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Introducing our notation editor redesign

Big news today: We’ve redesigned our notation editor! It’s even more powerful, more beautiful and easier to use than before. We think you’re going to love it.

For a quick overview of what’s new, check out this video:

If you’re just now finding out about Soundslice, welcome to the party. Our notation editor lets you create interactive sheet music (and tablature) quickly and easily. Our killer feature is the ability to sync notation with real audio/video — making us the best tool for transcribing existing recordings and creating music lessons that sync video with notation. And we’re entirely web-based, meaning you don’t need to install any programs or apps.

So what’s new in this redesign? Let’s dive into the details.

A new look

The first thing you’ll notice is the new colors and layout. We’ve made everything lighter in tone, and we’ve reorganized things to live in more intuitive places.

Screenshots comparing old and new

Specifically:

  • The left sidebar is thinner, meaning there’s more horizontal space for your music. We’ve reduced the size of the section icons and tweaked the design to make it clearer.
  • The top bar has been split into two bars. The first one is for overall slice information — its settings, its recordings, your preferences and our help links — while the second one is specifically for notation things.
  • We’ve moved tracks and version history from the left sidebar into the top bar. Previously, they were buried in the left sidebar, which felt like an inappropriate place.
  • Likewise, we’ve moved the “Upload notation file” and “Copy another slice” functions from the “...” sidebar menu into the top bar. Again, this is a more natural place for these functions.
  • We’ve added the slice’s name and folder in the upper left. Lots of people have requested the ability to easily return to a slice’s folder after editing; you can now do that!
  • We’ve reorganized the sidebar’s categories. There are new categories called Engraving, Performance, Repeats and Dynamics.

Otherwise, the primary editor interface — the left sidebar — works the same as before. With one (major and awesome) improvement:

New search feature

At the top of the sidebar, you’ll now see a search box. Click in there — or use the keyboard shortcut ⌘K (Control+K on Windows) — and you’ll be able to search our editor’s 250+ functions.

Screenshot

Don’t remember which menu “Toggle breath mark” is in, or what the icon looks like? No worries. Just search for it.

Once you’ve done a search, use your up/down arrow keys to select the command you want, then press Enter. It’s super fast, and it means you can do a lot of editing without your fingers leaving the keyboard.

The search results double as a “help” section. For each command in the search results, we display its keyboard shortcut (if available). Yes, this takes your custom keyboard shortcuts into account, if you’ve created some.

And the search is context-aware. That means: If a particular editor command isn’t available for the notation you’re currently selected, the command will be grayed out and moved to the bottom of the search results.

For example, in this screenshot I’ve selected a rest, in which commands like “Append interval” are irrelevant, so those commands are grayed out and moved to the bottom:

Screenshot

Aside from the search just being really darn fast, it has another big benefit: It gives us a place for commands that wouldn’t obviously fit in our normal sidebar. For example, we’ve added the command “Recalculate all beaming.” In our old editor, we would have needed to create an icon for this and find a sidebar location for it — both unnatural given the abstract concept of beam recalculation. In our new editor, we’ve added it to the search, given it a (hopefully) intuitive name, and we’re done. We expect to add many more commands this way going forward.

New “current” feature

Aside from the search, the second genuinely new and useful feature is the “current” section. In this section, we display all notations that are active on the current selection.

Here, the current selection is part of a tuplet, with dynamics, expression text and a section letter — so we display icons for those notations:

Screenshot

You can click any of those icons to open the appropriate editor feature directly. This is super handy, for two reasons. First, it gives you instant information about your selection. Second, it lets you quickly turn off (or change) a specific notation without needing to find the icon or know what it’s called.

New “Concert pitch” toggle

Finally! Our editor now has a “Concert pitch” button, which lets you toggle between concert or transposed pitches. For simplicity, this is only displayed if your slice contains at least one transposing instrument.

Screenshot

If you’re in concert pitch mode, both note entry and note display will be in concert pitch. This is useful if you’re transcribing (or arranging for) a transposing instrument such as Bb clarinet but are more comfortable “thinking in concert pitch.” You can always switch between them, and we’ll use the correct accidentals appropriately.

Easier voice switching

Next to the new “Concert pitch” button, you’ll find our new voice-switching buttons. These show you which voice is currently active, and you can click a voice to switch into it.

Previously, these buttons were buried in one of our editor’s sidebar menus. Now, they’re always visible in the upper right.

Clearer privacy settings

Previously, it wasn’t easy to find out whether your slice has been made public, embedded, etc. Our old editor had a “Share” menu at upper right, and you had to click that to see and change the status.

Now, we display the privacy settings directly at all times. The new privacy button at upper right will show you the current setting, and it makes it fast and easy to change.

Screenshot

As before, everything you create on Soundslice is private by default. If you want to share it — say, post it to your Soundslice channel or embed it in your own website — you can change that via this button.

Better mobile design

Our previous editor wasn’t optimized for small screens, and it was only possible to make a few types of edits. In our redesign, we’ve greatly improved things. The interface scales down to smaller screens, and you can make many types of edits. There’s more work to be done here, but it’s so much better now.

Custom tuning for tab tracks

Finally! This has been one of our most-requested features. When creating a tab track, you’re no longer limited to our list of supported tunings. You can now create a custom tuning:

Screenshot

As part of this, you now also have control over the way tuning is labeled in notation. Previously, if you used Drop D in guitar and wanted to rename it to “Tune low E string down a step,” you couldn’t do that; now you can.

Custom tuning is available to everybody who has a paid plan.

Editor preferences

We’ve introduced the concept of editor preferences. At the moment, there are two:

  • Play sound when note is selected: None, Play note or Play chord
  • Play sound when note is input: None, Play note or Play chord

You can access these via the editor’s “...” icon:

Screenshot

Now that we have the infrastructure for preferences, we’ll be adding more options here in the future. Let us know what preferences you’d like to be able to set.

Editor preferences are available to everybody who has a paid plan.

Direct feedback in text editing

Previously, when you added or edited text, you would do that in a popup window and wouldn’t see your changes until you clicked “OK” to exit the window.

Now, text entry uses a lighter-weight interface, where you’ll see your notation update instantly as you enter text or change its formatting.

Screenshot

We plan to make this interface available for other notations as well, including chords and lyrics.

Clearer route into the editor

Previously, if you wanted to edit one of your slices, you had to first open it, then click “Edit” in the lower right.

Now, this is greatly simplified. If you access a slice via your slice manager, it’ll be opened in edit mode directly.

If you view one of your slices in another context — say, on your channel — then you’ll see the “Edit” button at lower right as before.

Feedback?

We hope you love the new editor. And we’d love your feedback. Let us know here in the comments, or contact us any time.

Comments

This is absolutely fantastic! Superb workmanship and execution. Used it for 15 minutes and I can already see the improved workflow.
awesome work guys, looking forward to diving in and checking it out!
Thanks for the hard work you guys, continuing to improve the best music learning product out there.
Great job, thank you!
looks fantastic!!! Thank you for the custom tuning, steel guitarists are gonna go crazy for that
Awesome!
It's getting better and better!
"Play sound when note is input"

Great ! My brain and my ear became crazy to ear bad notes ! Now I can ear if I make a mistake !
Great!!!
But I will have to correct the intensively created Czech documentation :-)
Will the search function also search for translated names of editor language versions in the future?
Thanks for the hard work on this!
Your product is awesome and getting better and better.
Well done.
Fantastic work guys, thank you so much.
Hello. First off, fantastic redesign of the editor! I look forward to playing with it to tweak my soundslices in greater detail. :)

However, I've run into a bit of a workflow problem. I've been searching all over the place in the help and faqs for a way to turn the Editor OFF, for the express purpose of easily putting in syncpoints. Usually, what I did in the old design is turn off the editor and turn on the sync - that way the slice scrolls along while I merrily hit "T" to put my syncpoints in. Now, since I can't seem to figure out how to turn the editor off, the slice does not scroll, and it's very difficult for me to accurately target my syncpoints, since I have to stop very frequently, hope to scroll to the right area within the editor, and drop the syncpoints in.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who might have experienced this... is it possible for you to remake a button on the top to once again toggle the Edit function on and off? :)

Thanks. Love your site.
Thanks for the excellent and informed feedback — much appreciated. At the moment, there's no way to use the synceditor without having the editor also enabled.

It sounds like the issue isn't necessarily that the editor is visible, it's that the autoscroll behaves differently while the editor is on. (Right?) Do you think your problem would be solved if we provided a way to control autoscroll behavior?
Yes, I think that would work. I did try fiddling with the scroll settings but I guess they only currently apply when not editing at the moment.

Thanks for the quick reply! Awesome!
Yes, I think that would work. I did try fiddling with the scroll settings but I guess they only currently apply when not editing at the moment.

Thanks for the quick reply! Awesome!
Regarding "Pitch Concert", it used to be a way to change that in the player (to the left of the Instrument Names), but I cannot find it now (?)
Ah, you mean the slice-wide transposition setting? That's now in the Settings menu (the gear icon at lower right).

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