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How to organize my music - newbie to Android and MobileSheets
#1
Sorry for the very dumb and basic question here, but I am new to Android and to Mobilesheets.  I just got a Boox Max-2 e-ink device and put Mobilesheets Pro on it.  My first time using Android and using Mobilesheets.  I am trying to figure out how to organize the large music collection I have.  I am in several ensembles and an orchestra, and so have a large collection of music in parts (with score) that I need to organize.  On Dropbox i have them all neatly in nested folders - a set of top-level folders one for each ensemble, below that a set of folders for genre (baroque, renaissance, modern, etc), and below that one folder for each piece, and inside that folder are pdf's one per part (soprano, alto, tenor, bass, keyboard, score, etc.).  I don't see how to do that on MobileSheets if i have the app manage the library.  Is there a clean way to have nested categories like this?  I'm probably missing something basic here -- I'm still going thru the manual and getting confused.

Thanks for any pointers.  I hate to import 400 pdf's only to find I've done it totally wrong and have to start over...

-Dan
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#2
Hello Dan,

As you've noticed, MobileSheetsPro isn't really designed around the file system in the sense that you can't have nested folders with a deep heirarchy in the app itself. You can certainly store your files that way if you choose, but you have to go to Settings->Storage and uncheck "Let MobileSheets Manage My Files". You would also need to copy all of your files/folders off Dropbox onto the device first before importing the files (otherwise MobileSheetsPro would just copy those files into its own storage location). The application is designed to work without an active internet connection, so I don't allow links to files on the cloud. The files must exist on the device itself.

So assuming you copy all of your files/folders off Dropbox onto the device, the next step is to import all of the files. You have many ways of going about this, but this would be my recommendation:

1) Use Import->Batch Import to pull in all of the files at once
2) On the Batch Import dialog, Check the "Populate Metadata from Directories" checkbox, and then provide a format string that matches your directory structure. So you could do something like:

%COLLECTION%/%GENRE%/%SOURCE%

That would put each ensemble into a separate collection, and each piece would be stored under Source. You could use the "Custom Group" field and rename it under Settings->Library Settings->Custom Group Name to something different if you prefer that.

3) Uncheck "Auto-crop" pages if you don't want all of your files to be cropped. The import will be much faster if you do this, and you can always crop your files later to remove margins.
4) Tap "Start" at the top righ to begin the import.

Once you've imported the files, all of the metadata fields you selected during the batch import should be populated in the songs that were created. You can go to the collections tab, tap on an Ensemble and see all of the songs under that ensemble. If you want to view Source or Instrument, go to Settings->Library Settings->Tab Order and add that tab to the list of tabs that are displayed. Once you do that, go to that tab, tap on the piece, and you will see the list of songs for that piece.  You can also use the search field at the top to search for any keyword (ensemble, genre, piece, song title, etc). 

So you might be concerned because you've lost all the layers of heirarchy you had before. You can still accomplish nearly the same level of filtering in MobileSheetsPro by combining filter selections. For example, tap the Collection dropdown, and you can pick one or more ensembles that you want displayed. Now any tab you go to will only show songs from one of those ensembles. Next, you could filter further by picking a genre, instrument, etc from the dropdowns at the top of the library screen. You can tap the circle at the right side of the filter bar to show additional filters if you want to select one that isn't part of the default list. 

The reason I don't support deep heirarchies is because they are tedious and slow to navigate through. With MobileSheets, I want users to be able to find their songs as quickly as possible, and having to navigate through folders gets in the way of doing that (otherwise you aren't much better off than just using a file explorer to search through folders, find your files and load them into a viewer). While folders can help with organization, I believe for most users, it's much faster to just filter on a couple fields to find the songs they want. Setting up setlists is really important for this as you can find the songs and group them together beforehand so that they are ready to go when you need to perform.  Let me know if you believe the app will work for what you are trying to do. If not, we can discuss potential changes or I'm happy to give you a refund if you don't think the app will work for you.

Mike
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#3
Great reply, thank you very much!  I will try it how you suggest.  I'm fine with using filtering instead of file hierarchies.  I think my situation is a bit atypical, because I am storing separate parts as PDFs for a single piece under a folder, so when I look at a single piece I see 5 individual PDFs (or maybe even 20 in the case of my orchestra).  If I understand you correctly, I can't use filters to display just all the "pieces" (i.e., lowest level folders, not individual PDFs) within an ensemble\genre "folder", I would always see all the individual PDFs for all the pieces under that ensemble\genre.  Is that correct?

I'm not saying I can't get it to work, or it won't be useful to me.  I'm just trying to understand how to organize things.  Even the best tools need some training/adaptation on the user's to get full utility out of them!

So far I'm very impressed with MobileSheets, and I think all the members of at least one of my ensembles are going to "go digital", buy their own copies, and start using it.

-Dan
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#4
Dan,

At the moment, yes, you are going to see all of the individual pieces. There is one piece missing in MobileSheetsPro to be able to help you filter out instruments you don't want to see - the ability to either populate metadata from the filename using a matching format string, or the ability to create multiple versions of one song with a different instrument in each (and a switch to change which instrument you want to see which would drive which version is automatically selected). I have solutions for both of those planned, but at the moment, you would have to manually edit each song and assign a piece of metadata you could filter on. For example, if you use custom group for instrument (or source type), you could then edit each song under a piece and add the instrument for that particular song/PDF. Then if you just filter on instrument using the dropdown in the filter bar, and your library would only show songs/PDFs for that particular instrument. I do apologize that I don't have a better solution in place for handling this at the moment, as I realize that is going to be tedious and a fair amount of work if you have a large number of PDFs. Having said that, if you have uniquely named all of your songs to include instrument in the title, there are a few tricks you can use to speed this up:

1) Type in the instrument in the filter box at the top. Only songs with that instrument in their title should be shown. You can tap the dropdown next to the search bar and limit it to title if the instrument name might show up in any other piece of metadata and you want to be explicit.
2) Long press one to start selection mode, tap the select all button in the floating toolbar at the bottom right, then tap "Edit Songs" at the top of the screen
3) Add a piece of metadata to uniquely identify them all (i.e. source/custom group/etc)
4) Tap OK to save the changes

This obviously depends upon your songs being named a certain way, but if you are lucky enough to have them all named in such a way that you can filter on them all quickly, then this shouldn't take you very long to fix at all.

Mike
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#5
Thanks, Mike!  I'll give all this a try this weekend and see how it works out.

-Dan
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