Darktable 1.0 The Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades

Some time ago I put some screenshots with comments about darktable alternative UI. In this months darktable evolution was incredible in most areas but imho the UI area was not so enchanced as the others. So I collect last months ideas and put in this new mockup. I have no interest to criticize and begin discussions, only show some ideas that if any of the developers think that could be improved and used in dt, great. That's all

Please put any comments and opinions below the screenshots! (and please, with tranquility) Roberto Quintero


Left panel

I draw a new module for importing images using a more like explorer window. Is more graphical and I think more user friendly. The question is determine the methods of importing images. At the end we could import folders or images so I put two buttons, one for import folder or folders ( with the recursive option in the open dialog ) that automatically add any folder as collection, and the second button that add one or more images but without creating any collection, but there is no problem as the search mode below is divided in search in collections or search in all images ( both the imported with the folders or imported individually ).

The second module is the "collection & images" option. I think that is really to complicate to join the folders search and the images search, so why not the option to select one of the two options. If you want to search using the collections criteria you activate the "collections" button and then you have all the possible options under this criteria ( by most recent used collection, by date, by size, by name, etc ) and of course you could add more rules. If you want to search using the images criteria you activate the "images" button and then have all the possible options under this criteria ( camera, history, title ) plus the add more rules.

One question, when you pick in a collection the rest dissapear from the list, why ? if you want to change to another collection you must delete the rule to see again the list of collections.( I think the recent collections plugin below is redundant) This is uncomfortable and slowly, and don't understand the practical reason. Anybody could explain me the advantages of this change ? And plus, if you maintain the actual interface you could add an option, so if you select two or more collections with the mouse and ctrl key ( or another hot key) you add all the selected collections to the lighttable window.

Right panel

Only a few changes but I think important.

The first delete the rotate icons from the selected images module. Sorry but there is no sense to have this icons inside this plugin. Ilogically, uncomfortable and difficult to find and mix icons with text in the same kind of dialog.

The second the hdr button in the selected images. With a software like Luminance or the excellent tutorials and software from Guillermo Luijk "" why this limited and incomplete tool ?

The third, I added in the "selected images" module the option "move to". Am I the only one who needs sometimes to move one or more images to different collections without leave the program ? If the answer is yes, sorry.

And at last the inclusion of the horizontal displacement bar below the organize and export menues as I explained in the darkroom mode.

lighttable organize module

!"darktable 1 mode lighttable module organize.jpg"!

lighttable export module

!darktable 1 mode lighttable module export.jpg!


capture basic module

!darktable 1 mode capture module basic.jpg!

capture advanced module

!darktable 1 mode capture module advanced.jpg!


Left panel

First I maintain the histogram in the left ( yes I know you prefer in the right but advantages to the left are more ). One, as histogram is one of the most used visual tools you could always change the settings of the modules seeing the impact in the histogram without any scrolling, and two, there is no wasted space in the right because is on the left, where there is more space.

Second, the history & snapshot module. I added some options that I think are useful. As this is a future proposal, if we have in the 1.0 version layers we could put a menu of this layers in the history & snapshot module, so you could activate and deactivate all the efects produced with the layers in this window. Apart when you click in the activate/deactivate button of an applied module plugin you see in the right panel automatically the module with the modified values so you could change the values again without incremental history stack, and at last if you want to compare different snapshots only clicking in the ones you want they appear in a subdivided screen.

referring to the image module basic : In the stack you have a big button in a separate line to take a snapshot. How about having a small [take snapshot] button on the right side of each level of the stack? This could be a very small camera icon which can then be replaced by the text "snapshot 1" when a snapshot has been taken. Not intrusive and saves screen space. This snapshot button could even only appear when the mouse pointer hovers over the each stack level. a related issue is #8769 (RW)

Third, the more plugins in the left. As they are increasing, now 42, we need more space, and we have it but... in the left column.

Right panel

First, and the more important. What happend with the sliders? I think that now they are h... stetically, less usables and make confusion. I explain it. First, now appears that we have one box for the name of the effect and another to move the values, and that's not right it's the same. Second you have two vertical arrows that are so little that are difficult to use ( I don't wanna know how people with a 14" display do ) and they are in vertical position when the movement of the slider is in horizontal, what's that ? Plus the letters and the numbers aren't in the same line so it appear is a bug of the software, not the design of the ui. The progress bar inside of the bar has the same size so you don't know that the lighter bar is the progress bar not another. And around the design, the bar in the right corners is rounded but in the left is square.

Second, a new displacement bar just below the modules group options. For what. Well I think if is possible to resolve the problem of excesive menues ( basic, color, correct, etc ) or alternative excesive scrolling. So I draw a new like scroll to move in the horizontal direction. So what I get without any appreciable waste of space is a bar that if I move, appears from left to right( or right to left ) new plugins of this module group, so when the modules grow, the bar has more movement to show all the modules but never have to scroll from top to bottom, only a little from left to right and viceversa.

In older screenshots I use icons for modules group, vertical tabs and horizontal tabs (with two and three rows). None of them you like it. Well, in new versions Henrik create it because for his workflow is good (at this time we have two modules horizontal rows). Of course Henrik is one of the core developers, but I think is not serious criticize one method ( see the Pascal responses to my screenshots ) and now, as you need for your own workflow put as a new organization mode. So, imho if the option I proposed is bad isn't possible that is good if a core developer do the same.

darkroom basic module

!darktable 1 mode darkroom module basic.jpg!

darkroom color module

!darktable 1 mode darkroom module color tab 1.jpg!
!darktable 1 mode darkroom module color tab 2.jpg!
!darktable 1 mode darkroom module color tab 3.jpg!

darkroom correct module

!darktable 1 mode darkroom module correct tab 1.jpg!
!darktable 1 mode darkroom module correct tab 2.jpg!
!darktable 1 mode darkroom module correct tab 3.jpg!

darkroom effect module

!darktable 1 mode darkroom module effect tab 1.jpg!
!darktable 1 mode darkroom module effect tab 2.jpg!
!darktable 1 mode darkroom module effect tab 3.jpg!
!darktable 1 mode darkroom module effect tab 4.jpg!
!darktable 1 mode darkroom module effect tab 5.jpg!

darkroom active module

!darktable 1 mode darkroom module active.jpg!


print basic module

!darktable 1 mode print module basic.jpg!

print advanced module

!darktable 1 mode print module advanced.jpg!



Since our module base is growing fast I'd like to start a discussion about how to improve this UI area.

I hope this will not end up in a huge "let's change the whole UI" discussion but more in one that focuses on the right dr panel / iops and does not end in talk.

I tried to put together the needs of the darkroom UI with respect to usability and a good workflow:

  • We have three different states of modules: * expanded, focused * expanded, not focused * collapsed
  • It is important to distinguish between them to keep the overview.
  • The user should not be distracted from the picture and the single focused modules he's currently working with.
  • Modules that are expanded but not focused are mostly left open for comparison or a quick switch, so we have to find a way to show but not put in foreground.
  • Space in the right panel is rare. So every redesign should free more space for modules content.

Furthermore here are some points that could lead (in my humble opinion) to a less cluttered and more straight UI without removing any controls or similar (like proposed a few times):

  • We should stick with a few colors and gray shadings and reuse them.
  • There should be as few straight lines as possible, everything should be aligned along these.
  • not too many different spacings. Let's try to stick to a few.

I tried to do some mockups on how modules could look like, as well as how the darkroom UI changes with that in general. Remarks:

  • The histogram can be wider since there is wasted space left and right of it. Not changed in height though.
  • The module groups: the four main groups are shown as buttons, all other "module sets" are in the expander button. This would maybe allow to add user selected "module sets" as well. Not having two lines of buttons saves a lot of space already.
  • I reused the never-shown module icons instead of a expander arrow. If the icons are chosen carefully this could be an improvement for the fast recognition of modules. We would need colored and b&w versions.
  • we really have to unclutter the plugins themselves. Sometimes there are several frames around each other without any function but cluttering up the UI and eating space.
  • The focused module is highlighted with a light gray background and lighter border. The module icon is colored.
  • Expanded but not focused modules only have a light gray border. Note that its background color does not differ from the collapsed ones and introduces less distraction.
  • Collapsed modules have nothing around them and their icon is black&white.


Desire to improve the presentation of the histogram.
!representation de l'histogramme.jpg!

Slider bookmarks idea:

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