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Posts tagged with “Managing your slices”

Today, we’ve launched two improvements around the general theme of optimizing your Soundslice workflow:

Per-user permissions for organization accounts

Those of you using organization accounts — which let you share account access with multiple people without sharing passwords — are in for a treat. We’ve added a granular per-user permission system that lets you control what each organization user can do.

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Previously, we only had two levels: either you were an administrator of the organization or not. Now, we’ve added three more permissions:

  • Create slices — specifies whether this user can create slices, duplicate slices or bulk import slices.
  • Delete slices — specifies whether this user can delete slices.
  • Export slices — specifies whether this user can export slices.

More info is in our updated help page.

If you’re an organization admin, you can set these permissions when adding users to your organization or any time afterward.

For backwards compatibility, all existing organization members as of today can create, delete and export slices. If you use our organizations feature, you might want to tweak your users’ permissions depending on your needs. For example, if you’re giving temporary access to an intern, you might want to disable slice deletion for that account as a safety precaution.

Unsynced recordings identified in slice manager

In the slice manager, we used to display syncpoint counts (“35 syncpoints”) under each slice. But when we redesigned the slice manager a little over a month ago, we removed those counts to streamline the page.

Turns out some people were relying on that information to tell, at a glance, whether a slice was “finished” or not. Doh! So we’ve reintroduced this, but in a way that we hope is still streamlined.

The new approach is to display the word “Unsynced” under any slice that has a recording without syncpoints. It looks like this:

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This gives you a way to quickly see whether a slice still needs to be synced — without cluttering the slice manager interface too much. Thanks to the folks who requested this.

Here’s what we’ve improved on Soundslice this week:

Shortcut tabs in the slice manager

In your slice manager, you’ll now see some handy filters at the top of the page:

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This lets you quickly access the slices that you’ve marked as shareable, posted to your channel or marked as embeddable.

Yes, you can use it in tandem with the search — so you can search your slices for a keyword and then apply the filters.

Improved editor design

We’ve tweaked our editor’s design to add a visual “frame” around the music. Here’s the old design:

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And here’s the new design:

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The goal here was to create a clearer visual distinction between your music and the rest of the editor.

We’ve also made some other small visual improvements to the editor. The editor search box now looks more like a standard search box, to help communicate its function. And we tweaked the sidebar’s design to be a bit more consistent with the other parts of the editor.

Support for “common” and “cut time” time signatures

We now support “common time” and “cut time” glyphs for time signatures. You can create them in our editor, and we’ll automatically import them from MusicXML files. Read more in our help page.

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Previously we automatically converted these to 4/4 or 2/2 upon import — equivalent but lacking that visual panache.

Improved synth sounds for piano and guitar

We got new synth sounds for the following:

  • Guitar: Acoustic nylon
  • Guitar: Electric clean
  • Guitar: Electric distorted
  • Guitar: Electric jazz
  • Guitar: Electric muted
  • Guitar: Electric overdriven
  • Guitar harmonics
  • Piano: Bright
  • Piano: Electric
  • Piano: Electric grand
  • Piano: Honky tonk
  • Piano: Standard

Of course, Soundslice is all about syncing sheet music with real recordings as opposed to relying on cheesy synth sounds, but synth playback is useful sometimes.

Improved video icons for touch devices

You know those icons that appear when you hover over a video on Soundslice? The ones that let you choose video quality, change position or flip the video side?

Previously these icons were only shown when you hovered your mouse cursor over the video — which meant people using smartphones and tablets couldn’t access them (because they don’t have a mouse!).

This is now fixed. On touchscreen devices, you’ll now see those icons at all times, except when the video is playing.

Fixed slice manager titles not to be truncated

When we launched our navigation redesign last month, user TastyGuitarLessons pointed out in the comments section that long slice titles were getting cut off in the slice manager. This is now fixed.

Is there a lesson here? Good things come to those who post comments to our blog? ;-)

Today we’ve launched a reasonably large redesign of our site’s navigation.

Why a redesign? Because our site has grown complex over the years, and it had become a bit unwieldy. Soundslice has a lot of different audiences these days — teachers with students, our community, our store, our embedding customers and people using our notation editor for self-study among other purposes.

In our old design, some of these audiences were served better than others. And it was difficult for new users to understand all the stuff Soundslice can do for them.

So here’s what we’ve changed —

New sidebar for logged-in users

If you’re logged into Soundslice, you’ll now find that most pages have left-hand sidebar navigation:

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This gives you quick access to the various things you might want to do — and it helps communicate the things you can do on Soundslice if you didn’t know about them yet. It also changes the feel of the site in a nice way, making it more unified and “appy.”

If you’re on a device with a smaller screen, you can access this sidebar menu by clicking the “hamburger” icon at upper left.

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New Overview page

When you log into Soundslice, we’ll now take you to a new Overview page. It looks like this:

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This new page gives you quick access to a bunch of things:

  • Your most recently edited slices
  • Your most recently bookmarked slices
  • Your most recently joined private courses (if you’re using Soundslice with a teacher)
  • Your most recently purchased courses from our store
  • The latest posts from people you follow in our community

We’ll only show you the sections that you’ve actually used on our site. For example, if you’ve never bought anything from our store, you won’t see a purchases section in the Overview page.

Previously, when you logged into Soundslice, we took you to your feed — the latest posts by people you follow in our community — whether you followed anybody or not. Now, the Overview page features the latest four posts from people you follow, and you can click Your feed in the sidebar to access the whole feed.

New slice manager design

The slice manager, which lists all the slices you’ve created, has gotten a nice visual refresh.

Aside from some aesthetic changes — such as tighter spacing, new icons and different typography — it also works a lot better on mobile and touch devices.

Quicker workflow for importing

Both the Overview page and the slice manager now have a new Import button:

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This saves some time for common workflows, such as importing a MusicXML file or transcribing a YouTube video.

Unified global search button

If you’re logged in, you’ll now see a prominent search box on nearly every page of the site. This will let you search either your own slices or community posts — you decide when you search, by selecting the appropriate option:

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Previously, if you wanted to search your own slices, you had to go to your slice manager first. Now, you can search your own slices from many other parts of the site.

New navigation and design for the store

The Soundslice store has a new look. We’ve given it a bespoke header, to communicate that this is really a standalone thing.

We’ve made various improvements here, such as including a consistent link to “Your cart” in the upper right, tweaking the navigation and providing quick access to your purchases.

New navigation on slice pages

When you’re viewing a slice, you’ll now get a contextual Back button at upper left, depending on where you accessed that slice from. For example, if you accessed the slice via your bookmarks, it’ll say “Your bookmarks.” If you accessed it from via your feed, it’ll say “Your feed.”

The header is also a bit smaller — providing more vertical space for the slice’s music itself.

We have some further plans here, too. Now that the slice page’s header has been cleaned up, this gives us a place to put other slice-specific controls in a consistent way. Stay tuned.

Notification icon always visible

When you’re logged in, you’ll now always have access to your notifications via the bell icon in the upper right of every page.

Previously, this notifications page was buried in the “Your feed” page and many people didn’t realize it even existed.

Note that we don’t actually change this icon’s display based on whether you have any notifications. We might do that someday, but for now you’ll need to click the icon to see the notifications.

No changes for embeds

If you’re using our Licensing plan to embed Soundslice on your own site, it will continue to look and work exactly the same way. Nothing has changed in our embedded player.

Feedback?

We’d love to hear your thoughts on these changes, plus any other suggestions you might have.

We’ve added the ability to upload a ZIP file containing many notation files. This lets you quickly create lots of slices in bulk.

If you’re in the Teacher or Licensing plan, you’ll now see a “Bulk upload notation files” icon in your slice manager:

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Click that to get started. You’ll see this page:

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Here, under some info on how it works, you’ll have the ability to set some default parameters for each imported slice:

  • Whether printing is allowed
  • What to use for the slice name (the filename or data within the file)
  • Whether embedding is enabled (only Licensing customers will see this)

It can take a few minutes for us to process the ZIP file, so there’s a place for you to enter an email address. When the import is done, we’ll send a report to that address, with detailed information on each slice that we created and any errors we found.

Bulk uploads will automatically be put in a fresh folder in your slice manager. If you’re not happy with your bulk upload for whatever reason, you can quickly delete it using our new “delete folder” feature from last month.

Lots of people have requested the ability to bulk upload, especially teachers who have lots of existing materials in MusicXML or Guitar Pro formats. Enjoy the new feature!

Here are three small improvements we’ve made this week:

Autoscroll during playback when the editor is open

Previously, if you were editing a slice and hit Play, the playback wouldn’t autoscroll the notation. This was inconsistent with our non-editing mode, in which we autoscroll by default.

Now, both editing and non-editing modes do the autoscrolling. This is much more intuitive.

‘View’ links in the slice manager

In May’s editor redesign, we had changed the slice manager so that clicking on a slice would open it in editing mode. The only way to get a “read-only” view of your slice was to first open it in editing mode, then click the “View” link — which was a bit annoying.

Now, each slice in your slice manager has a separate “View” link at right. Click that to open the slice without the editor. We’re planning to continue improving the design here; stay tuned.

Ability to delete folders in the slice manager

Previously, you could only delete a folder if it was empty. Now, there’s a way to delete it along with all the slices and subfolders within it.

This is useful mostly for our customers who have mass-imported hundreds of slices and want a quick way to delete all of them.

Because deleting a folder is a large, potentially dangerous action, we have two safeguards in place:

  • If you try to delete a folder, you’ll be asked to type the exact folder name. This is intentional friction in our confirmation screen.
  • In organization accounts, only admins are allowed to use this feature.

Here’s a variety of improvements we’ve made to Soundslice this week.

Quickly copy embed codes

For those of you embedding Soundslice in your own websites, we’ve made it easier to get a slice’s embed code.

There’s now a “Copy” button next to the code. Click that, and the full embed code will be copied to your clipboard. Much better than highlighting the text manually!

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Input fingering more quickly

Last week we improved lyrics entry in our notation editor, so that the spacebar automatically moves you to the next note. Now we’ve done the same for fingering entry.

After you enter a note’s fingering, you can hit spacebar to automatically move to the next note. This makes the entry process really fast! If a given note doesn’t need a fingering, just press spacebar again to go to the next one.

This applies to both of Soundslice’s fingering concepts: general fingering (e.g., piano) and right-hand fingering (e.g., pima for classical guitar).

More info in the slice manager

We’ve improved the slice manager to add two new badges to your slices when appropriate:

  • Embeddable — you’ll see this if a slice has embedding enabled.
  • Shareable — you’ll see this if a slice has sharing enabled.

This lets you see this information at a glance, without needing to go to the slice’s page. It can help prevent silly mistakes like mistakenly thinking you’d already marked something as shareable.

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Duplicate slices stay in their folders

Previously, if you used our “Duplicate slice” feature, the newly created duplicate would appear at the top level of your slice manager — even if the original slice was in a folder.

Now, the duplicate will be in the same folder as the original. This makes it generally easier to keep track of your duplicates.

Synth playback now honors tremolos

We’ve improved our synthetic audio engine to honor tremolos in notation.

Fix for sharing edit URLs

Our recent editor redesign changed things so that the edit view of a slice has a different URL than the non-editable version. This has caused some small confusion, as people were trying to share their edit view URLs instead of the non-edit URLs — which didn’t work.

We’ve made a fix for that now. If you share an edit view of a public slice (something you’ve marked as shareable or published to your channel), your recipient will no longer see an unfriendly 404 page. They’ll be instantly redirected to the proper non-edit page.

We’re announcing a bunch of new features and improvements today:

Embed channel posts

An exciting new option for those of you posting to channels: You can now embed your channel posts in other websites — for free.

Each channel post now has an “Embed” tab on its page (example). Click that to get the embed code for the post. Then just copy and paste that code into your own website. If you’ve ever embedded a YouTube video, you’ll feel right at home.

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The embed looks like this (go on, press Play!):

This is our “miniplayer,” which is optimized for giving a quick taste of the music as opposed to being a full practice environment. It has a “View full version” link, along with a link back to your Soundslice channel.

Some ideas for why you’d want to embed a channel post in your website:

  • For bloggers: Easily share licks/ideas in your music-focused blog, so that people can hear the real audio and see synced notation
  • For course creators: Promote a course you’re selling in our store
  • For Soundslice licensing customers: Give your potential customers an idea of the high-quality music learning experience paying members get access to
  • For music teachers: Give your potential students an idea of the high-quality music learning experience you’re using with your private students

Strum directions

You can now add strum directions to your slices. These are arrows that specify whether to strum upward or downward:

To add this to your slices, use the new “Strum upward” and “Strum downward” buttons in our notation editor‘s “More notations” section. This works for music with and without tablature.

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Disable synth playback

Each slice you create on our site has synthetic playback active by default, regardless of whether you’ve synced it with separate audio/video. You can now disable the synthetic playback option, such that only the “real audio” recordings are available for that slice.

Some reasons for why you might want to do this:

  • The specific piece of music doesn’t have pitched notes (e.g., it’s only chord diagrams)
  • You want to minimize choice/confusion for your students/customers
  • You simply don’t like the synth playback and don’t see value in it

To disable synth playback for one of your slices, edit the slice, click “Settings” and choose the (new!) “Advanced” menu. This is available for all paying Soundslice customers.

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Update your channel posts without unpublishing

Previously, if you published a slice to your channel and wanted to make a change to its channel post settings, the only way to do that was to unpublish it, make the changes, then republish. That was rather annoying…!

Now, you can edit the channel post’s information without unpublishing. Much better.

Ability to put a course on sale

For those of you selling courses in our store, you can now mark a course as “for sale.” Previously, you could have simply changed the price, but that didn’t communicate that the course was on sale. With our new feature, the old price will remain on the page, crossed out, for context.

More info is here.

Loading indicator

For those of you on slower connections, we’ve added a loading indicator in our player. Previously, the notation area of our player simply stayed blank until it loaded. Now you’ll be assured that things are loading.

A larger default video width

We’ve increased the default width of videos in our player. Previously, they were a bit too small. The video will now be 40% of the player’s width:

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Although it’s always been possible to resize videos easily, by dragging the vertical line between the video and notation, this is a nicer default.

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:

  • The playhead immediately starts moving when you press Play, giving you feedback that things are working properly.
  • The timecode communicates the exact length of the intro, so you know how long before the synced notation comes in.
  • You can click anywhere in the intro area to pan to that moment of the audio, and you can drag across the area to make a loop. This unifies things nicely with the “real” notation area.

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:

  • If there is at least 1 second of audio between the first syncpoint and the (potentially cropped) start of the audio, display the intro section.
  • If there are at least 4 seconds of audio between the last syncpoint and the (potentially cropped) end of the audio, display the outro section.

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.

Here are some improvements we’ve made recently:

Better rendering of half notes in stemmed tab

Previously, our stemmed tab view treated quarter notes and half notes in exactly the same way, which made it impossible to tell them apart:

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Now, half notes use shorter stems, while quarter note stems continue to extend all the way through the strings. This should clear up any ambiguity.

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New “About Soundslice” page

We’ve revamped our About section. Have a look!

Nicer design of “Add recording” screen

We’ve added some icons and removed the cheap-looking radio buttons. Here’s how it used to look:

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And here’s the new look:

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Proper key signatures with capos and tuning shifts

We made an improvement to our recent new options for capo and shifted guitar tunings. If you choose “Ignore tuning shift in notation” or “Ignore capo in notation” for a track, then we’ll automatically update the track’s key signature so that it takes the ignored shifts into account.

For example, if your slice is in the key of G major and you have a tab track that’s set to “Tune down 1/2 step,” then we’ll change that track’s key signature to Ab major. (Previously it remained in G major.) If you don’t want this behavior, just uncheck “Ignore tuning shift in notation” or “Ignore capo in notation” in our notation editor’s Tracks menu.

Changed enable_synth parameter in embeds

For those of you embedding Soundslice, we’ve changed the way the enable_synth=0 URL parameter works.

Previously, if you specified enable_synth=0 in a slice that had no recordings, playback wouldn’t be possible because our player got confused. Now, we’ll still allow playback — just with no audio. This is useful if you’re doing a sophisticated integration with your own audio playback engine.

If you use enable_synth=0 in a slice that does have recordings, then the synth player will be hidden, as before.

We’ve redesigned our syncpoint editor — the tool that lets you sync your music notation with real recordings.

It used to look like this:

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And now it looks like this:

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Aside from some visual differences — a new color scheme, smaller syncpoints, a different style for the buttons — here are the larger new features:

  • Cropping is always available. Previously, you had to click “Crop” to enter cropping mode, at which point you could drag the left or right edges. Now, scissors icons are always available below the waveform, meaning you don’t need to enter a separate mode. Just drag the scissors left or right.
  • There’s a new area describing the current status. In the screenshot above, it’s the text that says “You’ve synced 13 bars.” When you first start syncing, this will say “Create your first syncpoint by tapping ‘T’ on the keyboard.” If your slice already has notation, it’ll tell you how many bars you’ve synced and how many bars are in the notation. Our goal here is to give some more context on what the next step is, especially for newcomers to Soundslice.
  • We’ve repositioned the zoom in/out buttons so they don’t overlap syncpoint circles. This fixes a longstanding minor annoyance.

Everything else remains the same, so we expect seasoned Soundslice users will feel right at home with this redesign.

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