We are really excited to launch the biggest update on our web score editor ever, the result of a complete year of hard work from our whole team. It includes dozens of new features and countless improvements. An early Christmas gift for all our users!
First of all, a little background on this update. In December 2017, we started a major tech update of our web product, and we already released our sheet music viewer, the Personal Library and the second version of our iOS app. For our web editor, we took advantage of what we learned during the past 3 years of building it and developed this new version from the ground up. This allowed us to make some major tech changes and gives us more flexibility for future updates.
🌟 We would like to thank all our power users and educators who took part in our private beta during the past 3 months, and say even more thanks for their feedback. That's what allowed us to finalize this major update and implement extra improvements.
This brand new version includes a lot of changes, and we'll highlight the most important ones in this post. All of them are made from your feedback, so thank you again to be part of our community and for sending us your feedback.
- Toolbars and selection
- Mobile Web
- Auto-save and Real-time
- Document settings
- New and updated tools
- Education updates
Toolbars and selection
Previously, we had several toolbars that were actually different selection modes. For example, you could only add and change notes in the "Note" toolbar, and make updates to the measures in the "Measure" toolbar. With this update, we completely removed these modes. The toolbars now act as a set of available tools and you can make any modifications anytime.
The Select toolbar has also been removed, and the tools are now available on the right toolbar and in more appropriate places (e.g. the transposition tool in the Notes toolbar).
The responsive version of the toolbar for small laptops and screens has been revisited to keep only 2 lines of tools, and progressively hide the tools that are less used in a small sub-toolbar. This is for example used in our Google Docs add-on.
If you are using Flat on a smartphone or tablet with your web browser, we built a brand new interface for you in this update.
Choose the parts displayed
We added one of the most requested features: the ability to choose the parts that are displayed. This is super useful when you are working on specific parts, and this is now available in the toolbar in our instruments menu:
We clarified the usage of the voices and put the tool in always the same place: this one is now available on the left of the toolbars. We also drastically increased the robustness of the voices usage.
A dynamic toolbar
We were hiding tools that can't be used in the currently selected instrument. In this update, we improved the experience around the different tools to indicate why they can't be used. For example below, the arpeggio icon is disabled because I only have a single pitched note, and need a chord to insert it.
Say goodbye to the dialogs interfaces
Dialogs are great, but they are time-consuming. To make our tools faster to use, we decided to remove most of them. You can now make the modifications right from the toolbar and... directly on your score! Most of the elements are now clickable and editable on the score.
New audio panel
We added a new audio panel next to the play button to quickly change the volume, mute an instrument or play only a single part.
Auto-save and Real-time
In this new release, we completely rebuilt our real-time engine using our knowledge from the last three years. We improved the performance and reliability, including our auto-save feature. Since everything is auto-saved for you, we decided to remove the save button from our interface.
We now display the date of the last modification synchronized to our servers and create a full save of your document more often and faster than before (e.g., a few seconds after you stop working on a document).
We also fixed the biggest flaw we had in our previous model by making your browser storage optional: this fixes issues with some private navigation modes, full disks, and older Chromebook models.
We built a dedicated mobile web version inspired by our native iOS app. This one has almost the same layout as your iOS app and the features of our web desktop version.
In this new version, we grouped the different document settings into a single interface with a preview of your score. This new interface includes Credits, Instruments settings, Layout and styles, and Audio configuration.
This interface is accessible in the same ways as our previous editor: By clicking on the title or credits, on the part names or from the instruments menu, and from the layout button on the right toolbar.
New and updated tools
We added and updated several tools during this update, here are some of them.
Custom drumkits [Premium]
You can now create your own drumkits and save them in your account as custom instruments: Go to your Account settings > Instruments, and choose Create a new custom instrument then Unpitched instrument to get started.
Choose the number of lines for your staves (single-line or 5-lines staves), then the different percussion instruments you will include in your kit. For each element, you can choose the line, the note head and associated keyboard shortcut you can use to insert it.
The experience in the editor is also improved for the percussions:
If you use your mouse to insert notes, the toolbar now only displays the notes heads used in your kit. You can now also select the note head before inserting it: this will filter the possibilities when you hover the measure, based on your kit configuration.
If you are using a touch screen, we added a touch drum pad at the bottom of your screen to insert and update notes. This interface will only include the different percussion elements from your kit.
Notes heads colors and shapes [Premium]
We added the customization of the notes heads as two different tools.
Automatic customization: The first one is available in your document settings (Layout and styles) and applies the chosen configuration to your complete document. We started with two automatic modes: automatic coloration using the Boomwackers colors, and Shape-notes (Aiken).
Manual colorization: You can also change the color of the notes individually in the notes toolbar. If the preset list of colors is not enough, you can choose your own colors:
Tip: You can use this feature to make blank measures without rests, just choose the transparent color:
In our previous version, you needed to calculate the total duration of your tuplet to insert it (e.g. insert a half duration then add a triplet to have a triplet of quarters). We changed this tool to make it easier to use: you now choose the duration of the note in the tuplet, then insert it.
For example, I want to add a triplet of eighth, I insert an eighth then add my triplet:
Until now, the beaming of the notes was completely automatic on Flat, based on the time signature of the measures and the notes. With this update, you can now choose how the notes are beamed in your sheet music, by customizing the beaming policy on the measures and manually updating beams.
- The beaming policy lets you change how we automatically beam the notes in the measures. In the example below: with a 6/8 time signature, you will have the choice of how we should beam the 6 eighth notes of the measure. It could be, 3 + 3, 2 + 2 + 2, or even 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1, etc.
- If you need more control over the beaming, you can choose to beam or un-beam every single note with the manual beaming feature, using the two new icons next to the beaming policy.
We added the transposition by key and semi-tones in the transposition interface. You can jump between the three modes to adjust the transposition settings.
We added the ability to insert custom texts in rehearsals. Rehearsals can also be directly edited on the score:
Tuning and Capo [Premium]
We updated our interface to include all the tuning possibilities we added this year in custom instruments. You can now change your tablature configuration to add up to 14 strings with any tuning and capo you want!
We updated our staves configuration to add the ability to customize the sizes in mm/inch, and added the standard rastral sizes in the interface:
We added a new display policy for measures numbers: you can now completely hide them, the option is available in the layout settings:
A small (and important) update to the accidentals in the toolbar: you can finally add accidentals before inserting the note:
A quick update on endings, you can now combine the endings numbers:
Sustain pedal engraving
We updated and improved the engraving of the sustain pedal:
You can now hide all the tempo marks: select the first one of the score and click on delete to hide it.
When adding a new key signature on a transposing instrument, we now apply the chosen key signature with the transposition, instead of the previous behavior where the key signature was applied in concert pitch.
The number of slashes on drum rolls can now be updated in the toolbar:
From this new version, we chose to only keep the inline comments in our editor, and leave global comments available for public scores only in our score viewer.
For compatibility purposes, existing comments will be displayed with the other inline comments on the side of the score.
Teachers using Flat for Education can add feedback at the assignment level using our new review page.
We took advantage of this editor update to rework the Education features that are directly linked to our editor.
The main request from teachers using Flat for Education was to have a better way to browse the scores turned in as an activity or assignment. This is now able to be done on Flat. It includes most of your suggestions: a quick way to jump between the different submissions and the attachments in a submission and to hide the review panel when you don't need it.
This interface is available from an assignment page on Flat, and from recent Google Classroom submissions. The old panel remains available during the transition by clicking on "Reviews" on the left of your Class on Flat.
This new editor is now the default one for Flat accounts.
The old editor will remain available for use until the 15th of January 2019. You can open it by clicking on the kebab menu next to a score and choosing Edit (old editor). If you are still using this old version, please let us know why, so we can make sure this update works for you.
Please send us your feedback and suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org, we are looking forward to hearing from you.
Vincent and the Flat Team