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Progress update on version 5.0.0
#1
Hello all,

Things have been pretty quiet on the website for awhile, and some of you may be wondering why. As many of you are aware, a very big update has been in the works for quite some time. This update is addressing a huge amount of user feature requests, and is going to make MobileSheets a much more polished app. Due to the complexity of how much is changing, the update has taken me much, much longer than I had anticipated. To explain why the update has been delayed, I wanted to address some common questions I've been getting:

Why is the update taking so long to finish?

Over the years of supporting MobileSheets, I've learned a lot about developing an app for the Android OS, and some of the unique challenges that come with having to support so many different devices with different version of the Android operating system. When I first started out, I had a limited number of features I wanted MobileSheets to support, and they were based mainly on my own needs. Now that the user base has grown, my focus has changed to providing users what they need. Unfortunately, the current design of MobileSheets has limitations that were preventing a lot of requested features from being added. Faced with these limitations, I decided to make a lot of big changes to the design for version 5.0.0. This means changing core parts of the system like the underlying rendering engine for displaying pages so I can support more display modes (two pages up at a time, vertical scrolling, etc). With any big changes of this nature come new technical problems to solve and a lot of new things to test. All of these things take a considerable amount of time.

With the new update, I didn't want to abandon users with older tablets (running older version of the operating system). This has created some unique challenges in its own right, and has slowed down progress. I may have to phase out older devices at some point, but with the amount of new features that are coming, I didn't want any of my users to be left out.

What is being added in the update?

While the list of changes is pretty long, I can cover some of the main new features:

  • Complete overhaul of the rendering engine to support vertical scrolling, two pages up at a time, scrolling animations with page turns, and half page turns in portrait.
  • Support for new file types including .txt files and .chordpro files.
  • New custom made audio player with support for a-b looping, and setting start/end times.
  • Support for multiple values in almost all library fields (i.e. multiple artists, albums, composers). Lots of new fields to meet user demands.
  • Simpler file management
  • Automatic cropping and positional pinch zooming (what you would normally expect)
  • Cleaner interfaces, use of real tabs, and better icons
  • Sharing features, including the ability to email songs/setlists
  • Better automatic scrolling features
  • Integrated MIDI support

As you can see, there is a large amount of new content and changes to the existing interfaces. There are also a lot of little enhancements like the ability to select multiple songs for deletion in the library lists.

When do you expect the update to be done?

I always seem to get this answer wrong, as I'm overly optimistic about how long things will take to code. My goal is to have everything finished this month. It will take a fair amount of work to make that happen, and I need to allow a couple weeks for beta testing, but I will do my best.

What is left to be finished?

In terms of what is left to code, I have to finish implementing changes to the new song editor, I have to add a few configuration dialogs for things like how song titles are displayed, what tabs are shown (so you can ignore categories you don't use), and configuring pedal actions, and I have to finish a few things which are currently incomplete (automatic scrolling features and rendering of text/chordpro files).

How much will this update cost?

The update is free for all existing users. As the complexity of the app grows, I may need to increase cost to continue supporting newer and more advanced features, so if you want to save money, it's better to get the app now!

What about the Windows 8 version?

Unfortunately, I only have a limited amount of free time outside my day job. The Windows 8 version has been delayed while I've been finishing the Android update. Once I release version 5.0.0 for Android, I can start splitting my time between Android and Windows 8. The Windows 8 version WILL get released, but I can't promise any exact dates.

I really appreciate everyone's patience for this update, as it has been in the works for a long time. It will be worth the wait!

Mike
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#2
Better that it be done well then done quickly.
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#3
That's a lot of work and we appreciate just how hard it is to get this all together, particularly as this is a spare-time job for you. I'm happy to know that it will be ready when it's ready.

One thought occurs to me. With all the major changes that are taking place and given the huge number of different devices you would hope to accommodate, it's almost inevitable that some small bugs will appear for some users. For that reason, if no other, will v5 be able to run in parallel with the current version? At least we will have a fall-back solution, should the new version throw up a problem for anyone.
Graeme

1: Samsung 12.2" SM-P900: Android 5.0.2 
2: eSTAR GRAND HD Quad-Core 4G 10.2": Android 5.1 
3: Home-built BT pedal

Some of my music here
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#4
Thanks Mike! We all appreciate your hard work. I wish I was still involved with programming so I could help! I'd be very willing to beta test the app though!
Ron

Sent from my SCH-I545 using Tapatalk
Ronnal Ford
Adjunct Professor
Woodwind Specialist
Arranger
http://RonFordMusic.com
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#5
Graeme,

Due to the way the app stores work, there is no way to run in parallel or revert the new version. The only way you could run it in parallel was if I released it as a separate product and made everyone purchase the app again (which I think no one wants). This is why I'm going to have a beta for several weeks. I'm really going to need everyone's help finding bugs during that time. The beta version CAN run in parallel, but it's only going to be valid for a set amount of time (it will be disabled after a few weeks). Once the beta is ready, I'm going to be contacting people who have expressed interest in testing, as I'm going to use a service called HockeyApp to deploy installers and get feedback/bug reports from people. It also has built-in crash reporting so if the app crashes on anyone, I will know why.

Mike
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#6
Thanks for the info Mike. I don't really know very much about the Android platform and I wasn't aware you can't run parallel versions. I'd be happy to beta test, although I suspect my usage is not as demanding as some others here.
Graeme

1: Samsung 12.2" SM-P900: Android 5.0.2 
2: eSTAR GRAND HD Quad-Core 4G 10.2": Android 5.1 
3: Home-built BT pedal

Some of my music here
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#7
As a version 1 user would be happy to beta.

Sent from my ASUS Transformer Pad TF300T using Tapatalk
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#8
Hi Mike,

would love to beta-test on my brand new Samsung 12.2 tablet. I found out about MS only yesterday. The side by side display on the Samsung´s large screen would probably be missed in the current version - I am going to buy it regardless, especially since that feature will be part of 5.0, too.
Looks like you have built a magnificent piece of software!

Ben
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#9
I also would like to take part in beta testing ;-)

Tablets: Surface Pro 4, ThinkPad 8; Mobile: Lumia 950
Other: Strich BT-FP2, USB-MIDI connection to Kurzweil Forte 7
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#10
Hi Mike,

if you're still looking for testers, I'd be happy to lend a hand.
I'm running MS on a Samsung Tab 10" as well as an Archos 13" with
Airturn Bluetooth and usb pedals.

Ketil
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