Reflections and Projections

Remotes, Androids and Stage Views

From near the beginning there has been some form of remote control functionality in OpenLP V2. At first it was just a basic command line utility. Then we developed the basic Web view which although functional, wasn't very pretty.

Well in recent weeks remote operation has been getting some more much needed attention, in the shape of a new design targetting mobiles, an Android App and a Stage View.

First Raoul worked his designer magic on the Web Interface giving it a shiny new look which was easy to use on a smartphone. As more and more people now own an iPhone, Blackberry or Android phone and the number of Churches with Wi-Fi connections are increasing, this offers much more flexibility in the operation of OpenLP. If the worship leader decides to skip a song, with a couple of buttons she can put the correct song on the screen. The car park attendant or nursery supervisor can easily put a message on the screen over the network from their phones.

The next person to take advantage of the remote functionality was Samuel Sjöbergsson who has started writing an Android OpenLP app. With help from Johan Mynhardt and Tim it is making good progress and it is great to see two new developers join the team. It is still very early days, but we're looking forward to the potential of this app. We're not yet ready to put this in the Android Market, but if you want to take an early peek at what has been done so far, you can download it from launchpad.

Finally in the latest nightly builds, you will find the most recent addition. A Stage View. For those who don't know, this is a specially designed output for those people on the stage. They don't need all the whizzy background graphics, they just want a plain view of the current and perhaps the next verse and an indication of which verse they are on. A clock helps them to know when to stop, and perhaps some notes to act as a reminder.

We've had a few feature requests for this, but because of the complexity of adding support for a third monitor, and the relatively few users who have three video outputs, we've not considered it high priority. Then came the realisation that this could be easily achieved with the remote API, and I set about writing a simple page to prove the concept. So not only can this then be opened in a full screen web browser on your third monitor (if you are lucky enough to have one), but you can save the expense of lots of video cabling and instead open it on another Laptop or Tablet on the network.

To use the remote functionality, first go into Settings -> Plugin List, and Activate the Remote plugin. To view the web address, go to Settings -> Configure OpenLP, choose the Remote page and the hyperlinks should be displayed.

We would love to know if you make use of any of these remote options, and also tell us your ideas on how we could improve them or of any limitations that might be stopping you from using them.

Breaks Between Slides

Some improvements have been added to build 1496 to change the way songs and custom slides are paged. A new feature has been added to allow a song verse to be split IF it does not all fit on one slide.

If a line contains [---] then, if the slide does not fit on a single display, that is where the slide will automatically be split. This means that songs can be set up for different size themes with complete control over the paging. In addition the need for two slides containing "V1" etc has been removed. One slide one verse and the display code will split things correctly.

For custom slides a minor change has been implemented. [===] is now the slide break if you use "Edit All" and [---] is the soft break. This does not effect any saved custom items you have created.

The interfaces will be updated before beta2 to help with adding this tag.

750 Facebook Fans!

It's difficult to tell just how popular an open source project is, but with OpenLP's Facebook following growing it seems safe to say that OpenLP's popularity is also growing. Version 2.0 is really starting to look like a mature finished product. The recent release of the first beta has been very positive. We are now suggesting that all new users start out with 2.0 Beta 1, since support has now officially ended for the 1.x series and 2.0 has reached a very stable point in its development.

The OpenLP community is constantly growing and changing. We can always use an extra hand as OpenLP is a large project. We could especially use assistance writing the documentation for version 2.0. The developers are working hard to make sure that OpenLP is not just an alternative to commercial software but that it is a superior option. Part of being a superior product is having great documentation and support. If you are like me and not a programmer but would like to help out, maybe assisting with documentation is a place you can help out. If documentation is not for you, but you are good at helping others we can always use help answering questions in the forums or providing support in IRC.

Since I am someone whose church has been blessed by the developers of OpenLP I would like to also take a moment to thank them for their hard work and dedication. It is rare, even in the Christian world, for a group of people to set out to do something with no hope of physical or monetary reward. The developers of OpenLP truly are doing this by making this product available to all and asking nothing in return.  As we enter the Easter season may we all be more like this and ultimately learn from Christ selflessness as he gave himself for us who did not deserve it.

5But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.

Isaiah 53:5, ESV

Some General News Updates

Well, OpenLP 1.9.5 (aka 2.0 beta 1) has been out for 3 weeks, and the feedback we've been getting from folks has been positive. Thanks to more people using the beta we've picked up a few bugs we hadn't caught yet, and I think that so far we've been more productive than ever. Part of the reason is because we have a new core developer.

Welcome to Andreas

Just before the release of OpenLP 1.9.5 we welcomed Andreas on to the team of core developers. He has proven his worth a number of times already, is a very capable developer, and has even started making steps toward providing support for OpenLP in German.

Welcome Andreas, we are really glad to have you on the team!

New Manual

We also have a new reference manual for OpenLP 2.0. Two of the guys on our team have been working hard on documenting every feature in OpenLP to bring you a manual that covers literally every aspect of OpenLP. If you're good at writing, and you'd like to help out, please let us know. Neither of these guys are developers, so don't think that you need to know how to develop to write the manual.

BitTorrent Downloads

A recent addition to our downloads are torrent files for both the Windows and the Mac OS X downloads, so that you can now also download them via BitTorrent. You can find the files on the download page.

Marketing

Don't forget to make sure you tell others about us! As an open source project we have no money to market OpenLP, so we rely heavily on word of mouth. If you're on some forums and the forum rules allow it, post a review about OpenLP. Let us know about it, we'd love to read what you've written.

We also have a Worldwide Usage page where you can point out that your church uses OpenLP. Oh, and remember, we're on Facebook and Twitter too.

Support in other languages

Three weeks ago we released our first beta of OpenLP 2.0, and as usage of OpenLP becomes more widespread we have decided that it is a good time to make some changes to the way we provide support.

Up until now we have only provided support in English due to most of the project team being English. In light of this, we have created some new forums for support in German, Spanish and French. We'd also like to offer e-mail support in these languages.

We consider this an experiment - if the community is able to provide support then the forums will stay open. So, if English is not your native language, please consider helping us and volunteer by leaving a comment below (or speak another language).

Cheers, Andreas

PS: This doesn't mean we're not looking for English folks to help with support, documentation, web site maintenance and other roles within the project.

First Beta Release of OpenLP 2

Hello folks,

We are happy to announce the release of our first beta aka Maverick Micah. We have put a lot of effort into this release, squashing bugs, adding new features, and enhancing existing features, to make this the best release yet.

We're really excited about this release, because it marks the changeover from version 1.2 to version 2.0. You see, from now on, we will only really be supporting version 2. It is much less work to support version 2.0, and we feel that version 2.0 is at a point now where it can go into mainstream use. We will still support version 1.2, but there won't be any more bug fixing or releases of that version.

If you have not used OpenLP before, we recommend you use this new beta release, rather than version 1.2.

A number of people have already been using the alpha versions in their church services, and have been extremely happy with the stability of those releases. While we can't guarantee 100% stability, we feel that OpenLP 2.0 is stable enough to be used in your church services.

Some of the new features and improvements:

  • A First Time Wizard which will help you to do the basic configuration and allows you to import sample songs, Bibles and themes.
  • Additional song imports: EasiSlides, Folipresenter, SongShow Plus
  • In addition we added OpenLyrics import and export support, which allows you to easily transfer songs between different OpenLP installations. OpenLyrics is an independent standard, built to facilitate interoperability between various presentation applications.
  • The ability to print Service Order Sheets (File → Print Service Order)
  • Define your own Display Tags to format slides individually
  • Better media support
  • A reference manual (very much a work in progress though!)

Other improvements and bug fixes:

  • An improved song search
  • General usability improvements
  • New search box for Bibles (just like the new search box for songs in the previous release)
  • A revamped web interface
  • Many bugfixes

Important note: Service files created in a previous release of OpenLP are not compatible with OpenLP 1.9.5

Finally, the downloads links:

  • Windows (XP and up, 32 and 64 bit)
  • Mac OS X (10.5 and up)
  • Linux
    • Ubuntu/Kubuntu/XUbuntu (Release PPA)
    • Fedora (Updates)
    • Arch (Arch User Repositories)

See the download page for more distributions and operating systems.

Don't forget to Like the OpenLP page on Facebook, retweet OpenLP's tweets, and tell everyone you know about OpenLP!

If you have any problems setting up or using OpenLP, please read the new manual as well as the Frequently Asked Questions.

1"Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4And you know the way to where I am going." 5Thomas said to him, "Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?" 6Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him."

8Philip said to him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us." 9Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? 10Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.

12"Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. 13Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.

15"If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.

18"I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him." 22Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, "Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?" 23Jesus answered him, "If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.

25"These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. 27Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. 28 You heard me say to you, 'I am going away, and I will come to you.' If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe. 30I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, 31but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.

John 14 (English Standard Version)

Keyboard shortcuts - Blank screen

In v1 of openlp.org, there is the option to enable keyboard shortcuts. However these hotkeys require you to press 3 keys at once, and as such are not very easy to use.

In v2 we've improved the situation. You can now for example use the left and right keys to go the previous/next item in the order of service, and Esc to hide the display. We also plan in the future to add shortcuts to allow the user to skip straight to a verse or chorus and the ability to customize the shortcuts.

However one shortcut we haven't yet implemented is blank screen, and we're trying to figure out what key to use as the default. The obvious is "B", but we want to reserve that in the future for "Bridge"...

I've looked at other software, and discovered that there doesn't seem to be any standard for this. V1 uses Ctrl+Alt+B, SongPro uses Z. OpenSong uses K. Mediashout uses F6. Easyworship uses Ctrl+B, Words of Worship uses ESC.

My assumtion so far is that "T" will blank to theme. I'm wondering whether to change hide the screen to be "H" instead of ESC, which would affect single screen users the most. Then we could use ESC for blank. Another option would be "E" for say empty.

So the question is, what key would you prefer or what other suggestions do you have? We'd prefer to stick to single keys rather than combinations and reserve any verse tags.

First time Wizard

For the next release due at the end of the month a "First Time Wizard" has been developed to help set up a new environment.

This will allow a user to:

  • Choose which plugins they want activated
  • Download Songs, Bibles and Themes from the web
  • Set up the Initial display screen and the default theme.

As a number of users already have a working setup they will still need to run this wizard.  In most cases this will allow them to add additional bibles and themes BUT it may change their plugin settings and if they choose to download the songs it *will overwrite their current songs database*.

The default option is not to download any Songs, Bibles or Themes.

This Wizard has be added to the code base.

OpenLP Bug Reporting

OpenLP is getting closer and closer to the release of version 2.0. As we draw nearer to that date more and more of you are testing it out and that is great. Testing helps the developers fix both problems large and small before the final release. There are, however, a few things we as testers can do to help the process along.

The preferred place to report bugs is through email to: bugs at openlp.org.

Here are some thing that need to be included to speed the process up:

  • First please read the Frequently Asked Questions.
  • What Operating System you are using: Windows, Mac, Linux (please include the distro also) OpenLP is crossplatform so this is very important.
  • Please include what build of OpenLP you are using, such as the relases: Alpha 3, Alpha 4, etc. Or you may possibly be using a build other than a release, you can find this info from Help -> About OpenLP. An example of a build number is: 1.9.4-bzr1264 where 1264 is the build number.
  • Please also include how you got the release of OpenLP if you downloaded a release, a nightly build, from your Linux distro's package manager, or from bzr.
  • If something such as a file import fails, please attach that file.
  • If something looks wrong, missing, out of place, or something that is hard to describe, please include a screenshot. Many times a picture truly is worth a thousand words.
  • Write in detail every step involved to make the occurrence happen. Please write this in a very clear way so that someone can know nothing about the issue and follow step by step how to replicate the bug.
  • After writing the detailed explanation of how to produce the bug, follow that explanation before sending and make sure you can replicate the results.
  • Pleas also include the debug file, you can find info on how to do that in the Frequently Asked Questions.

Please also be courteous in your correspondence. Remember that all the developers are volunteers. They are donating their time and using their skills as programmers not just to make a living but also as a ministry. Since this is a part time endeavour for them please exercise patience.

All the testing is very much appreciated, we are just trying to get the info to the developers in a way that will help them do the most with their time as they fix problems, and add new features. OpenLP 2.0 is set to be a fantastic release and that is due to the efforts of a wonderful community that is developing, testing, and using OpenLP.

Version 1.2.9 released

Hi All

The new correction release on the 1.2.x line is available. The main changes are:

  • Fix for OOS changes not being saved in certain circumstances
  • Fix for Message dialog sometimes opening on the wrong monitor