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The Soundslice Blog

Simpler file attachments in courses

Here’s an improvement for those of you creating Soundslice courses. We’ve changed file attachments so that they’re attached to courses instead of slices.

Previously, each slice in the slice manager had a “Manage file attachments” link next to it. This is where you could upload arbitrary files, such as PDFs, to make them available in any courses that slice was in.

But we found this was problematic — people assumed this was just a way to attach files to slices and didn’t realize they’d need to create a course as well. And some people creating courses would create “dummy slices” just for the purpose of adding file attachments to the course!

All in all, it was a confusing system. So here’s what we’ve changed:

We’re always keen to hear feedback from people creating courses, so please let us know what you think of the changes.

Introducing threaded comments

Today we’ve added the ability to reply to specific comments on slices.

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Each top-level comment on a channel post (example) now has its own “Reply” button. Click that, and your comment will get attached to that specific thread. This helps keep discussions nicely organized and easy to follow.

It also helps make sure replies don’t get lost. Previously, if you responded to somebody’s comment on a slice that wasn’t theirs, they would have no way of knowing you responded to them unless they kept checking the page. Now, there’s a new “Get an email when somebody replies to one of your comments” feature. Replies will get sent to your email and appear on your notifications page.

Finally, note that we limit threads to a single level deep (as opposed to deeply nested comments in the style of, say, reddit). This is to keep things relatively simple.

See you in the comments section! :-)

New: audio intro/outro sections

Today we’ve launched a new feature that better communicates the presence of audio before or after a slice’s notation.

It looks like this:

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The new thing here is those “0:14” and “2:06” sections. (Here’s a link so you can play with it yourself.)

This slice, like many on our site, has a bit of audio introduction before the notated part (and some more after it ends). Until today, if you viewed this slice and pressed Play, the playhead wouldn’t start moving until 14 seconds later. This confused a fair share of Soundslice users; due to the lack of visual feedback, it was easy to assume something was broken!

After giving this thorny problem a lot of thought, we arrived at a solution: represent the audio intro (and/or outro) directly in the notation. This has some nice benefits:

An additional benefit: This will save time for some of you who create slices. Several of our customers were already creating dummy bars of notation with labels like “Intro” or “Untranscribed audio” for this exact situation. Our new feature means you no longer have to do that! (Of course, the slices you’ve already created with that old workaround will still work as expected.)

For the record, here’s the specific logic we use:

We determined these thresholds based on experimentation with a variety of slices. We tried to find a balance between being useful and not being too overbearing.

Finally, for those of you creating slices, we updated our syncpoint editor to give you context on the intro and outro. The little message area atop the syncpoint editor will now tell you about it, providing some shortcuts to crop the audio.

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Hope you find the new feature useful, and let us know what you think.

New metronome button, UI improvements and much more

Lots of features and improvements to announce today! Here’s what’s new:

New metronome button

We’ve added a metronome button directly to our player. This lets you quickly toggle a metronome pulse during audio playback.

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We already had a metronome, of course, but it was a bit awkward to get to — as people had pointed out. You needed to go into the audio mixer and increase its volume from zero. Now, it’s a simple one-click thing.

And this new metronome button is now particularly useful, because...

Metronome during real recordings

This is another thing many people have asked for. Previously, the metronome was only possible if you switched a slice to “Synthetic” playback. Now, the metronome works over everything — YouTube videos, MP3s, other videos, everything!

When played over a real recording, the metronome will use the recording’s syncpoints for the timing. This means it will ebb and flow naturally with the tempo of the performance. If you create slices and find the metronome feels “off,” it’s a sign your syncpoints are likely not precise enough — an easy fix in our syncpoint editor.

New video resizer

For slices with video, we’ve changed the way video resizing looks. Previously, it used a thick gray bar — which some people didn’t realize you could drag. Now, we use a (we hope) much more obvious drag “handle.”

Improvements on touchscreen devices

We’ve changed/fixed the way our player works on touchscreen devices:

Resizable loops in waveform view

When dragging across the waveform view to create a loop, previously it wasn’t possible to resize an existing loop. We’ve fixed that. You can now drag loop edges in the waveform to resize.

We’ve also tweaked the visual design of the waveform loops to have “drag handles,” matching our style of loops over notation.

Loops in notationless mode

Speaking of waveform loops, when you’re viewing a slice that has no notation (only a video), we’ve fixed the Loop button. Previously it did nothing if you clicked it in notationless view! Now, it will create a three-second loop from the playhead’s current location. You can then drag the loop edges to fine-tune.

Automatic panning during dragging

When you’re dragging across notation to create a loop, we’ll now automatically pan the notation forward/backward when you drag near the edge. This is a really nice usability improvement.

Extra ‘close’ buttons

We’ve added an explicit ‘close’ button at the upper right of the visual fretboard, keyboard, violinboard and audio mixer. You could always toggle them with their respective icons in the player’s controlbar, but this makes things a bit faster and easier, especially when on a small screen.

Audio mixer panel simplification

We’ve simplified the audio mixer, which is where you can tweak volume on a per-track basis. Given that per-track volume changing is only possible when you’ve selected synthetic playback, we’ve changed the mixer to hide the per-track controls if you’re not in synthetic mode. This should help clear up confusion.

Track name cleanup

We’ve tweaked the way the track names look, at the left edge of notation. They used to have a thick orange rectangle, and we’ve removed that, to make things less distracting.

We also now hide the track name entirely if there’s only one track. This helps reduce visual clutter.

Smarter search engine

We’ve improved our sitewide search engine to work properly with accented characters. That means you can search for João Oliveira and find what you’re looking for.

Goodbye, ‘track controls’

Today we’ve removed the “track controls” from our player. Previously, you could click on a track name, to the left of notation, to view information about the track and change some stuff:

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This no longer exists. We decided to remove it because our recent player redesign has made all of those features available in other places. Specifically:

To change the view options, use the “Track appearance” part in Settings.

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To change the track’s volume and instrument sound in synth playback, use the audio mixer.

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