What happens?

Since March we didn’t post anything here and we know that many of you are waiting for the first beta of Revel Breezer 2013 and want to know what happens, we stayed in touch with you thru this blog, Facebook an forums even within few days after the earthquake (which destroyed our offices) so what happened?

Focusing on what matters

First of all we can officially inform you that Revel reView 2012 and Revel BringBack 2013 found a new home. We decided to sell the IP and rights to another company which, we are sure, and we got a precise commitment, will continue to develop and improve them in the future. We make that decision because we want to deliver the best sample library manager for Windows, and we want to do it with our users, listen to their needs and focus on what matters. You know, we’re a small dev company so the passion is our driving force.

We decided to keep in-house Revel Ignito 2010 because is one of the most important piece of Breezer: the tagging/meta engine. So we didn’t let it go.

As you may imagine, during the negotiation we cannot talk about it, and even more we cannot share any information about our strategic decisions. We even stop the site update. Now we take the opportunity here to say: please excuse us!

One of the driving force behind our products was (and is) the direct contact with users, their feelings and feedbacks, so that silence had, and will have a cost. Many of you were very disappointed and we understand that.

Since users are our first priority technical support to all customers who have purchased, or will purchase, a license of reView up to June 2013 will get tech support until the end of 2013 then our staff will divert requests to the purchasing company. For business customers extended support, which means QFE (quick fix engineering support) will continue till 30 June 2014.

Ok, and now where is Breezer 2013?

First of all we got the final UI, please see below. Obviously during alpha, and beta stage we eill tweak it a little (more clear and polished) but it is near the final stage.

Click to see full size

Fully scalable and vector UI

Many users with giant monitors asked us: "please, please make that button bigger, the text bigger, this icon bigger etc." now you could scale the UI up or down as you like. With that solution, we satisfy laptop users as well as studio users with multiple monitors and usually quite far from their point of view. Every icon was converted from bitmap to vector so you do not loss any clarity, we’re working on text clarity.

In the screen capture you could also see the redesigned options window.

Wave annotation support

A friend of us work for a big broadcaster which works mostly with interviews and very long samples so he need a way to add a text note where needed (as many other radio users). You may say “hey wave files had riff metadata for that” which is, of course, true, but remember that we need to support, WMA, MP3, AIFF, REX and more formats looking forward. A nice plus (thanks to Ignito, the underlining database engine) is that annotations can be shared across the network, if the database file is on a network disk.

Other improvements

Here you'll find a short list of other changes or features:

+ File/folder cut, copy, paste, delete and move (via drag'n'drop) features. Be carefull when playing with those things.
+ Standalone layered player, it can work without Breezer active.
+ Windows XP 32 or 64 bit compatible (report if not).
+ A database manager with diagnostic and backup tools.
+ Handling of WMA files (experimental).
+ Tons of fixes in the playback engine.
+ Standard MSI installer (bye bye clickonce). So your preferred uninstaller will work as expected.
+ Built-in news feed support and auto update. Here we need your help to test it.
+ Better error reporting system (bye bye email) now we have a cloud service which handles error reports and updates.
+ Refined user interface and many typo errors were fixed.
+ Improved activation dialog.
+ Faster note detection both in the layered player and Breezer.
+ Redesigned options window, now much more clear.
+ Windows 7 taskbar progress and jump list support.
+ Since the tag library can be quite big we added a full text search feature inside the tree.
+ New play from the middle option.

Also internally we've automated many processes so we can deliver faster and without common errors a new release.

Looking forward

We have tons of other things that we want to share with you but the main two areas in the coming weeks where we will work on:

1) Upgrade the site, which will be much more clear, modern and useful. Also looking forward we have a collaborative space where anyone could suggest a feature or signal a bug in our software.

2) Kick out the first Breezer 2013 Alpha. Too many things slowed the development (see above) and we're excited to launch it.

That's all for today. Hope that we've clarified the situation.

Best regards,
Suzy Rossi

Breezer 2013 Series - File tagging

One of the most requested feature (and to be honest since the first beta) was to support file tagging and rating.

We cannot deliver it for the V1 timeframe because we knew that such feature, done in the right way, was just too big for us. We need to introduce a database [and thanks to Ignito  that was a quite easy task], the user interface must be reworked and everything needs to be tested again.

We do an internal review of what we want and what our user base wants, then we propose our plan to the most active Breezer professionals to get their feedback. Then we come up with that list:

  • The tag library must be hierarchical. We think that a plain linear structure was not the optimal way to go.
  • No limits on the number of tags that a file could accept.
  • Keep things simple and fast!
  • Support for keyboard gestures (click to add a tag to selection and ctrl+click to remove a tag from the same selection) and full drag'n'drop support.
  • Multi-user and networked studio ready.

Those are all must-be-done features which means that Breezer 2013 must support all of the above. If we miss one we will delay the product launch.

Now let's go to analyze each of the above points.

IMPORTANT: REMEMBER THAT WE ARE TALKING ABOUT AN ALPHA VERSION SO THINGS WILL CHANGE AND IMPROVE. THAT POST IS ONLY ABOUT THE IDEAS BEHIND THE NEW UI NOT ABOUT THE DETAILS.

Hierarchical structure

Everybody knows that a flat, one-level structure is not the best way to organize anything. For over thirty years we're using a parent/child folder structure, so:

  • People knows how to deal with such structures [read: more user friendly].
  • Since those paradigm was out for so long and it has proved to be an effective way for organizing things why change?

Revel Breezer Tag hierarchy

Nonetheless our competitors (both on mac or Windows) don't use that approach or they limit the structure to 3-4 (hard-coded) levels. Instead we choose a hierarchical approach so you can organize your tags in a standard folder structure like Windows explorer does.

To clarify, take a look at the right image. Here we have a Quality tag with five child, a Type tag with various instruments types and under the Drums tag I've just created a New tag, which I use later. Nice.

As you can see Breezer can organize the tag library into folders, and group them by genre, file format, your personal quality standards, by producer or company, or whatever you want. You choose.

To keep things simple we do not distinguish between folders or tags. Each tag can be naturally also a parent for any number of child.

The management of those parent/child relations is very easy, just drag'n'drop a tag over another one to make it a child of it, drag out to make it a parent. 

I forget to say that a tag is color coded so you could apply a color to it and spot immediately.

Library limits

Thanks to Ignito (our object-relational mapper) and the underlying database (SQL Server Compact) we could support tag hierarchies of any depth and an unlimited number of tags for a file with excellent performances.

Obviously there's a system-memory limit but it's hard to believe that someone could need thousand of tags for file. Apart the system memory limitation, there's another problem with such capability. How we could easily manage an unlimited number of tags for a file in the user interface?

We do many tests, with different layouts. The most promising one seemed to be a tag-bar next to each file name where the user can see the tags attached to each file.

We play a little with this approach and we found that was not sufficient we need more to control the "filter by tag" feature. So we introduce another concept that we call "tag-bar".

The tag bar

Just below the file view we put the tag-bar which contains the tags selected and used to filter the view. Below you can see an early preview of it.

 

The main purpose of it is to make easy for you to see what is the current filter and manipulate it.

Keyboard gestures

Now i spend two words on another feature of Breezer that helps (a lot) with the tag selection and manipulation. As we said with the tag bar you could build an impressive filter by adding and removing tags. Nice, but how? With drag and drop? Too time-consuming and complex. Can we find another way to do it? We solved that problem with keyboard gestures.

The concept is very easy. In Breezer two little keyboard buttons gives a different meaning to a click.

For example when you're in the tag library:

Gesture Effect
Click The tag bar will be cleared out of any tag. Automatically the one you've clicked in the library will be added to the filter.
CTRL+Click The clicked tag, if included in the tag bar, will be removed from it.
SHIFT+Click The clicked tag will be added to the tag bar.

The same concept applies to the tag bar, for example a CTRL+Click on a tag will remove it.

Add or remove tags to a file

To add or remove a tag from one (or more) files is just a drag'n'drop operation. Choose a tag from the tag library and drag it over a file or a file selection, and drop it to tag the files. The same concept of keyboard gestures is available here: holding down the CTRL key when you drop the tag

To clarify everything take a look of how the workspace appears now:

Multi-user and network support

Another nice to have (and sometimes a deal-breaker one) is the possibility to "share" the tag library among many users. That means that if you're working in a group every tag, added, removed or altered in any way will be updated instantly to every workstation. This is a huge time-saver feature, because anyone can improve the tag library and be sure that the changes will be available to everyone in the team.

This feature is very easy to implement. Just copy the database file to a network share, point Breezer to it (see image below) and, boooom! you're done!

Regarding the tag database, we choose to give you the maximum control, and access, to your data. For that reason we choose to use a standard database format (SQL Server compact form Microsoft) and to not encrypt anything. That means that you could even extract your data to a custom report if you want to.

OK, for now, that's all folks! The next time I will introduce you to some of the [many] performance improvements we've right now.

Best regards,
Michael Sclepp - Revel Software

 

P.S. Don't forget to take a look at those previous posts:

 

 

 

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Founded in 2002 Revel Software is a dev lab now focused on delivering an affordable and complete sample library manager for Windows.

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