A Battle with iGigBook? No thank you.

Really, no battle is intended or desired.  After this post, I’m done.  The developer for iGigBook has decided to comment on the last post in this threadPlease feel free to read his latest post here.  I heard from a number of readers of this blog who found iGigBook’s original post offensive–it wasn’t just my own “attempt” at trying to find “insult where none was intended.” And nearly every one of those people is both a teacher of some sort and a performing musician, who agrees that annotation is critical, not optional.  One of my colleagues wrote, “To think a working musician doesn’t need to annotate is frankly unprofessional.  I wouldn’t want to work with any musician who thinks they are above the need to write notes in their music.  We all need reminders, cuts, eyeglasses to watch the conductor, notes about whether we’re in 2 or 4, not to mention the instrument specifics like fingerings and bowings.”

To be fair, the developer of iGigBook says this:  “The assertion by the author that these items weren’t going to be added to iGigBook is a product of his own imagination. We didn’t implement hot spots, we actually created a feature we think is superior to hot spots for jumping to different pages in a music score that unlike UnrealBook and Forscore, also works if you’re using a wireless page turner. I also reiterate that if and when we do annotation expect to see the same innovative approach we’ve taken to every other feature you see in iGigBook.”

The only problem I have with iGigBook’s response is the part that says, “If and when we do.”  Perhaps it is a product of my own imagination, but in my own experience, hearing “it may be a part of a future release” means that feature isn’t available and that it isn’t a priority.  My whole point is that annotation is a priority.  I have no idea how many copies of iGigBook are out there, and I don’t want to know.  But I do wonder–how many users of iGigBook would like to have the ability to annotate in a product they love?  I have a hard time believing that iGigBook is hearing this from its users:“You’re absolutely right!  That music teacher is off his ‘narrow confine’ rocker.  I never have to write in my music.  That’s something only children do!  If you put annotation on this app, I’m deleting it.” I’m being silly here and trying to inject some humor into this kind-of-pointless debate.

You can reach a point in a disagreement where you realize that your point of view is not welcome or not being heard.  So I will not comment about iGigBook further on this blog, even if iGigBook chooses to complain about this blog on their blog.  This is the Internet, these are blogs, and people have the right to write what they will.  I’m not out to “win” this argument, and I’ll always be the first person to say, “I’m wrong” or “I’m sorry” in an argument.  But I don’t think I have been wrong on my stance for annotation, and I don’t think I’ve been disrespectful.

No, iGigBook “[doesn’t] require [my] endorsement or validation of iGigBook as a legitimate product when hundreds of working musicians who the application is targeted to already have endorsed and validated it by purchasing and gigging with it.” Thank goodness.  I don’t want the power to make or break any developer’s dream.  Even with the worst apps I’ve reviewed, I’ve always left the choice of whether to buy or not lie in the hands of the purchaser.

The iGigBook blog makes a point in that I once offered to review the software.  It’s hard to remember everything you’ve written in a blog.  I did this in a blog response, not a main article, if you are looking for it in the referring part of the blog.  My memory failed me: I did ask for a promo code.  I think you’ll agree that my words, once again, are generally pretty positive about iGigBook.  Please read my full response (not just an edited clip):

I haven’t tried iGigBook, but I have done a review of GigBook (https://techinmusiced.wordpress.com/2010/10/21/gigbook/), and that app may be of interest to you as well. GigBook does an amazing job of organizing PDFs (particularly the ability to pull a certain number of pages into a playlist, the use of collections, and the use of Binders), although it doesn’t offer any notation options at the moment. iGigBook’s iPod Touch & iPhone page turning app seem really interesting. The ability to import indexes for existing gigbooks sounds great–as well as the ability to upload indexes for other players. But it still looks like you need to create your own indexes of every custom gigbook you load on iGigBook, like every other iPad Music Reader.

I’ll be the first to admit that my needs for music access differ from those of a gigging Jazz musician. I rarely need to pull up a random chart for a performance from a larger book…usually I’m working with individual choral pieces. I need the ability to organize music for quick access, to be able to add notation to that music, to play mp3 recordings through the app, and if possible, to be able to project that music on an LCD screen (when necessary).

For my money ($4.99), UnrealBook remains the best way for me to achieve the results I’m looking for. But I’ll never tell you that iGigBook doesn’t work, or that it doesn’t work for you. As always…go with the program that works best for you! And if you know the developers of iGigBook, and they would be willing to share a promo code, I’d always be happy to review the app!

After the promo code was offered in a response from iGigBook, I checked out the app and realized that it didn’t have the full features I need–particularly for music education, and for my own performing.  I decided not to review the app–or to use the promo code.  Why burn a valuable code that can be given to someone who will use the software?

And I still maintain that the real issue here is that I can’t recommend iGigBook to others until it adds annotation as a feature, and I can’t apologize for that.  Perhaps my unwillingness to write a review when I had solicited a promo code for the app in this blog angered the developer–for that I do apologize.  Perhaps I’ll buy a copy of the app and then review it.  We’ll see.

As a side note, I’ve turned comments off for some time on this post–not just for the iGigBook debate.  Ultimately, I was getting far too many spam messages and sometimes just weird responses to posts.  I took note that a number of other blogs have shut down comments for some time.  I’m always open to posting someone’s question or comment as a separate blog post.

Now, on to the majors: It’s hard to get fired up about a debate on the Internet when the ups and downs of life bring you back to reality.  This weekend, one of the students in our school passed away in her fight against leukemia.  There’s a large part of our student body that is going to be hurting very badly today, along with the family.  That frames this discussion with iGigBook very much where it needs to be–a minor thing.  Please, if you want to try iGigBook–go for it.  At $9.99, it won’t break the bank.  If not, try one of the other apps, such as UnrealBook, ForScore, GigBook, or others.  It’s up to you.  You’re the consumer.  Read the reviews on the AppStore.  Visit the web pages of the companies.  Do some basic Internet searching.  And then buy the app that looks the best for you.

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