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Posts tagged with “Managing your slices”

Here’s what we’ve launched and tweaked recently. There’s something for everybody in here!

Improved editor touchscreen interface

Since launching a touchscreen editing interface last month, we’ve gotten good feedback from musicians actually using it. We’re following up with some improvements directly based on that. Can you spot the differences in this new screenshot?

Screenshot

First, we’ve made the piano keys function as a toggle. If a note is selected and already exists in your notation, you can tap it in the piano keyboard (or fretboard) to remove the note. This feels really intuitive and was suggested by a few users.

Second, we added an “Auto-advance” button. Click that to enable auto-advance mode, which will automatically advance the cursor each time you enter a note. Handy for quick entry of single-note lines.

Third, we removed chord mode. It no longer felt necessary due to the previous two changes.

Fourth, we removed the up/down arrow buttons, to make the interface less cluttered. Those arrows weren’t really useful, as you can simply tap on the keyboard or fretboard to select another note in the current beat.

All of this is covered in more detail in our updated help page. Thanks to the folks who sent us feedback to help guide these changes!

“Pending” students in private courses

This one’s for people in the Teacher plan.

Previously, on the “Manage students” page for a private course, you could add students via email address — but it required the email address to already exist in our system. If you tried to add an email that didn’t yet have a Soundslice account, you’d see an error message.

Now, if you add an email address that doesn’t have a Soundslice account, no problem. The student will be marked as “Pending,” and we’ll send them an email inviting them to your course. As soon as they create their free Soundslice account, they’ll get access to your course. Smooth!

Improvements to student management

Another thing for Teacher plan customers: we’ve made the student management page more useful.

First, we added a dedicated page for each of your students, listing all of the private courses they’re in, plus all of the slices you’ve shared with them personally. (See our separate blog post about the new individual sharing feature.)

Second, we added a way to remove students directly via your students page. This is much faster than removing the student from each individual course or slice.

See the updated help page for more info.

Slice manager redesign

We’ve updated the visual design of the slice manager — the page where we list all of the slices you’ve created.

The new design has explicit links for “Edit” and “Practice.” We’d found that some people thought it was only possible to open slices in edit mode — with all of the editor tools taking up valuable screen space — so we’ve provided clear, separate links to both views now:

Screenshot

To help guide your eyes to the right place, we’ve redesigned the slice and folder icons to be more subtle, and to add more color to the page.

We’ve also tweaked the filters at the top of your slice manager:

Screenshot

The “Shared privately” filter is brand new. It lets you quickly find all of your slices that you’ve shared privately — either in a private course or with individual people.

The “Secret link enabled” filter is also new, but in name only. This filter used to be called “Shareable,” but that turned out to be a confusing name, given we now support private sharing with individual people — a totally different thing. Hence the new name: secret links.

And regarding secret links, we’ve also changed our editor to use this term, in the slice privacy settings menu. The menu now looks like this:

Screenshot

“Add to course” is now “Share privately,” as the sharing options in that menu option have expanded.

More natural playhead behavior

This one is subtle, but it affects anybody and everybody using our player. We’ve changed our playhead’s behavior at the start of a bar.

Previously, our playback engine treated the barline as the start of the bar. This meant that, during playback, the playhead would touch the barline at the exact moment that the bar’s audio began:

Animation

However, this meant we had an inconsistency. For the first note in a bar, the playhead wouldn’t visually touch the notehead until a split second after the note’s audio. This was especially noticeable at slow tempos and in cases where a bar’s first note had an accidental (hence pushing the note even farther from the barline). For super-duper-beginner students, who rely heavily on the playhead position to know when a note is played, this caused confusion.

Hence, we’ve changed our playhead positioning so that this is no longer an issue. The Soundslice playhead will now always intersect with a notehead at the exact moment that note is played in the audio — even for the first note in a bar:

Animation

Various fixes

Some other fixes we’ve made recently, in no particular order:

  • Improved automatic positioning of fingering numbers to avoid clashing with ties.
  • For people selling courses: We’ve added a convenient link to your sales stats from the edit-course page.
  • In slices with triplet feel, when dragging across the notation to make a loop, the loop background was sometimes off by a few pixels. That’s now fixed.
  • In our notation editor, we redesigned the sidebar to make the buttons larger on smaller-screen devices such as tablets.
  • In our notation editor, if you hit the Enter key while editing text, you’d be taken to the start of the slice — due to a conflict with our default keyboard shortcut “Hit Enter to go to the start of the audio.” That’s now fixed.
  • In our notation editor, if you deleted the last rest in a bar and had tablature selected, your selection would move to the staff. The selection now stays in the tab. This was particularly apparent in our touchscreen interface, which changes dramatically if you have staff vs. tab selected.
  • In our notation editor, sometimes tuplet numbers and brackets weren’t rendered when creating the initial track in a new slice. That’s now fixed.
  • Our player’s transposition feature helpfully displays the slice’s original, pre-transposition key, but it naively took the key signature from the slice’s very first bar — meaning slices starting with commentary bars always displayed the key of C. That’s now fixed.
  • When you share your slice on LinkedIn, it’ll now bring in the proper title.
  • When using non-YouTube videos in our player, looping is a bit more precise now. Previously we would pause the video for a split second after each loop iteration. We’ve removed that pause. The video looping is still not as precise as MP3 looping due to the realities of Internet video (see here for comparisons), but it’s a bit better than it was before.
  • We made some subtle improvements to our visual keyboard. If consecutive white keys are highlighted, we now make sure to retain a visual border between the keys. Previously the highlighted color bled across the keys, making the distinction between keys hard to see.
  • We’ve decreased the stem length of grace notes in our rendering engine. Previously they always used a uniform length; now their default length is shorter, and they’re even shorter still for beamed notes. This results in a tighter and nicer look.

If you’re in our Teacher plan, you can now share slices privately with individual people. This is great for teachers who give one-on-one lessons.

Previously, if you were a teacher using Soundslice with individual students, you’d need to create a private course for each student — which felt like just a wee bit too much work. Now, you can simply share a slice directly with a student, without needing to create a course.

To make this possible, we’ve redesigned the sharing experience, expanding on the improvements we made in May.

Previously, when selecting which courses to put a slice in, you’d see a list of all of your courses, with a checkbox next to each one. This was a bit overwhelming for people who have lots of courses.

Now, we use a search interface that lets you quickly find the course(s) to select. And this also includes all your students, so you can quickly share a slice with an individual person:

Screenshot

Read more in our new Sharing slices with individual students help page, and please let us know your feedback!

We’ve made it a lot easier to add or remove slices from courses. Those of you in our Teacher plan are going to like this.

Previously, if you wanted to add a slice to a course, you had to go to its course page. Now it’s possible to add a slice to a course directly from the slice page.

If you open a slice in edit mode and click the privacy dropdown menu at upper right, you’ll now see a courses section there:

Screenshot

(Note: This is only visible to people in our Teacher plan or higher.)

Click that to manage the list of courses this slice appears in. Add to a course or remove from a course, right there. Very quick and handy!

Screenshot

We’ve also tweaked the privacy dropdown menu itself to let you quickly see whether the slice is in any courses, without needing to open the menu. If a slice is in a course, you’ll see appropriate text there:

Screenshot

For those of you using our performances feature with students, please note that we’ve changed how you enable and disable performances. Previously this was controlled via the slice’s Settings menu (in the “Teacher” section), but now performance settings are accessible via this new menu.

A nice side benefit of these changes is that a slice can now have different performance settings across multiple courses. For example, within Course One it can have performances enabled but within Course Two it can have performances disabled. Previously performance settings were an all-or-nothing thing per slice.

You can read more about this on our updated help pages (courses, performances).

Here’s an improvement that should make it easier to organize the music you’re practicing in Soundslice. You can now bookmark any slice sitewide.

Previously, our bookmark feature was only available on slices that were posted to somebody’s public channel. Now, you can bookmark anything — slices in a course you’ve purchased, slices a teacher has assigned you, slices you’ve created yourself but haven’t posted publicly, etc.

To make this possible, we moved the bookmark icon to the top of the slice page. Previously it was in the “sidebar” area, by the slice description, but only certain slices have sidebars. Here’s what it looks like (the orange icon at top):

Screenshot

As always, your bookmarks are available on a dedicated bookmarks page for easy access. The latest few are also available on your overview page (the main page you see when you log in).

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.

Screenshot

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:

Screenshot

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:

Screenshot

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:

Screenshot

And here’s the new design:

Screenshot

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.

Screenshot

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:

Screenshot

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.

Screenshot

New Overview page

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

Screenshot

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:

Screenshot

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:

Screenshot

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:

Screenshot

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

screenshot

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!

Screenshot

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.

Screenshot

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.

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