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#406619 - 04/10/17 03:06 PM [Beginners Forum] BIAB's GUI
texasprenegade Offline
Newbie

Registered: 04/10/17
Posts: 7
I have never in my decades of using and writing software seen a more confusing, disorganized, and cluttered user interface than Band in a Box, and never experienced a greater need for good tutorials. Please, fire the GUI department and start over. Start with mashing together Chordpulse and the Digitech Trio (but in software) -- each is stupidly easy to use. Complexity can be added in a better way than just cramming another button on the front page.

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#406620 - 04/10/17 03:32 PM [Beginners Forum] Re: BIAB's GUI [Re: texasprenegade]
Noel96 Offline
Veteran

Registered: 10/31/08
Posts: 13525
Loc: Australia
Welcome to the forums.

It sounds like you are in the mode that shows maximum commands and controls. If you have the Windows 2017 version, have you tried switching to the alternative full screen mode? This was designed to minimise the display of on-screen options and is obtained by clicking where I've highlighted on the below image (the shortcut is CTRL+T).

Also, if you're looking for tutorials, PG Music have a Youtube page at the below URL...

https://www.youtube.com/user/pgmusicinc

And, on-site they have videos organised into Beginners, Intermediate and Advanced at...

http://www.pgmusic.com/videos.bbwin.htm

If you are after Mac videos, there's a tab at the top of the Window's video page that can be selected.

All the best,
Noel


Attachments
full screen mode.JPG


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#406640 - 04/10/17 05:18 PM [Beginners Forum] Re: BIAB's GUI [Re: texasprenegade]
texasprenegade Offline
Newbie

Registered: 04/10/17
Posts: 7
Thanks for the reply. I have tried to use BIAB in the simplified mode but it doesn't help in ~how to use this thing~. The videos on pgmusic.com are several years out of date and mostly worthless to a new user. Those on the youtube channel are mostly showcasing new features, testimonials, advanced features, or demonstrations of new realtracks, not how to use the product.

Everyone says BIAB does a million things and it's all great. I'm just going to have to take their word for it. My problem is not the icons or the color scheme or even the 75 buttons. It's that there is no intuitive way to navigate the software. Reorganizing the toolbar or adding a dozen more options to a pulldown menu is just nibbling at the edges. I shouldn't have to already be an expert to use this.

I spent a couple hundred dollars on this software but I can't really use it. Unfortunately it's more than 30 days since I bought it so I can't return it. I would pay the same amount for a product with a fraction of the features but a great user interface.

If GarageBand had a way to prescribe the chord progression and add loops that follow the chord progression I would switch to Mac. Because I see the potential of what BIAB can be but they're just shooting themselves in the foot by ignoring the usability of their product.

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#406645 - 04/10/17 05:59 PM [Beginners Forum] Re: BIAB's GUI [Re: texasprenegade]
Noel96 Offline
Veteran

Registered: 10/31/08
Posts: 13525
Loc: Australia
Quote:
The videos on pgmusic.com are several years out of date and mostly worthless to a new user.

I appreciate that at first glance, this might seem to be the case. The reason that the older videos are still there is because the aspect of BIAB that they are detailing has not been changed. When program operations change, PG Music remove those videos that are no longer relevant.

There is certainly a learning curve associated with coming to grips with BIAB. That said, the basic approach to getting a song happening is straightforward.

Can I help in some way to get things happening for you? What would you like to achieve?

After being on these forums for a number of years, there are a couple of things that I've noticed that seem to cause huge hurdles for those starting out and are best avoided in the early stages of learning the software. These hurdles are...

HURDLE 1: Thinking of BIAB's chord grid in terms of a piece of sheet music.

Rather than the above, it's better to think of BIAB as a band performance that plays from beginning to end and enter the chords accordingly. Initially, don't try to create repeats and codas (etc.). Simply enter the chords as they would be played in a live setting, start to finish.

Once this starts to make sense, then, if you want, try using repeats, codas, etc. Personally, I prefer using BIAB without these because it gives me much more control over the arrangement. I always work with the linear format.

HURDLE 2: Trying to achieve advanced techniques without first developing an understanding of how BIAB is designed.

Initially, the best approach is...

a) Type in chords.

b) Save the file so that if something unexpected happens it's easy to get back the chord sheet.

c) Select a style to play your chord sheet.

d) Press Generate/Play.

Hope this helps.

Regards,
Noel

P.S. If you want to hear how BIAB can sound, have a listen to some of my songs in my signature.

Also, the Users Showcase contains links to the work of many BIAB enthusiasts.
_________________________
LINKS TO MY BIAB/RB SONGS


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#406659 - 04/10/17 07:56 PM [Beginners Forum] Re: BIAB's GUI [Re: texasprenegade]
VideoTrack Offline
Veteran

Registered: 06/05/12
Posts: 8307
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Hi texasprenegade,

Noel has generously provided you with a significant amount of information (and plenty of his own time). BiaB has some extremely complex functions. It also allows you to create and play a song in only a few seconds.

The different groups of functions all have titles and are laid out in an organized, intuitive manner.

Most controls feature pop-up hints that guide you through the operations and functionality.

Like most new things, there is a learning curve. I have a saying that applies to most things: "Everything is easy when you know how". If you are able, please try to be a little more patient and take your time learning the basics. I'm sure it will pay off in the long run.

Welcome also to the forum. Supported by fellow users.



Attachments
2017-04-11_12-48-50.jpg

2017-04-11_12-53-09.jpg


_________________________

BIAB, RB 2018(Audiophile), Sonar Platinum, Izotope Prod. Bundle, Roland RD-1000, Synthogy Ivory, Kontakt, Focusrite 18i20, KetronSD2, KorgX3R, RodeNGT2, AM802mixer, NS40M Studio Monitors, Pioneer Active Mons, AKG K271 Studio H'phones

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#406666 - 04/10/17 08:52 PM [Beginners Forum] Re: BIAB's GUI [Re: texasprenegade]
jford Offline
Veteran

Registered: 12/20/00
Posts: 10623
Loc: Pensacola, Florida
Texasprenegade -

Quote:
Please, fire the GUI department and start over.


I'm pretty sure they'll get right on firing the president of the company on down, hiring new staff, and completely rewriting the software to suit your expectations. Maybe they'll be done in a week or so, and it will look just like Chordpulse mashed up with Digitech Trio, as I'm sure that's exactly what they originally intended to do when the released BIAB a few decades ago, but just never got there. smile

Or maybe, take the time to learn the software, ask questions on the forum, and learn how it works. There are thousands and thousands and thousands of folks making a lot of good music using BIAB.

But truly, welcome to the forum; we users are happy to help you out (including me, even though I know I started out kind of snarky), but you've got to let us know what you aren't able to do with the software. We may not know it all, but we can generally get you pointed in the right direction.

Noel and Trevor have already started. Let us know what you are having problems with and we can help you work through it.
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HP Win10Pro-64, 8GB
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#406673 - 04/10/17 09:38 PM [Beginners Forum] Re: BIAB's GUI [Re: jford]
VideoTrack Offline
Veteran

Registered: 06/05/12
Posts: 8307
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted By: jford
Let us know what you are having problems with and we can help you work through it.

Exactly. We read lots of criticism, but not a single statement about what the O/P had actually attempted to do but was unable to achieve. Was it to 'enter chords?', 'print notation?', 'select a style?'. Work with us, and we'll work with you wink .
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BIAB, RB 2018(Audiophile), Sonar Platinum, Izotope Prod. Bundle, Roland RD-1000, Synthogy Ivory, Kontakt, Focusrite 18i20, KetronSD2, KorgX3R, RodeNGT2, AM802mixer, NS40M Studio Monitors, Pioneer Active Mons, AKG K271 Studio H'phones

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#406678 - 04/10/17 11:02 PM [Beginners Forum] Re: BIAB's GUI [Re: texasprenegade]
Yorkshireknight Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 01/29/17
Posts: 81
Hi Texasprenegade,

I'm new to using BIAB only got it this year and I feel your frustrations. I too had mental breakdowns and anger management meetings due to this this complicated programme.

If it wasn't for the support of the guys on these forums I think I would have thrown the towel in a week aftyer I bought it!
cry
I am not the brightest of buttons in the box when it comes to this type of music making stuff nor computer litereate but I persevered.
I gained more inspiration when heard the songs otheres were producing and knew that BIAB/RB does have the quality. SO I continued to blunder about and ask a few questions on these forums.

My first step to producing something was to do someting simple (right up my street)!
Perhaps don't be in a rush to start on your favourite song you've written.
Make a simple chord progression- Take it into RB convert it into WAV import it into your DAW and make a few edits, chops, splits add vocals and any vst's gitar breaks etc etc.

The next step will be learning about the drum stops, regenerate solos on any instrument.
Be patient and things will happen. If I can make headway, believe me anyone can!
I only use a few of the buttons out of the 75 you counted so don't despair.

The support you will find on here is second to none in my opinion, great advice and support and all this is free of charge! wink
Stick with it
All the best
Paul
_________________________
https://soundcloud.com/yorkshireknight
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4e8SXLwMaA00HcN0RaEqEA

BIAB/Realband Ultra plus Pak.2017(3)Intel i7,16GB Ram, 250 GB SSD,2TB HD. Mixcraft 7,Line6 ux2, axiom 49,NT1 mic

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#406682 - 04/11/17 01:15 AM [Beginners Forum] Re: BIAB's GUI [Re: texasprenegade]
Pipeline Offline
Veteran

Registered: 02/05/15
Posts: 2609
Originally Posted By: texasprenegade
I have never in my decades of using and writing software seen a more confusing, disorganized, and cluttered user interface than Band in a Box, and never experienced a greater need for good tutorials. Please, fire the GUI department and start over. Start with mashing together Chordpulse and the Digitech Trio (but in software) -- each is stupidly easy to use. Complexity can be added in a better way than just cramming another button on the front page.


"a more confusing, disorganized, and cluttered user interface than Band in a Box"
That sounds about right, I appreciate your input from someone who is new to Biab, this gives the developers information to improve Biab.

Digitech Trio that uses Biab.
Chordpulse is good.

There is an easy solution, look for an icon called RealBand if you are not on a Mac.
Unless you are writing songs from scratch and need to change things around quickly, RealBand will do things easier as you can see what you are doing as the tracks are laid out in front of you.
Check out www.realband.org they have a lot of info and videos.

You can also use RealBand with ReWire generating up tracks to existing tracks in the DAW http://www.pgmusic.com/forums/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=371691
_________________________
Free Biab Chord Picker Tool (look at the bottom of the page for the latest version.)

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#406713 - 04/11/17 05:15 AM [Beginners Forum] Re: BIAB's GUI [Re: texasprenegade]
Mike Head Offline
Journeyman

Registered: 12/10/15
Posts: 376
Hi all
Strangely enough BIAB did seem a bit daunting to me when I first had it,
But I must say that I like the way every thing is on top and handy,
(like a sea mans chest) I still use the old GUI for this reason

I hate the way apps and other software is going with its big blobby metro icons and page after page of menus and drop downs where you have no idea where you are going or have come from. .
Probably stems back to my DOS days and understanding of directory structures, and trees.
Mind you wouldn’t want to see my desk top. grin

I also hate the way some software dumbs everything down to the lowest level automatically leaving you no choice but except defaults etc.
So lets keep BIAB as it is please the program is well worth the effort and leaning curve ,and there is plenty of help on this forum and in the program its self.
Just my take
Mike
_________________________
BIAB2018,UltraPlus, Asus N55S,W10/64,Akai EIEpro,
Yamaha Clavinova CVP405,CoolsoftVirt,MidiSynth
Novatation Impulse61 Ctr kbd,Cakewalk blab,Kontakt

http://mikesmusic.byethost16.com/

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#406727 - 04/11/17 05:55 AM [Beginners Forum] Re: BIAB's GUI [Re: texasprenegade]
Charlie Fogle Offline
Veteran

Registered: 04/07/13
Posts: 4524
Loc: South Carolina
<<< I have tried to use BIAB in the simplified mode but it doesn't help in ~how to use this thing~. >>>

Here is BIAB in simplified mode: (Taken From Noel's post)


a) Type in chords.

b) Save the file so that if something unexpected happens it's easy to get back the chord sheet. (optional unless you are working on a serious project)

c) Select a style to play your chord sheet.

d) Press Generate/Play.


Here is BIAB in intermediate mode:

a) Type in chords.

b) Save the file so that if something unexpected happens it's easy to get back the chord sheet.

c) Select a style to play your chord sheet.

d) Press Generate/Play.


Here is BIAB in its most advanced mode:


a) Type in chords.

b) Save the file so that if something unexpected happens it's easy to get back the chord sheet.

c) Select a style to play your chord sheet.

d) Press Generate/Play.

These steps are also the same for:

BIAB in singer/songwriter mode:
BIAB in Classical composition mode:
BIAB in backing tracks mode:
BIAB in practice guitar, piano, sax, trumpet, et al mode:
BIAB in make my own Karaoke mode:
BIAB in create a movie soundtrack mode:
BIAB in print charts for the band mode:
BIAB in create my own CD mode:

and any other purpose you want to use BIAB to create music for.

Everything you do that follows these steps are features that you pick and choose to achieve end results for your music output. Every version of BIAB back to the days of DOS have provided the instructions to << enter your chord progression, select a style, press play >>

Mike posted while I was composing. He is correct.


Edited by Charlie Fogle (04/11/17 05:57 AM)
Edit Reason: To acknowledge Mike's post
_________________________
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#406768 - 04/11/17 11:06 AM [Beginners Forum] Re: BIAB's GUI [Re: texasprenegade]
Tony Wright Offline
Journeyman

Registered: 02/10/01
Posts: 600
Loc: Waterloo Ontario Canada
Am I the only long-term user who can see the problem through the eyes of a beginner?

Nowhere does Texasprenegade say that he/she cannot work out how to do something with BIAB but all the resposes concentrate on being patient in learning how to use the software. This happens every time a newcomer critisizes the GUI. No-one is prepared to recognise the importance of how the GUI looks when you first see it. Yes, there are lots of offers to help but really everyone blaims the victim by telling them to try harder.

It's like someone critisizing the layout of a car's interior controls as being confusing only to be told "don't worry, you will get used to it, just persevere to learn them" Meanwhile sales of the new car are tanking and you can bet that the next model will have corrected the layout even if the functionality is no different. My 2014 Ford Escape has a terrible GPS GUI, so much so that I use my 10 year old Garmin mounted on the windshield. Ford paid attention to the comments and the 2016 version was a big improvement.

Sooner or later PG will start paying attention to beginner's comments instead of relying on the opinions of long-term users who have passed through the "right of passage" and are comfortable with the GUI. Yes, I know PG recently introduced an optional simplified GUI but it still needs a completely fresh approach. Personally, I have stayed with the previous version.

Tony

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#406770 - 04/11/17 11:14 AM [Beginners Forum] Re: BIAB's GUI [Re: texasprenegade]
Matt Finley Offline
Veteran

Registered: 07/12/00
Posts: 17516
Loc: Hudson Valley & Lake George NY
Tony, you are not the only one.

When I taught programming, part of the test of my students' projects was what we called the 'any idiot' test. We would find an idiot, defined as the next unknown person walking down the hall, and ask them to react to the program. Observe, revise, retest.

Right after BIAB version 2017 was released, many of the active beta testers on the site paid particularly close attention to the posts by newcomers (as well as newly-confused experienced users). We passed on extensive observations to PG Music. It is an ongoing process.

We had asked for a streamlining of the GUI, and we got it. The next step would seem to me to be a revision of the Menu system and a thorough review of the Help system. But what do I know?
_________________________
BIAB 2018 Win Audiophile; [& 2018 Mac UltraPak]. Software: Mixcraft, Adobe Audition, Ozone, Encore; Win 10 64 Pro. Hardware: custom i7, 16 Gb; Roland Integra-7, Focusrite 18i20(2), TCE Finalizer, Behringer X-Touch, Adam sub & monitors.

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#406778 - 04/11/17 12:02 PM [Beginners Forum] Re: BIAB's GUI [Re: texasprenegade]
MarioD Offline
Veteran

Registered: 12/27/03
Posts: 11340
Loc: Hamlin NY
Matt, I did the same thing when writing macros for Lotus 123 and Excel as well as Standard Operating Procedures. The difference is that I call it the Gorilla Test.

texasprenegade, welcome. You are not the first one to point out the GUI. In fact there have been many requests to change it over the years. The latest 2017 GUI is much better than the older GUI , IMHO, but I can see where both can be very confusing for a new comer. Heck I'm an old user and sometimes I get lost trying to figure something out.

You are right about the GUI but so are those that were trying to help. The GUI will not change overnight so you have to do the changing. Put your GUI suggestions in the wish forum but keep on trying to learn the program. It does have a lot to offer and in fact I probably use less then 10% of what is available.
_________________________
My mind is like my Internet browser: 19 tabs open, 3 of them are frozen & I have no idea where the music is coming from.

64 bit Win 10 Pro - the latest BiaB and RB - Roland Octa-Capture audio interface - a ton of software and some hardware.

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#406850 - 04/11/17 04:20 PM [Beginners Forum] Re: BIAB's GUI [Re: texasprenegade]
rharv Offline
Veteran

Registered: 05/30/00
Posts: 18956
Loc: Marysville, Mi. USA
Someone else suggested this, but I'm going to suggest it too.
Try Realband. It does 'most' of what BiaB does (and more than most users need) but in a different way. You may or may not like it better. If you have a recent version of BiaB then Realband was included for free. Nothing to lose.

If you are used to a regular DAW, Realband works much more like that.
It's not just like Protools or Reaper or Audition, it's still different, so some learning curve applies. For quite a few people I know, all the click-paths just make more sense for what they want to do.
This is why I use Realband more than most users; it works more like I 'expect' music software to work. So I get more done with less frustration or hunting.

As far as looks though, I really wish we could design our own skins. I am no good at graphics, but I work every day with people that do app designs/graphics/builds. It pains me to know how much better it could 'appear' (and probably flow).
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#407024 - 04/12/17 05:33 PM [Beginners Forum] Re: BIAB's GUI [Re: texasprenegade]
VideoTrack Offline
Veteran

Registered: 06/05/12
Posts: 8307
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
I fail to see how something with the complexities and significant features that BiaB offers is supposed to just 'look' simple.

As the song goes: 'Get a little dirt on your hands'. No pain, no gain.

You described yourself as a software writer. Please feel free to illustrate a mock-up of exactly how the interface should appear.

Please describe how the new 2017 interface is 'confusing', 'disorganized' and 'cluttered'.

Then I'll understand the problem you are experiencing a little more. Thanks.


_________________________

BIAB, RB 2018(Audiophile), Sonar Platinum, Izotope Prod. Bundle, Roland RD-1000, Synthogy Ivory, Kontakt, Focusrite 18i20, KetronSD2, KorgX3R, RodeNGT2, AM802mixer, NS40M Studio Monitors, Pioneer Active Mons, AKG K271 Studio H'phones

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#407034 - 04/12/17 06:49 PM [Beginners Forum] Re: BIAB's GUI [Re: VideoTrack]
Pipeline Offline
Veteran

Registered: 02/05/15
Posts: 2609
"Start with mashing together Chordpulse and the Digitech Trio..."

This is the simplest I can get it, similar to Chorpulse.



Attachments
RB-Chordpulse.jpg


_________________________
Free Biab Chord Picker Tool (look at the bottom of the page for the latest version.)

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#407060 - 04/12/17 09:14 PM [Beginners Forum] Re: BIAB's GUI [Re: Pipeline]
VideoTrack Offline
Veteran

Registered: 06/05/12
Posts: 8307
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Thanks Pipeline.

I'm still looking forward to texasprenegade's response to the items he/she described.
_________________________

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#407065 - 04/12/17 10:01 PM [Beginners Forum] Re: BIAB's GUI [Re: texasprenegade]
texasprenegade Offline
Newbie

Registered: 04/10/17
Posts: 7
(warning: it's long)
OK, I take all your points and agree with most of you. But to explain, my background is in tech, I write software including user interfaces (though for the web), and have spent my entire career learning new and complicated software (think Autocad, finite element CFD models, etc.). I am not an inexperienced user of complicated software. And I am more than willing to give the benefit of the doubt when it comes to design. I know how hard it is to cram so much functionality into such little space. And I'm not expecting to grok the UI immediately, but I do know some of the components that make a good design.

For me, a good design is all about functionality. I couldn't care less about the color scheme, or skins, or big gaudy buttons. I would love to see a user interface study to see how beginners approach the software, as well as how the veterans use it. I'd be willing to bet most people use the same 10% of the capabilities. The rest should be tucked away--the experts will find the extra stuff, the rest won't even see it. I believe the user interface should get you close to what you want to do and well-organized examples and tutorials should do the rest. This user guide doesn't do any of that, except sort of explain the buttons, but without any context. And though forums are extremely helpful, they shouldn't be necessary except for some of the more esoteric functions.

In general, I believe that the more trial and error one needs to do, the worse the user interface. I've had to do a lot of trial and error and reading forum posts to get what little progress I've achieved.

Speaking of achievements, I am indeed making progress. I'll give BIAB credit: On the first day I was able to do something, even before Charlie Fogle suggested:
a) Type in chords.
b) Save the file so that if something unexpected happens it's easy to get back the chord sheet.
c) Select a style to play your chord sheet.
d) Press Generate/Play.

So again, I'll give credit. But after that, it's trial and error time. The stylepicker gives me the most grief. Even sorting columns doesn't seem to work, but does something random. And on one of the screens there's no "OK" button, so it's hard to undo something you've clicked. That's not intuitive. And what's that row of "Master Bass Guitar1 Drums ..." with radio buttons near the top? It changes, but it took me a while to figure out why. And how does it relate to the mixer thing on the right? And the mixer has something with [None][None][None][None] on it. You gotta admit, that doesn't really help anyone. Why not leave it blank? All that extra information is confusing and we newbies don't know what's important and what we can ignore. And, being a newbie, let's say I picked a style but want to do something different with drums. Should I click the big button that says "Drums"? I guess not, but the interface makes it confusing. Same with guitar. I know it's obvious to you all, but put yourself in the newbie shoes: if I want to do something related to guitar, shouldn't I click the guitar button?

Those are just a couple examples. I know I'm not alone in my experience--I've read dozens of posts saying the same thing, just not with the p*ss and vinegar that I did. My bad. I've calmed down now and have been jamming to my 12 bar blues backing track with RealTracks (I think) and am now trying to record my sick guitar solos over it (sick, if you like eighth notes).

And I don't think I showed any unappreciation for the efforts to help beginners. I do appreciate it and so do hundred of others. The first nice attempts pointed me to some videos that I found inadequate. I'm on the other side, too, as I am a sorta-veteran on another forum where I help newbies like me, so I understand when frustrated wankers like me start complaining about how everything is so haaaarrrrdddd.

I'm making progress and will continue to do so, little by little. I just think the UI gets in the way of using the software, rather than facilitating.

And @VideoTrack, I'm a guy but I appreciate you covering all bases smile

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#407067 - 04/12/17 10:10 PM [Beginners Forum] Re: BIAB's GUI [Re: VideoTrack]
texasprenegade Offline
Newbie

Registered: 04/10/17
Posts: 7
Originally Posted By: VideoTrack
I fail to see how something with the complexities and significant features that BiaB offers is supposed to just 'look' simple.


It can be done, but it's not easy. Look at Photoshop, or GarageBand.

In UI design, clutter is counter-productive.

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Xtra Styles PAK 5 Song Contest - Over 25 Entries!

We recently launched an Xtra Styles PAK 5 Song Contest with 4 prizes of $150!

So far, there are more than 25 entries! Have a listen to these entries and submit your own song here.

Contest Rules:
-You must own Band-in-a-Box® 2018 along with one or more of the Xtra Styles PAK 5 packages (Country, Jazz, Rock-Pop, MIDI)
-The song you submit must be your own original composition. This could be simply typing in chords to your song and pressing play, but you may also add additional instruments, solo, and/or melody.
-Public domain songs will be accepted.
-Multiple entries are permitted.
-Submit your song to the "Xtra Styles 5 Contest" forum, before the deadline. (This contest runs until September 30th)

For complete information on this contest, click here.

New Online Band-in-a-Box and RealBand Manuals

Do you hate digging around for manuals as much as I do? Now you can access the most recent Band-in-a-Box® and RealBand manuals with just a few clicks on the new Online Manuals section of our website.

The PDF manuals for version 2017 and 2018 are available now. Plus, we're adding online versions of these manuals too! The Band-in-a-Box® 2018 Windows User's Guide is complete, and the Mac User's Guide will be coming very soon. We're even adding a search feature to make it even easier for you to find features that you are looking for - stay tuned!

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