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wikiloops update 9.0 preview

posted on #1
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Joined: 30.12.10
Imagine you have a car. One day you notice, one of the lightbulbs has died, so you open the hood to fix that really quick.
Once you are looking under the hood, you remember you always wanted to check if the battery was still any good, so alright, take that out for a moment.
Once the battery is out, it strikes you that it might be time to change the timing belt just now, so, while at it, you might as well do that.
As you take the parts off to go ahead, your wife comes by and says: "Now, isn't that cool you finally ARE getting me the promised air conditioning kit for the car?" - and you go like "um, er, sure honey!", while silently wondering why you opened that darn hood in the first place.
We'll let the story go on... After adding a new set of tires, switching from diesel to gas and upgrading the car hifi system because the AC was so loud, you'll probably need a stronger alternator, but (add X improvements here) in the end,
you'll have a generally improved car.

This little story pretty much describes the process I have been going thru in the past few weeks, and to tell you the truth, I've had the wikiloops codebase stripped to the bare bones, with 1001 spare parts flying about.
Since I have now begun to slowly re-assemble them, let me give you a first idea of what I'm working on lately. Some things are minor improvements I came about on the way, while there will be some rather big changes I had not expected.
On the small-things-side:
- I'm adding a custom scollbar where ever needed, so the rather ugly browser specific ones we have right now will finally be gone, hooray
- the track search page did get a very nice visual facelift as well
- your chosen volume on any player on wikiloops will be applied to the next tracks you visit
- track search page offers to "remember my settings", so you will not have to re-set your instrument choices next time
- when browsing from search results to any jam, that jam will offer your search-results-list in the right coloumn, so you may continue browsing search results (including the "latest jams") without need to return to the search page.
- these right-coloumn-offerings of alternative tracks feature a "play all" option (similar to youtube), so you can turn any search result set into a playlist with one click
- the lyrics display has been moved from the track description area, a new tab "lyrics" has been added next to the "musicians/remixes/chords"-tab.
If clicked lyrics are displayed on a large white background (like chords).
- tracks offer a "statistics" button, showing extended track stats, such as "on how many playlists, how many direct/indirect remixes etc etc

now, lets move on to the rather big changes, then:
- the track search offers a few new extra options, including:
+ "loose" & "strict" mode on instrument matching to toggle wether you are looking for all tracks including the stated instrument(s), or for tracks wich consist of nothing but the chosen instrument(s).
+ you may filter tracks by "has chords" or "has HD attachment"
+ you may look for tracks in a certain key

- the sequencer just died. You read right. What?
Simply speaking, the "Sequencer" declaration was always a bit... hmmmmnja youknow... we just used it to label "does contain more than one instrument" in a quite rude way, simply because it was not possible to display more than one instrument per remix step.
On the downside, it was not possible to spot p.e. a track with vocals, if these vocals were part of a "sequencer" upload were someone added maybe keys and vocals in one go.
So, a few updates ago, I started asking for "which instruments have you mixed here?" if people choose multi-instrument on uploads.
The current system still displays the ugly old SEQ-symbol for these tracks, but there are quite a lot of tracks which have the needed data to know what was added.
So, as a first improvement, I changed the display of instruments where ever possible and replaced the "Sequencer" by custom icons & text stating what has been mixed here.
This is not a small change, because if you think it thru, it increases the number of possible stated instruments quite dramaticly - where we used to have a maximum of six instruments per track, we now have a maximum of 18 (assuming six people upload multi-instrument-mixes with 3 instruments each)
In the second step, the search engine was re-tuned to respect these multi-instrument mixes, so it will now find tracks with p.e. "Vocals & Keys", even if the track was uploaded a sequencer - if the uploader left some "I mixed a+b+c" info, the word "Sequencer" doesnt show up on the track any longer.
It will still be possible to upload "Sequencer" tracks in the future, but the meaning will eventually shift from "we dont know what this is" to "some electronic sounds here" as in "i actually used a sequencer".
This is quite a dramatic change to wikiloops as you may or may not be aware of - it just simplifies the old problem of "why is uploading multi-instrument-mixes not cool?" / "why is my first track labeled with an ugly SEQ-icon now?", and turns WL one step more into a "do as you like" service.

Not enough.
While I was at it (and seriously, simply because I wanted to update the nicer scrollbar there), I had another look at the remix tree code, which in my books comes right after the newsfeed and the search engine as far as complexity goes.
There has always been praise for the simplicity of the remix tree, and it being "simply windows" way of showing organized files.
But as we have some quite large remix trees on some tracks (i always recommend #816), the tree does get a little confusing,
and even more so because -in the current version- the tree gets re-ordered any time you move from one track to another. If you just choose a track from the very last remix branch of the tree, you might be surprised to see that branch has been moved to the top of the tree now. What was meant as an aid doesn't really work well there, so heres what the new tree does:
+ first of all, branches are collapsable like folders in windows explorer now, which makes it a bit easier to keep an overview
+ secondly, when navigating within one tree, the next track will display the very same tree as before (including collpsed branches) and show the current track highlighted - this does feel a lot more intuitive, and actually even saves some server load because it will be done client side in your browser.

Somehow I'm quite sure I forgot a couple of things, but I'm quite sure I'll find some more on my way back, assembling the pieces into a working version. Wish me luck I will not have the typical three screws left when re-assembling this clockwork...

I know there are quite a lot of other open requests like the world clock, the group messaging improvements, some forum details, more smileys and some band & album things.
I haven't forgotten those and will see when I can get around to them as well :)

Keep the good ideas coming & thanks for your interest :)
posted on #2
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Wow, good going Dick!! :) Thanks for a great site and stayin' on top of things .. impressive! :)
posted on #3
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As far as i can every change is very thought trough and none of them feels unnecessary or purely cosmetic. You should give lessons in functional web design.
Pure fingerstyle
posted on #4
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Joined: 31.03.15
Oh yeah this update is the MEGA! And, thank you for the shout-out regarding the world clock and smileys not being forgotten.
posted on #5
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Joined: 07.01.13
yeeehaaa :) can't wait !
clusters Clusters CLUSTERS !!!!!!
posted on #6
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Joined: 27.09.14
WOW that looks like a lot of work! It is so nice that you keep changing and improving the site for us all. In this cynical world it is refreshing to see someone like you who does this without any financial gain, I believe purely for the love of music. You are truly a hero, and I mean that!
posted on #7
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Ich habe auf Grund meiner Sprachprobleme nicht alles verstanden aber das was ich kapiert habe hört sich sehr gut an ;o)
Friedrich Nietzsche: "Without music, life would be a mistake."
posted on #8
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Ich habe auf Grund meiner Sprachprobleme nicht alles verstanden aber das was ich kapiert habe hört sich sehr gut an ;o)
Friedrich Nietzsche: "Without music, life would be a mistake."
posted on #9
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The developement of software with a long and stable life cycle is an immence challange. Just remember DOS 1.0 ff! Much work to do... :)

I won't suggest any wish here, but I will miss the "instrument" sequencer. Why? I uploaded some tracks with other people singing the songs. In these cases "SEQ" stated "Producer-Composer". I wanted to use "VOC" for my own voice in the profile track list. I would never upload the voice of a singer under my name.

Don't worry about this little hint. In fact I only needed Git, MyVoc, Midifile-Backing-with-one-to-9-subtracks, Producertrack.

I like the track orientated design of wikiloops which is not person orientated on the overall level. But of course some day you will work on a revolutionary grafical driven social network design for your starting idea "bringing musicians with different skills together easily".

Much work to do! Go on!
Edited by Neronick on June 16 2016 09:34
posted on #10
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you always amaze me with the ideas and work you put into this site I really thank you for that. And as always will enjoy the many changes. Thanks for all you do.
posted on #11
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I don´t know about programing and i know a little something to build an Internet site. What i read here sounds like very long Nights with a lot of coffee and much more brain and dedication. Thanks for that, Dick. :)
Rockin´ in a free world !
posted on #12
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Joined: 20.01.14
Very impressive Dick, these changes will make Wikiloops even better.
posted on #13
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Thumb Smile and merci Dick
posted on #14
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Thankyou very much Dick, all your hard work is greatly appreciated!
posted on #15
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first of all, let me thank you guys for chewing thru my rather long text up there, and all the positive feedback coming in.
For this morning, let me just share another screenshot after another night on the code - here:

...as you will notice, i couldn't help but try to merge the free text search into the main search page - our current layout with two search interfaces for either category or freetext search is not really convenient, so i felt i might as well get rid of that flaw (remember the car repair story...?)

The way it is developing, the three top-tabs on the search page will resemble
tracks / albums / members
in the future, which once again feels quite clearer than what we are used to today.
The second great thing about this is that it is now not only possible to combine text and filter-search,
but i was also able to tweak the text search to the point where searching for certain member combinations by free-text actually shows the collabs involving those members first... that is crazy good and wasn't possible at all before :)
posted on #16
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Picture says it all :D
TeeGee attached the following image:

posted on #17
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The new criteria picker looks sweeeeet! :)
posted on #18
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What about including forum posts into the search?
Pure fingerstyle
posted on #19
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@nilton - a search option for both help articles and the forum would indeed be nice, but I really see it as a fourth item on the level of the
Tracks | Albums | Members | Forum & Help
distinction. Mixing member & freetextsearch on Tracks was not a good solution IMO, mixing Member- Track- and Forum-Search would be even worse.

Since I have been thinking about adding the "Thumb on forum posts" TG suggested, I might as well include a Forum-Search while I'm in there... still a lot of things to do on the list,
and debugging the track search will take a lot of time....

Especially the "what shall we display if users search returns no track?" which is the worst possible user experience is quite difficult to solve... it may not seem relevant to someone who is familiar with the search options, but to new visitors it is quite a turnoff to see "0 tracks match your search", just because you combined the rarest instruments in one of the less active genres...
I've got a big hooray stored for the moment I can hopefully close that chapter again :)
posted on #20
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These all look like fantastic and useful updates, Dick. I very much look forward to seeing them and appreciate the sheer amount of effort you put into this site to make it such a brilliantly usable and accessible resource.
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