplicated object 'somewhere in the right region' and use the (poor) alignment tools of drag, nudge, alt, then eventually multi-select and use the alignment buttons in the inspector.  None of those inefficiencies existed in FM11.


           I notice as I drag objects blue alignment lines flash on and off.  I can't see why they do - are they coming on when the object edges are perfectly aligned with other objects' edges?  Because if they do they seem to confirm that if I click an object and duplicate it, then start to drag it, it will not be aligned with the original, but be a pixel or so out.


           Sometimes I would start to move an object, then realise I meant to 'Control-drag'.  In FM11 I could simply pop my thumb on the key as I dragged, and it would work as desired.  Sometimes it was the opposite - I would start Control-dragging and then realise I meant only to move the object, so I would lift my thumb off the key, and it would move as expected.  Now if I start to Control-drag and change my mind and stop pressing the key, it makes no difference - it carries on duplicating the object.  I see no way to make it 'drop' the modifier key, so I have to let it complete the move and then click 'Cancel', or whatever to undo it.  As I don’t look down to check if my finger is on the shift, alt, or control key it is a mistake a make regularly, and having pressed the Control key there is no way back.


           The Shift key used to act as a 'move constrainer'.  For example, if I clicked an object and Control-dragged, it would duplicate and move.  If I held down the Shift key at the same time it would constrain the move to perfectly vertical or horizontal.  That doesn't happen now: it almost does - but the moved object will often be slightly mis-aligned with the original.


           I used to be able to start to move an object, and as it was moving, add the Shift modifier key.  It would immediately jump back into a constrained horizontal or vertical path from its orginal location.  Now, I have to be careful to select the Shift key before I start to move the object, otherwise if I press the shift key while it's moving it will constrain from that point on.  (I can't think why I would want that.)  So I now have no flexibility about when I press the modifier keys, and when I can't see any handles to indicate if my 'Shift' has 'extended' my choice of objects, it makes it more difficult now to time precisely the pressing of the Control, Shift, and left-clicks.  If I press Control by mistake, I'm stuck with it.  If I press Shift too late my object will mis-align.  If I accidentally press shift-click rather than click-shift I will de-select the object I'm trying to move, presumably.  Which I will only realise when I start to move them, as there may be no object handles displayed now.  In FM11 I could add or remove combinations of modifier keys, and see the effect instantly on the screen, in 'real-time'.  Removing that flexibility makes it a real pain.


           Sometimes I have a field that I duplicate and align.  Then I duplicate again, maybe twice more, and align.  When I try and align the 4th field, say, it sometimes grows a fuzzy grey border, rather like a drop-shadow, which is evident in layout and browse mode.  It is as if I changed the border to be 2pt grey, from 1pt black.  The other fields will be fine.


           A black hairline field border used to be pin-sharp.  A 1-pt border was the same, only thicker.  A 1pt border is often too wide (for my taste) but changing to a hairline width also makes it look as if it is changed to grey.


           I cannot see any advantages to any of these design-interface changes, but I would appreciate anyone pointing me to them, or showing me where I'm going wrong.  I find the removed tool features a real gap, and the changed ones a total pain.

        • 1. Re: Layout Design Tool feature changes in FM12 - why?

               I feel your pain....


                    So when I then try and shift-click any more fields that are inside that rectangle there is no indication that I have selected them correctly.

               Well there is an appearance change that shows whether each object is part of the selected group, but with some layout backgrounds, it blends in to the point of invisibility and on others it can be pretty subtle to spot. Others have complained about this.


                    I notice as I drag objects blue alignment lines flash on and off.

               I've found those alignment guides to be pretty useful--especially due to the modifier key snafus that you have so clearly described. The objects may be jumping slightly out of alignment due to "snapping" to the layout grid. This seems to happen even if you turn off the grid if the original object's position is in fractions of a point. Fractional point positioning/sizing issues are another nightmare that you did not note in this post... In some cases, users have reported that objects that are fractionally positioned appear fuzzy.

               I've also found the new selection lasso behavior pretty handy once I got used to it, but would have preferred that the original behavior be the default and the modifier key version be the one that selects for the new selection behavior.

          • 2. Re: Layout Design Tool feature changes in FM12 - why?



                 Unfortunatelly, I can't be of any help.

                 Your experience and that of others before has prevented me from jumping into FM 12 v03.

                 FMI doesn't seem to care much about it. 

                 But don't blame FMI  for such a buggy product.

                 Blame the authors of those inflated reviews by "experts" in PC and Mac Magazines.

                 Blame all those boneheads that don't see FM shortcomings and ask FMI and Apple for a change for the better.

                 Blame all those FM experts that in FM Forums defend FM12 as a great product.

                 As FM users we should demand high quality products from FMI and we should keep asking till the current FMI managerial team feel the lost pride of being responsible for a great product that meets customers expectations.

                 But if nobody complaints and everybody keeps waiting for a better product, then don't be surprised for what you get.


                 Maybe somebody will suggest workarounds, but this is not the answer.

                 Good luck,



            • 3. Re: Layout Design Tool feature changes in FM12 - why?

                   Thanks for your feedback - obviously not as good for me as 'You've just missed a whole tab of options in the Inspector'.  Is there no way that anyone can tap on a door at FM Inc and get someone to open a few pages of code and do a couple of Ctrl-Z's?  This isn't 'product development', this is vandalism.  At best it's just 'a mistake', so let's get it un-done in Version 12.3.1, and we'll say no more about it.

                   The interface is so time-wasting that I am considering continuing to work in FM11 (so bye-bye any genuine feature-improvements) and downgrading it to FM12 each time I have to release.  So bye-bye also to over $700.

              • 4. Re: Layout Design Tool feature changes in FM12 - why?

                     I felt the same way when I first got 3 speeds on my single speed bicycle.surprise

                     I find the graphic artist changes in presention for competitive edge stuff on the Post PC world iPad... etc.  the least exciting part of FMP 12.

                     I like the 64 bit world and external referencing to be leaps forward.


                • 5. Re: Layout Design Tool feature changes in FM12 - why?

                       When I draw a portal and drop the fields into it I may need to move them or the portal, or them in relation to the portal.  When I grab the right-middle handle it expands or shrinks the portal, as I expect.  When I grab the left-middle handle it grows or shrinks the portal (as I expect), but it also slides all the fields of the portal with it, as I definitely don't expect, or want.  Why?  What was wrong with the way it used to work?

                       I want to be able to resize the portal left or right.  I want to be able to move it independently.  I want to move the complete portal and all its contents by lassoing them all.  Now if I draw the portal too big, and set the fields too far to the right in the portal, I can't simply drag the left portal edge in to meet them - the fields slide away as fast as I try to shrink the portal.  If I try the same move at the right side of the portal the handles work in a different way.  So to do what took one click-and drag in FM7 now needs a serious amount of thought and planning, and I have to independently align the fields to the correct edge of the portal, and then think which side I should move first, then I probably have to re-align the whole portal with the other layout objects.

                       Sub-question: I have a portal with a row of fields in it.  I want to move the portal beneath the fields.  That is; keep the fields where they are, but move the portal in relation to them.  In FM7 I want to move an object, I click on it, I right-arrow: it moves.  Utterly intuitive.  In FM12 I click on the portal, right-arrow, and it and everything in it moves.  So, if I want to move the portal in relation to the fields (I'm happy with where the fields are on the layout), I don't click on the portal that I want to move, I click on all the fields (which I don't want to move) then I move the fields that are in the right place to another place inside the portal that is in the wrong place, so both the fields and the portal are now in the wrong place, then I click on the portal and move it and the fields (that I now haven't clicked on) to move the fields back to the position they were in at the start.  And this is an 'upgrade'?

                       I do not think my complaints (and yes, I am really, really complaining) are just 'getting used to change' - these design-tool changes are awful, inconsistent, time-wasting, uncalled for, and make layout designing in FM12 a total headache.  Just revert to the way the tools were in FM7 please - no exceptions.

                  • 6. Re: Layout Design Tool feature changes in FM12 - why?

                         Duplicating and moving an object to be directly along a horizontal line used to be easy:

                         - click the object and start to drag right-wards
                         - press the Ctrl Key at your leisure.  This will change the 'move' to a 'duplicate'
                         - press the Shift key at your leisure.  This will constrain the duplicated object to an exact-al8igned horizontal position.

                         Change you mind about either 'Duplicate' or 'Constrain'?  No problem - just add or remove the modifier keys in any sequence you like, as you drag.

                         I would like to see the instructions for how I do that now.  If I press the Ctrl key after I click, it will duplicate as I drag ("And no going back, sucker!").  If I press the Shift key after I start the move it will constrain, but only from that point, which almost by definition is mis-aligned.  If I start to move it fractionally up, and then press the shift, it won't jump the constrain to be horizontal and let me start sliding right.  So I have to drop the object, Ctrl-Z, and start again.

                         If I concentrate on getting the 'Constrain' part right first, I screw up my eyes, stick out my tongue, and press the Shift key at exactly the right moment.  Bingo.  Then, starting to feel like a concert pianist, I add the Ctrl key to make it duplicate and not just move.  But I can't - it won't accept the Ctrl key if the shift key is already pressed.

                         So I can't press the Ctrl Key and then change my mind.  I can't press shift after I start the move or it will mis-align.  I can't press Shift before the move then move to make sure it will be aligned, because I can't then press the Ctrl key to duplicate.  If I start moving before I press the shift key, and move a pixel vertically before I press the shift key it will not allow me to move horizontally.  Clicking Ctrl and Shift, then starting the move still mis-aligns the new object - it seems that I can't have two modifier keys on the one action.

                         Could someone at FM Inc please explain to me the exact timing, sequence and combinations of keys I am meant to effect in order to simply duplicate an object horizontally (something I've done intuitively for  years)?

                    • 7. Re: Layout Design Tool feature changes in FM12 - why?

                                When I grab the left-middle handle it grows or shrinks the portal (as I expect), but it also slides all the fields of the portal with it, as I definitely don't expect, or want.  Why?  What was wrong with the way it used to work?

                           This change made the behavior of portals match that of tab controls. If a field is "owned" by either a tab control or a portal, moving the enclosing object moves it as well. I personally find this to be a very useful change but it does take some getting used to. How many times have you entered browse mode and then had to go back to layout mode and 'tweak' the postion of a field because it accidentally extended one pixel outside of the portal and thus did not display correctly? That's a less likely issue by a large measure in version 12 due to this change and while the change will bug us old timers, newbies should be able to better work with the layout design tools given that tab controls and portals now have similar behavior.

                           The lack of support on option/control drag whith shift key down is, on the other hand, really stupid and very frustrating. Best alternative I can find is to duplicate the object and then watch for the guides to snap up when you get the object back into line with the object from which you duped it. It's a long way from just holding down the shift key in older versions but best that I've been able to come up with.

                      • 8. Re: Layout Design Tool feature changes in FM12 - why?

                             Sorry, Phil, can't agree (though at least you're trying to explain some advantages, and I thank you for that.  As usual, FM remain resolutely silent.)  I am totally, completely baffled.  In FM7 re-sizing a portal or a tab by a side-handle didn't make the fields inside it slide.  And the action of dragging the right side had exactly the same effect as dragging the left side.  Now I have to think which side I should move to achieve the effect I want.

                             Actually, moving by the left side will resize the tab and happily slide the enclosed fields right out the right-side and off to oblivion.  Now that will catch me out far more times than moving a tab or a portal one pixel too many.  And, now I've checked, you've just exposed to me yet another feature we've lost: I always thought it was really clever than when I re-sized a tab it showed me a dotted line where the maximum contents of all the tab components were.  So I could shrink it to fit exactly.  Now? - now I can blithely shrink away, over the top of any objects in the other tabs, and even over objects on this tab - and it doesn't even show me them on the layout any more!  I could re-size a tab control and a couple of my objects would actually vanish, and I would have no clue as to where they were, or even that they'd 'gone'.  Some time later I could expand the tab control and magically - or dangerously, they will suddenly re-appear!  That is a ridiculous, horrible, backward leap!  None of those characteristics will ever match the minor trip-up of an object one-pixel out.

                             And I still cannot duplicate an object and get it to seem to be on the same grid as the parent.  Nor can I get any snap-to to work consistently. I have turned on the guides and their snap-to, and the object will not snap.  I have tried every combination of Dynamic Guide snap, Grid snap, and Guide snap, and randomly objects are a pixel or so out, and can only by moved into line with a mouse and 200 x zoom.

                             My frustration level is sky-high at the vandalism that has been done to a beautiful design interface.  Sorry if I sound like I am 'blaming' you!  All help gratefully received.

                        • 9. Re: Layout Design Tool feature changes in FM12 - why?

                               No worrys and no offense taken in the slightest.

                               As I pointed out in my first response. "I share your pain".

                               Not trying to disagree with you that there are major issues with the layout design tool interface. I'm just trying to cherry pick out the cases where I see some significant improvements. That issue with resizing the left border slding objects to "oblivion" comes as a quite unpleasant surprise. At least the objects are still there when I drag the border back out to a wider width.

                               If I could, I would suggest to the powers that be that changing border sizes not be permitted past a point that "obliviates" an object contained by it. And there should be a modifier key alternative that does not lock the objects to the border edge during the size change.

                               Not sure why you are having trouble dragging objects and letting the guides tell you when the dragged object is properly aligned with nearby objects. That seems to work fairly well for me.

                               And isn't "fractional point" postioning a pain in the but too? (This can even result in objects on your layout looking a bit "blurry" until repositioned and resized to have exact point positions and sizes.)

                          • 10. Re: Layout Design Tool feature changes in FM12 - why?

                                 I tried the comparative test, FM11 vs FM 12:

                                 Create a tab object with two tabs.
                                 On Tab One place a 2 x 2 grid of squares
                                 On Tab Two place two of the same squares in a single column
                                 Grab the right most side of the tab control and slide it left to shrink it.
                                 Note that you are helped by a shadow of extreme-most contents of all the tabs, and as you shrink past some of the objects you see them exposed.


                                 Do the same set-up and try and move the tab control from the right side.
                                 No helpful shadow.
                                 You can slide over objects in the rear tabs (that you can't even see) and remove them from the tab control, and the layout, apparently.
                                 Move it from the left and the objects move differently - across the tab control - and on out the side if you keep sliding.

                                 Now copy and paste the tab and contents from FM12 to FM11, and the characteristic goes with the pasted object.  It is fundamental to FM12.

                                 I can imagine making a layout for a client, complete with lots of fields.  The manager wants a similar layout, but missing some confidential info, for his junior staff.  So I duplicate-and-modify.  I remove some unnecessary fields and buttons from the front tab, and just leave the space.

                                 -  Time passes -

                                 The manager sees the space availalable on the 'junior' layout and suggests I expand that front tab and add in a portal of details useful for the staff.  I do that, and...

                                 ...it just doesn't occur to me that I have to check through every tab of the control, very carefully, to make sure that no additional field or button, resurrected from the grave, has suddenly popped up on the right side of tab No 7.  Who on earth would ever think to check for that?

                                 My nightmare continues.