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Posted: 11-04-13 5:49 am
by Nicholas
I'll get the bad news out of the way first: there is a good chance MusicXML isn't going to make it in Synthesia 10. The more I've learned about the task, the more monumental I've realized it is. Think iPad-release sized. These last few months aren't enough to do even a mediocre job with it, and I've been promising the hand-splitting feature in the "next major feature release" far longer than MusicXML. And if it came down to making you guys wait another huge chunk of time for a single feature (that won't even be used universally), it's an easy decision to give you dozens of smaller things you've been waiting for much longer.

So, with that band-aid pulled off quickly, let's talk about what is coming instead...

Hand-Splitting / Joining / Note Removal

The Advanced / Simple Song View paradigm is changing. I think I've come up with a neat way to combine a lot of ideas that never really worked on their own into something much simpler. The notion of "Played by Me/Synthesia" and of "Left/Right/Both Hands" will be merging. And the new splitting interface will give you incredibly fine-grained control over all of it.

In addition to all that, you'll be getting an editor-like feature (suggested by jimhenry, I believe) that will let you mark a note as "forget this ever existed". I'll have more to share once it's not just a few pencil sketches on my desk.

Free Play (aka Chord Library)

This is another long-promised feature that will finally see the light of day. I've decided to rebrand it a bit. "Chord Library" felt like it might be some kind of music theory panacea. To align expectations a little better, I like the idea of a Free Play area where you can fiddle around with MIDI instruments with a cool visualization and, hey... what's that? Are those the names of the chords I'm playing? Cool.

I feel like it will work better as a bonus than as the focus. It doesn't hurt that I've typed "oh, you'll be able to use the upcoming Chord Library as a sort of free play area..." in response to feature requests more times than someone has actually asked for a chord identification engine. In Apple fashion, I'm deciding to focus more on the user experience than trying to sell the idea of some new piece of tech.

Title Screen Updates

That tiny line at the bottom of the title screen isn't great for disseminating news. Now that I've got more content to share on a regular basis (weekly Music Store songs and the upcoming Video Help series), having someplace to show more makes sense.

Near the news box I'm also hoping to add a "Recently Played" list so you can jump back to any of the last few songs you'd played in one click, circumventing the library altogether.

A bunch of small things...

These are actually already finished and will be in the first development preview (along with those title screen changes). These are things I've wanted to do for years and years.
  • Multi-touch on the desktop. Windows 7 and 8 users that have a touchscreen can now do things like play lots of keys at once and pinch/zoom the keyboard just like iPad users.
  • The Windows uninstaller now breaks things down into options, including the (new) ability to wipe the data directory.
  • Automatic crash reporting. Windows crash report mini-dumps are uploaded automatically now. My response time to critical bugs should be much faster now.
The second development preview will have lots and lots of small quality-of-life changes including bookmark improvements, looping improvements, pedal shortcuts, that "partially-matched chord notes shouldn't count as an error" thing, and a half dozen others. It's kind of a ragtag list and hard to enumerate, but I think you guys will be happy with it.

Synthesia 10 is a big, meaty, feature-filled release. There have been lots of distractions in the last year and a half (the iPad release and the Music Store) and it feels incredible to finally dig back into cool things you guys have been asking for (and I've been promising) for years. I'm a little sad that MusicXML has to be put off for now, but I'll pick back up on it when I can next year.

Posted: 11-04-13 10:07 am
by jimhenry
Would it make sense to reconsider starting with accepting MusicXML files but doing no more with them than you do with MIDI files? My thinking is that this allows people to start building libraries of MusicXML files. My guess is that it will take awhile to get that snowball rolling.

Posted: 11-04-13 2:30 pm
by Nicholas
I'm liking this idea more than the last time you suggested it. With something of that scope, a tiered release is a lot safer and lets you guys have other nice things along the way. I'd have to be careful to communicate it the right way in that first release. (The chorus of trumpets and giant MusicXML banners to unfurl would have to be put on hold.) Like, to the point that maybe only you forumgoers even really know that it's in there.

Posted: 11-04-13 3:22 pm
by kiwi
Synthesia 10 'll be a "grand cru"
Thx for the infos.

Posted: 11-04-13 4:06 pm
by Korados
Ok, I'm looking forward to it, anyways! I intended to download the latest build but I get a Server Error.

Posted: 11-04-13 11:04 pm
by Nicholas
Korados wrote:I intended to download the latest build but I get a Server Error.
Nice catch! I've been shimmying some things around on the server and accidentally broke those two links. Sorry!

It's fixed now. (Though that is an old build now. The official download on the front page of the site is newest. This won't be newer again until the first Synthesia 10 preview.)

Posted: 11-06-13 3:43 am
by Nicholas
I've been playing with title screen ideas for a day or so now. I kind of like this thing. It frees up a lot of unused space in the header (unifying things a bit with the website), adds a "Recent Songs" list, and "Latest News" list. Selecting a recent song will jump right to the song view (skipping the library). Selecting something from the news list will open a browser.

(If you can't see the whole thing, maximize your browser or right-click and "Open image in new tab" or whatever.)
010title.png (27.7 KiB) Viewed 27473 times
That's kind of a hybrid desktop/iPad mock-up. Desktop would have an Exit button instead of Tutorial. iPad wouldn't mention the "Learning Pack" (there's no such thing on that side). That is, the news is going to be context-aware. For example, if you already have the Learning Pack it won't bother you with news entries regarding sales. Or, it will only mention new versions of Synthesia that you don't already have.

Anyway, what do you guys think?

(Some of you may remember this post from 18 months ago. You may also notice the idea is still much the same, only with a higher density of information.)

Posted: 11-06-13 8:06 am
by deed02392
Looks pretty good.

Re in-app hand splitting, can't see that in the current preview but I'm not sure if I'm just missing it or it's not there yet?

Posted: 11-06-13 9:04 am
by Nicholas
It's not there yet. (That preview is actually older than the official Synthesia 9 release).

These "Synthesia XX" posts in the dev update forum usually show my plan for the next few months, and then are followed up by actual development preview posts later. The sure-fire way to know whether there is a new build is to look for the giant green "PREVIEW" text at the top of a post (like this one). That's how I signal it's time to click the link in the pink box again. I try to always follow the green text with a specific list of what has changed since the last preview and whether I'm looking for any specific feedback about the new stuff.

I don't have an estimate on the next preview yet, though it's actually relatively close. If only because it doesn't have many changes. I usually try to use the first preview to get any scary under-the-hood infrastructure changes out of the way, so those changes can get as much exposure time as possible before the final release. There were only a few of those this time, so those plus the title screen change and Free Play seemed like a nice place to draw the line on the first preview. I've got hand-splitting work slated for sometime around the third preview or later.

Posted: 11-06-13 9:34 am
by jimhenry
Thumbs up for the Title screen changes! :D

Posted: 11-06-13 5:10 pm
by TonE
Hmm, still no measure based jumps?

Posted: 11-06-13 7:34 pm
by Raymond
I am interested to see how the hand-splitting will work.
I can see it working really good, or not so good. :D
Because there is many different styles of MIDI files, and many different ways to play them.

Main questions I have is:
Will you be able to select individual tracks, then split the tracks you selected? (or leave them whole)
Will the song 'track' hashes stay the same(unless the notes you are playing changes), or are most/all song 'track' hashes change? (mainly talking about custom MIDI files)

Posted: 11-07-13 4:47 am
by Nicholas
TonE wrote:Hmm, still no measure based jumps?
I didn't list that feature specifically, but it's scheduled for the 2nd preview. :D

(Out of the 571 items in my issue tracking database that I started using in 2010, the "Automatic crash reporting" item that will be in the first preview and "Measure-based FF/RW" that will be in the second have IDs of #8 and #16. Those are the two lowest-numbered IDs remaining that are still open tasks. It feels really good to finally knock them out. The next lowest numbered open task is #24 and it is to control track volumes independently.)
Raymond wrote:I am interested to see how the hand-splitting will work.
I just gave a few early details over here.
Raymond wrote:Will you be able to select individual tracks, then split the tracks you selected? (or leave them whole)
Yeah, splitting will be done per-track, via a control on the little track box in the Advanced view.
Raymond wrote:Will the song 'track' hashes stay the same(unless the notes you are playing changes), or are most/all song 'track' hashes change?
Hashes are always dynamically generated based on the notes you are playing this play-through. So long as the "Played by Me" notes are the same (through any combination of splitting and picking either/both hands), the hash will stay the same. As soon as one note is excluded/included from your previous scores, it will be a different hash.

An example: If you split a single track into left/right hands (without marking any notes as ignored) but then choose "Both Hands", it should be the same hash it was before. But, if you choose Left hand, now you're playing fewer notes, so it'll be a different hash. Does that make sense?

Posted: 11-07-13 7:40 am
by Raymond

It will be nice to be able to use my 3+ tracks. with all the 'simple view' graphs/scoring. :D
Although I will likely still have to go back to the adv view, every now and then. (If I just want to play bass, instead of bass+tenor+alto+soprano, etc..)

Posted: 11-07-13 3:40 pm
by Mos
Multi-touch on the desktop. Windows 7 and 8 users that have a touchscreen can now do things like play lots of keys at once and pinch/zoom the keyboard just like iPad users.
Woot, now my surface pro will work great with touch screen :)

Posted: 11-11-13 7:33 pm
by 613Skier
Looking forward to 10,

Didn't even know 9 had become available, hadn't checked this website in a while.

Posted: 12-07-13 1:28 pm
by Nicholas
It's about a week later than I would have liked, but there should be a new dev preview going up in the next couple days soon. This one will showcase the title screen changes ("news" and "recently played") as well as the new Free Play screen. The moment I connected reverse-falling notes (climbing notes? flying notes?) to whatever input you played, it was suddenly more fun to tinker with than it had any business being. :lol:

Though I suspect this is going to be another mouse/cookie situation where the very next request is going to be for recording support.

Posted: 12-26-13 9:36 pm
by 613Skier
I (and likely everyone else) would love love love it if in free play mode you could record, and or go back and edit your own free play compositions. I could SEE how being able to drag around your notes played, and held for what length would be really handy in being able to create your own music within Synthesia.

Posted: 12-27-13 7:49 am
by Nicholas
Ha! It happened even before the preview went out. That's hilarious. :D

Posted: 01-17-14 12:14 am
by Dave12
You might want to consider leaving room on the Home Page screen, for "Loops" that you want to save.
It would also be nice to be able to delete from this list if included and the last song list. (i.e. with a Right click).