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March 20, 2008

PSALM v3

The 'final' version of PSALM is now complete and available for download. This is the version that was shown in my project presentation, and may still change slightly when further testing is done to fix bugs. This is it for features though. (At least for this project... My current church (Jubilee Coventry) and a church affiliated to my parent's church (Oxford Community Church) have both expressed interest in using either my program, or in using something that my program may evolve into the solution for.)

The main new feature in this 'proper' third & final increment is the song recommender. Build your setlist (the bottom-left list), and click 'recommend' to open up a new dialog. Here, you can choose whether the next song should share chords (making it easy to flow between songs), be of a certain theme(s), or even have been played before in setlist history (see the history.xml file included in the download - this is my record of most of the 'sets' I have personally played in over the last 12 months). You can alter how important each of these factors should be in compiling the recommendations, as well as how strict the recommender should be (ie. returning more/less results). 

Hopefully, that explains how to use it. Before you jump into using it though, PLEASE note that this is just a tool, nothing more. If you are thinking of using my program - or any other computer tool - to run/guide/build your set, or even church service, think again. It is imperative that the 'Worship Leader' is in fact God. And he uses people to conduct these services. He did not choose computers to do it. There is far more to worshipping God than choosing a bunch of songs that 'fit criteria' like the way my program might see it. Read 'I did it His way' by Tim Hughes - this explains more of what I mean. The Holy Spirit should be conducting our worship of God, not any computer program, let alone mine!!!

At the heart of what I have built, is a desire to worship God 'better', and to help others in worshipping Him 'better'. It can help in finding songs, or displaying them as a prompt. But sometimes we must put the computers, the songbooks, and even the guitars away. We must allow God to speak, especially since he may speak in "a gentle whisper" (1 Kings 19:12 (NIV Bible)). 

Anyway, thank you for bearing with me through that notice.

If you want to download PSALM, here it is: PSALM 3 (239kb). 


February 28, 2008

PSALM 2.5

Okay so I disappeared for a while, mostly because I've been trapped in a small cupboard (with a java/netbeans-enabled computer) working on the project. Well, maybe.

Anyway, today's news is:

1. Lots of work on the research side of things has been done. Almost 95 surveys have done - Thank you so much if you have done one! (And if you haven't, please complete the survey!) Books and papers have been read, including plenty of rather complicated ones to do with Latent Semantic Indexing/Analysis and some rather more interesting & surprisingly helpful (for personal reasons as well as for the project) books.

Two books I've read recently are: 'Wired for Ministry - How the Internet, Visual Media, and Other New Technologies Can Serve Your Church' (2004) by John P. Jewell (see my interesting/amusing quotes post), and 'High-Tech Worship?: Using Presentational Technologies Wisely' (2005) by Quentin J.Schultze. 

I don't really have time to go into too much detail on these books, but basically, Jewell's book was very practical and advocating balancing technology with theology; while Schultze focusses much more on the theological/liturgical reasons for (or not) using technology in worship. I found Schultze's book incredibly useful for myself as someone who leads music in a church, as it helps to ask questions and place worship in a wider liturgical perspective. As for what it says about technology, its biggest contribution is to discuss why it should or should not be used, rather than just why it is or is not used.

2. The next increment (and more!) of PSALM can be unleashed on the internet! Originally, the plan was to do 4 increments, focussing on:

  1. Song organisation system
  2. Theme recognition & search facility
  3. Transposition & capo features
  4. Setlist/song recommendation toolPSALM v2.5 screenshot

The first two are complete, and the third has been evaluated to be utterly pointless (as it only involved one, or maybe two at a push, dropdown boxes to transpose a song) and was amalgamated into the first two. So by this plan, the first 3 have all been done. I am also pleased to announce that work on the setlist 'increment' has begun already with the GUI having been re-designed from the prototype/first increment layout to look much closer to the final design mock-up drawn up in the project's early stages. This means that a very basic setlist builder is already working and included in this release. Take a peek at how PSALM 2.5 looks in the image to the right (click to enlarge).

So rather than releasing this version of PSALM as a particular increment, here is the deliberately-ambiguously-named PSALM 2.5! (ZIP file, 236kb)


January 14, 2008

The Questionnaire

First of all, just to say that the first release of PSALM is out, and I've fixed that little thing I mentioned before. So please have a look, test it a bit, use it, distribute it, do whatever to it! Any feedback on it would be greatly appreciated. Thanks :-)

Download PSALM here

And now on to  the Questionnaire...

As a major part of this project, I am researching the current use of IT in churches. Specifically:

  1. What role(s) does IT currently play in churches?
  2. What role(s) could IT potentially have in churches?
  3. What problems exist in a church setting that could be solved using IT, or more specifically, software?

I have built a questionnaire that anyone involved in a church, or other Christian organisation, can fill in to aid me in this task. It will sent out to specific individuals and organisations already identified, and posted to websites that I believe will have users that can help. The questionnaire is NOT just for those interested, or using, IT, in church or outside of church. It is important that a wide spread of views is surveyed to gain as wide an understanding as possible within the scope of this project.

I will put together an online version asap, but please find the master version below. This is the version that will be distributed by post/hand when necessary. I don't mind whether the attached 'hard' copy or the coming online one is used.

If you would like to help, please do! The questionnaire will only take 10-15 minutes, and it is not even necessary to answer every question. Although extra comments would also be appreciated if you like! Your responses will be a great help to my project. 

Please complete and return the questionnaire before the 17th February 2008. Contact details for returning it are included in the questionnaire document itself. Thank you very much!!

Questionnaire: IT in the contemporary church

(added 21 Jan:) or complete the online version of the questionnaire at: 

http://www.esurveyspro.com/Survey.aspx?id=ad66fdd7-ed87-479f-9440-7b75fb1fc461


December 06, 2007

Prototype for first increment released.

Okay, so it's been a while since the last post. That's mainly because I've been working on the project! Term finishes in a few days, the progress report has been handed in, and the first increment is on its way to completion.

The progress report cannot be posted online until well after the deadline, so if you wanted to read that, you'll have to wait. It's not Christmas just yet ;)

But the prototype is here and waiting for you. Please be aware that at this stage, the chords & lyrics are not formatted as required. I have spent a while trying to display them like this. If anyone out there can recommend a way of displaying HTML that gets 'correctly' formatted with CSS (at the moment, the JEditorPane does not support the CSS code that I need it to), please do! I have looked around, but nothing could be found in a reasonable amount of time that would work and be platform-independant. This will be revisited, but as with much of this project, the priorities must be kept in order, so rather than getting stuck in details, I shall be focussing on the larger issue of the database functionality. Talking of which, the add/remove/edit song buttons on the prototype's menu do not yet work. Please remember it is only a prototype!

So here it is, Merry Christmas!: Prototype (ZIP, ~100kb)
To run this, unzip all contents, and run the XMLGUI.jar file. Do this either by double-clicking it in windows explorer, or at a command line (in the same directory as the file), type 'java -jar XMLGUI.jar' and press enter.
(It should work in Linux by the way, it was tested briefly on a DCS machine).

To get the program to do something useful, click File > Load Songs on the menu, and navigate to the folder that you placed the contents of the zip file into. Choose the songs-nocopyright.xml file, and voilá, a small selection of songs is displayed. Click them, search them etc. Please note that the search function can match some songs incorrectly due to the search algorithm implementation for this prototype.

If you don't want to download it to have a look, heres a peek: Prototype screenshot


November 17, 2007

Some designing of PSALM Increment One

Slightly overdue (I mean overdue in going onto this blog), here's some of the more interesting design work done for the first increment of PSALM.

PSALM - First module diagram

First, the  component/module relationships. Please be aware that this is not in any kind of standard notation, but is actually just a tidied representation of what I have written be hand in my grand A4 pad of joy. The key should at the top-right should explain the crazy colour scheme. The arrows give a basic idea of relationships. So, for example, the GUI (which is circular in the diagram for no real reason other than most operations run through it) calls the DB (database) Bridge component. The little arrows under some of the components just highlight some of the more important functions or sub-components.

I have named these 'components' because they won't necessarily constitute modules. If anything, each block is more like a 'part' of the program. So the external XML database is included on the diagram, as is the Setlist object class. I will also point out at this stage that this design is just a starting point that is likely to need refinement. This first increment is about getting something built that will be functional to stimulate further thought and then work. 

Next, we have a plan for the layout of the XML database:

<songlist>
<song title="..." writer="..." date="..." basekey="..." capokey="..." ...>
<verse no="..."> | <chorus> | <prechorus> | <bridge> | <tag>
Lyrics go here, [C] chords go in sqaure brackets [Em]
[D/F#] Sometimes chords mig[G]ht be in awkward places. [C] [G]
</verse> | </chorus> | </prechorus> | </bridge> | </tag>
</song>
...insert more songs here!
</songlist>

Hopefully that gives you an idea. Additional imformation can be stored in the song tag, such as theme, quick reference or songbook information. This is not so important for this increment of the program.

For a better example, take a look at this code snippet: songs-nocopyright.xml. You may find it simpler to view this file in a text editor by saving it first rather loading it directly in your browser.

Again, this is just an example, which won't necessarily be used exactly like this in the final implementation. 


November 03, 2007

The first tentative steps

Here is a rough idea of what the PSALM program could look like. Please bear in mind that this image is simply a mock-up, nothing is in concrete. Most importantly though, I have not thought much about basic GUI layout prinicples, let alone HCI issues. This screenshot serves only to indicate the kinds of functions that will be required. 

First PSALM mock-up

The first steps towards increment one have begun. This first increment is aimed at implementing an appropriate database and basic GUI for displaying/finding songs, forming the 'bread and butter' foundations of the program.

Requirements for the first increment are laid out here: reqs.pdf.


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  • Congrats for ur final report,, I dinn have ne problem veiwing the report, its seems to be gud,, ..! … by Veda Informatics on this entry
  • By the way, if you have any problems with viewing the report, or in using PSALM, please still let me… by on this entry
  • It appears that when I tested PSALM, the computer that I tested it on already had the Bitstream Vera… by on this entry
  • Ah… thank you. The font hasn't been picked up. I'll have a look at what needs to be done. by on this entry
  • Chords aren't displayed in the right place for me. The spacing seems to drift slowly left, so that c… by Steve Rumsby on this entry

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