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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:

  • Subtitles (if available) are now displayed on our player’s narrow view (i.e., when the video is above notation). Previously they were only displayed if the video was on the left of notation.
  • If you spend a long time in the Soundslice player without reloading, you might have run into a problem where the video stops working due to the URL expiring. This is now fixed — you can stay in the player as long as you’d like.
  • For touchscreen devices, we fixed a usability issue when using a two-finger swipe to zoom in/out. Sometimes this would inadvertently create a loop, depending on your exact finger movement.
  • We fixed a mobile usability issue in the Settings menu, where clicking on an audio source caused a shift in the UI.
  • The waveform display is now crisper on high-definition screens such as Apple Retina.
  • Our “Print” feature now uses a bigger font size. The printed music is much easier to read.
  • You can now disable the visual piano keyboard for any score that you own. Open track controls for the given instrument and uncheck the “Virtual keyboard” checkbox, then click Save.
  • We fixed a bug in our calculation of directions (Da Capo, Da Segno, etc.) that happened in some obscure cases.

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:

  • Fingering now uses a more readable font. We also added several bits of magic to the automatic positioning algorithms to make the numbers more readable within staff lines.
  • Right-hand fingering (i.e., for guitar music) is now consistent with left-hand fingering.
  • Tempo markings now put the text before the metronome marking.
  • Ties now have better spacing for chords that contain the interval of a second.
  • Same goes for ties that continue on a new stave into a chord that contains the interval of a second.
  • We greatly improved the positioning of rests in multi-voice music.
  • Alternate endings now have a more unified look, using the same numeric typeface as time signatures.
  • Directions such as Da Capo now use a larger typeface.
  • Palm mute and “let ring” are now larger and have a nicer dashed line.
  • For slides into notes, the slide symbol no longer crashes into notes in chords that contain the interval of a second.
  • This was a “long time” coming: we now support breve notes (double-whole notes).

Score manager / course manager

  • You can now move folders! Nest them under another folder, move them to the top-level, etc.
  • Many pages in the score manager now feature “breadcrumbs” at the top of the page, for easier navigation.
  • After you make changes in the score manager, we used to redirect you to the main score manager index. Now, we redirect you to the folder/page you were previously on. Much nicer.
  • The score manager now has a “Clear notation” feature for each score. This will erase all notation in the score, in case you want to make it notationless.
  • The score manager now has a “Download audio” link for each audio recording. This lets you quickly download the MP3.
  • For courses, you can now add “Intro text for students” — optional text that’s displayed above the list of lessons.
  • For courses, we removed the ability to set a date for a lesson. Nobody was using that feature, and you can simply use the lesson notes or score title to insert a date.

Notation importing

  • We fixed a MusicXML importer bug with accidentals in non-standard tablature tunings.
  • We fixed a MusicXML importer bug with cross-staff beams containing chords.
  • We fixed our MusicXML importer to detect segnos and codas that we weren’t already detecting (MusicXML has several ways of coding them.)
  • We fixed our MusicXML importer to handle bad chord names as generated by Notion.
  • We improved our MusicXML importer to detect bad ties in tablature — where the first note in the tie has a different string than the second note in the tie.
  • Our MusicXML importer now detects a few other common ways that people specify metronome markings.
  • For percussion music, we improved our importer to use proper sounds in the cases where we weren’t already using proper sounds.

Embedding

  • You can use our new enable_print=0 URL parameter to disable printing for a score. Yes, you can already disable printing for a score in the score manager, but this gives you more flexibility. For example, one of our partners is using this to limit the number of times a score is printed by a given customer.

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