Please welcome Revel BringBack

Windows 8 Start page

Today we announce a new product on which, for the past two months, our team worked. It will target Windows 8 and it's called BringBack.

What is you may wonder? Well is a start menu replacement for Windows 8.

Why we choose to develop such application? There is another clone of the Windows start menu out there, but after we install it we got the browser homepage changed and a nice toolbar installed whitout asking anything, also it doesnt play well with Windows MRU and search. We think could do better.

In our team many of us uses Windows 8 for their day-by-day business and what we see is that the start page concept simply doesen't work. It is nice on a tablet but on a desktop, is just a mess. 

Take an example: turn off the pc. How many clicks you need in Windows 8? At least four! If you're into the desktop you need to switch back to the start page, then move the mouse cursor to the right side of the start page, wait for the settings menu pop up, choose the settings menu, the power options and finally you have the "Shut down" button.

On the good old start button? Click start then shutdown. Fast

Also finding a rarely used program, an old document, or some arcane tool is a pain, or quoting Woody Leonhard of InfoWorld:

As Sinofsky says, "After studying real-world usage of the Start menu through a variety of techniques, we realized that it was serving mainly as the launcher for programs you rarely use."

That's precisely why we need the Start menu! To make it easy to find and launch legacy programs that we don't use every day. The Start menu embodies a compact, multilevel heirarchy that's easy to navigate quickly. It has lots of shortcomings -- I've written chapters in several books about how to work around the problems -- but at its heart, the menu structure makes it easy to discover and launch programs I don't use every day.

Source: "Keep Windows Start Menu in Windows 8"

So we decided to re-used our skills and integrate BringBack deeply with Windows, so you will have your recent documents, full drag'n'drop, the all "Programs menu" and our super-fast search engine built in (taken from Breezer).

We will publish a beta version in the next few weeks, as well as an introductory video.

Product videos

Film

We want to share with you another small news with you: after more than a year Revel Software since its start we will publish some demo videos. That was a very common request from the press and potential users, so we decided to go.

First we will produce videos of existing products, like Breezer Pro and reView and then of other products (including beta/prerelease software).

We think that this will be another tool in the hand of our customers (or potential one) to better evaluate and understand our products and to take a look into future developments.

Regards,
Suzy Rossi - Revel Software

Northern-Italy earthquake hits Revel Software

Revel Software was hit by the 6 Degree earthquake that recently shaken northern Italy and as a consequence we've stopped our development work. We count to restart it in 2-3 weeks.

Now we're slowly returning to normality because fortunately nobody died or had his house torn down anyway our support department and product update/release will slow down so please understand any delay from our support staff.

For more information about the earthquake and its effects: http://edition.cnn.com/2012/05/30/world/europe/italy-earthquake/index.html

Thank you for your understanding.

Regards,
Umberto Giacobbi - Revel Software

UPDATE 18/06/2012

I and every component of Revel Software which to thank every user that in those weeks understands our troubles and for every message of solidariety that they've sent to us.

Thank you, those are the things that makes our users so special!

Again thank you.

P.S. We're managing to return back to normality in 2-3 weeks, I'll keep you updated.

 

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:

 

 

 

Revel reView just updated

UpdateToday we released a new version of Revel reView, the Outlook file viewer.

In this release you'll find:

  • Now you can copy sender address or every address in copy.
  • Fixed a bug in the "Reply to" and "Reply to all" functions.
  • We add build date/time to the version information.
  • Fixed a bug with image display when dealing with HTML files.
  • Some minor performance improvement.
  • Better (and more clear) activation dialog.

The new auto-update engine

With this release we launch a much improved auto-update engine. It will now check every day if a new version is available. When it founds one it now displays the download progress in a discrete window (which can be hidden).

Also we remove a limitation which has followed us for many months. Now the auto update engine works, whatever you install the application via a zip file of via our online installer.

That new auto-update engine will be extended also to Revel Breezer 2012 which will be updated tomorrow.

Best regards,
Suzy Rossi - Revel Software Relations

Breezer 2013 Series - The harmonics analyzer

Hi guys, I'm Michael Shlepp and I'm part of the Breezer development team.

I have the honor to introduce a series of (bi-weekly) posts. A series which has only one goal: explain what you'll find in the next version of Breezer codenamed 'White fox' (seriously, we're using that name internally).

Those posts are also the right place where you can partecipate to the development process by sharing your comments and suggestion! And trust me, we listen, we listen a lot to our user base, so that your feedback will count!

For the grand opening I want to talk about one feature: the harmonics-anlyzer.

The harmonics analyzer: why and for what?

Well the why part of the question is quite easy to explain: because it's useful and when you get used to you cannot come back! How many times you listen to a sample, but you didn't know how it will blend with the others? Sure you have the layered player which helps a lot, but it cannot tell you what are the predominant notes in a sample.

That's the job of the harmonics anlyzer: represent graphically the frequency distribution inside the sample you're playing, and it goes a step forward: it guesses (with an extraordinary precision) the two strongest note in the sample. So you could drop it into your DAW software, and you can be sure, it will mix good.

Obviously is a quite expensive task for the cpu so do not expect that a pc from 2004 will shine, it will be usable but less precise. Also we see that under Windows XP the performaces (not only of the harmonics analyzer) drops by a 25% or even 30% on the same hardware configuration.

Now that we introduced it, let's take a look.

The harmonics analyzer window

Cool eh? As you can see the window is dominated by the spectrum anlyzer which shows the various frequencies that make up the sample. We add an exageration filter which emphasizes only the most dominant frequencies. Also the peaks are a little bit lazy so your eye has the time to follow the frequency shifts (very common with voice and wind instruments).

But we go even deeper and directly in the spectrum view we add two small labels that shown the exact note that falls in the two peaks. Internally it uses a table of known notes and frequencies to speed up the note lookup, and even better, it makes the guess much more precise.

In the command bar (the bottom of the window) you can control the input-sensibility and frequency/intensity scaling algorithm. For your convenience the analyzer can stay above every other window.

How much I have to wait?

To be honest the first condition imposed to me, when I proposed a new post about Breezer 2013 was quite clear "Do not talk about any release date". Why? because we are quite far from even the first beta. In my opinion we will see Breezer 2013 only next year... but it's quite hard to predict.

I hope that you enjoyed that article and I'll wait you for my next article where I will explore the new user interface of Breezer 2013.

Regards,
Michael Sclepp - Revel Software Developers 

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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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