I really like what FL can do but the way the functionality is accessed really does the program no justice. Right now I'm looking into Live and Bitwig as alternatives and I'm seriously considering switching. I bought FL about 5 years ago because I really liked the power and flexibility of its automation system. To this date I still think FL is king of automation. I also like the way left click draws and right click deletes, it's just a very efficient way to edit in the playlist and the piano roll, and it's probably the main reason you'll hear people say "FL's piano roll is the best out there".
However, over the years I've grown disillusioned with the product and the way development is heading. I personally know several people who have switched from FL to other DAWs but none the other way round (except myself when I did, if that counts). The usual complaint is that "FL's UI is a mess". It's sad because the functionality is all there, it's how it's accessed that does the program a terrible injustice. I think FL is many people's first DAW and once they've used it for a while they start questioning the workflow, at which point they look elsewhere—and find.
I must have spent hundreds—if not thousands—of hours posting detailed but reports and feature requests, some of which gained considerable traction. For the longest time I thought it was worth my time. When Gol was still around, he actually implemented a few workflow improvements I requested, almost immediately, in direct response to my FR, and this was before I had even bought a license! I don't know many companies that'd would do that. I've always felt the community is awesome, and IL staff are both professional, supportive and always quick to reply. But every update consistently fails to deliver on core workflow improvements:
- Better window management (and get rid of that silly 'captionize' button already)
- Better track management (e.g. proper track folders, filter by name, batch rename/colour), similar thoughts for channel rack.
- Browser search that can show multiple matching items at once, not just one at a time
- Custom keyboard shortcuts (or at least consistent use of modifier keys)
- The color picker with a gazillion indistinguishable shades of the same pastel colour
- Deleting automation points without having to menu-dive or switch tools
- Better MIDI controller support (soft takeover, rotary encoders and LED feedback, relative encoders, etc)
(source)steevm wrote:It might be somewhat off topic, but SiliconKiwi is right about FL's lack of MIDI support being a big issue for some of us; and this has been complained about for years and is a known issue. Gol doesn't like MIDI so refuses to support it properly for some reason. The fact that FL's "MIDI" implementation is in itself so shoddy and nonsensical is the ironic cherry on the cake. Gol could learn a lot from the original MIDI specs, because even 30 years ago, they were light years ahead of FL now.
- Consistent use of mouse modifiers across the board (e.g. mixer FX slots can be rearranged with the mouse wheel but channel rack slots use Shift+Wheel, modifier keys used for zooming in various places, etc)
- Absolute grid snap in addition to relative snap (I never thought i'd say this but Ableton Live got this right)
- Proper audio on-clip fade-in/fade-out.
- Comprehensive undo like in Bitwig, Ableton, Studio One, etc. Currently undo misses half the actions. It's a minefield, and it always bites you.
- Display most recent actions at top of undo history (come on IL)
- Ability to select wires in Patcher.
- Adequate tools to manage parameter links.
- Etc, etc, etc, etc
Maybe I'm wrong, maybe it's all in the works and FL21 will make it all alright. But for me the latest update with FLEX was the final nail in the coffin. The market is saturated with jaw-dropping instrument plugins, heck, FL itself already packs some amazing plugins, specifically Harmour and Sytrus, so why do we need yet another instrument plugin? I wouldn't be complaining if the main program was already perfect, but it's far from it. FLEX falls in the nice-to-have category, but we don't need it, not in 2019, not when the other existing stuff could still be improved. I see FLEX as a hopeless attempt by IL to create a new revenue stream. Now IL have yet another piece of software to maintain that will distract the devs from focusing on the main program.
Just now I got a notification in my browser to tell me FL 20.5.1 has just been released—let's take a look:
- *New demo song
- *New Sytrus presets
- *FLEX | Click packs to focus selected preset - Not a problem before FLEX was released
- *FLEX | 'For download' and 'Store' categories - Not a problem before FLEX was released. Here it is, the new revenue stream for IL
- *ZGEditor Visualizer | Reload edited images button - Somehow ZGEditor gets updated on every release.
- **Plugin Manager | Warns if closed mid-scan - AFAIK nothing terrible happens if it closes mid-scan. Now it's one more dialogue box to deal with.
- Wrapper - Added option to allow dropping files on VST and VST3 plugins.
- **User Data Folder | Asks to move content - Content can be moved manually. Users don't change their data folder constantly, so needing to move the data manually doesn't seem like a huge deal. Anyway, this specific point doesn't seem like it would take days to implement so it's alright.
These are the juiciest points of the update. The bugfixes are always a good thing, and I'm thankful for those.
If I switch to Live or Bitwig, which it looks like it's going to happen, I'll continue to use IL plugins and maybe still use ZGameEditor to make cool music videos. I will miss automation clips and linked clips though.