discussion around new filters widgets

This thread is related to discussion around collection-filters improvements specifically oriented toward discussion on the design of the new widgets themselves. Maybe it should be good to read its introduction first (yes I know, it’s loooong)

Summary of users’ feedback

I’ll try to resume the ideas posted here and some other forums / github / direct msg / … Please apologize for all the missing information :wink:

range rating : (keep in mind that the “old” widget is still available)

++easier to use (less clicks)
++allow very useful selection (ex : 3-4)
++easier to see the selected values

–colors too distracting / not in line with the rest of the interface
–harder to determine the selected values on first sight
–more difficult to use than the “old” one
–click + drag not obvious
–right-click not obvious

date range :

++lot of power allowed with right click

–too small to be really useful
–right-click not obvious
–no indication of the filter type in the topbar

ISO/aperture/ratio/… :

++easy to use (range selection was a real pain in collect)

–colors not in line with the rest of the interface

Filename/extension :

++really needed and useful (not really present in collect) esp. the extension part

–no indication of the filter type in the topbar
–may require 2 separated widgets

Some filters are missing : tags, maker, modules, lens, … (they are planned, it’s just not implemented yet)

And now ?

Next step will be to try to aggregate all this into something that would enhance the current implementation to be even better :slight_smile:

To keep the discussion as clear as readable as possible, We propose to split the discussion in 2 parts :

What would be great is to have more returns on the specific points :

  • Which widgets are you using, for what purpose (if it’s not obvious).
  • Which widget you would like use but their design complexify/prevent you to use them… and why

And of course we would like to collect your opinion and ideas on how to make all this even better :wink:

Thanks for your support !

Let’s start for me :slight_smile:
I use very often : range rating, colorlabels, filename (only the extension part), history, ratio
sometimes : ISO and textsearch (I may have to use this one more often in future)

I find the date-time widget not really useful, because they are too small for the precision needed.
I find the the range rating colors a little bit too distracting.

What I would propose is to :

  • remove completely date-time widget, eventually moving them to the timeline in the bottom bar.
  • rework the css colors of the range rating widget

Great topic!

I use very often the range rating. The one I use the most is actually “not rejected”. I prefer to flag the images as rejects, but not reject them right away until I do edits. I dont want to work/edit the rejects, so the range set to not rejected is important in my workflow. Yes, when the PR was introduced it took me some time to figure out how to do the filtering for “not rejected”, but now I’m used to it.

My second one is actual to search via tags. If I want to find all the images of my son, I just go to the module find the tag and search for it.

I find the timeline histogram bar in the bottom totally useless. I would vote to remove it or hide it or make it some obscure selection in preferences.

All the other search/filtering (focal length, aperture) feel to me like they could be part of advance filtering subsection since it would be very rare to use it (but still useful).

Color me stupid, but the range rating widget is horrible for me to use. Maybe it’s the icons, maybe the highlighting, maybe…? Thank you for the right click menu.

When you have hundreds of thousands of images the timeline and date range are pretty much useless for making any kind of meaningful selection.


I’m using daily:

  • the new range rating (perfect to me - I only develop images with a note >= 2)
  • the color labels (I use them as a tag to know which image will be put on my web site)

For specific purpose I use mostly all other widgets:

  • data/time when I need to select the best images for a specific year (once a year in my photo club we come with our best of the year)
  • the aspect ratio for preparing exposition (we have some dedicated spaces in a room to put images in, some are vertical some horizontal, so this widget come very handy).
  • the ISO / exposure / aperture when I’m looking for a specif pictures that I cannot find with a tag, for example if I know it was taken by night using ISO > 1600 and some date range it is almost sufficient to find it.
  • locale copy for obvious reasons, when in travel to get only the local copies and back home to resync them.

So as you see I’m using pretty much all the filters.

My main concern is about the duplication of filters. We currently have the ones in the collection filters, the new filter widget. Having (as proposed above) the date/time in the bottom time-line seems adding another places… I’m not sure it is a great idea.


Hi Bill,

I’d really want to understand why. I’m serious, I believe you of course but since I cannot understand what is so bad to you it will be quite hard to find a better solution :slight_smile: Even after month of use you still not comfortable with it?

pinned : range rating, color labels, sort order

daily use of :

  • range rating (almost always with right click dropdown to select all / all except rejected)
  • color labels (almost always only red/yellow/green for development status)
  • tags (from collections module or tagging module, missing in collection filters !)
  • geotagging (from collections module, missing in collection filters !)

other purposes :

  • filmroll / date/time (from collections module)
  • lens (from collections module, missing in collection filters !)

Conclusion :
I mainly use the “old” filter fuctionality from collections module because many of the cirteria I use to filter images are not (yet ?) available from the new collection filters. The date range filtering (also the timeline) is almost useless for me, having thousands of images distributed over several tens of years (digital photos and digitized analog photos).
And there should be only one place where the filtering of the images is defined, and this place should contain, like the “old” collections module, a complete set of selectable criteria. At the moment I strongly prefer the “old” collections module.

I have pinned the legacy rating widget, color labels and sort order to the top bar and I never even open the module on the left-hand panel (I use the collections module for any other filtering). In my opinion, while the new widgets seem great for quick selection (as long as you don’t want to select non-continuous ranges) they do a very poor job of providing an at-a-glance display of what’s currently selected. Reading the widgets either requires too much thought (range rating), hovering of the mouse (all the other range widgets), or keeping the left-hand module expanded.

Hi Pascal,

I never really analyzed why it’s hard for me, so now you’re forcing me to think :smile:.

I’m 66 years old and I’ve been wearing glasses for the last 58 years. I’m very near sighted, so my glasses are thick and I have graduated bi-focals so that I can read with them on.

When I’m in my home office I work off of a 32" 4K monitor, which is hooked to my laptop. As I mentioned in this thread or the related one, right now my house is a construction zone and part of that is my office. So right now I’m working off of my laptop screen which is 17" HD at arms length.


Looking at the filter widget:

  • I can see the word filter
  • I see a round icon with something in the middle (maybe an x?)
  • I see an empty star with something in the middle (I thought it was an X but after staring at it for awhile I think it’s a line through it.
  • I see 5 filled in stars.


I can read this easily. I know exactly what I’m going to get when I click on a choice. I don’t have to remember what icons are in what place and where I have to click, drag, then let up to hopefully get the images I want. With the menu it’s one click for the menu and one click for the choice and it works every time.

So, I guess for me it’s a vision issue. White on light gray just doesn’t provide enough contrast for me to be able to see what I’m picking.

EDIT: Thinking a little more, there is also a degree of precision required for the widget. If I click a little too far to the left or right then my selection doesn’t start in the right place. If I drag a little too for or not far enough, then my selection doesn’t include what I want. I also have to remember what the icons mean. For me the menu is much more precise and quicker to use.


I suspect that I am much older than most dt users and I work on both a 15" laptop as well as a large 4k. screen. Whichever screen I am on I find that the menu colors/shades to be a constant challenge. Yes, I do understand that the menu should not detract from the image processing and for that reason I keep the white image border during most of the process. These ‘discrete’ colors are to my mind one of my greatest hindrances in my use of this fine software.
I do find the new filtering system (for myself) totally unnecessary. My film rolls are already descriptively useful, my tagging system is extensive and I only use the color labels for local reference. I could well do without any of the recent location and sorting aids.
dt is an incredible piece of software. Adding interface complexity is not, for me, helpful.

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Thanks to your detailed comment @wpferguson. That’s the first time I understand issue posted about that filter. As all of the UI, I’ve set colors to be a good compromise between visibility and not distract image processing. Seems that due to my eyes (I’m 39 years old!)? that was good for me. I never thought about such simple thing: “older” eyes.

Seems that a way to improve a lot that widget would be to consider first visibility. Will try to find time this month to work on that. I had already some ideas to change on code and work with @AlicVB on that. Any other suggestions are of course welcomed. I especially love this widget as it allows a quicker selection than historic one, so finding a way to improving it for most users is great.

Not to derail this conversation but FWIW, I would vote for a bit more visual difference between the module “power on / off” button when in enabled vs disabled state. I don’t know if that’s a theme question, but to my 63-year-old eyes they’re pretty similar. There’s no need for anything bright nor flashy, just a little visually clearer.

Then again maybe I need to just pay more attention! :upside_down_face:

Just based on the above quote from @wpferguson, I’m not sure that this is an issue of colour/contrast but one of difficulty in distinguishing between similar/complex icons on low resolution screens. One of my original issues with the range rating filter was that I considered it too high-contrast on the grey theme, so that it drew the eye and distracted from the image.

Not related (so better avoid that here as such topics is quite complex and could become hard to follow). I will anyway see that. I will need to consider other things to see if I can make it better or not.

Thanks for reminding this, even if it makes it harder. On what I understand, both things are on @wpferguson comment. What you said AND colors. And regarding @davidj comment also, I really think it’s both colour/contrast AND distinguish similar/complex icons. Said that, it’s so completely how it is displayed. What will be hard is to find a better compromise between having better visibility of all that without coming back to your original issues.

  • most used - star filters and color filters (it would be nice if there are some shortcuts - hopefully pre defined) how to move stars up / down - like select 1 star or 2 stars (this part “can” be done already actually) but the second twist - expanding and contracting - for example - if the user selects 3 star - to be able with a short cut to increase 3-5 stars or go back 0-3 stars… I am not sure it exist … And it maybe entirely possible that this functionality is actually in place but I simply haven’t been able to completely figure it out…

  • search.
    I tend to search for tags / metadata (some times same text can be in both). / File name / lens model / geo tagging / date and time / camera make and model.

Often it works very good right away.

From one side - I like the simplicity that you just type the text (Canada) for example - and it just finds it - regardless where the text is. This is very useful if I don’t remember if the text is a tag or metadata (like description).

On the flip side - there are times when I do want to specify if I am searching tags or metadata.

However - the universal search as it is now - is very useful!!

I made a similar point in the other thread (without images for illustration). I have 20/17 vision and still find it obtuse to use so I don’t think it’s just you. Thanks for the clearer illustration there.

darktable’s GUI used to be a dark gray and all the lettering was in white (or a very light gray). I don’t remember highlighting, but it was probably somewhere between the dark gray background and white.

The background has gotten progressively lighter and lighter until we’re probably only using 1/4 of the available range. Perhaps instead of continuing to render text and icons in white we should take them to black or a darker gray.

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One short-term possibility is using the CSS tweaks to adapt some of the colours used.

@define-color bg_color @grey_05; 
@define-color fg_color @grey_95;

will give a much higher contrast for the main interface. Others from darktable.css can also be copied in the tweaks and adjusted to taste/need. Getting a nice homogenous interface may be a bit more difficult, but it can help in a pinch (and is easily reversible, so ideal for experimenting).

This probably won’t work for the icons, though.

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I’m really surprised by your comment @wpferguson about the GUI. dark theme is still there, with white lettering (very light gray to be precise).
The only thing that make the GUI became lighter had been introduction of grey theme, regarding optical illusions about dark themes. It’s not the background. And, when using grey theme, the bad thing is that it reduces possible contrast but improving correct processing. This was explained when released in darktable 3.0. Choice remains to use dark theme as before. I don’t understand so your comment.
There’s absolutely nothing about continuing to render text and icons in white, just about considering image processing and reducing distractions.

I’m just here, now that I understand issues about visibility on star widget, that some colours could be useful. But consider too that when we put some things that “popout” for better visibility, we could also have complaints. It’s impossible to please everyone.

About highlighting, it’s just about selection in timeline and actual widgets with selection possible (new star rating and dates ones). It’s actually impossible to not highlight one without removing it elsewhere. That’s why actually is like that. It’'s something I want to work on with @AlicVB to improving CSS possible tweaks.

@rvietor: what you post means nothing without considering related theme. If it’s darker theme, difference is indeed to 30% but consider also that when those settings had been set, it was after having quite a lot of feedback. I even proposed more contrast but it was for most feedback a no go as too bright and “distracting”. As always, it’s impossible to please everybody. Fortunately, as you said, it’s tweakable for each user. Adding your tweaks in dark or grey theme would just break them and make them no more dark or grey theme. So just a bad idea. A much higher contrast is maybe important but not the only thing to take care. And be sure that I spend a lot of time improving it since darktable 3.0. I actually have no proposal or feedback better.

And last thing, what we talk about here is mainly contrast of star range widget. So what is needed is improving background/foreground and icons inside. Given last comments and detailed one about @wpferguson. With good eyes, actual themes are ok regarding feedback and seems not on some parts for some eyes. The difficulty here is, as all people, I only have my eyes.