Dumb Moves In Software Design: Reason 4 Keyboard Shortcuts

I decided to upgrade from Reason 2.5 to Reason 4. After hearing about improved soundbanks, file browsing and sequencing it was time to take the plunge, even though I’ve openly been down on Reason before.

While I wait for the box to arrive I figured I’d get more familiar with V4 and download the demo. Sounds like Reason, still feels like Reason (and feels like Logic Jr. – you and I both know where Reason’s Clips come from)…I better check out this awesome sequencer.

The sequencer tools are in the upper left hand corner of the sequencer section. They look like this:

Reason 4 Sequencer Tools



  • Pointer/Arrow/Selector
  • Pencil
  • Eraser
  • Razor, cutter thing – because it wouldn’t be alright to just use scissors like everyone else
  • Zoom
  • Hand moving thing

One might expect the pencil tool to be assigned to the P key, the Selector to A or S, the Razor to R, the magnifying glass to M or Z, and so on.

Instead they are assigned to QWERTY, respectively.

I understand that it’s not arbitrary. The tools are in the upper left, and for most users the QWERTY keys will be in the upper left of their keyboard.

But once you start dealing with alternate keyboard layouts the intended ease of use breaks, and disastrously. There’s no mnemonic device to aid in creating muscle memory. For those users, Q means Select because it works on every keyboard but their own.

At that point it becomes arbitrary.

2 thoughts on “Dumb Moves In Software Design: Reason 4 Keyboard Shortcuts”

  1. Dude! I share your pain!

    First off, let me say that I’m a devoted Reason used since version 1 and that I think it’s fantastic software. Makes complex signal routing easy. Is incredibly stable. Plays well with others via ReWire. Etc.

    And the addition of more keyboard shortcuts is a welcome improvement. The ability to zoom, switch tools more quickly, and toggle different interfaces is increasing my productivity. I can even understand the logic behind the QWERTY decision since it corresponds to the placement of the onscreen buttons. BUT they killed the Return key! One of the two most often used key shortcuts (along with spacebar)! That is soooo weak! Now instead of returning the playback cursor to the loop start and then to the song start, all it does is open the clip you have selected so you can edit it. That is useless to me since a double click will do the same thing. But NOW I am robbed of my ability to reset my cursor position with a keystroke. I have to reposition the cursor each time I make a change to my loop and want to hear it again from the beginning.

    So I looked to the key commands PDF, thinking maybe they just re-mapped it to another key… and they sure did: the 0 of the number pad! Great! So all notebook users (like me) are screwed.

    Furthermore, I cannot re-map the hot key through OS X’s preferences because the playback commands are not menu items. (I did this for “Show Tool Window” and assigned it to Cmd+T since surprisingly it does not have a hotkey by default.)

    Anyway, this is really slowing me down. In nearly every audio app I know spacebar is for play/pause and Enter/Return is for rewinding the play cursor. To go completely against design standards like that is reckless. Something I might expect from Digidesign but not Propellerhead. So, if anybody knows of a workaround for notebook users I would love to hear.

  2. This is the only program that disregards notebook users. It is unthinkable to use the mouse for what you’re talking about. I love the clips and the Vector controls, really great but I think they beginning to think too much of themselves and not pay much attention to the common mortal like us but only to “The Professionals”. Ratio: 10,000 to 1. Go figure! I use energy-XT2 also and it has the best hot-keys out there and the MIDI editor is best, bar none, for work flow. I use whatever I need to make music.

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