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Progress Report

I know I've been quiet for too long. Here's where I am with the complete website overhaul.

Phew, even writing this update is a lot.

Picking and Choosing

First, it took me a number of weeks to decide on what new technologies to use. I tried a number of things later to discover limitations or issues with it. Because a number of different systems (CSS, javascript, database, api, backend, audio, video, etc) need to work together, choosing poorly can really slow things down. Looking back, I feel like I chose well.

Trial Run

Next, I made an updated version of an old website some of you may remember: TuneMyBass

The idea was to apply a lot of the new technology from start to finish on a small project to see how it would go. It went well (not perfect), and I've since learned how to use all the tech a lot better. TuneMyBass can use some updating already.

Learning

Next, I spent a couple of months thoroughly learning all the new tech. I've never read so much documentation in my life. While the content, concept and structure of StudyBass will be the same, I'm hardly reusing anything from the old StudyBass.

So Far...

Rewriting the entire site feels endless. I've worked many 14-16 hour days writing code. It's insane.

So far, I've rewritten most of the apps:

  • Interactive fretboards
  • Exercise page
  • Songs page
  • Quiz page
  • Fretboard generator (still needs some work)
  • Bass Tuner
  • Bass clef quiz
  • Metronome (wait until you see this thing!)
  • Dictionary
  • Jam track app for supporters
  • My Practice 3.0 for supporters (my current project)
  • A new app
  • Some prototypes of apps planned for the future
  • Backend administrative apps

I've done much of the backend stuff, too. I have set up a new user system. The old one has caused a lot of grief. I've removed as many dependencies as possible. This has been a big problem. The more libraries you depend on, the more complicated maintaining the system becomes.

What's Left?

  • Set up new automated email system
  • Data conversions – since the apps are new, I need to make data, like fretboard data, conform to the new system. (Thousands of entries.)
  • New payment system for supporters
  • Many layout and graphics decisions
  • Lesson/curriculum navigation tools
  • Search functions
  • Caching system
  • and probably a lot of things I'm forgetting right now

Where Does All of This Lead?

Good question! Insanity? Really, the site will work so much better. It will be faster, fewer errors, easier to navigate and use and, most importantly, easier for me to maintain and update. Currently, I get bogged down with a lot of user support requests.

I'm designing things in a way that make developing the future of the site easier. Adding more lessons will be easier. Much like learning to play music, some early hard work translates into things being easier down the road.

What you're seeing is still a tiny fraction of my vision for the site. It's massive. Things should start to move faster once this update is in place.

When!?!

The big question: When will you launch it?

Remember when I said I wanted to get ahead of any forced-to-update-the-site deadlines? Well, one came up, and it's pretty soon.

I'm skipping Thanksgiving (American holiday) and working every hour I can on the site. It doesn't sound like much for a musician to say it's the hardest he's ever worked, but I think this is a lot for anyone. What keeps me going is remembering that doing this helps a lot of people make music and enjoy life.

Silver Lining

The best part of working on this update has been listening to music. It's funny how little time I get to listen to music. I'm either teaching it, recording it or playing it. While coding I've gotten to listen to LOTS of music. I listen to a wide variety of things. Something I've always enjoyed doing is listening to entire catalogs chronologically. I love hearing an evolution.

Someone is bound to ask. I can't listen to just anything when coding. Coltrane? Too rich and distracting. Some of my random listening: Prince, Swans, King Crimson, Adrian Belew, Rush, Eberhard Weber, Steve Swallow, High on Fire, Sleep, Tool, Brand X, Mick Karn, Kate Bush, Talking Heads, Yes, Genesis, Peter Gabriel, Bjork, Radiohead, Stevie Wonder, Willie Nelson, Bernard Herrmann, Mingus, Parliment and Helms Alee. Umm...it's been a lot of hours.

Thanks for everyone's support and patience. No one wants this update finished sooner than I do. Like waiting for a new Tool album, it will happen! (And, much sooner.)

Peace to you all,
Andrew

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