by Scott Evans
Since Preview 4 in January, we’ve made a lot of tweaks and improvements to Edge’s timeline.
Here’s the Preview 5 timeline. Click to cycle between Preview 5 and Preview 4.
We refined and tighted up the visuals quite a bit. Some of these changes are cosmetic, and some have functional motivations. For example, the ruler is 10px shorter, which frees up room for (most of) another lane in the timeline proper. We’ve added some color: the Pin (more on that shortly) is blue and the Playhead is gold. The layout of the eyeball and lock buttons now matches the layout of the Elements Panel.
New and Changed Controls
With the Edge UI, we try to walk the line between simplicity and control, so there’s a lot of debate before we add new timeline controls. Preview 5 adds a few controls: Easing (with no selection, this button sets the default easing for new transitions; with transitions selected, it edits their easing); Toggle Pin; Expand/Collapse Lanes; Insert Label; and Snap On/Off.
Snap On/Off is tucked at the bottom left of the timeline, along with Only Show Animated Elements.
We sort of inverted the Generate Smooth Transitions mode and button: We replaced Generate Smooth Transitions with an Instant Transitions mode and button (the button with the hollow diamond; a hollow diamond represents an instant transition). This command’s hotkey is I.
We renamed “the Mark” to “the Pin” this release, and improved it in a number of ways. This feature is the fastest way to create animations in Edge — you get two keyframes with a single edit, and spend less time moving the Playhead around and dropping keyframes. But the Pin is unique to Edge, and surfacing it has been tricky. These latest changes help, but you may need to play with the feature for a few minutes to get a feel for it. Mark Anders’s Introducing Adobe Edge Preview 5 video includes a good introduction to the Pin.
Visually, the Pin is more important now — it’s positioned above the Playhead, and when active, it’s blue. The Region between the Playhead and Pin is rendered in one of two colors: gold for a “forward” animation, blue for a “backward” animation, along with subtle arrows that indicate direction.
Pin interactions are improved too. In Preview 4, clicking and dragging the Mark would activate it and drag it away from the Playhead. We saw new users do this unknowingly, when they intended to move the Playhead. So now the Pin is attached to the Playhead until you explicitly activate it. There are a number of ways to toggle the Pin: double-click the Pin or Playhead; the Pin button on the timeline; menu — Timeline/Toggle Pin; hotkey — P.
We also added Flip Playhead and Pin (hotkey Shift-P), which exchanges the location of the Playhead and Pin.
Ghost Pin + Playhead, and the Return Command
After creating transitions — with or without the Pin — most of us press Play to see the animation. The newly added Return command (the arrow next to the playback buttons; hotkey — Return; menu — Timeline/Return) brings the Playhead back to its original position. If the Pin was active, the Return command also reactivates the Pin and Region. You can see this original position as a “ghosted” version of the Pin, Playhead, and Region.
A big change in Preview 5 is the absence of the large, editable timecode display. We added timecode displays right next to the Playhead and Pin, which makes it easier to see their exact positions as you move them with the mouse. The Playhead time indicator shows the absolute position of the Playhead; the Pin’s shows the relative length of the Region between the Pin and Playhead.
For those of you who love and need editable timecode, remain calm — we’re planning to bring it back in a future release.
In addition to timecode, another control is missing, at least for now: the Filter Text box. We expect to bring this back in the future as well.
Symbol playback lanes now show subtle forward/backward arrows that indicate when the symbol’s timeline is playing.
When a symbol is selected, any Symbol Playback Commands (Play, Play Reverse From, etc.) now show the command’s target time or Label.
You can now double-click a Symbol Playback Command to modify it.
In Preview 4 the zoom hotkeys had the Alt/Option modifier; we removed that in Preview 5. Zoom the timeline with = and -, and zoom to fit with \.
That’s It For Now
The timeline is central to Edge’s UI, and we spend a lot of time talking about it and trying ideas. Look for more evolution in the future. And of course, we welcome your feedback!