New Java 2D engine, replacing JOGL/Swogl

JOGL and Swogl are both great libraries, bringing the power of OpenGL to the Java desktop. However, we have experienced problems when it comes to high quality text rendering. OpenGL does not support text rendering at all. But JOGL provides some experimental workarounds, some of them looking quite promising (like the GPU accelerated Text Demo). Nevertheless we wanted to switch to a much more stable graphics library to minimize the effort of graphics programming and spend more time for music notation issues.

We had a look on JavaFX, which also looks promising, but still has a long way to go to be ready for read world-applications. Qt is great, but the Qt Java binding is outdated and more or less dead. One evening when we tried Java 2D / AWT again, we were surprised by its speed. Back in the days when we began to work on Zong!, it was incredibly slow, but its performance has been greatly improved in Java 6 (and maybe 7). Now we are able to paint pages with about 1500 musical symbols (SVG paths) with about 30 frames per second! Welcome back, AWT 🙂

Here is a new screenshot of the Zong! Editor, showing some symbols and text, which are now rendered sharply at each zoom level:


Zong! Webviewer Server is online

A first version of our Zong! Webviewer Server is now online. It allows to open MusicXML files via the internet, renders them to PNG images, MP3 and OGG audio files and computes the cursor positions for playback visualization. There is a demo page which demonstrates the features for some given sample files, but also allows to open your own MusicXML files. The server is based on the Zong! libraries, Jetty and the H2 Database Engine.

As you can see, the server just provides a backend which can be controlled by sending JSON encoded commands. The next step is to create an HTML frontend (HTML 5 and JavaScript) that uses this backend to present a user-friendly online viewer for MusicXML files.

Xenoage Utils released under MIT license

As a first step to release the whole Zong! project under an open source license, I released the Xenoage Utils project under the MIT license today. I spent the last two days by cleaning up the project and separating it from the Zong! project, where it will now be included as a git submodule. Maybe it will also be useful for other projects, I especially recommend to have a look at the utils-pdlib project which includes persistent and functional data structures.

The next steps are to clean up the Zong! project itself, including the Editor, Webviewer and Android app, which were closed source so far. After that we will continue development on all modules.

Don’t let Sibelius die!

Sibelius is a great piece of software. It really hurts to hear that AVID wants to move its development to Ukraine instead of continuing with its spezialized team in Finsbury Park, UK. AVID has financial problems, but the better alternative would be to sell it back to the original authors. Please help to save Sibelius and sign this petition.

A note about the current state of Zong!: Currently I’m working on my first really big project as a freelance developer. When this is finished (late autumn), I plan to continue the development of Zong!. However, there is good news: We think about moving the whole project to a free software license, including the Android part and the Editor part. Stay tuned 🙂

Iteration 61 finished

Yesterday, we pushed Zong! p0.5.61 to our git server. Among the new features of this iteration are the support for 64bit operating systems, styled text for lyrics, directions and any other text elements, export as WAV, MP3 and OGG and text editing in the Editor. Furthermore, the Zong! Server was extended to support the generation of sampled audio files, which lays the foundation for playback in the HTML Web Viewer (coming soon). The next iteration already starts today 🙂

Why Zong! is currently paused

Sorry for not posting during the last months. There are mainly two reasons for that:

  • I’m currently finishing my final project for my computer science studies. It is called “SimView” and is a traffic visualization tool, which is part of the simTD project and which I’m developing for the chair of traffic engineering and control of Technische Universität München. See the screenshot below. Originally I wanted to work on this project in early 2012, but due to time constraints I had to do it now, so I could not work on Zong! as much as I wanted.
  • I’m preparing for my future life as a freelance software developer, which will basically start in November 2011, but finally in March 2012 when I’ve finished my very last lecture and when I’ve been awared a M.Sc. degree. Zong! is an important part of this plan, although I’m currently not expecting to earn money with the project in the near future 😉

So stay tuned, Zong! will be much more active again starting in the following month! I can hardly wait to continue with this fun project 🙂


Zong! is coming to Android

There are two exciting news about Zong!:

  • The Zong! Viewer is currently being ported to the Android platform. All the MusicXML loading, layouting and rendering is done on the device, no internet connection is needed. Expect a first public alpha version in April.
  • We are also working on the Zong! Web Viewer which allows to embed scores on web pages, without requiring any plugins like Java, Flash, Silverlight, ActiveX or something else. It uses pure HTML and JavaScript. The rendering is done by our server, which can be accessed for free. We are also experimenting to integrate audio playback 🙂 There will also be a public alpha version in April.

Here is a first screenshot of the Android viewer, just a proof of concept:

Ribbon and Online Converter

Version p0.5.56 is out! There are mainly two new features included: Ribbon for the Zong! Editor and a new subproject, the Zong! Converter.

The Zong! Converter is free software, based upon the Zong! core, layout and renderer projects. It allows the conversion from MusicXML files into PDF files (much more formats will follow later) and presents no GUI, because it is launched from the command line. This for example allows to provide an online converter on a webpage, so that MusicXML files can be converted without having to install software on the local machine. A first prototype is available on our server (but note, that many files are not supported yet and the layout is often bad. Of course, this will get better in the future).

The Zong! Editor (which is not free software, so don’t look for it in our source code repository) now includes a completely revised user interface, based on the Flamingo ribbon component and a custom L&F, Substance. We are still discussing about the best way to arrange all items, but here is a first screenshot:

I’ll take an exam break for the next three weeks. The next version of Zong! will probably be released on March 5.