VL Editor new background regions - improvements

Starting to get used to the backgrounds in VL, which are very helpful for organising our huge VL patches.


I noticed a few things about those and would just like to give some feedback for further improvements. Backgrounds have existed in Grasshopper since forever, so they act as a benchmark, even though they are far from perfect.

  1. Moving both the background and contained nodes is very handy for organising large patches, but 2 things need to be improved for it to be really helpful: a) the area for selecting the background to move the nodes as well (the color selector) is just too small when zooming out. At a certain zoom level you just can’t grab the background any longer, but just keep resizing it. The click-area for that should be somewhat independent of zoom. b) It needs to be possible to grab more than one background at a time. Otherwise moving around larger chunks of multiple areas is impossible.

  2. The color selector is okay - its the standard vvvv IOBox style. But dare I say its not very user friendly. I always have to try all combinations of right-click and drag up/down, left/right, add shift, add ctrl… till I get the desired result. What happened to a good old color picker like they already had in Windows 95? I actually find it quickest to just type the values, which seems ridicolous when selecting something as visual as a color.

  3. Since its kind of hard to pick colors you end up just using white backgrounds everywhere, which kind of defeats the purpose of having the option of colors. I would like to have a basic set of colors, say 16, which I can pick. They should be rather light, a bit like you get different colored sticky notes. Then I could actually use different colors to mean different things, like “working”, “needs fixing”, “WIP”, etc. Right now I have written a few values for colors on a post it on my monitor which I have to enter every time. There has to be a better way…

  4. Titles are great and I love that they are pretty big. But I think the titles should auto-break or at least handle linebreaks (added with Shift-Enter) gracefully. Right now it does:

So, hopefully backgrounds get some improvements. I think better selection of the background+contents for example by draggin on the title rather then the color field would be great. And a better/proper color picker with either predefined colors or a way to add custom colors. Doesn’t windows have a native color picker that can be used? I know Mac has that.

Here is the native color picker I am referring to:


Thanks for considering.

this is indeed a thing and we are considering to have a predefined color palette that you can choose from. this palette will be different for light/dark theme, so you don’t end up with white frames in the dark theme, but the selected color of the palette is different for each UI theme.

there might still be an option to select a custom color that would not change when changing the UI theme, but that is still tbd.

interaction wise, it true what you say. thanks for the detailed descriptions, i’ll add it to our internal issues.

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Just noticed something. You CAN already select and move multiple regions, but it will still only move the nodes inside the region where you are click-dragging on the color selector. The other regions get moved, but not their contents.

Also regions don’t get selected by drawing the selection rectangle, but you can CTRL-select them to add them to the selection.

I think I’d prefer the regions to act more like normal regions in VL, where you move stuff in and out and unless I remove something from a region the nodes stay inside the region and enlarge the region if I move a node further away.

You will always have cases where you’d rather have it act the other way round, but I find that right now it pretty much never behaves as I expect. For me a “region” is a set of nodes that are part of some logic connection. Moving one of the nodes in that region somewhere else does not change the logic at all, so it should remain in the region no matter where I move it. If I hit the edge of a region that region should enlarge. Basically like all the regions work. Maybe I wouldn’t call it a “region” to avoid confusion and go with “group” instead, since that what it is called in most other software.

Also would be nice to be able to “surround” nodes with a region. Or just say I select a bunch of nodes, press Ctrl-G and they are surrounded by a region.

Anyway, I hope the way regions work gets a bit more refined.

I am totally for the idea of frames (or what are they called?) behave more like regions. Their handling confuses me most of the time, because you are trained to expect something else by working with regions.
At least dragging the headline and dragging that ‘undefined smallish area somewhere on the lower end of the thing’ should behave in opposite ways. Or just get rid of that undefined smallish area somewhere on the lower end of the thing as a point of interaction alltogether, because it’s just not very intuitive. You will never think of clicking there if no one told you to. In fact, the area even disappears, when clicking elsewhere and doesnt reappear unless hovering it for half a second (meaning you’ll have to know exactly what you’re looking for). Just make them like regions. That’ll be fine :)

@veevee exactly. As they say in UI design: “An interface is like a bad joke - if you have to explain it, it’s probably not that good.” If even for seasoned vvvv users its not intuitive, then it needs improvement.

As a start you could change the cursor when you hover over the color area and change it to the “move” cursor with the arrows in all 4 directions, just like it shows the resize cursor when you get to the edge of a region. That way there is at least the possibility of finding out that the color picker is where you move the region by chance. Of course once you do that, its not that obvious any longer that its a color picker, which goes to show that mixing 2 different and learnt functions (moving nodes around and the color picker) into one UI element is a solution bound to fail.

My wish: Make them work like the other regions, allow selecting multiple regions using the selection rectangle like the other regions and let us move them around from the title like the other regions. Lastly right now you can’t have a region inside a region, which is kind of weird. It lets you alt-drag inside a region, creates the region and lets you add a title, but as soon as you click in the surrounding region it just disappears!?

Update: Already seems better in the latest alpha. You can draw regions inside other regions without them disappearing and you can successfully move one region inside another region. What it really needs though is for the z-index to remain the same and a way to move a region forward and backward. Right now the last selected is the top one prohibiting that you can have one region inside another because as soon as you select the outer region the inner one moves behind it.

Also should say that I got it a little wrong in the earlier post: You CAN move the background region by click-dragging on the title already, but it doesn’t move the contents which is something we got used to with regions in VL. So in that sense I think at least the functions should just be swapped - drag on the title to move background with contents, drag on the color picker if you just want to move the background.

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thanks for your feedback. there are a couple of frame-related changes in preview 318:

  • frames now let you choose colors from a palette instead of the color chooser
  • frames now move their content along as you drag on their titlebar
  • frames now only move elements that are fully contained
  • frame is now included in the “surround with” context menu
  • press SPACE to force-include frames in selections

the titles are still not wrapping as one would expect. for now they are cut off, when exceeding the bounds…

please test and report.

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