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Layout Design Tool feature changes in FM12 - why?

Question asked by Sorbsbuster on Feb 28, 2013
Latest reply on Mar 5, 2013 by Sorbsbuster

Title

Layout Design Tool feature changes in FM12 - why?

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     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.)

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     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).

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     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.

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     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.

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     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.

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     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.

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     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.

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     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.

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     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.

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     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.

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     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.

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     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.

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     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.

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     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.

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     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.

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