iPad: Organizing the song library

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jimhenry
Posts: 1865

Post by jimhenry »

Now, the reason the "All Songs (grouped by folder)" list is hidden on the iPad is because Apple's guidance is to de-emphasize the file system. You're not supposed to talk about folders in your app. Though I suspect when you start talking about cloud storage, they have to make some concessions.
Giving this some thought, I think the reason Apple says don't talk about file folders is because they think file folders are a poor way to organize files and, after even more thought, I am inclined to agree.

Folders only provide one, fixed organization of the files they contain. That organization is entirely at the mercy of whoever is putting the files into folders. (Now that I think about it, this is a problem with real, paper file folders too.)

Now consider iTunes. People have massive libraries of songs. iTunes does not give you a flat list of songs. Quite the reverse. iTunes allows you to sort, select, filter, and classify that library up the wazoo. But it is all done by having tags in the metadata for each song and then sorting and selecting according to the metadata.

I think the right answer for Synthesia is to provide metadata tagging of the MIDI files and views of the library based on the metadata. Synthesia should probably be metafile-centric. Part of the metadata is the name and location of the MIDI or MusicXML file associated with the song described by the metadata. Neither file names nor file folders should be directly apparent to the user.

Ditch the organization by file folders. Apple is right. It is an inferior solution.
Jim Henry
Author of the Miditzer, a free virtual theatre pipe organ
http://www.Miditzer.org/
Nicholas
Posts: 12774

Post by Nicholas »

There is already (limited) support for tagging in Synthesia, today. You don't get an automatic pseudo-folder grouping from them (although I agree that would be cool) but you can search against tags. The process is roughly:
  1. Add tags using the Metadata Editor.
  2. iTunes File Share that .synthesia file to your iPad.
  3. Use the "All Songs (one big list)" group.
  4. Search for a tag.
You can even make sure you're not contaminating your search results with matches in other fields (like song name or arranger) by including a "tags:" prefix like "tags:jazz".

I know that's only a workaround. Having to type isn't a great solution. It would be neat if you could organically drill down through the library using automatic groups based on tags that could be explored in any order. Say you had a song tagged with "Jazz" and "Art Tatum". From the top level of the library, you could click the "Jazz" group, which would show all your Jazz-tagged songs along with a group for Art Tatum. Or, you could do it in reverse: click the "Art Tatum" group and find a "Jazz" subgroup. (In this case, that second example isn't as helpful, but you get the idea.)
Waveform
Posts: 7

Post by Waveform »

Personally i like to have control over files by using folders, (i dont know is that because i am from a Windows background)
For instance with my non apple mp3 player, I have set different folders for each genre, and i can drag and drop files to these folders as i please.
Mind you my mp3 player's OS has a library function so i can view and filter songs by idv3 tags, so i have the benefit of both worlds - I can browse by folder AND i can browse by tags.
I never liked how itunes butchered the filenames of tracks on ipods, with some random characters, this is to prevent people copying music files using a file browser i guess?
jimhenry wrote: That organization is entirely at the mercy of whoever is putting the files into folders
But in the case of synthesia specifically, are not WE - the users are at our own mercy, and not at the mercy of others?

So why not let the user have this control?

Apologies if i misunderstood your point.


Also Nicholas, could you add the ability to rename midi files in synthesia's song explorer?

A lot of midis i download from the web have abbreviated file names, e.g. From vgmusic.com

It would be great to be able to rename them on the ipad without having to hook the ipad upto a computer to do so.

Could you tell me where synthesia stores midi files on the ipad, so i can browse to the folder with iFile?
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jimhenry
Posts: 1865

Post by jimhenry »

As I understand it, Apple won't let apps that use the file folder metaphor into the App Store. I further understand Nicholas to have taken that to mean that Synthesia has to present a flat view of the songs (MIDI files). I think that is a misunderstanding of what Apple is asking for.

I think you can have what I think you want, the ability to group your songs (MIDI files) by whatever criteria you like. I think all that Nicholas has to do is avoid calling the songs files, calling the collections folders, and making any of this dependent on the file names or the storage locations. I think Apple is fine with Synthesia allowing you to create a playlist, a storage bin, or any other name for a collection of songs and putting whatever songs you want into that collection. I think Apple will get suspicious if putting a song into one collection takes it out of another collection such that a song can only be in one collection at a time.

It seems like semantic nonsense. However I think that Apple is on the right track. The trend is toward having files stored in highly connected places that are accessible to many devices. Having users bound up in thinking about the physical storage location of their files cuts against the file storage and usage model that Apple wants to promote.
Jim Henry
Author of the Miditzer, a free virtual theatre pipe organ
http://www.Miditzer.org/
Waveform
Posts: 7

Post by Waveform »

Okay so today for the first time I had a look at the App File Sharing Section in iTunes and selected Synthesia.

It shows the Inbox folder on the right. I can't believe itunes wont let you open the folder to rename the midi files!
Instead you have to click Save To, and copy all the files your PC, rename them there, and then add them back into the Ipad.

I really hate the way Apple have this locked down.

Fortunately I found a solution, I installed iFunbox just now and it lets me rename all the midi files on the iPad itself.

I really think a jailbreak is mandatory for power users.

Edit: Just now I figured how to do this on the iPad itself with iFile.
By default the Application folder names are named with 30 random characters,
You need to go into settings -> File Manager -> and turn on Application Names.

Finally I can find the Synthesia directory easily without having to open every folder with 30 character names!
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