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Author Topic: unusable....  (Read 437 times)

shibetpc

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unusable....
« on: June 14, 2018, 05:26:03 AM »
Am I really the only one who is having difficulty with this?

I've paid more money for this one app than I've ever paid for any other, and it is 100% unusable.   I've spent hours watching video tutorials, playing in the app, using built in layouts, attempting to create custom ones.  Nothing works... and far too much time, effort, and money have been sunk into it already.

I'm very frustrated with this situation. I am a full time musician.  I've invested, (for 2 years now), in this tool which is presumably meant to make things easier.  I've not been able to use it for even one gig because the setup and control of the app is so convoluted and over complicated to use even basic features.  My bandmate simply refuses to use it after 3 or 4 attempts, regular app crashes, after only trying to create a custom view in order to just see a simple list of songs and lyrics which he still can't do.

I am coming from Setlist Helper, which is admittedly an app with far less functionality.  However, within minutes of downloading that app I had imported chopro charts and was viewing a song list, selecting songs, and scrolling lyric/chord sheets.  I am now on multiple attempts over a 2 year period with BandHelper, and I've only just gotten a song to scroll properly, provided I intend on playing it at one tempo, and only if I am viewing it through the device the layout was created on.  And if I need a faster or slower scroll in a live environment, I need to exit the view screen, determine how much longer or shorter I expect the duration of the song will be based on the tempo I've settled on, compare and adjust the duration already listed.  These are not realistic expectations for a performer in a live environment. 

Why do I have to create multiple views in order change the horizontal/vertical view of tablet? No other app that I use requires this.  They give a flawless representation in either position, even with custom layouts (e.g. have a look at Mixing Station).  In BandHelper I  created a layout, saved it, went to use it, and it told me that there were no layouts available to view this SmartList.....why?  10 minutes later I realized I had inadvertently changed orientation.  What the app meant was, I had not created a view for that orientation.......  Seriously?  How is that intuitive?  Why is this better than every other app which uses relative positioning to very effectively display layouts, custom or otherwise?
 
Why does this layout not carry over to any other device?  If my device battery dies, tablet breaks, I have to use my phone, any number of other reasons, I now have to recreate a view?  What if this happens on the fly? One of the prime advantages of having the information on a device is that it is immediately transferrable to another one.  You've managed to complicate and thereby remove even that inherent feature by requiring each device to have its own layouts.  Sometimes I go into layout and there are 3 or 4 layouts.  Other times there are 15 or more.  Depends on the device. depends on the orientation.... This is crazy.

I have used many apps of this type over the years. Some better than others.  This is the only one I have been this critical of.   Why?  Because all of those other apps gave me 90% of what was needed, very simply, for either no money, or a few dollars.  I expected that since the $50/year subscription cost was so high I would be getting something exceptional.  I haven't been able to use it once.  Not even for the most basic feature of viewing a lyric sheet. Nor has my bandmate.  Nor has the other musicians who I have enlisted to take a look at it and tell me I'm crazy, and that its straight forward.  We all end up asking the same questions.  Why can't you just scroll?  Why can't I just have a simple layout?  Why can I create a macro that allows me to record the scrolling of a song, set midi to cue a light scene, but If I turn the orientation to horizontal everything disappears?  I don't have extra money to spend on things that don't work.  This was an investment in a tool for my work.  It can't NOT work.

You seem to address all the far reaching issues at the expense of keeping the basic functionality usable.

I'd love to hear from others using the app.  Are you using the built in layouts only? Do other band mates share your layouts, or do they need to create custom ones? How many songs do you have? Did you already know the duration of the song, or did you have to take the time to calculate it? How much time have you/do you spend setting a device up to get the desired functionality/layout for each band member? Do your performances ever vary in a way that you need to adjust the scrolling speed?  f so, how do you do that in a live environment?  How do you import songs into the app?  How often does that occur?  I would really like to hear from others who are using the app. 

I'm sorry for the long rant, but I needed to vent after another unsuccessful several hours of attempting to make this app work in any way that is useful.

Uwe

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Re: unusable...., no it’s not.....
« Reply #1 on: June 14, 2018, 01:50:41 PM »
Hi,
Sorry to hear about your frustrating experience.

You are right that it is hard without having your material prepared and your workflow well organized to make use of BH.
But if you invest some time and effort, and don’t try to implement everything at once but step by step, I’m sure BH will be the tool on stage you never want to miss again, as many of us here.

We are using SLM and now BH for many years and I would never think about another app.
The whole band is happy with this tool.


I'd love to hear from others using the app. 
Are you using the built in layouts only? No, only custom built.
Do other band mates share your layouts, or do they need to create custom built?  Custom built
How many songs do you have? About 150
Did you already know the duration of the song? yes, important for scrolling and automation
 have to take the time to calculate it? Just use a stopwatch once
How much time have you/do you spend setting a device up to get the desired functionality/layout for each band member? The functionality has grown over time. Today I need about 10 minutes for a new user.
Do your performances ever vary in a way that you need to adjust the scrolling speed?  Happens
f so, how do you do that in a live environment?  Just use a finger to scroll up again, time is recalculated

How do you import songs into the app?  Via Bandhelper.com
How often does that occur? What?
 I would really like to hear from others who are using the app.  Here you go.....
Cheers
Uwe

Ahiru

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Re: unusable....
« Reply #2 on: June 14, 2018, 03:19:47 PM »
I'm a relatively new user of BH (closing in on a year), but I've been using various software / systems for live performance support for uh, a lot of decades.  For me BandHelper is a treasure in its functionality and stability.

We use customized layouts, but we all use the same layout (only two of us). All songs (so far about 50) have backing tracks (recordings). Lyrics, custom scrolling and MIDI automation is add 'by hand' within BH rather than imported or relying on auto-scrolling.  The bulk of the time adding a new song is in creating the backing track (in a separate DAW); adding lyrics and automation in BH is usually on the order of 30 minutes or so, usually with some follow-up tweaks after rehearsal experience.

My general experience with 'specialized' apps like this: I have to spend time understanding the primary use cases for which it was designed, and try to match up my workflow to those use cases as much as possible, even if it means making some compromises. I figure out what works well, then go with the flow.  Outside those use cases, add-on features tend to be more fragile and/or uncompromising.

Very recently I've been working with some new lighting automation software, with which I've repeated that lesson.  I cursed it during the learning curve until I finally absorbed the underlying model and learned which features were too unreliable to involve in live use.  I've now made peace with the functions that do work (even those with bizarre UI!), and now I'm happy it does what I need.  I've had similar experience with DAWs.

Though my BH useage is surely simpler than that of the OP with respect to layouts, I've found it to be a superb tool once I figured out what it did best and emphasized that.

arlo

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Re: unusable....
« Reply #3 on: June 14, 2018, 03:22:14 PM »
Quote
My bandmate simply refuses to use it after 3 or 4 attempts, regular app crashes, after only trying to create a custom view in order to just see a simple list of songs and lyrics which he still can't do.

If this is all you want and you don't care about optimizing your screen space to make often-used functions bigger and eliminate rarely-used functions, then I wouldn't get into custom layouts -- just use one of the predefined layouts. There are a handful that offer the most common setups, so it should only take a bit of experimentation to see which of those you like best. You can start customizing stuff when you are familiar with the defaults and you have a clear idea of what you want to change.

Quote
I've only just gotten a song to scroll properly, provided I intend on playing it at one tempo, and only if I am viewing it through the device the layout was created on.  And if I need a faster or slower scroll in a live environment, I need to exit the view screen, determine how much longer or shorter I expect the duration of the song will be based on the tempo I've settled on, compare and adjust the duration already listed.

Actually scroll speeds are automatically adjusted for your screen size, so your scroll settings should carry seamlessly across devices. If you need to adjust the scroll speed while playing, you can tap the button on the screen or click a foot switch to pause and resume, or drag manually to reposition, as Uwe said. If you vary your performances a lot, auto-scroll might not be the best option, and this video shows some alternatives:

https://youtu.be/7Z8s64BYWGo

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Why do I have to create multiple views in order change the horizontal/vertical view of tablet? No other app that I use requires this.

You don't have to create any layouts -- default layouts are available in both orientations. When you rotate your device between orientations, the app will load the last-used layout in each orientation. The app does allow you to customize layouts for each orientation so you can make the best use of the screen space in each orientation.

Turning your question around, why would you want to use the same layout in landscape and portrait? For many users, optimizing their screen space is a top priority, so this is one of several ways the app does that.

Quote
Why does this layout not carry over to any other device?  If my device battery dies, tablet breaks, I have to use my phone, any number of other reasons, I now have to recreate a view?

Layouts sync and will be available for viewing on devices with the same screen size. On devices with a different screen size, the layouts will sync but won't be available for viewing, but you can use the layout as the basis for a new layout sized for that screen. Again, the benefit is optimizing for the screen. If we scaled a phone layout up to a tablet size, or vice versa, it would be far less useful than it could be.

And again, you can just use the default layouts that are created for each screen size, there's no need to create layouts for each device. If you have deleted the default layouts from a device, you can easily reload them with the Help > Utilities > Load Default Layouts button.

I'm not sure where you're at with it now. If you have a layout you like, you can keep using that and you can delete the others to clean up your interface. If you've messed with the layouts so much that they're not usable (it happens), you could delete them all and reload the defaults. For auto-scrolling, hopefully the tips above will help. You also mentioned crashes; if you see a crash, please submit a help ticket so we can look into it: https://helpdesk.arlomedia.com/arlomedia

shibetpc

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Re: unusable....
« Reply #4 on: June 15, 2018, 11:48:28 AM »
Thanks to all who responded, both users and Arlo.  I very much appreciate you taking the time to let me know the ways in which you are using BH, and the options within the platform.

In the end, however, based on the responses and my searches of the forum, I've decided that BH is probably not for me, which is frustrating after the time/effort/and money already invested in trying to make this work.  I'm going to lay out the reasons why and leave it here, rather than as a app review, to allow others who may have a similar experience know they are justified in their frustration.  I'm hoping this thread is allowed to remain, despite its criticism.

I have over 300 songs in BH. If each song is an average of 2:30 to 3 minutes, calculating song duration is a nearly 15 hour long process.  15 hours to achieve the simple feature of scrolling a song at the speed I want...If I choose not to do that, my options are to either have them scroll at the same speed, or to add hardware to my setup to control scrolling.  This is somehow meant to be a benefit as it will save me time of adjusting scroll speed in the event the font size changes.  Each song added thereafter must be performed in full and timed in order to be used effectively in BH.  This seems absurdly over complicated, time consuming, and unrealistic to expect. 

The insistence that fixed size, device specific layouts are somehow a benefit stands in stark contrast to the rest of the app making world who have adopted the standard that an interface, custom or pre-installed, should work across all device sizes in order to provide an intuitive and ubiquitous user experience. 

Why should I need to know how long a song is to scroll it?  Why don't my layouts show up across all my devices and users?  Its as if you expect each user to understand the underlying architecture of the platform in order to justify why basic functionality doesn't work the way one would expect.  And its all in order to solve problems that are much smaller than the HUGE usability issue you've created. 

In my opinion Band Helper is a good concept, poorly executed, at a price point 10x that of apps with much lower barrier to entry.




Neill00

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Re: unusable....
« Reply #5 on: June 15, 2018, 03:08:49 PM »
If you know of an app that just figures out on it's own how fast to scroll, regardless of the duration of the song, the amount of lyric lines, the tempo or whether the song has a lengthy intro or outro ....  Please tell me.  That would save me a lot of work too but quite frankly I don't know how that is possible.  There are just too many variables, so if you don't have someone to sit off stage and advance the lyrics as needed, there's no getting around putting the work in up front to have the correct experience on stage.  I have to rehearse the actual songs so to me it's kind of the same principle, you put in the work to make it right.

I also have hundreds of songs but I only spend the time to get the scrolling right in the songs I'm actually currently playing which is only about 100. If I can predict that I'm going to pull one out of the archive then I put the 5 minutes into it to set up the "scroll".  But that's a bit of a different story now. Truthfully I've spent countless hours at this over the years trying to find the best way to achieve accurate results. Recently I discovered that i could use the automation to advance the lyrics paragraph by paragraph and abandoned the scroll altogether.  I've found the system that i have settled on to be the most accurate and the most forgiving in instances where I don't start the song perfectly or if the tempo of the song gets out of control in either direction. 

Having said that, the scroll method is best if you want to pinch zoom the font size as band helper does adjust scroll speed to accomodate that.  If you're going to use the automation it's best to settle on a font size before you start but it's pretty fast once you get going with it.  I import the original recording and sync the lyrics to that.  My drummer and I, who rely on BH it most heavily, are finally happy with the scroll across both of our devices.  We also flash the tempo which helps the band stay steady and keeps us lined up with the automation.

Having said that if it doesn't work for you, it doesn't work for you.  I just don't think there are any magic pills out there.  BH offers a bunch of great features and flexibility but it's like anything else you get out of it what you put into it.

arlo

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Re: unusable....
« Reply #6 on: June 15, 2018, 03:38:22 PM »
Quote
I have over 300 songs in BH. If each song is an average of 2:30 to 3 minutes, calculating song duration is a nearly 15 hour long process.

You could set a default song duration of 3 minutes, then practice your songs and tweak whichever ones need more control. I find that a default duration does the job in most cases. Unless you're resizing your text to only fit a couple lines on the screen at a time, there should be a good amount of wiggle room in the auto-scrolling.

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The insistence that fixed size, device specific layouts are somehow a benefit stands in stark contrast to the rest of the app making world who have adopted the standard that an interface, custom or pre-installed, should work across all device sizes in order to provide an intuitive and ubiquitous user experience. 

I think what's in stark contrast is the ability to customize your interface. I don't know of any other apps that do that; certainly not any apps that are direct competitors to mine, or any apps that I use on my devices. Any other apps I've seen, you get the buttons that the developers give you, in the arrangement they give them to you. I let you remove buttons you don't need and enlarge buttons you use the most. To be honest, that's the only way my apps could have grown to encompass all the features they offer. But if you don't want to bother with that kind of customization, and aren't using more than the core features, you can use the defaults. I can't tell why that didn't work for you.

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In my opinion Band Helper is a good concept, poorly executed, at a price point 10x that of apps with much lower barrier to entry.

10x seems exaggerated. Remember that BandHelper subscription costs cover your whole band; with other apps, you need to multiply the app cost by the number of users.

Anyway, there are different apps out there and different expectations about what they should do or how they should work, so I hope you find a better fit.