The Bombing Brain Blog

Setlists 1.3

Often the best ideas for new features in our apps come from our customers. We say it all the time, because it’s always true: we really love getting feedback from users.

Feature requests generally fall into three categories. The first category includes features that are fairly easy to do and make perfect sense. Those get added quickly, but may not end up in the official shipping version until we finish other more complicated features. The second category includes those features which may be good ideas, but we feel would perhaps take the app too far away from the core of what it is. Every app has a certain philosophy behind it; you can’t simply bolt on features willy nilly without losing sight of the app’s purpose. That leads to clutter and confusion. In some cases, those ideas that don’t quite fit become completely different apps. (That’s how Setlists was born.) Other times, we have to reluctantly shelve an idea altogether as something that just won’t work. The third category is my favorite. These are the features that are amazingly good ideas, that we agree would make excellent additions to the app, but are more complicated to implement and require a lot of thought and preparation. Challenges are what make getting up in the morning worthwhile.

The latest release of Setlists has been months in the making. Our feature request list had been getting long, and we initially decided that perhaps we should just try to do a few of the first category—easily implemented features—just to at least show some progress. But as we started adding those, we quickly got carried away and started going further down our list into the third category of more complicated features. We cut ourselves off before implementing all of the really difficult stuff (you have to ship sometime, after all), but we managed to get quite a bit of new awesomeness into the app for version 1.3.

Here’s a look at some of what’s new:

  • Dark Set Mode and Dark Split Mode: It had been suggested that the white background on the set view was too bright and was interfering with stage lighting for some people. So we created an alternate dark theme for Set View and the bottom/right half of Split View.

  • Additional Song information: Many people requested to have much more than just song titles and artist names for each song. So we’ve added duration, tempo, key signature, tags, and notes. All of these are optional, of course, but adding them to your song catalog will make composing sets and searching for particular songs much easier. If you have multiple singers, for instance, you can tag the songs with the singer’s name, and then do a search on the catalog to just see the songs that person sings. Or pick songs for a set that are all in similar tempos, for better flow. Or find songs in similar keys to make cleaner transitions. The possibilities are almost limitless.

  • Duration calculations: Adding duration information to your songs means that Setlists can now automatically calculate how long your sets are. Perfect for figuring out how many songs to add or cut. Also, when you select a group of songs to add or delete, the duration of your selections are calculated as well.

  • Catalog sorting: Having all this new information in your songs means much more flexible sorting. You can now sort by song title, artist name, duration, tempo, or key signature.

  • Custom Notes available in Split View: When you add notes to your songs, you can have those appear in Split View on the iPad as an alternative to the Set, or in combination with the set. Anything can be typed into the notes field, so if you want to add stage directions, information about who starts the song, reminders about breakdowns, etc. you can have those appear while you’re performing alongside your lyrics.

  • Single Screen mode for sets: Lots of people complained about having to scroll the set view when there were too many songs on it. Now you can enable Single Screen mode, and the font of your sets will shrink to fit in portrait or landscape mode.

  • Single Page for song lyrics: Many of you have requested to have Setlists ignore the blank lines and just present all the lyrics for a song on the screen at once. Now with one switch, this can be enabled for any song. Set it as your default, and it will be enabled for your whole catalog.

  • Justification options: Any song can now be justified left, right, or centered.

  • Edit with Song Font: This one will come in most handy for those who want to line up chord information along with their lyrics. Set your song font to a monospaced font, such as Courier, and then enable “Edit With Song Font” and you can more easily line up the chords in the Song Edit view.

We know there are some more things in that third category of “Great ideas that are really hard to implement” that we haven’t gotten to yet. But we are working on them, we assure you. Backing up and sharing the catalog is a huge priority for us, but all indications are that iCloud will not suffice for this purpose. So we’re looking into alternate syncing solutions that will allow you to share your catalog with multiple band members. Auto-advancing of the lyrics for those whose hands are encumbered with instrument duties and who don’t have footpedals is also high on our list. We think we have a solution for this in mind, but it will take time to program and test. Rich text capabilities, so that you can color or size some bits of text differently from others, is another one that we plan to add in a future release.

If you have more ideas, as always, we encourage you to share them. We aim to make this not only the best lyric prompter on the App Store, but the best app it can be, period.