The Bombing Brain Blog

Setlists 2.0 – Perform Like a Pro

Today we launch Setlists 2.0, a massively overhauled and feature-filled update for our popular lyric prompter and song catalog organizer.

Setlists 2

We refined the entire user interface, using all the latest technologies on the platform to provide the most seamless experience, no matter how big or small your screen. We added all of our most requested features, including chords and chord fingering charts, the option to scroll text, export capability, rich text formatting, .docx and .rtf file support, ChordPro format recognition, sync between all your iOS devices over Dropbox or iCloud, automatic backup of your catalog, and much, much more.

We also simplified the Jam Session feature, making it easier than ever for the whole band to stay in sync during live performance.

Last but not least, we’ve made Setlists 2.0 free to download and try. So everyone is free to take the app for a spin and see how it suits their needs. If you like it, one simple in-app purchase of the Pro Upgrade will unlock all the limitations of the free version. Unlimited sets, unlimited songs in your catalog, unlimited Jam Sessions, and backup/sync of your song catalog.

If you were a Setlists 1 user, don’t worry. We haven’t forgotten about you. Update your app to 2.0, and all the features of the Pro Upgrade will be unlocked for you, free of charge. It’s our way of saying thanks for your continued support.

This update is the result of over a year of hard work for the entire Bombing Brain team. And we could not have done it without the support and feedback we’ve received constantly from our many users. Thank you, and keep the suggestions coming. We trust you’ll think it was worth the wait.

There’s never been a better time to catalog your repertoire, prompt your lyrics live on stage, and keep everyone in sync. Download Setlists 2 today and perform like a pro.

Teleprompt+ on your Wrist

 

Teleprompt+ on Apple Watch

For a three-person company, managing resources is always the biggest challenge. When Apple Watch was announced, and with it the news that we’d be able to develop watch apps, all three of us were immediately excited, yet cautious. We’re in the middle of a major new version of our app Setlists, along with developing new products, and we didn’t want to get sidetracked with this new platform to the point where our other projects would suffer.

For Teleprompt+, the utility of an Apple Watch companion app made sense immediately. We already have a remote feature that allows you to control your devices with another iOS device or Mac. Why not control teleprompting with your Apple Watch as well? While it’s unlikely that major video production houses would want to swap a full-sized Mac for a watch while controlling their prompting, for a one-person shop making scripted videos, being able to stop and start with a tap on the wrist might be very appealing.

The question was “when would we get the time to do it?” Fortunately, one of our engineers, Tim, decided to play around with it, out of curiosity, in his spare time. (Yes, when he’s finished coding for the day, Tim likes to unwind by doing more coding. And we love him for it.) Within a few hours of his spare time over a couple of days, he had a decent prototype functioning in the iOS Simulator. You could start and pause the prompting, adjust the speed, start and stop recording, and jump to cue points. He even had the idea of swiping to different screens with different sets of buttons, so that if all you wanted was a big play/pause button that you could press without looking, you could have that. Or, if you just wanted play/pause and speed controls, or play/pause and cue points, etc. Lots of flexibility in a very simple little user interface.

As soon as he showed us the working prototype, we knew we could probably get it completed in time for the Apple Watch launch in April. It was just a matter of polishing it up a bit. (Famous last words, right?) Some new graphics, lots of testing, one or two additional features, and we would be ready to go. All while continuing to work on our other projects.

And the best part is that development of this little Apple Watch app inspired us to work on a new, simplified version of our iOS remote control for Teleprompt+. So even people who don’t get an Apple Watch will still benefit from the time we spend on it. (Look for the return of our standalone, free Teleprompt+ remote app soon.)

Overall, we were surprised at how much simpler the actual act of coding for Apple Watch is. Because the current SDK is so limited, there really isn’t a whole lot you can do. And that’s a good thing. The challenge is keeping yourself from attempting crazy features that stretch the limits of the device’s core simplicity. Apple Watch apps are meant for quick interactions, not hours in front of the screen. And they are meant to compliment the apps on your iPhone.

If all goes according to plan, Teleprompt+ on Apple Watch should be available very soon. We are submitting it to Apple for review today. The 3.1 update will also be addressing some of our most commonly reported bugs and feature requests on the iPhone and iPad. See the release notes for more details when it arrives.

Teleprompt+ for Apple Watch Features:

  • Control the prompting on your iPhone using Teleprompt+ 3 for iOS
  • Control prompting for multiple devices, including iPads and Macs[1], from an Apple Watch connected to an iPhone running Teleprompt+ 3 for iOS in remote mode
  • Five screens of controls, to suit your prompting needs
    • play/pause only
    • play/pause and speed controls
    • play/pause and cue point controls
    • play/pause, speed, and cue point controls
    • recording controls
  • Access your groups and scripts to change scripts from the watch

  1. Mac control requires Teleprompt+ 3 for Mac, sold separately. All iOS devices connected in the remote session must be running the latest version of Teleprompt+ 3 for iOS.  ↩

Teleprompt+ 3 Featured on Lynda.com

Lynda.com has a new course debuting today called “Managing a Video Production with an iPad” which features the all-new Teleprompt+ 3. If you’re a Lynda.com subscriber, and you’re interested in video production you should check it out.

If you’re not a Lynda.com subscriber, you should consider signing up. Amazing treasure trove of instructional video there for a very reasonable price.

Special thanks to instructor Nick Brazzi for his help getting our app into the course. We can’t wait to check it out ourselves.

Designing Teleprompt+ 3—The Script Editor

One of the first things we realized when adding rich text to the feature set of Teleprompt+ was that the look of the script editor was going to have to change. In previous versions of the app, the editor was a simple black text on light grey background, much like most plain text editors. But once we added the ability to change text colors on certain selections of the text, it became obvious that we needed to have the script editor reflect more closely what the text would actually look like during prompting. Otherwise, choosing light colored text for portions of the script would render that text illegible in the light background of the editor.

We didn’t want to mimic the prompting text characteristics completely, of course. Making the font size and margin settings the same in the editor as it is during prompting would hinder your ability to easily see entire sentences and paragraphs. For those things, we stil offer a quick preview in the text options panel.

teleprompt+ text options panel

But the text color, the background color, the font, and of course the bold, underline, italic, and indenting made sense to reflect directly in the editing view.

This presented a set of design challenges, of course. With such a large portion of the screen dedicated to the script editor, we had to be sure that the text and background color settings didn’t conflict with the other aspects of the application. The vast majority of users will likely set a dark background with light text, but we had to account for the possibility that some like to prompt with dark text on a light background. Change the the script background color to white, light grey, or any color with a very light value, and the title of the script, word count, and estimated time text will change to black, to keep it legible.

teleprompt+ text options panel

The title bars and panels of the app are all a dark grey color, to keep from conflicting too much with these editor color choices.

Another thing we realized during the build phase was that some people may not want the font face to change according to the prompting setting. Some fonts are less legible at smaller sizes, and often the person editing the script has different preferences than the person reading. Also, the person editing may prefer the consistency of always editing in a single font, no matter what the font setting is for each script. For this reason, if you do not wish to have the prompting font reflected in the editor, you can change that setting in the global preferences. Turn the Edit Using Script Font setting off, and the editor will always use Helvetica Neue, no matter the font chosen for prompting mode.

Designing Teleprompt+ 3- Hiding the Script List

One of the best things the iPad brought to the world was a renewed focus on a contextual approach to user interface.

For decades, most software design on the desktop revolved around some variation of the giant top toolbar. (Microsoft Word is a good example of this approach.) A space above your content would contain buttons for every function known to the application. Select a piece of content, then press the appropriate button on the toolbar.

Microsoft Word

These toolbars got so big and overcrowded on larger apps that they ended up being divided into separate tabs, or split up onto various places other than the top of the screen. Buttons along the left, buttons on the top, another bar on the bottom, etc. Every button for every function, visible all the time, even when the functions were not.

With the reduced screen real-estate on the iPad, this wasn’t going to fly. So a lot of developers did something quite clever: they removed the toolbar from their applications. Touch an object, and the tools you need to manipulate that object—and only those tools—appear. Deselect the object, and that UI disappears. No more clutter. Far easier for newcomers to learn, too.

Microsoft Word

But then we got to the split view controller, and things actually took a step backwards. If you’re unfamiliar with the terminology, a split view controller is a screen where the main content is on the right, while on the left is a list of what essentially amounts to file names. In the case of Teleprompt+ 2, it was a listing of all your scripts. Select a file on the left, and the script comes up in your editor on the right. That’s great, except the list of files never goes away. It just sits there taking up space and distracting you from your work while you’re trying to focus on the right side of the screen.

Imagine if on a desktop computer you saw a file listing all the time on the left side of the screen, as a sort of permanent open dialog box. Crazy, right? Yet, the split view controller in iOS is often used exactly this way.

So we decided for Teleprompt+ 3 that this should change. Rather than using a stock split view controller, Teleprompt+ 3 has the script list brought into and out of view very easily with a single tap or swipe. Your entire script library is there when you need it, and gone when you don’t.

Teleprompt+ 3

Along with this change, we moved all the buttons that belong to script management, including adding, importing, exporting, sorting, navigating through groups, etc.—basically any of those functions that would normally belong to a file system—into this panel that disappears whenever you don’t need it. This makes for a much more distraction-free experience when editing your current script. And yet it’s very easy to manage that entire library from the hidden panel once you bring it into view.

Teleprompt+ 3

We feel this change is a rather significant one, though many may not think about it much once they learn how to bring up the script list and hide it again.