Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Week 9: Sessions With Our Users, Sheet Music

The latest build is available at  Try to write out some rhythms!  Our open sessions have led to controls that bypass the beats and allow you to write the music you already have in your head; read on for details, expert musicians!

Open Sessions: Direct User-Developer Interactions

We are extremely fortunate to have talented and enthusiastic early adopters.  Kirk Wang, for example, is a musician in the Army Reserves.  He writes and arranges music for multiple instruments and ensembles. 

Kirk Wang (2nd from the left) at the Dodgers' stadium
for a performance. 

Thanks to Google+ Hangouts, he was also a great source of interaction and feedback this past week.  The productivity from this development was tremendous and fast-paced.  Here are some features he wanted and that you -- especially if you are a professional or experienced hobbyist in music composition -- may also love.

Controls: Bypass the Beats!

Kirk knows what he wants to write; he's a skilled musician.  He doesn't need to iterate through notes, so he asked for ways to write notes directly.

- You can use number keys to write notes.
2 or NUMPAD2: whole note
3 or NUMPAD3: half note
4 or NUMPAD4: quarter note
5 or NUMPAD5: eighth note
6 or NUMPAD6: sixteenth note

- You can hold down keys to change what type of notation you write!
R or NUMPAD0: your notes (above) are rests instead
PERIOD ( . ) : your notes (above) are dotted where appropriate

Editing, Selecting & Deleting Notes

Kirk wanted the notes to behave like a cursor in a text editor: he should be able to delete the note he just wrote.

- Cursor now follows the last note you write until you change the selection manually (left or right).
- Notes can now be deleted with the DELETE key (not the BACKSPACE key!).
- The cursor now shows up in rows past the first.
- Related bugs, or unfinished implementations, were fixed.

The Sheet Music Takes Shape

How great does that treble clef and time signature look?

Robert was assigned with figuring out the math for a treble clef and he nailed it.  This is the good stuff that simply looks fantastic and will be taken for granted tomorrow, but for now, those of us here from day 1 can look at the product and marvel at how it's shaping up to look like -- or better than! -- the paper sheet music we'll no longer have to deal with manually.

Hey... You're An Early Adopter Too! 

The open sessions were extremely productive and very fun.  We'd like to open this up to more users, so keep an eye on the user groups (especially the Facebook one, which is currently the most popular) for opportunities to jump into a Google+ Hangout.

See you in one of these open sessions, soon!

A screenshot of InNotation
at week 9, fueled by early adopters
like you.

... And the Beat Goes On ...

For week 9, we're starting development on a metronome to give you an idea of the beat going on.  We may start implementing a playback feature so you can hear the rhythms you've entered.

On the business end, we'll be hearing back from mentors and lawyers for legal counsel around the product and incorporation.  Know a good lawyer that wants easy business with typical startup procedures?  Let us know!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Week 8: Write Rhythms & Give Feedback, Value Proposition, First Stats, Incorporation

Artists!  You can now write out rhythms with InNotation!  Head over to!

Feedback & Features

We wouldn't have such a useful service if we simply stuck to planned feature lists and specs before input from you, the quick musician.  To that end, we really want you to try writing out music!

Okay, so you  know about pop music...
It was last week's feedback that put editing notes -- which are now done! -- as the next priority, and it's that same feedback that is going to make us decide on how best to react to what users are saying  most.

  1. I'm trying to tap in "Shave and a Haircut" and I have no idea if I wrote it correctly because I don't read music.
  2. The note lengths are changing too fast for me to get the one I want.

    ...but do you know about the classics?
What did you think about your experience?  Here's how to really find out:
  • don't try to test out the feature for bugs, 
  • don't limit yourself to analyzing each component unrealistically, 
  • just try to write out your music and the best solutions (and any bugs) will expose themselves!
A different type of classic.

Value Proposition

On Saturday, we attended an informational and pitch-contest event hosted by Cross Campus, an up-and-coming collaborative workspace here in Santa Monica.  The observations and answers we found there, combined with the continued feedback from users both new and loyal, have further honed in and revealed the best angle for our pitch.

Here's how you can explain our service to a friend.

Buddy: Hey, what's that?
Heartily-Incredible Person: Just a competitive music creation game.  It's online and in development right now.
B: What does it do?
HIP: You know of Mozart or Beethoven, right?
B: Yeah.
HIP: Tell me who today's Mozart and Beethoven are.
B: Uh... I don't know, "Call Me Maybe" is pretty popular right now.
HIP: That's right.  None of us know because we're just letting the musical geniuses of our time die unheard.  You've probably seen better talent on YouTube than most of America has heard in a decade of radio, but your discovery ends at someone's Facebook wall!
B: Wow.  Historians are going to look back at our civilization's artists and either laugh or try to forget us.  How do we keep that from happening?!
HIP: This is how we're going to find the best music humanity can make.  You, I, and other awesome musicians and listeners are going to push some quality music up into humanity's winning musicians bracket.  Other musicians'll do the same.  Then anyone can go here and listen to the best music thanks to us -- actual composers and musicians!  Who knows, maybe I'll win with this piece I'm writing; I'm pretty awesome, after all.
B: You must be if you knew about this!

This angle was tested by refining it continuously during conversations at Saturday's event.  The more we got toward the angle of an online game for better music, the better the reactions.  It makes sense, after all: who doesn't want to create music as easily as playing a social game?  Who wouldn't want to hit the search button on YouTube and find the cream of the crop from other actual musicians?

Here's a version of the pitch itself; note that "InNotation" as a name may change.

InNotation is the musician's cheap, intuitive, and accessible game to
globally improve music in a market otherwise barred by
cost or isolated by old software models.
Their creations can be submitted and judged against other works and by other musicians.
Users and works can win a spot in competitive rankings, ultimately
crowdsourcing the best that internet-connected musicians have to offer.

By the Numbers!

Late in the week, we were able to set up a tracking system for some analytics.  Before we get into the numbers, though, let's make these vanity metrics even better by considering where we stand.
  • The days currently tracked are days without major updates. 
  • We haven't pushed on marketing devices, whether it's our twitter account or actual advertising.
  • Our user base is relatively closed, with friends merely looping in their friends that are also frustrated musicians on the lookout for great solutions.
The website on which InNotation is hosted shows over 100 hits as a daily average, with the innotation page being the most popular.  We'll update with more milestones over time.

Forming the Corporation: Legal Steps

On Friday of last week, Robert wrapped up the first steps for our monetization.  With interest and development continuing for our project, we want to use this button for a few things.
  • Ensure that the functionality is implemented correctly!
  • Gauge how effective a Google Wallet "Buy" button is outside of the app.
  • Gauge how supportive users are willing to be to let us keep making this!
After launch, supporters will be rewarded with an indicator that sets their usernames apart from other users, indicating that this early adopter had the foresight and disposition to help establish our product and company.

Luckily, a friend informed us that this is a big legal step just as we were on the verge of finalizing the implementation with our Google Merchant account.  Saturday's event yielded answers, guidance, and resources which indicate our next step is to form our corporation.

We are now looking into legal counsel.  If you have input or recommendations around pre-paid legal services (our most likely option at this time), please contact us at our email (trivialsoftware [at] Google's popular mail service -dotcom).  If you are a lawyer or attorney capable of advising us for a deferred cost, we are happy to negotiate terms for your services.

After this next step, we will be able to start iterating on monetization strategies to -- we hope! -- set an example as a non-evil, effective microtransaction-sustained service provider.

... And the Beat Goes On ...

Robert takes the reigns of development as legal counsel is sought and incorporation finalized.  He'll be setting the stage with a treble clef and time signature to clarify the writing of music.  After that, he'll be starting on an indicator for the metronome so that rhythm-writing becomes clearer.

Expect a new build with those indicators next week, as well as a company well on its way to being founded!

No longer shall the software developer's language conflict with the artist's language!
(Courtesy of a Facebook share from our early adopter Frank Salgado)

Friday, June 15, 2012


This page provides details around processes such as returns, cancellations, and refunds.  It is subject to change as we continue to grow.


Please allow some days for refunds and cancellations.  Your digital goods will be removed such that your account and any related effects are restored to a state before the purchase.  Trivial Software will make decisions about any ambiguities with regards to details of the digital goods and aforementioned states.


These goods are digital goods; they are virtual, not physical.  No tangible goods will be delivered to any physical location.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Week 7: A Clean Engine, Unique Value Proposition

You can see this week's build at!

Business - Our Unique Value Proposition

Though our users are excited about what and who we are, our mentoring brought us to a less clear area about ourselves: how will we sustain ourselves?  Would investors be clear about what value we offer?

Trivial Software

As a company, Trivial Software aims to provide tailored services to elite niches overlooked in mainstream successes.  In terms of value, this means developing accessible software for high-barrier markets.


As a product, InNotation is the first example of that service.  Though we are continually iterating on InNotation with our early adopters, there are two prospects for this service.

  1. InNotation is an affordable and accessible service in a music software industry full of barriers.
  2. InNotation is a competitive music creation game.

Both of these possibilities have their potential.  Usage, feedback, and support will ultimately dictate the direction InNotation takes -- whether it is one of the two futures above or a third emergent manifestation.

Tech - Cleaning Up the Engine

A screenshot of the build for week 7.

The input, rendering, and data-writing systems have been completely revamped.  The current deployment is built atop that foundation and is already showing quick development thanks to its improved, modular architecture.

Go ahead -- try to write some rhythms!  Give us feedback about how it feels!

...And the Beat Goes On...

Week 7 will bring development of the Google Wallet system that will keep this endeavor alive.  Robert is already showing promising transactions, and we look forward to getting this up and running so we can observe what monetization strategy best resonates with our users.

Aside from that, all the functionality from the previous engine will be restored into the new engine.  In the next two weeks, we hope to get you -- and ourselves! -- the ability to write a song made of different-pitched notes and rests!