The Soundslice Blog

Job: Product Designer at Soundslice

We’re looking to add a third full-time person to the Soundslice team: a product designer.

After working for five years with part-time design help, we want a full-time person to join our team. Could that be you? Here’s what we’re looking for:

Overview

You’ll be in charge of Soundslice’s design and UX — everything from high-level direction to low-level implementation. You’ll be expected to do everything from initial user research to mockups to coding in HTML/CSS.

Specific projects will be all over the map: from incremental improvements to our music player, to marketing/branding materials for our presence at the NAMM Show, to significant new product initiatives.

To state the obvious: as the third person in the company, you’ll have massive impact on Soundslice.

Requirements

‘Nice to have’s

The pitch

Soundslice is the web’s best way of learning and practicing music. Our state-of-the-art music player, which syncs music notation/tablature with real audio/video, is used and loved by hundreds of thousands of musicians.

Our Store features one-of-a-kind music instruction — and helps artists make a living by giving them a majority of the proceeds. Our technology is embedded in about 70 music-education websites (and growing), including big names such as TrueFire. Many passionate musicians follow our “lick” videos on Instagram.

Much of Soundslice’s value comes from pure UX: the beauty and simplicity of the Soundslice player. Design is front-and-center in our product. As such, your role will be critical for the company.

From a technical perspective, Soundslice is in the upper echelon of modern web applications. With features like offline mode, it pushes the limits of what’s possible in a web page. Working here, you’ll get direct access to this and will be encouraged to continue pushing the envelope.

From a business perspective, Soundslice is healthy and refreshingly independent. We’re proudly bootstrapped, so we’re not playing the venture capital game. While that means we don’t provide free cafeteria food or plush office space, it means we’re not beholden to investors or fundraising cycles. We make decisions with customers and long-term business interests in mind. We’re a sustainable business that’s growing steadily.

From a personal growth perspective: you’d work with me (one of the people who created Django, plus some other stuff). I’m an experienced developer and can teach you a lot, if you’re open to it.

From a workplace perspective: we’re small and geographically distributed. I’m in Amsterdam, and my colleague Corey is in Chicago. We are accustomed to working remotely, so this remote job will not be “bolted on” to an otherwise non-remote team.

Overall, it’s incredibly fun and gratifying to work on Soundslice. This is easily a dream job for a combination musician/designer. If you’re interested, please email me at adrian@soundslice.com with a resume and links to websites you’ve built.

New features for editing and embedding Soundslice scores

We’ve been rolling out a bunch of new features lately, as always. If you create scores in Soundslice, you may have already seen some of these.

Wistia integration

We now support Wistia, for people who use Wistia video hosting.

When you add a recording, just select the Wistia option. You’ll first need to link your Wistia account with your Soundslice account. From then on, you’ll be able to access your Wistia videos within Soundslice.

Disabling notation

You can now disable a score’s notation.

Click “Hide notation” when creating or editing the score, and the score will behave in notationless view (i.e., showing only a full-screen video).

Why would you use this? Perhaps you embed Soundslice in your website and want to give people access to your lesson video as soon as possible, before you’ve synced it with notation. In that case, create the score with “Hide notation” checked, then add the video as a recording. Your users will immediately see the video, and you can take your time with notation and syncpoints. When notation and syncpoints are ready, just uncheck “Hide notation.”

Simplified printing toggle

Previously, when creating a score, you had to choose among three printing options — “Printing is disabled,” “Printing is disabled only for embed” and “Printing is allowed.”

This was unnecessarily complicated, given how people were using it, so we’ve simplified it to an “Allow printing” checkbox.

If you check this, then your score will have a “Print” button in its Settings menu.

Switching recordings in the syncpoint editor

You can now switch among a score’s recordings while editing syncpoints.

Previously, you had to click back-and-forth between the syncpoint editor and the score manager. Now, just toggle recordings at the bottom of the player, and you’ll be able to edit syncpoints for multiple recordings.

You can also switch to the the Synthetic player, which wasn’t previously possible in the syncpoint editor. This can be useful if your recording is hard to hear and you need to hear how the notation sounds when played “perfectly” by a computer.

Embed over non-white backgrounds

Previously our embeddable player assumed your website had a white background — causing a flash of white during loading. It no longer does this, meaning it works elegantly with, e.g., black page backgrounds.

New player API methods

If you embed Soundslice in your site, you’re welcome to use these new hooks for customization:

All of these new hooks are fully documented here.

New speed-changing interface, organization accounts and more

We have lots of new Soundslice improvements to share with you today. The biggest news: we’ve launched a new speed-changing interface and a way to share scores across your organization.

New speed interface

Changing playback speed has always been an integral part of Soundslice. But due to the variety of audio/video sources Soundslice supports, we’ve had a variety of slowdown interfaces:

The YouTube player traditionally has allowed only 50% and 100% speeds — so we customized our interface to reflect that. For non-YouTube videos, we support any arbitrary speed down to 50%. For audio files, if you’re using a modern browser, we support any speed down to 25%.

These differences have been tricky to maintain, and they’ve caused some confusion with some of our customers. What’s more, our “slider” interface required a bit too much precision on smaller screens and touch devices. And some of you have (rightfully so) been asking for slower minimum speeds and faster maximum speeds — something we were hesitant to do because it would complicate the interface even more!

All those problems are solved today, with our new interface:

Use the up and down arrows to quickly change speed. For fine-grained precision, click (or tap) the number in the middle and enter whatever speed you want. That’s it.

As part of this, we’ve increased the maximum supported speed for our synth player from 125% to 300% — and decreased the minimum speed from 25% to 10%.

YouTube 75% speed!

In related news, YouTube now supports 75% speed in its embedded player! That means any YouTube video in Soundslice now supports 75% speed. Enjoy your new, moderately faster slowdown powers.

And if you want to practice faster, you’ll appreciate that we now support 125%, 150% and 200% speeds for YouTube videos.

Organizations

Do you use Soundslice with other people in your company/school/group, sharing a single Soundslice login across multiple people? We’re here to help.

Instead of sharing passwords, you can use our new organizations feature. With it, you can share scores across Soundslice accounts, and easily switch between them:

For more, see our new documentation. Note that this is only available for our licensing customers at the moment. If you’re interested in using it, please get in touch!

Multi-bar rests

Our rendering engine now supports multi-bar rests:

We’ve updated our MusicXML and PowerTab importers to handle multi-bar rests properly.

Soundslice player

As always, we make daily improvements to all aspects of our product. Some highlights:

Notation rendering

Notation importing

Score manager

Overall site design

For people embedding Soundslice

Thanks for using our site, and please get in touch with feedback, as always!

Introducing horizontal view and advanced settings

Today we’ve launched a great new feature that several of you have requested: a “horizontal view” for notation/tab.

When you activate horizontal view, the Soundslice player will continuously scroll notation horizontally — rather than spreading it over multiple lines (staves) as in paper sheet music.

Whether you prefer this is a matter of taste, of course. The advantage is a more compact interface, and the disadvantage is that you see less music at one time.

To activate horizontal view, use the advanced settings menu — which is also new today! Click the Settings button at the bottom right of any Soundslice score, then click “Advanced.” You’ll see a few options:

At the moment, your preferences are not saved between page loads — you’ll have to set them each time you want to change a score to horizontal view — but we plan to make these preferences saveable.

When horizontal view is active, you can scroll notation by dragging the scrollbar at the bottom of the player, or using a mouse scroll wheel, or using a two-finger drag on a touchpad.

You have two options for playhead scrolling with horizontal view

Astute Soundslice users will notice there’s also a new option for scrolling in the normal (non-horizontal) view: Keep playhead at top of screen. Here’s what that does:

Finally, for those of you embedding Soundslice, you can tell your embedded player to default to horizontal view by using the new horiz=1 URL parameter.

New features and fixes, Jan. 16

As always, Soundslice has gotten lots of tasty new features and fixes lately. Here’s what’s new:

2017 NAMM Show

We’ll have a booth at this week’s NAMM Show in California. (Hall E, booth 1670.) If you’re coming to the convention, please drop by and see us — we love to meet our customers in person.

Auto-hiding of empty staves

Our player now automatically hides empty staves. If your Soundslice score has multiple tracks, and one of the tracks has no music in a given stave (row) of music, we’ll automatically hide that stave.

This makes for a much more efficient use of vertical space. You no longer have to scroll through meaningless empty staves for instruments that don’t contain any information.

If you embed Soundslice in your own site, you can disable this behavior with the new collapse_empty=0 URL parameter, documented here.

Smarter resizing

With music that contains many notes in a single bar — say, lots of 16th and 32nd notes — you may have noticed that the Soundslice player would automatically reduce the size of the notation, to make sure all the notes fit in the screen. Otherwise, the notes would overflow the width of your browser window.

This behavior was unintuitive, though. Several customers had emailed us, assuming it was a bug because they weren’t able to make the notation bigger.

Now, we have a better solution. If notation doesn’t fit in the current browser window, first we’ll try to “smoosh” the horizontal spacing in that bar, to put the notes closer to each other. If that works, then great — no need to auto-change the zoom level. But if the “smooshed” notes are too hard to read, then we’ll resort to the old way, zooming out.

Mobile-friendlier design

We’ve made many changes to many pages on our site to make things work and look better on mobile devices.

Of note, the score manager is much easier to use on smartphones, with more than a dozen usability improvements for touch devices and small screens.

Soundslice player

Our player keeps getting better:

Notation rendering

We polish our rendering engine on a nearly daily basis, so printing a whole list of recent changes would break the Internet. But here are the highlights:

Score manager / course manager

Notation importing

Embedding

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