LDS Hymns (Android App)

codyhamilton
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LDS Hymns (Android App)

Postby codyhamilton » Sun Jun 18, 2017 1:26 pm

I am currently having issues with the Hymns app, specifically waiting for hymns to load after selection from the tray. If I remember correctly, there used to be a manual download for all the sheet music. Now when I load the app and select a hymn, it will spend anywhere from one to five minutes just scrolling the loading bar before the one page of sheet music I want to see shows up. I miss being able to just have all of them downloaded and not need to wait for any load time. Any information or tips on this?

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sbradshaw
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Re: LDS Hymns (Android App)

Postby sbradshaw » Sun Jun 18, 2017 3:26 pm

Are you talking about the LDS Hymns app (made by a third-pary developer), or the LDS Music app (official music app developed by the Church)?
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Re: LDS Hymns (Android App)

Postby lajackson » Sun Jun 18, 2017 6:37 pm

I can't speak for codyhamilton, but hymn loading in LDS Music is a big issue for me. We are always well into the first verse before the hymn loads, and it takes even longer if I turn my phone to switch to portrait. It has to load again, perhaps due to using a different file.

It seems to me that in prior versions, I could swipe through all the hymns and, once they were loaded, they would display almost immediately. But that does not work with the current version of the app.

When I say delayed loading, we are talking 15 to 20 seconds, more than enough for the introduction and the first verse to begin.

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sbradshaw
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Re: LDS Hymns (Android App)

Postby sbradshaw » Sun Jun 18, 2017 7:36 pm

I don't know why previous versions of the app would load the sheet music faster, but I can give a little background about what the app's doing and why it might take some time. I'm a quality assurance engineer on the Church's mobile apps team, and I'm also responsible for maintaining the content channels for the LDS Music app.

The first time you open a song in a collection (for example, a song in the English hymnbook), it will download a combined PDF that includes all of the hymns for that collection. As it's downloading, you will see a "Downloading..." message on the screen. Downloading will only happen once for a given collection (so, once for the hymnbook), unless the PDF is updated, or you clear the app's data. The last time the PDFs were updated was several months ago ago.

What's most likely taking a long time is the "Loading..." process (not the downloading). Android doesn't have native support for PDF rendering, so when you go to a song, LDS Music has to convert that page of the PDF into a PNG that can be displayed. PNGs take up much more space than PDFs, which is why the rendering is done on-device instead of being downloaded as PNGs directly. The time it takes to convert the PDF to a PNG varies on different devices. After the PNG for a song is generated, it's stored in the Android cache so it can be pulled up quickly the second time you view the song. After the cache reaches a certain size, though, the older items in the cache get cleared out, so you may have to re-render a song if you haven't visited it for a while.

The developer (a Gospel Library developer working on LDS Music during his spare time as a volunteer) has been trying various methods (different third-party libraries, using SVGs, improving caching) to reduce the loading time, but unfortunately the options are pretty limited.

One thing we're prototyping right now is using MusicXML instead of PDFs to render the sheet music. If we get the approvals we need from the music department, this will really speed up the loading time – and bring with it several other benefits. We've wanted to use MusicXML for several years, in the Android and iOS apps, and I think we're getting closer to the right time for it to happen.
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Re: LDS Hymns (Android App)

Postby russellhltn » Sun Jun 18, 2017 8:21 pm

Until then, perhaps one strategy would be to eyeball the hymn board and pull up all the hymns used for the meeting ahead of time. Of course, this only works if you know the hymns in advance.
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Re: LDS Hymns (Android App)

Postby lajackson » Mon Jun 19, 2017 4:28 pm

sbradshaw wrote:What's most likely taking a long time is the "Loading..." process (not the downloading). Android doesn't have native support for PDF rendering, so when you go to a song, LDS Music has to convert that page of the PDF into a PNG that can be displayed.

That appears to be exactly what is happening. Thanks for the explanation.

I must have a very small cache, though, and Android must be storing other things there, as well, because I called up the same hymn each week for several weeks, and it had to load (or render) each time.

Longshot. Any chance I could just access the pdf file with my pdf app? Then I could just fling myself to the right page and go. I realize this would negate all of the index links and play options, but it would be pretty slick just for viewing and singing.

Or maybe the Music app itself could access the pdf app on my phone? Is that workable, or are there too many version of pdf around? Or would I have to promise not to send feedback if LDS Music didn't work through my third-party app?

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Re: LDS Hymns (Android App)

Postby sbradshaw » Mon Jun 19, 2017 4:50 pm

This is the PDF file that the LDS Music app uses for the English hymnbook:
https://media.ldscdn.org/pdf/music/hymns/2001-01-0000-complete-hymns-eng.pdf
You're welcome to download it directly to your device for use in a PDF app. There's not an easy way for LDS Music to send the PDF to a different app for rendering, while continuing to use LDS Music for navigation.
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Re: LDS Hymns (Android App)

Postby lajackson » Tue Jun 20, 2017 11:30 am

Cool. Thanks. I'll use this for my workaround for quick-access general singing or conducting. Although the suggestion russellhltn made does work if the hymns are posted in advance, such as for sacrament meeting. I can store about eight to ten hymns before the cache starts to overflow.


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