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#539225 - 06/02/19 07:18 PM [Band-in-a-Box for Windows] An idea to fix the dreaded "255 bar limit"
Registered: 04/17/18
Posts: 185
Loc: Albuquerque, NM
muzikluver Offline
Apprentice

Registered: 04/17/18
Posts: 185
Loc: Albuquerque, NM
Since becoming a proud and grateful BiaB user in December 2018, I have hit the dreaded "255 bar limit" with several of my songs. And even though I've always been able to work around this limit, the amount of extra time I have to spend going through my workaround process has been very frustrating and disappointing. As a result, I've come to the conclusion that the "255 bar limit" is BiaB's biggest and most unfortunate handicap.

Recently, however, an idea occurred to me that could be a way to put an end to this limit and the need to work around it for songs that exceed it. So, I decided to share my idea here to see what all of you think about it and to find out whether or not it's feasible. But first I want to say that I'm not sure if this particular forum is the right place for me to post my idea. If it isn't, please let know which forum I should post it in so that I can obtain the proper feedback I'm seeking.

Before I share my idea with you, I need to mention how I use BiaB because of the role my process has played in the formation of my idea. Instead of manually entering the chords to my songs one at a time into the chord entry section of BiaB (as most of you probably do), I use BiaB to open a .XML file that I created with MuseScore, which is an open source music notation program. My .XML file contains the complete melody, lyrics, and chords to a song that I previously had entered into MuseScore. For those of you who have never heard of MuseScore, please read the following article on Wikipedia's website:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MuseScore

In the above article, MuseScore is compared to Finale and Sibelius, which are the two most well-known and most expensive music notation software programs available today. However, unlike Finale and Sibelius, MuseScore is free. In other words, until last year, the development of MuseScore since its infancy in 2002 has been made possible entirely by donations, and that's why it is 100% free. This brings me to my idea on how to put an end to the "255 bar limit" in BiaB, and this idea is based on the premise that the "255 bar limit" could be eliminated if BiaB's code was completely re-written with a 16-bit, 32-bit or even a 64-bit base. I'm sure there's a lot more to it than just re-writing BiaB's code, but I believe that this is the core issue. However, to accomplish this is going to cost a lot of money to pay for the necessary resources (software programmers) to get the job done. Here's my idea:

If PG Music is unwilling to set aside the money that is needed to pay the programmers to eliminate the "255 bar limit" (in spite of all the users that have asked them to do so) because of the possibility or even the probability that it will have to increase the price of BiaB to recoup that money, then perhaps the users of BiaB would be willing to donate the money if a fund was set up (KickStarter, perhaps) for this purpose. I don't know how much money it would take to accomplish this task, but if enough users expressed interest in participating in such an effort, I'm sure that PG Music would come up with a target amount that we would have to meet. So, that's my idea. What do all of you think of it? And what does PG Music think of it?

One final thought: If MuseScore can become such a powerful music notation program through the donations from its users so that it rivals both Finale and Sibelius, then surely BiaB's "255 bar limit" could be fixed through the donations from its users.
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#539233 - 06/03/19 12:46 AM [Band-in-a-Box for Windows] Re: An idea to fix the dreaded "255 bar limit" [Re: muzikluver]
Registered: 06/05/12
Posts: 9312
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
VideoTrack Offline
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Registered: 06/05/12
Posts: 9312
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Muzikluver, you've put a lot of thought and detail into your post. Thank you for that.

I seem to recall that such funding ideas have been suggested in the past, and that PG Music has not wished to entertain them.

While your efforts are worthy of consideration, the program simply should not still have this significant limitation. Only PG Music can correct that, and they need to be willing to undertake the task, something that has not occurred up until this point in time.
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#539245 - 06/03/19 04:14 AM [Band-in-a-Box for Windows] Re: An idea to fix the dreaded "255 bar limit" [Re: muzikluver]
Registered: 01/15/01
Posts: 398
Loc: Springfield, MO
jcland Offline
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Registered: 01/15/01
Posts: 398
Loc: Springfield, MO
Can you imagine Microsoft Excel with a 255 cell limit or Microsoft Word with a 255 word limit in today's world?

As it stand now, even MuseScore v3 is capable of doing more then 255 bars in a score.



Edited by jcland (06/03/19 04:23 AM)

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#539247 - 06/03/19 04:59 AM [Band-in-a-Box for Windows] Re: An idea to fix the dreaded "255 bar limit" [Re: jcland]
Registered: 12/27/03
Posts: 12221
Loc: Hamlin NY
MarioD Offline
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Registered: 12/27/03
Posts: 12221
Loc: Hamlin NY
Fixing the 255 measure limit is just one of the many areas that a complete rewrite of BiaB would eliminate. Things like opening all 16 MIDI channels for MIDI, RTs, RDs or any combination of them and the inclusion of time signatures like 5/4, 6/8, 7/4, etc, just to name a couple.
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#539250 - 06/03/19 05:35 AM [Band-in-a-Box for Windows] Re: An idea to fix the dreaded "255 bar limit" [Re: muzikluver]
Registered: 07/06/00
Posts: 4710
Loc: Fort Pierce, Florida, U.S.A.
Notes Norton Offline
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Registered: 07/06/00
Posts: 4710
Loc: Fort Pierce, Florida, U.S.A.
Since I predominantly use MIDI, to overcome the 255 limit I do part of the song in BiaB, open a new BiaB project and do the rest of the song there. I export both as MIDI files and then splice them together in a MIDI sequencer or DAW. It's a work-around

On my BiaB wish list is enlarging the 255 limit, increasing the resolution to at least 240ppq and supporting real 6/8, 5/4 and other time signatures without having to do a 'work around' in the 1 through 4 beats per cell in the BiaB matrix.

I still love BiaB as it is, but for me these changes would make it better. Since I am on the outside looking in, I have no idea if these changes can be made with a good cost/benefit ratio or if the changes would ruin the back-compatibility that is so dear to the BiaB concept.

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#539258 - 06/03/19 06:15 AM [Band-in-a-Box for Windows] Re: An idea to fix the dreaded "255 bar limit" [Re: muzikluver]
Registered: 07/12/00
Posts: 18754
Loc: Hudson Valley & Lake George NY
Matt Finley Offline
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Registered: 07/12/00
Posts: 18754
Loc: Hudson Valley & Lake George NY
That's a good starting list.

We can already increase the ppq resolution to 960, so do you mean it should be 240 minimum by default instead of 120?
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#539274 - 06/03/19 08:02 AM [Band-in-a-Box for Windows] Re: An idea to fix the dreaded "255 bar limit" [Re: muzikluver]
Registered: 11/29/04
Posts: 82
Andy Ling Offline
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Registered: 11/29/04
Posts: 82
I wonder if part of the reason PG have not done this is backward compatibility of the file format. It has always been that case that pretty much any version of BIAB can open a file created by any other version. Even old version opening files created by newer versions.

Increasing the number of bars would probably break this. So PG would have to be sure it was worth it.

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#539279 - 06/03/19 08:26 AM [Band-in-a-Box for Windows] Re: An idea to fix the dreaded "255 bar limit" [Re: VideoTrack]
Registered: 04/17/18
Posts: 185
Loc: Albuquerque, NM
muzikluver Offline
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Registered: 04/17/18
Posts: 185
Loc: Albuquerque, NM
Originally Posted By: VideoTrack
I seem to recall that such funding ideas have been suggested in the past, and that PG Music has not wished to entertain them.

While your efforts are worthy of consideration, the program simply should not still have this significant limitation. Only PG Music can correct that, and they need to be willing to undertake the task, something that has not occurred up until this point in time.


You may be right, VideoTrack, but I read through numerous discussions on this topic (after searching for it using Google) and couldn't find any suggestions of this nature anywhere. (If I had found one, I wouldn't have posted my suggestion.) However, during my most recent search for this topic (just a few minutes ago), I did find a discussion (from August 2016) I hadn't read before that contains a comment by jazzmammal in which he claims that addressing this limitation is "one of the primary reasons Real Band was created." IOW, RB is PG Music's suggested workaround, which is essentially the same as my workaround (except that I use Tracktion 6 because of its simpler GUI and minimal use of resources). This same discussion also touches on the Midi limitations that MarioD mentioned above. Here's a link to that discussion in case anyone is interested in reading through it:

https://www.pgmusic.com/forums/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=361295&page=1
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#539293 - 06/03/19 10:16 AM [Band-in-a-Box for Windows] Re: An idea to fix the dreaded "255 bar limit" [Re: muzikluver]
Registered: 05/20/01
Posts: 1939
Lloyd S Offline
Expert

Registered: 05/20/01
Posts: 1939
Back in April, Alyssa of the PG Music Staff said this:

"Originally Posted By: VideoTrack
... An improvement would be to provide a warning that the track is truncated, and why.

(A better improvement would be to remove the 255 bar limit.)

Yes?

Alyssa:
Hello VideoTrack,

Thank you for your feedback and suggestions and thanks to all others for their +1s!
Your suggestion has been passed along to the developers."

************************************************
So of course they are aware of the users concern on this.
Perhaps we just need to get muzikluver to copy his request to the BIAB for Windows WISHLIST forum, and then get as many users as we can to give it a +1, so PG Music will, once again, see our concern.

Good luck!
LLOYD S

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#539303 - 06/03/19 11:07 AM [Band-in-a-Box for Windows] Re: An idea to fix the dreaded "255 bar limit" [Re: Lloyd S]
Registered: 04/17/18
Posts: 185
Loc: Albuquerque, NM
muzikluver Offline
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Registered: 04/17/18
Posts: 185
Loc: Albuquerque, NM
Originally Posted By: Lloyd S
Back in April, Alyssa of the PG Music Staff said this:

"Originally Posted By: VideoTrack
... An improvement would be to provide a warning that the track is truncated, and why.

(A better improvement would be to remove the 255 bar limit.)

Yes?

Alyssa:
Hello VideoTrack,

Thank you for your feedback and suggestions and thanks to all others for their +1s!
Your suggestion has been passed along to the developers."

************************************************
So of course they are aware of the users concern on this.
Perhaps we just need to get muzikluver to copy his request to the BIAB for Windows WISHLIST forum, and then get as many users as we can to give it a +1, so PG Music will, once again, see our concern.

Good luck!
LLOYD S


Thanks, Lloyd, for your suggestion. I just posted it there as well.
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#539306 - 06/03/19 11:24 AM [Band-in-a-Box for Windows] Re: An idea to fix the dreaded "255 bar limit" [Re: Andy Ling]
Registered: 04/17/18
Posts: 185
Loc: Albuquerque, NM
muzikluver Offline
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Registered: 04/17/18
Posts: 185
Loc: Albuquerque, NM
Originally Posted By: Andy Ling
I wonder if part of the reason PG have not done this is backward compatibility of the file format. It has always been that case that pretty much any version of BIAB can open a file created by any other version. Even old version opening files created by newer versions.

Increasing the number of bars would probably break this. So PG would have to be sure it was worth it.


Andy, I'm sure there are numerous issues (including backward compatibility of the file format) that have prevented PG Music from eliminating this problem along with other problems that stem from the original code base. But my thinking is that they should have made a decision to break free from the 8.3 filename limitations of DOS and all the other related issues back in the mid-90s just like Microsoft did when they introduced their NT line of operating systems for business users alongside of their Windows 3.1 non-NT OS for consumers, which paved the way for the eventual merging of both OS lines in Windows XP in 2001. Windows XP was Microsoft's first consumer-edition OS that was not based on DOS. Why can't PG Music do something similar with the intention of phasing out the current version of BiaB with all of its limitations in 3-5 years?
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#539316 - 06/03/19 12:02 PM [Band-in-a-Box for Windows] Re: An idea to fix the dreaded "255 bar limit" [Re: muzikluver]
Registered: 07/12/00
Posts: 18754
Loc: Hudson Valley & Lake George NY
Matt Finley Offline
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Registered: 07/12/00
Posts: 18754
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It is remarkable how many BIAB files I have that date all the way back to the 1990s. Many thousands more exist from PG Music and from the Internet. But I would assume there could be a conversion utility that would make the file format readable on a newer BIAB version that did not have the 255 measure limit. This utility should handle other related issues such as DOS-length filenames.

Without such a utility, I can understand if some users entrenched in older formatted songs, particularly those used as backing tracks to make a living, might forego the update to a new version.

Having said that, I have long believed that BIAB should fix this limit, even if it breaks backward compatibility.
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#539336 - 06/03/19 01:31 PM [Band-in-a-Box for Windows] Re: An idea to fix the dreaded "255 bar limit" [Re: muzikluver]
Registered: 12/20/00
Posts: 11353
Loc: Pensacola, Florida
jford Offline
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Registered: 12/20/00
Posts: 11353
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Quote:
This utility should handle other related issues such as DOS-length filenames.


BIAB will already do a batch rename of files using the song title as the new filename. Unfortunately, a lot of old internet downloaded files are titled "Untitled".
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#539340 - 06/03/19 03:28 PM [Band-in-a-Box for Windows] Re: An idea to fix the dreaded "255 bar limit" [Re: muzikluver]
Registered: 02/05/15
Posts: 3707
Pipeline Offline
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Registered: 02/05/15
Posts: 3707
RealBand will go way over 255 limit.
But the funny thing is it's Biab that generates up the tracks for it (bbw2.exe) it will also generate up tracks with decimal point tempo maps (as Biab will round the tempos down 110.573 > 110 then have the next bar at 111).
This was 384 bars with 5 tracks 600meg so as Biab generates the tracks direct to RAM this would not be an issue.
The Biab plugin has the same problem and should be fixed soon with a new save format rather than .SGU just like ReaBand has .SEQ it will save more than 255 bars and will save decimal point tempo map.


Attachments
RB-Over-255.png


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#539362 - 06/03/19 05:22 PM [Band-in-a-Box for Windows] Re: An idea to fix the dreaded "255 bar limit" [Re: muzikluver]
Registered: 06/08/05
Posts: 6926
Loc: Redondo Beach, Ca.
jazzmammal Offline
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Registered: 06/08/05
Posts: 6926
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Well, 8 or so years ago when Real Band first came out a lot of talk was the reason for it's existence was to solve a lot of Biab problems including this one. It seemed easier to rewrite Power Tracks to generate Biab files than it was to rewrite Biab itself.

Then of course for years after there was all this talk that the two should be combined. A brand new FrankenBoxDAW...

Personally I still think this is PG's answer to this, just use RB. After my debacle with trying to get folks vicariously marching with virtual pitchforks and torches about the lack of notation/printing improvements (I got 4 or 5 agreements and that's after me begging and bumping the thread twice) it appears that since Musescore and others work so well it's just not worth it to improve these things.

I think it boils down to how many people are really, seriously bothered by the 255 bar limit? It's probably a few more than the number who agreed with me about the need for notation printing improvements but still, not enough to really matter.

Bob
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#539363 - 06/03/19 05:26 PM [Band-in-a-Box for Windows] Re: An idea to fix the dreaded "255 bar limit" [Re: muzikluver]
Registered: 04/03/09
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Guitarhacker Offline
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Wile I do appreciate the comments and totally agree with removing the 255 bar limit....... I have never ever come close to that limit with any of my songs. I have a few that are 5+ minutes long and they are nowhere close to the limit.

just curious.... what kind and length songs do you write that exceeds the 255 bar limit?

I could see if you were doing a cover of Innagoddadavida or Yes's Relayer..... Maybe even Alice's Restaurant.
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#539370 - 06/03/19 06:18 PM [Band-in-a-Box for Windows] Re: An idea to fix the dreaded "255 bar limit" [Re: muzikluver]
Registered: 12/08/02
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MusicStudent Offline
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Never have bumped into this upper limit. And if I did, I am sure any number of work around would solve this for me. So I am going to save my +1's for the BIAB VST which needs a lot of love.
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#539397 - 06/03/19 07:55 PM [Band-in-a-Box for Windows] Re: An idea to fix the dreaded "255 bar limit" [Re: muzikluver]
Registered: 12/22/07
Posts: 1584
fiddler2007 Offline
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Registered: 12/22/07
Posts: 1584
I found a work around: somewhere before the max number is reached, lets say bar 220: re-address the styles in this bar's settings ...
I had to do it at bar 120 with a halftime RT filled songfile. F


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#539399 - 06/03/19 10:39 PM [Band-in-a-Box for Windows] Re: An idea to fix the dreaded "255 bar limit" [Re: Guitarhacker]
Registered: 11/13/05
Posts: 929
Loc: Spain
Cerio Offline
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Posts: 929
Loc: Spain
Originally Posted By: Guitarhacker
Wile I do appreciate the comments and totally agree with removing the 255 bar limit....... I have never ever come close to that limit with any of my songs. I have a few that are 5+ minutes long and they are nowhere close to the limit.

just curious.... what kind and length songs do you write that exceeds the 255 bar limit?

I could see if you were doing a cover of Innagoddadavida or Yes's Relayer..... Maybe even Alice's Restaurant.


Originally Posted By: MusicStudent
Never have bumped into this upper limit. And if I did, I am sure any number of work around would solve this for me.


Reaching the 255 bar is really easy if you're used to practice songs in all 12 keys, a standard exercise for a lot on jazz musicians.

This limit could be avoided using the "Each chorus that song is playing transpose by x semitones" function, but this feature has not worked for years:

https://www.pgmusic.com/forums/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=512608&page=1

So, such a simply thing like practicing a jazz standard in all 12 keys is something that can't be done in BIAB because the 255 bar limit, and because a bug that affects the basic functionality of the program and that has been reported for years has never been fixed.

It's crazy. crazy







Edited by Cerio (06/03/19 10:40 PM)
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#539409 - 06/04/19 12:20 AM [Band-in-a-Box for Windows] Re: An idea to fix the dreaded "255 bar limit" [Re: Cerio]
Registered: 06/05/12
Posts: 9312
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
VideoTrack Offline
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Registered: 06/05/12
Posts: 9312
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Reaching the 255 bar is also really easy if you use the double-time feature that PG Music introduced a couple of years back. When using that feature, you reach the 255 bar limit at 128 bars cry
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