Upcoming Features

First, thanks to everyone who visited GuitarCardio, who voted it up on StumbleUpon, who blogged and tweeted about it, and who came and commented here. I’ve had 18,000 new visitors since putting this site on StumbleUpon a few days ago, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. It was a complete shock to me that people would respond this way.

If you’d like to keep up with developments on the site, I encourage you to subscribe to my RSS feed. (If you’re not sure what an RSS feed is or what it’s good for, it’s basically a way of keeping up with what’s going on with your favorite websites without having to visit them every hour. You can learn more here. I recommend Google Reader for tracking RSS feeds.)

On to the business at hand: Upcoming features. The current version of the site was never meant to be more than a first step – the smallest set of features that I would find useful for my own features. I have a long, long backlog of ideas for the site, and they vary a great deal in how useful they are and how hard they are to implement.

Feedback via email and this blog has been extremely helpful in figuring out what to do next. Thanks to everyone who cared enough about this site and saw enough potential in it to contribute their thoughts. (Amazingly, nobody complained about the color scheme. I was so sure I’d hear about that.)

In addition to everyone’s feedback, I have to take into account the difficulty of implementing each proposed feature, how useful it really is, and how it will affect site performance. I also have a demanding day job that has nothing to do with this site, and has to take priority. All that said, over the next few weeks, I think I’ll be able to implement some things people will find very useful, and lay the groundwork for some of the more difficult features. (Please note that I’m not committing to any schedule here – these things will happen as they happen.)

Revision 2 – User Profiles

The next iteration of the site will have user profiles. This is up next both because of requests and because I have it half-coded already. What are the benefits? First off, you’ll be able to set preferences for how the drill selection form is set up when you get to the site. I’ll also allow registered users to opt into a newsletter (which will probably contain mostly the content from this blog, perhaps with a few exclusive goodies).

Down the road, I’d like to hook in a personal practice diary and maybe some social networking functions – but to start, it’ll just be the preferences.

And of course, nobody will have to log in to use the site – casual users can still come by and get a new set of exercises anytime.

On the Blog – Reviews and Lessons

I’d like to put up content that users of GuitarCardio would find interesting. I’m going to start with some product reviews specifically geared toward practice and exercise. I go back and forth on the idea of including lessons, because anyone who can figure out Google can find a lifetime’s worth of lessons, and also because I’m really not qualified to teach (except the most basic theory elements). Still, if you’re a guitar teacher in the NYC area who thinks he can offer something not seen elsewhere, and might like to be a guest blogger here, drop me a line in the comments section and we can discuss it over a beer.

Revision 3 – Modes and Scales

I don’t know if I’m just attracting a lot of theory jocks or what, but I keep hearing modes, modes, modes! These are relatively easy (if a bit time-consuming) for me to implement, so they come next. Expect some other scale types (Harmonic Minor, Jazz and Blues scales) to come along for the ride.

After That: Metronome and Chords

I really want to implement these features, but I need time to either flesh out how they should look, or figure out technical details surrounding them.

I’ve gotten a few requests for an in-page metronome (or alternatively, drum/backing tracks). Keeping a constant rhythm in the exercises is critical, and I’d love to be able to put a metronome right next to the exercises and make the site a real one-stop shop. (You should still have your own metronome for practice, of course.) There are technical questions around this, though, especially regarding how to add multimedia to the site while keeping it fast and responsive for you. I’m looking at options.

One suggestion I’ve had that I particularly like is chord transition/progression exercises. I’m picturing them based mostly around the CAGED shapes to start. I still have thinking to do about what form this will take.

Beyond That

I have a lot of love for the idea of supporting alternate tunings, but it’s tough to implement well. Not impossible, but not easy. I’ll probably get to this, but not for some time.

I’ve had a suggestion for an arpeggio generator; I like this, and will probably get to it at some point.

And there are all kinds of learning tools that could be integrated in: Theory quizzes, chord flash cards, a chord computer, audio of the exercises, et cetera. I’m keeping track of all these ideas, and the ones that people send me. And I’ll be writing about it here every time I decide on a new piece of GuitarCardio’s future.

Thanks for reading.

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26 comments ↓

#1 LSP on 07.13.08 at 11:27 am

I just found out about your site. I have to admit, I’m really just a beginner even if I’ve picked up the guitar a few more years than I would like to admit.

It’s nice and simple and it sure is structured in a way as to allow one to have a nice workout. I found myself doing a set of exercises, leaving and coming back for more.

Modes and all that, that would be nice but right now it’s pretty good. When you do get those features I reckon it will be perfect.

The only thing I think it needs is to be made into a portable application. Sometimes you can’t access the internet, you know. Maybe that could be something for way down the line.

Thanks a lot for making this and for keeping it free =)

#2 Patrick on 07.13.08 at 12:36 pm

Bass please… Bass…

#3 Lucas on 07.13.08 at 12:43 pm

Is it possible to adjust this for the bassists out there.

#4 Fred on 07.13.08 at 1:13 pm

Brad,

The upcoming revisions sound pretty cool. I’m looking forward to seeing them implemented.

One note though: I’m no guitar expert, but I think that having different scale positions, like the CAGED model, would be much more help to me than modes. I’m not good enough to want to experiment with modes on a regular basis, and I would much rather have a practice routine that solidifies the scale positions in my mind (and perhaps challenges me to switch between them?) than a seldom-used facet of music which would be largely inaccessible for beginners.

Additionally, something I have noticed over the past few days…
When I generate a good number of exercises (usually more than 6 or 7) I find I have lots of repeat exercises, even when I have many keys selected. Perhaps you could implement tracking in the software to allow an option that eliminates repeats within a set of generated exercises?

I’m also still willing to hack together a widget or two for generating exercises on a regular basis. When you finish implementing user profiles maybe you could mail me a rundown on the basics of how you implemented it so I could pass that convenience along to the user? Just a thought šŸ™‚

Keep up the excellent work. Your software is helping me every day!

#5 concrete_d on 07.13.08 at 8:21 pm

I came here from Lifehacker, and as a hack guitarist going into his second year I’m finding this a great fun way to improve. I’m sure as I get better I’ll appreciate more features, but I hope they don’t come at the expense of speed and usability.

I will second LSP’s suggestion for a portable application, but that is probably out of the scope of your plans. Either way, keep up the good work.

#6 Kuba on 07.14.08 at 3:51 am

I’d like to third the desire for bass.

For implementation, it might be useful to limit which strings are being used — say only use the scale from the E string to the G string (but maybe include shifting?). That way, not only does it enable bass practice, it can still further help guitarists.

#7 Stuzz on 07.14.08 at 4:35 am

Like concrete_d I also came here from lifehacker.com. After the first look at the site I could see its potential, so I mentioned it in the alt.guitar.beginner newsgroup. That should get you a few more hits šŸ™‚ Keep up the good work.

#8 Benjamin on 07.14.08 at 5:41 am

Hi!

I found your site a few days ago and have been using (and loving) it since. Great Idea, and hopefully this will finally help me to get a grip on those scales.

A few ideas for usability improvements:

The “Next Exercise” button on the page of the last exercise would be more aptly labeled “Return” or something – and (this is the important part) shold lead to the root page /with the settings specified for the past exercises still selected/.
That way, it’s easier to fine-tune your exercises without having to re-select all settings (which gets on my nerves especially with “difficulty”).
If this were implemented, a “reset to default” button wold make sense.

Why not show all generated exercises on one page?

I would reverse string order in the root string selection section to reflect the position of the strings in tab.

Would it make sense to rotate the scale diagram atop each exercise by 90 degrees so the strings would also match representation in tabulature (horizontal, not vertical)? I guess that’s a matter of taste.

Just some small stuff I noticed. No deal breakers by any means – I love the site!

#9 Brandt on 07.14.08 at 12:07 pm

If only to stress the need for us bass players…please consider a variation for us, too! Uh, I fourth it!

Great idea and nice work.

#10 Brad on 07.14.08 at 4:41 pm

Bass players – your interest is duly noted, and I shall not forget you. If there’s a bass player in the NYC area who’d like to get together for a beer and advise me on things that would make the site better for bass players, I’m absolutely open to it.

LSP – The idea of making this a portable/iPhone/iPod app, or at least optimizing the site for portable device browsers is in my backlog of features to prioritize.

Fred – Welcome back! I’m glad you’re getting a lot out of the site! And I understand about the duplicate exercises – it irks me too, so I’ll make a point of fixing it sooner or later.

concrete_d – Whatever I do, you can bet I won’t compromise the responsiveness of the site.

#11 Brad on 07.14.08 at 4:49 pm

Stuzz – Many thanks for the mention on Usenet!

Benjamin – I really appreciate your detailed suggestions; some of them I have to think about, but there’s at least one that I’ll implement right away. Thanks!

#12 John on 07.14.08 at 9:14 pm

>(Amazingly, nobody complained about the color scheme. I was so sure Iā€™d hear about that.)

I have a theory that the only people who care about web design are webdesigners. For everyone else, it’s like “Is the text readable? Alright, I’m reading!”

#13 MJK on 07.15.08 at 9:53 am

Truly AWESOME: THANK YOU!!!

Great work and now I know what I will be doing after work…

#14 Joel on 07.15.08 at 12:50 pm

I found this on Lifehacker, and I really like it. I’ve already added it to my practice routine. I do have a couple of suggestions though.
First, and more importantly, I have a bit of trouble playing generated exercises with a metronome. Since you can’t see the note markings in this style of tablature, I lose track of where the beat should fall. Could you implement an option allowing the user to specify a certain number of notes and then place a “bar line” after that number of notes? Say, if someone wanted to practice triplets, it would place a line of | across the tab after every three notes, every four notes for sixteenths, eight notes for thirtyseconds, etc.

Secondly, and I’m afraid I don’t have any suggestions for implementing this one, a right hand exercise generator would be helpful too. I play fingerstyle, and some randomly generated right hand routines would be really nice.

#15 Brad on 07.15.08 at 7:22 pm

John – You may be right. Web designers can be a bit more into their craft than the consumers of it.

MJK – Thanks! I hope you get everything out of it that you want.

Joel – Those are two original suggestions. I’m logging both of them. No promises on when or whether I’ll get to them, but I won’t lose them and you can count on my considering them when I prioritize new features for the site. I especially like the right-hand drill idea – there are a lot of fingerpickers out ther who could benefit from that.

#16 Gerrit on 07.17.08 at 12:04 am

Thumbs up, you rock! šŸ™‚

As for the metronome discussion… do you know http://www.metronomeonline.com/ ?

Peace, Gerrit.

#17 Brad on 07.17.08 at 5:03 am

Gerrit – I do now. Thanks for the link!

#18 NewGuitarGuy on 07.18.08 at 1:17 pm

Hey, I really love guitarcardio; it’s part of my morning routine. Would it be difficult to add a checkbox to “invert” the exercise so it starts with high notes, goes to lower then back up to high? Thanks again!

#19 Brad on 07.21.08 at 6:38 am

NGG – Interesting idea. I’m putting it in the bin with the other feature ideas, and will announce on this blog if/when I decide to implement it.

Thanks for the feedback, and I’m glad you’re finding the site valuable!

#20 Larry McDowell (GuitarMusings) on 07.23.08 at 11:40 am

Nice job! I’m excited to see the next revision. We are following it on Musings and it’s part of my workout now. Good luck.

#21 Brad on 07.23.08 at 12:23 pm

Larry – Thanks! User logins are in the works right now. I’ll be posting here as new features are added to the site.

#22 cabra on 07.29.08 at 9:18 am

I HAVE A GOOD ONE!
make the same thing for bass guitar.
i believe it’ll be easy , since you have already done it for guitar, you just have to do the same without the first two strings.

hope you keep my suggestion in mind
let me know if you do

thanks, great site btw

#23 Brad on 07.29.08 at 9:28 am

cabra – I’ve actually gotten that suggestion a bunch of times, and I think it’s a good one. It won’t be happening right away, but I hear it enough that it’s clear there’s a demand.

Watch this space – if and when I put up basscardio.com, I’ll be posting about it here.

#24 Alex on 08.02.08 at 10:42 am

Once again. Bass please. Just trying to bump it up the list of projects you have. šŸ™‚

#25 Brad on 08.03.08 at 8:32 am

Alex – Acknowledged.

Thanks for coming by – keep coming back!

#26 Kagi on 08.25.08 at 11:17 pm

Like Alex and many others, please bump up the bass cardio.

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