MP3 Transposer, PDF Setlist Builder, and Songbook/Worship-Flow Sharing, Now Live!

Version 3.9.4 of WorshipPlanning.com is now live, and we can’t lie to you -it was really fun to develop.  But we think you’ll have even more fun using it.  Let’s dive right in:

MP3 TransposerMP3 Transpose
This feature has been requested by several churches, and it won’t take you long to figure out why.  With the MP3 transposer, you can change the key of an MP3 so that your musicians can hear the song in the key they will be performing it, while maintaining the original tempo of the song.  To try this out, Planners can log in to their account, browser to Library >> Files tab, and click the transpose icon next to the MP3 they want to transpose.  The steps are easy, though it could take a minute or two for the new file to be generated.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll integrate it with other parts of the website.  Feel free to give us your suggestions via the Feedback page on the site!

Adobe PDFPDF Setlist Builder
Also know as “PDF Concatenator”, “PDF Combiner”, and the more ambitious “Virtual Music Stand”, this feature allows you to build a single PDF from the PDFs and lyrics of songs scheduled to be performed at a service.  You can select which details to include, and what the order should be.  And in a few seconds, a PDF is ready for you to download or email to yourself.  Why would you want this?  Well, our main goal was to develop a “budget-minded” electronic music stand that would work with your iPad (and other future tablets).  The iBooks app on the iPad lets you flip through PDF files using finger swipes much like how you would with real pieces of paper.  So imagine setting your tablet on your music stand and using it instead of sheet music.  With this PDF combining tool, you can do that.  There is even a USB foot petal device on the market that will let you turn the pages with no hands (http://bit.ly/cqpJGC).

The current version of the iPad OS requires a couple of steps for iBooks to read and store the PDF (we provide instructions each time you use the PDF builder).  But the next version of iOS for the iPad will make it very simple.

Songbook/Worship-Flow Sharing via Facebook and Twitter
Of course, it is super easy to share worship flow plans and songbooks with others in your WorshipPlanning.com account.  But what if you want others on the Internet to have a look?  Maybe you want their feedback?  Or maybe it is a special guest at your church that needs to see that info?  That’s why we’ve create a special page that, if you permit, allows people to access songbooks and worship flow lists via Twitter, Facebook, and a few other social media sites.  But don’t worry.  Only general info about the song and worship flow are shared (nothing copyrighted), and you can unshare at any time.  Just look for the universal green “share” icon in your Planner account to start sharing.

Contest: How do YOU prepare to sing?

Vocal Warm-up CDChances are we all do something (perhaps even a little odd) to prepare our voices for singing.  Drink a tall, neat glass of water? Delight in a bag of greasy potato chips?  Well, we are hoping you’ll post a comment with your trick to tuning those pipes before taking the stage.  And in return for sharing your closely guarded secret, we’ll randomly select two people to win an “Essential Vocals Warm-Up CD” from The Musicademy.

Post your comment no later than Monday, September 13th, and we will pick the winners on the 14th.  Posting multiple comments won’t increase your chances of winning, so please just fit all your tricks into a single comment.  And we promise to only use your email address to contact you if you win (we won’t spam you, or sign you up anything, or post your your email anywhere).

Song History and Secure Login Fixed

Secure UpdatesThis week we applied updates that addressed a couple of important issues.  First, many of you may have noticed that for the past few weeks, when clicking on a song title, the “Last Performed” field showed “Temporarily Unavailable” instead of the service date and time.  An incremental (and necessary) update we applied three weeks ago caused the searching of the Last Performed field to be very slow in our database.  In fact, it was slow enough that multiple simultaneous searches caused the application to be unresponsive.  So, we decided to disable this automatic search temporarily.  With the update on Monday, we re-enabled the “Last Performed” field in the song menu that pops up when you click on a song.  In fact, the update has made that songs menu considerable faster to pop-up than it was before.  And, you should notice page-load speed improvements on the worship flow page and the Song Statistics page.

The other fix that was applied this week addressed an issue experienced by Internet Explorer users logging in through the Secure connection.  Due to the IE security settings, you may have noticed multiple warnings that not all elements on the page where being transmitted in a secure manner.  Our update this week resolves that issue, and you should no longer receive that message.

We’re listening…and updating.

We're Listening
So much of what WorshipPlanning.com has become is the result of feedback from churches like yours.  This evening, we applied four enhancements that have been among the top recent requests.

Easily See Who Isn’t AvailableUnavailable People
Many folks have told us they would like to see who is unavailable to serve on the People Scheduling page before they click and drag them to a role.  Tonight’s updates addresses that by listing team members unavailable to serve for a particular service right on the team panel.  Check out the picture to the right.  You may need to use the Display Options on the scheduling page to get the empty teams to show up initially.

Applying Worship Flow Templates
More than ever, we have had questions from Planners on how to apply a worship flow template to an existing service.  Technically, that feature has existed for quite a while.  But we decided to make it more obvious to access AND more advanced in how it works.

First, to apply a template to an existing service, hover over the ‘actions’ menu on the worship flow page and select ‘apply a worship template’.  Next, you’ll notice a new and improved Apply Templates page that lets you actually choose to either replace existing worship flow elements, or append the template elements to the end of the existing worship flow.  It will even give you a preview of what your new worship flow will look like!

And for those curious as to how this was done before the Actions menu option, there was (and still is) an icon on the page where worship flow templates are managed (Admin >> Worship Flow Templates).  The small icon looks like a 2 stacked sheets of paper, and it is next to each template name.

Export Song ListPrinting and Exporting Song Lists
We’ve added a few buttons to the Songs Library page.  Lists of songs can now be printed or exported to a MS Word,  Excel, or CSV (comma separated values) files.  Just get your list of songs looking as you’d like to export it by selecting showing and hiding desired columns, and click the appropriate Print or File Export button (above the Selected Songs box).  And, by the way, the Print option will actually create a PDF document for you to print, since it is much cleaner than printing from a normal browser window.

Listen Button in Songs Menu
If you have associated one or more MP3s with a song, you can now listen to the them by simply clicking the “listen” button right in the song’s menu.  Just click on the song title (anywhere in your account), and click the little blue icon.

What’s next in the update cycle?
We have got a few more very exciting song-related updates that are about to enter the testing phase.  One of them is something we have unofficially called the song “back-fill” project.  This feature will give you the option to have WP look through the songs in your church’s library, and fill in any missing data that we have in our top-songs library (author, copyright date, record label, YouTube music link, Amazon MP3 link).

We are also working on a performance improvement project that should speed things up for pages with songs listed on them.  AND we have a very, VERY cool feature that we really want to tell you about….but can’t just yet.  Stay tuned!

iTunes Gift Cards Giveaway

iTunes Gift Cards

Some might consider it a shameless way of getting followers, but we just want to be your Twitter and Facebook friend.  On August 1st, we will give away two (2) $20 iTunes gift cards. One card will be awarded to a randomly selected Twitter follower, the other to a randomly selected Facebook fan (follower? liker? whatever you call it these days).

So, to get in on the action, just follow us at http://twitter.com/worshipsense and/or “like” us on our Facebook page at http://fb.worshipplanning.com before 11:59pm (eastern time) on July 31st.  Winners will be notified via Twitter direct message or Facebook message. Oh, and if you are already a Twitter follower or “like” us on Facebook, you are already entered to win.  But maybe you can share the love and retweet about our contest!

Good luck, everyone!

Twitter - FollowUsTwitter - Retweet

WorshipPlanning.com on Facebook

Song Library and More

As many of you saw in an email from us, we recently applied some major site updates to WorshipPlanning.com.  In addition, we’ve begun improvements to our communication channels that we think you’ll find helpful. Let’s start with the features we rolled out Monday evening.

Song LibrarySongs Library
We’ve changed the page layout to make it easier to find the song(s) you want and quickly view the information you need. You can perform actions on multiple songs through the use of checkboxes (i.e. add a theme/category, change life-cycle stage, delete). And churches that have hundreds or even thousands of songs, you should notice the page loads MUCH faster.

Songbooks – This organization tool lets you virtually create and save personal or team libraries (or ‘books’) of songs. Team members (even of other teams) can be given access to view or modify the songbook contents. And while building a worship flow, you can open a one of your songbooks and pick songs from its concise list, rather than having to search through the long list of all your church’s songs.

WP’s Most Popular Songs – We’ve compiled a list of the most popular songs in WorshipPlanning.com and given you access to it. Each song contains general information, including title, author, and record label. But, to really help you and your team out, we have found the YouTube video and Amazon MP3 pages for most songs. This means your team can now have instant access to the music, either freely streaming from YouTube, or by buying it from Amazon.

We’ve created a few short videos on how to use these new features. Just browse to http://support.worshipplanning.com/tutorials.cfm, and find the Songs Library section.  You can also just click on the Help icon in the upper right corner of the Songs Library page to access the videos.

iPhone App
If you follow our Twitter, FaceBook, or Blog, you have seen that our iPhone app was finally approved by Apple in late June (for the record, Apple has yet to tell us the reason for the very long delay). We certainly will start promoting the app more on our site, but in the meantime you can find it in iTunes and the App Store by searching for Worship Planning. Keep in mind, this is the first version of this app, and we have plenty of more functionality planned for it. If you are so inclined, tell us your suggestions at feedback@worshipplanning.com

Social Media Updates
We’ve hired an expert to help us take advantage of the social media channels. Our goal is to open up the communication between our team and yours, and provide you timely, valuable information. Follow us on Twitter (@worshipSense) and/or Facebook (http://fb.worshipplanning.com) to get in the action!

Newsletter
And speaking of communication, we are in the planning stages for a recurring newsletter that will cover worshipplanning.com happenings, as well as other planning related information. Our next communication to you should have more details on how to sign up for that.

O iPhone App, Where Art Thou?

I know many of you are wondering this exact question. The short answer is that it appears to be “stuck” in Apple. Read on….

Back in February and March, a few dozen WorshipPlanning.com users beta tested the iPhone app we developed. By the time beta testing was done, it was receiving very positive reviews by most beta testers. On March 24th, we submitted it to the App Store for review. A few days later, Apple moved it from the initial “Pending” queue, to the the “In Review” queue. For 8 weeks, it sat in this queue, despite my email pleas for Apple to do something with it. We would have even settled for a rejection so that we could fix whatever the problem was and resubmit it. But Apple only responded to one of our emails, stating something to the effect of “Don’t bug us. We’ll tell you when we are done.”

On May 27th (9 weeks after the original submission), we removed the seemingly-stalled app from the review process, and resubmitted it. Our hope was that by resubmitting, the app would not fall into the mysterious black hole that the previous submission had. A few days later, it entered the “In Review” status (again) and we detected they were actually testing the app (we got an assignment response notification). That was about two weeks ago. At the time of this blog post, the app is still “In Review”, and our frustration is on the rise again.

So, what is our next steps? If there is no change in status by this Friday, we will begin sending emails to Apple in hopes they give us some indication of what is going on, or what is wrong with our app. If we ever find that out, it will be our highest priority to get it fixed. In the meantime, we will resume our plans to develop Android and Blackberry apps, as well as the Facebook app. And, of course, we will be praying about it.

I sincerely apologize for the delays. We are so very excited to make this app available to you.

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