Matrix 1

There’s a routing matrix on Ardour’s roadmap and recently the author of PHASEX mentioned a modulation matrix. So I started thinking about labeling.

Meaningful labels are too long and uneven for horizontal column headers. A brief web search supports my prior assumptions that rotated text is easier to read than letters downwards and that for rotated, but not upside-down text, vertical is hardest to read. See Reading Vertical Text: Rotated vs. Marquee and Empirical Investigation into the Effect of Orientation on Text ….


On Nr. 4, I tried rotating the matrix to allow all labels to be horizontal. But I think it’s too hard to follow the rows and columns this way.

The little curve representing an example connection is just an idea of having not just on/off, but range mappings expressed in the cells. These curves would work much like the colour/gradation curves in the GIMP or Photoshop and be editable outside the matrix, in a larger view.

About thorwil
I'm a designer from Germany. My main interests are visual and interaction design, free/open-source software and (electronic) music.

9 Responses to Matrix 1

  1. In the case of Ardour, if a routing matrix is ever going to be implemented, the matrix could be using the existing mixer window. You would be able to choose between mixing mode and routing mode. In routing mode, the track/bus labels appear on the top as before, and the routing targets appear as a vertical list to the right, to get the feeling that the signal starts at the top, finds a connection point and then goes into the output port shown in the list. My intuition tells me that down->right is the most natural movement of a signal, at least that’s the idea in hardware mixers. The channels are to the left, and buses and aux outputs are to the right.
    Hmm.. was this meaningful at all?🙂


  2. thorwil says:

    For this experiment, I just picked the usual arrangement without further consideration.

    Hmm … yes, sources on top and destinations on the right should make it more clear what is what. The alternative would be left and bottom.


  3. Jan-Wijbrand Kolman says:

    For Matrix 4 you say: “””On Nr. 4, I tried rotating the matrix to allow all labels to be horizontal. But I think it’s too hard to follow the rows and columns this way.”””

    Would it help to give rows and columns alternating colors? I ask, because there’s something, not sure what yet, about this matrix representation that strongly appeals to me.

  4. thorwil says:

    Alternating colours will likely help in every layout.
    Scrolling would be … interesting🙂

  5. Dieter says:

    Number 4 indeed is a nice one, especially with visual aids such as alternating colors.
    But Imho nr 3 is equally or even more readable. And much simpler.
    The angled text can be read quite good imho, and the chart is easier to follow then 4.

  6. Burkhard says:

    I agree that nr 4 is too hard to follow. Nr 5 is better, but then you can as well take nr 3, the horizontal words make it easier to read. So my favorit is 3.

  7. Lou says:

    I have to agree, number 3 (2 is also fine) is the most readable for me, and I’d guess it’s much simpler to implement than number 4 or 5.
    Alternating color is crucial when it comes to tabular interfaces.
    Better yet, how about custom colors (like Ardour already does with tracks/buses) for each row and column? You could combine both colors with a foreground/background sort of scheme; as long as the background is consistently darker/lighter than the foreground it should work.

  8. Steve says:

    What about number 3 but with horizontal labels attached to the right? This would be more space efficient and equally readble, I think.

  9. thorwil says:

    Steve: I’m not sure I understand. But if you move the labels away from the columns, it will be harder to follow the mapping

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