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Yet another song presentation system

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  • Yet another song presentation system

    Is there room in the world for yet another song presentation system?

    I've written a 'cloud-based' system to show songs and bible passages, a bit like EasyWorship, ProPresenter et al. But in many ways not at all like them.

    ShowShare (at http://ShowShare.net) works on PC, Mac, Android, Ipad and anything else, and most importantly, all at the same time. If there's no projector that's great - present directly to the audience's tablets or smartphones.

    ShowShare was designed to support worship leaders by displaying guitar chords, and can be operated directly from the stage, or from the AV desk, or both at the same time.

    ShowShare is not installed - it works only the Web.

    (See the youtube channel here.)

    I wrote ShowShare because I think it's a good idea, but what does anyone else think?

  • #2
    There is always room for something that improves upon the old or does something new.

    There are a few things at first glance that make me hesitate with this product. I'm just trying to give you honest feedback. Not sure if you want ideas to improve on or what, I realize this is a new product you are working on.

    1. "it works only on the web" - that is a no-fly zone for me. I love cloud based services but if I can't have 100% 'hard copies' on my own devices, no thanks. The internet will fail me for many reasons, many times. The likelihood of multiple local computers failing is slim to none. We use cloud services, like Pro5 & Planning Center integration, but there are actual files on all my presentation computers.
    2. The presentation seems very dated - Honestly, it seems like a modernization of overhead transparencies. All of the competitors have left scrolling lyrics and large quantities of lyrics behind for a few words, phrases, or lines on the screen at a time. It is easier for people to follow. With your scrolling method and unlimited screen sizes that your viewers will have, you can't control who will see what. You may be able to control the first lines on the screen, but not how far they go.
    3. It's gotta be awesome to make most users switch. I've been using ProPresenter since 2006 and have messed with MediaShout, EasyWorship, PowerPoint, Keynote, Planning Center Projector, and a few others. It seems to lack a LOT of features that all the competitors have.
    Travis Paulding,
    Production & Technology Director, St. Simons Community Church


    • #3
      Hi Travis - thanks for looking at this.

      "it works only on the web" - This is absolutely the scariest aspect. As you can imagine, I'm using ShowShare routinely, but there's still a slight worry when I prepare a presentation at home, and then walk away, trusting that it will be ready and waiting for me when I get to church!

      But I think this will change (indeed, I'm absolutely relying on it changing!) 15 years ago we began to take a PC and projector into church every week, but for a year or more we also knew where the OHP acetates were, so we had a fallback because we were not really sure that the PC would do its job reliably. I'm relying on our current situation becoming like that. I think that a solid internet connection will become 'a given' in lots of churches in the coming years.

      "all the competitors have left scrolling lyrics and large quantities of lyrics behind" - actually no-one else ever did that. All the other packages do "a few words, phrases, or lines on the screen at a time", but that doesn't mean it's better. "It is easier for people to follow" simply isn't true. So many times I hear from WorshipSession users (WorshipSession is the pc-only, installed files predecessor to ShowShare) that when they go elsewhere to a worship event with just a few words on each slide, it's a pain - they get lost, they can't read-ahead, the song is all chopped up into bits. They're pleased to get back to their own church where the presentation is so much quieter and 'simply works'.

      "you can't control who will see what" - that's true. And it's a bad thing? I've spoken to a graphic designer who made a similar point - they want the projection to look pretty, but my experience is that 'real worshippers' prefer to see more, and they like to be able to read ahead. There may be a disconnect between what's perceived as looking nice, and what actually works.

      "It's gotta be awesome to make most users switch" - certainly the major products with their major revenue streams can do great things. But I'm not sure that I'm really after switching in an all-or-nothing sense - I'm looking more at the Ipads and tablets that are starting to appear on music stands, running onsong or similar. Usually, song presentation software had two views - the controller's view and the audience view. (Sometimes there's also a musicians' view, but most people don't have triple-screen hardware.) ShowShare steps around that problem and allows each musician to have their own individual view of the current song.

      But, out of interest - what "must have" features does ShowShare appear to be lacking?


      • #4
        My thoughts are similar to Travis'... there's no way this could be a Sunday morning solution for us, but I can see some good functionality in it.

        Watching through your YouTube videos, I think the digital music stand application with the foot pedal is the most intriguing. As more churches and individuals are switching to tablets, this could be a pretty intuitive way to keep everybody in sync. Certainly far more economical than most of the other digital sheet music solutions out there right now.

        I could also see myself using this if I was in a situation where I was headed into a mobile situation and really had no idea what I would find as far as software, because of the web based interface.

        Visually, it feels very utilitarian. That's ok if it's being used for chords, etc., but I'd be looking for a lot more customizability in font/backgrounds/etc. if I was going to use it "live." The lyric thing is tricky, too. Obviously there's nothing wrong with displaying more lyrics if that's what works in your situation, but you could pretty easily do that with any of the other softwares on the market, as well - it's just that most churches don't. It's not a limitation of the currently available software, but rather the preference of the folks creating content, which makes the formatting a real limitation here. I'm not trying to make an argument towards one or the other, just saying that I'd want a lot more customizability in formatting and feel if I was going to use it for anything other than a music stand. Lack of support for video and other file formats makes it tricky too, especially if you're in a situation where you're working with multiple presenters.

        Finally, the web only thing is still tough. I love the idea of having it all in the cloud - great for having multiple creators and working on projects from home, but I just don't think I could use something that was so "mission critical" on a Sunday morning without an offline mode.

        I think you've designed a really functional tool that works very well for your own ministry context, and that's great! Just not sure about wider appeal compared to everything else that's out there.
        Eric Frisch


        • #5
          Hi Eric. Thanks for your perspective.

          I'm very much aware of ShowShare's very limited "tweakability" in terms of fonts and layout. I did add the "space above" and "space below" tweaks - these can be used to display just a single verse on each screen (make the next verse so far away that it can't be seen) but doing that really reduces the advantage of using a scrolling screen - it's effectively the same as a slide-based system.

          ShowShare (and its predecessor WorshipSession) is specifically designed to be used by musicians, and the scrolling page style essentially derives from that - if you're singing and playing an instrument, you can't also be looking for the exact moment when you need to change the slide; the ability to read ahead is essential.

          But it's not entirely style-free - you can put songs and Bible passages over an image or video background, and you can adjust the text rendering, but only in the most basic ways.

          In truth I'm not a big fan of making song words into works of art, unless it can be done without reducing the clarity of the words. I have never seen a moving background that I like, and my prefered background style is either plain black, or perhaps a small logo off in the corner. So I guess ShowShare is showing off my bias! ShowShare had no background capability at all until recently, when my daughter said, "I went to two churches where they used animated backgrounds. I didn't like either of them and a blank background would have been better, but if you want ShowShare to be taken seriously you need to support it!"


          • #6
            Just had a thought about "you can't control who will see what" that Travis wrote...

            When you first see ShowShare, the font size is set to 50%, which is about half of what I tend to think is reasonable. So you're likely to see about 22 lines of text on the screen.

            If this is what you were referring to, I apologise for my response. My usual expectation is that viewers will see a complete verse, and hopefully the top of the next verse. (Set the font size to 100% using the settings tab - it typically gives around 10 lines on a VGA screen, depending on many factors!)

            My negative response was directed towards the trend for only three or four disconnected lines, with no sense of continuity or their position in the song. I think it's better to see a whole verse. But I wonder what others think - I'll ask in a separate thread.


            • #7
              There's some movement in the area of offline access:

              Because there are so many Web Apps now, emerging standards will allow a measure of offline functionality. I'm trying them out - if used offline, ShowShare will allow users to access items they've used recently, but not to select any new items. Also the wonderful synchronisation that keeps all the ShowShare clients on the same page will obviously not work if there's no Internet.


              • #8
                As a retired software engineer I have to ask the question, what problem does this software solve for users that hasn't been solved by other software efforts? I'm not sure users have been clamoring for a cloud-based app given the reliability of locally hosted apps. Automatic cloud backup and restore of services I could see as useful to users, but not so much a cloud app. Are users clamoring for an alternative to using projectors? I can certainly see the value in having shared access through tablets for those that might have vision problems, but you only need wifi for that, not the internet. Being able to run from an AV desk or the stage is useful, but that's been solved before in a variety of ways.

                So I'm not really sure what compelling user problem is solved here.
                The Posse Band live performance tracks can be heard by CLICKING HERE


                • #9
                  Hi Dragon

                  The essential magic of ShowShare is that whatever you publish on your Channel is immediately seen on all connected devices. So in a church that has a projector, the band members can have their own view (possibly with guitar chords) on the music stand.

                  In an 'out of church' situation such as a home group, a projector isn't usually appropriate. Perhaps you can use a TV, but if you're not using ShowShare you still need a device that has the software installed, and an up-to-date database that includes the song we just learned last week. ShowShare runs on devices that are already in the home, and you can find that new song in the Channel history.


                  ShowShare can show an 'ultra-large-print' view for visually impaired. I'm not sure how this could be done with WiFi, unless the church has a Web server running something rather like ShowShare?


                  • #10
                    As I mentioned before, I absolutely see the end user value proposition in shared and customized presentation across devices. And I understand the value of having the server handle the customized presentation aspects. I'm not sure that focusing on the "cloud based" feature of this doesn't interfere with the value message. Ultimately you're really talking about a web-based application whether that web server is on the internet (home group) or intranet within the church and ideally syncronized in some manner. That clearly has a value and meets a number of needs. But as you've seen here, the idea of it solely being accessed via the internet is truly a scary prospect for most churches.
                    The Posse Band live performance tracks can be heard by CLICKING HERE


                    • #11
                      Hi Dragon

                      Certainly it would be possible to install something that runs on a church intranet, but it would only serve 'techies' - it would be so complicated to use that the idea would die before it lived.

                      Imagine what would happen if it were installed on the church intranet, but for some reason the 'follow where I'm going' feature didn't work, or worked intermittently. How would anyone debug that? I couldn't countenance giving technical support for an installation like that. As it is, ShowShare works through the Internet, with synchronisation happening through a server that I have full control over. If a user broadcasts something onto a Channel, and another device fails to follow, I can find out why.


                      • #12
                        Looks interesting, will check it out!