Float-Dock-Group Panels vs. Straigthjacket Workspace

If there is something I really can’t get to grips with in Cubase 9, it’s the fact that the DAW randomly collapses windows without any window specific user input (e.g. command to minimize, maximize, collapse). Clicking into the timeline will inadvertently collapse or close some other open window I am actively working in. Be it an external app like web browser, VSTs, instrument, editors or media browsers. In general, I would love to see a more customizable work space: The ability to dock, group, or float panels and keep windows open, floating and active (as opposed to Cubase deciding it for me). Adobe has done a great job in all its creative app suites (I understand they also have a much bigger budget).

I often need to look up stuff on the web during sessions. Doing anything in Cubase will collapse my web browser involuntarily - a real nuisance when trying to follow the manual or an online tutorial (where I need to tweak some settings in Cubase and then get back to the manual). It’s like trying to hold on to wet soap. The windows just keep slipping… I need to open the browser again, only to have it slip away again and again when I change something in Cubase. It can drive me seriously freakin nuts sometimes! At first I thought it was a bug, it then dawned on me that it might be by design.

I tried using the lowers zones as a work-around, hoping the editor would stay put. The whole thing with the lower zones so prominently advertised, does feel a bit like working in a straightjacket, especially coming from other applications that adopted a more customizable float / dock / group panel system. So, I used the lower zone for the editors, hoping I wouldn’t have to reopen it constantly. But then I ran into real estate issues. Cramming everything onto the vertical screen axis, doesn’t really make sense considering that screens are much wider than they are high. Even though I use three screens which gives me a lot of space on the horizontal axis, by its very nature lower zones cannot really utilize this extra space, since there is no extra gain in vertical length, where I need it. I understand that lower zones where introduced for laptop users, which leaves desktop users with a half-baked floating window system that collapses windows involuntarily in a spontaneous fashion.

When I activate the Midi Editor in the lower zone - straightjacket style - (for lack of a better option), it would make sense to have the Controller Lanes (Midi Editor) collapsed by default, as not to cram even more information onto the vertical axis. When I deactivate the Controller lanes in the Editor to free up some vertical space, then click on another midi part in the time line, the Controller Lanes reappear again, I then need to manually deactivate the controller lanes for each midi part in my time-line. Might be an easy fix?

I find working with Cubase when editors, time lime and the controller lanes are opened in this confined zone setup difficult to do. I can see how it’s tempting for developers to avoid a much more intense float, dock, group panel system by keeping everything in its nice little predefined space, but don’t really think it’s a viable option vis a vis the floating / docking panel system, which allows for a much better and customizable user experience. It’s a perfect merger between two worlds: free floating when needed, docked / confined but accessible when not.

No criticism without praise (after moaning at high levels): I really love many other aspects in Cubase. It’s powerfully and incredibly versatile and I wouldn’t trade it in for any other DAW!

That said….

… Introduce a float-dock-group panel system and you’ve got an absolute winner that rightly deserves to be called the mother of all DAWs!