It’s that time of year again so I thought I’d give a quick round-up of what’s been going on here in abc land over the past year:
- Firstly, and mostly importantly, I am delighted … absolutely delighted … to announce that we have a new abc standard (the document describing the semi-formal rules of abc). This is the first fully finished standard since 1997! I appreciate that many users of abc won’t be too bothered about exactly how it’s defined and the arcane details of some of the lesser known syntax, but abc has been in danger of splitting into different dialects in the long years since the last version. So the excellent news is that most of the major abc software providers have been involved and we have (mostly) agreed on ways of dealing with differing usage. The new standard also gives a very firm footing for additional features and so that abc can carry on as the human-readable music notation system of choice for years to come.
- You could argue that a measure of how popular abc is, would be the amount of software written for it and I noticed, when reviewing the updates articles on this blog (in October, June, April and February) that a lot of software has been added to the list over the past year. In fact I counted them up and there are 24 new entries! Not all of them are new software, some of them are just new to me, but nonetheless that seems like a remarkable amount of work by the developers, providing (mostly free) programs that can read or interpret abc!
- While I’m talking about software I should also mention that abc2win is now completely free (previously there was a small charge if you wanted to print out the dots). Sadly, the reason is that development has now finished on the program (as Jim Vint has retired from working on it). However, this program was one of the key reasons for abc’s initial success and I just want to record and celebrate that fact here.
- The number of tunes in the tune search continues to grow and nearly 50,000 more have been added since January 2011, including some really important collections, bringing the total in the latest edition to 322,000!
- The list of composers who have given consent for their tunes to appear on the site continues to grow too – including most recently Bill Elsliger and Jonathan Shorland. Please enjoy their music.
- Finally there have been quite a lot of minor changes to the site – both behind the scenes and in front – including a much nicer page design (in my opinion) with a clearer search form, tune comments, user-friendly downloads, better diacritic handling, faster page speeds, …
Anyway, a belated happy new year to abc users everywhere, and also to those who just visit this site looking for sheet music!