Edit BCP length numerically

Is there a good reason why handle length cannot be edited numerically in the grey info panel? A similar effect can be achieved by Option-stepping with arrow keys, but I find it anomalous that you cannot simply edit the value directly as you can with all the other values there, and I’d find it useful to be able to do so. Thanks.

Handle length is editable numerically. Just click on the numbers for ∆x and ∆y and you can input a value.

Surely ∆x and ∆y just set the coordinates of the handle relative to the on-curve node (as opposed to the absolute co-ordinates x and y)? I am looking for a numeric way of changing the length as a single value without altering the angle. The value is shown (L), but is read-only.

It sounds like you want to explicitly change the length of non-orthogonal handles. That could be useful. But most of the time the node would round off to the wrong position and you’d have to fix it manually anyway.

Exactly. I appreciate that, depending on the grid settings, rounding will take place, but when tweaking curves I don’t suppose I am alone in finding it much easier to think in terms of handle length and angle. Glyphs let’s me work like this by Option-dragging non-orthogonal handles, and by incrementing them with Option-arrow, but for some reason which seems to me odd, it does not allow direct editing of the L value. If the issue is rounding, then I would just expect it to round to the nearest grid value when the manual value is entered.

You can also use Opt-Arrows with shift for increments of 10. So e.g., if you want to increase by 23, you hold down opt shift, arrow twice, then release shift and arrow three times.

The length cannot be entered because it is too imprecise for the reasons you mentioned yourself. Why does opt-arrows not work for you? Or what do you want to achieve, that you think you can only use numerical entries? Can you give a situation where this would be helpful?

I never occurred to me that someone would like to set the length. I can have a look.

Well it’s probably mostly a habit of working. Yes Option+Shift (and Command) works fine, but if I am looking at a segment and thinking that handle wants to be half as long again, or the same length as the one over there, it feels more logical to me to enter the value numerically than to increment it, partly because I get a direct comparison with the state before, and can undo in one step. True Option-dragging give the same advantages, and you can see the L field hopping between available values, but especially when trying to match values elsewhere on the path, numerical entry just seems simpler. Not a major deal, but thanks for considering it.

I’d like to look over your shoulder when you encounter a use case. Have you tried working with Fit Curve (ctrl-opt-1…8)?

Good question, and the answer is mostly no. I have looked at it with interest but found it difficult to integrate into my way of working, though I am quite willing to believe that my way of working might be improved.

I would find Fit Curve more useful if it was more interactive with existing segments. I find there is a lot of trial and error in finding the right percentage relative to (unknown) existing percentages, and therefore in transferring values from one segment to another.

If I were to redesign Fit Curve, I would provide an odd number of steps (7 0r 9) and a central percentage field. Option-clicking on any field (but normally the central one) with a single BCP selected would reset to to the percentage length of the selected BCP (the other fields adjusting accordingly). This would give you a known starting point, and an easy way of transferring values from one curve to another. It would also allow you to set the percentage numerically without simultaneously setting it as a Fit Curve max or min.

I seem to be moving from asking for numerical control over absolute length to control over relative length (arguably more useful), and your reference to Fit Curve has pointed out that the latter is in fact already possible, though a bit of a hack, and only as a side-effect of balancing handles.

Has anybody written a reporter plugin showing the percentage length alongside the selected handle? Perhaps a variant of ShowCoordinatesOfSelectedNodes? This could be useful, though it wouldn’t make interaction with Fit Curve significantly easier.

That is an interesting idea. The reporter could show the button that would produce the closest result. So instead of showing the percentage, it gives a number between 1 and 8, possible with one fractional digit.

Simon Cozens’ SuperTool does that. But in real life, this does not matter. Because you’re much quicker trying the Ctrl-Opt-number shortcuts. And in a specific design, it usually comes down to a surprisingly small variety of curvatures.

What may be more useful to you in this case is Yanone’s SpeedPunk: 1. Quickly adjust the curve segment(s) visually with Fit Curve. 2. Opt-move the surrounding on-curve nodes until the adjacent curves fit each other. SpeedPunk helps with exactly that. It displays a measurement of the curvature (speed) of the curve.

Contact me via DM, let’s arrange for a quick screen sharing session tomorrow.