Music production session manager
You can not select more than 25 topics Topics must start with a letter or number, can include dashes ('-') and can be up to 35 characters long.

353 lines

  1. == Preamble
  2. Session Management leads to simplification of workflows, overview and control over
  3. programs and data and a good portion of convenience :)
  4. No program exists on its own, because no program can do everything that is necessary for today's
  5. music production.
  6. This is obvious in a JACK environment, which is fundamentally modular: Different
  7. programs fulfill different functions and "talk" to each other by sending data to each other.
  8. A sequencer sends MIDI to a sampler or synthesizer, which is connected to a plug-in host for effects etc.
  9. Even the most monolithic all-in-one DAWs have to, or want to, eventually connect to the outside
  10. world. For example, to connect to a screen recorder or streaming program, include a word processor
  11. for recording order or lyrics, or to use a function that is simply not available in the DAW.
  12. Much of the work is already done by the JACK subsystem. All programs can share their music in
  13. real time, have synchronized timelines and play in the same tempo.
  14. What remains is the tedious work of always starting all programs, loading project files, connecting
  15. audio channels etc. Session management in general (e.g. specifically written starter script files)
  16. and Agordejo in particular do this work for you, or at the very least, greatly simplify it.
  17. In contrast to the self-written script mentioned above, you don't have to decide in advance on a
  18. setup, but everything is saved automatically as long as you manage everything through Agordejo.
  19. === Example
  20. * Start Agordejo (Start menu, terminal etc.)
  21. * You are now in the "Quick View" to start a session
  22. * Press the big button "Start New Session"
  23. * Now you get a choice of programs:
  24. * A single click with the mouse starts a program
  25. * Another click hides (or subsequently shows) its graphical interface
  26. * If the program crashes you get a warning and can restart it.
  27. * Audio and midi ports can now be connected together in a patchbay. The connections are stored in Agordejo.
  28. * To get more programs and advanced features you can switch to the tab "Full View
  29. * The name of the session so far is simply a date. By clicking on it you can enter a real name. Like "My song"
  30. * If you are finished you can return to the session selection by pressing the button "Save and Close"
  31. * Now Agordejo could be closed itself.
  32. * All stored data is in a single directory on the hard disk (`~/NSM Sessions/My Song`)
  33. * The session can be resumed: After clicking on the name, all programs start automatically and connect their JACK ports to among themselves.
  34. "Quick View" is a good start. However, usually one would like to get into the full view, even if it
  35. is only to start a program twice or to save manually.
  36. == Quick View
  37. The quick view is an environment reduced to the minimum. You, as a user, should have to make as few
  38. decisions as possible and start an old session or create a new one as quickly as possible (with the
  39. at least clicks).
  40. For stability reasons, only programs are shown that are known to
  41. work correctly with Agordejos session management.
  42. The Quick View is only a view. There is no technical difference to the full view and you can switch
  43. back and forth at any time.
  44. === Selecting a Session
  45. There are only two options here: Click on "Start New Session" to do so, or
  46. select one of the existing sessions to resume it (if available).
  47. === In a Session
  48. The name can be changed. We recommend a date in the form YYYY-MM-DD followed by a informative name.
  49. Please note that the name change will only take effect (e.g. renaming the session directory on
  50. disk) when you close the session.
  51. Next, a larger text field is available for notes. Write what you want. TODO lists, lyrics, credits
  52. and sources of external samples etc.
  53. Programs are symbolized by icons. A mouse click starts the program (which can take a while, we have
  54. no influence on that). The status of the program is indicated by a symbol: The "Play" symbol for
  55. the running program, the eye means "program window hidden", the "Power On/Off" symbol means that
  56. the program has been terminated (or crashed).
  57. If the program supports it, a running program window can be hidden. Synthesizers, once set up, do
  58. not have to be permanently visible. Just click on the program icon again. Either nothing happens
  59. (the program does not support it) or the window will hide. Another click on a hidden window shows
  60. it again. Every program itself is responsible for whether it saves its window state. Also, some
  61. programs already start hidden.
  62. There is *no* way to end or remove a program in this view. To do this, switch to the full view or
  63. use the close function of the program itself.
  64. There is also *no* possibility to start a program multiple times, e.g. one synthesizer per
  65. track. If you want to start multiple program instances through the full view times you can still
  66. use the quick view to manage the general session, but it is not defined which program instance a
  67. click on the icon (e.g. to hide) affects. Multiple instances are a clear indicator that you are
  68. ready for the full view.
  69. As you'll eventually discover, not *all* available programs are in the list, and there there is
  70. also no possibility to start programs that would work well in a session (e.g. a tuner), but are not
  71. explicitly written for it, e.g. do not report their status. It is better to manage these programs
  72. in full view.
  73. If, unfortunately, a program has crashed, you can only restart it and hope its automatic saving
  74. worked. Good luck.
  75. == Full View
  76. Some concepts have already been explained in the chapter "Quick View". It is expected that you have
  77. read this.
  78. === Selecting a Session
  79. Sessions are displayed as a table, which you sort by clicking on a column header. Here is shown how
  80. the session is called and when it was saved the last time, probably the two most important pieces
  81. of information. Also shown is how many programs/clients are in the session and whether it contains
  82. symbolic links. The latter is probably set to "Yes" if use a sampler, or similar, that contains
  83. large audio files. These are initially only linked into the session, and not copied, to save disk
  84. space. The displayed disk space usage is not the actual one, but includes the sizes of
  85. symlink-targets. Only when you archive the session or replace the links with real files the number
  86. becomes correct.
  87. Finally, the directory in which the files are actually stored is also given.
  88. Sessions represent the directory tree. A session is always a "leaf" and cannot include subsessions.
  89. When creating or renaming sessions, you can also arrange them in the tree by using the usual slash
  90. notation: `song123` -> `New album/song 123` or `Test/asdf` -> `Romantic pop ballads/My heart will
  91. keep beating`. How to organize your sessions and how many subdirectories you create is up to you.
  92. It is, however, not allowed to start the name with `/` or use the special characters `..`. The
  93. tree view can be deactivated by a checkbox on the left side, e.g. to be able to sort them. This is
  94. just a view, your data remains untouched.
  95. Each session has a context menu (e.g. right mouse button) with further options: You can choose to
  96. rename a session, delete it (including all associated files on the hard disk!) and more. These
  97. functions are equivalent to your file manager. If you like, you can also use your file manager to
  98. rename, move, or delete the session directories themselves (unless they are is currently open). You
  99. don't need to restart Agordejo to do this, it will respond to the changes while running.
  100. There is also the possibility to remove a so-called "lock" file. This is a file which is created
  101. when the session starts and deleted when it ends. This tells Agordejo which session is currently
  102. running. If a lock file exists, the session cannot be opened! This should not happen during normal
  103. operation. But if a power failure or similar occurs in the middle of a session, the lock file may
  104. remain, although obviously no session is opened. In this case, unlock the session manually by
  105. deleting the lock file.
  106. Click on "New session" to create one. In contrast to the quick view, you must enter the name
  107. directly . As mentioned above, you can use the directory tree. In addition, there are several
  108. (almost obligatory) programs suggested to start with. Normally one should accept all suggestions.
  109. There is always the option to remove them later.
  110. A double click on an existing session (or the "Load Selected" button) does just that.
  111. === In a Session
  112. The full view is divided into three areas: Program starter, programs in the current session
  113. and the session notes. There is also a dynamic menu.
  114. On the left side you see the program starter. A double-click starts a program instance in this
  115. session. You can also start a program more than once. For available programs please refer to the
  116. chapter "Program Database".
  117. ==== Running Programs
  118. Started programs are located on the right side. A double-click switches the visibility
  119. to hide its window if the program supports it. If not, nothing happens.
  120. The following information is available per program:
  121. * The name (possibly with icon)
  122. * A "label" that programs can use freely (e.g. Fluajho shows the loaded .sf2 here)
  123. * The program status
  124. * Stopped , not running
  125. * Ready, running
  126. * Launch, If the status halts here but the programs works, it is one that does not specifically support session mode. Agordejo cannot know if it is already running or not. Everything is fine! :)
  127. * Other states are only transitions and usually only visible for a very short time, e.g. Open / Loading
  128. * Visibility (A cross for visible, blank for invisible)
  129. * Changes - Are there currently unsaved changes?
  130. * ID - A unique identifier that can be used to distinguish between multiple instances of the same program
  131. All other functions are accessible via the menu or context menu. One click on a program selects it,
  132. and the client menu in the menu bar will now apply to the client. Alternatively, you can
  133. right-click on an entry for a context menu, which is identical to the menu.
  134. In addition to self-explanatory functions there are also:
  135. * Rename gives the program a self-chosen name, mostly to make its purpose clear and to distinguish it better from others. This feature is only available when 'nsm-data' is running in the session.
  136. * Save only tells this program to save
  137. * Remove takes the program out of the session. However, no files are deleted in the process. At the moment you have to "clean up" in your file manager by hand.
  138. If the client "nsm-data" is in the session (this is the default setting) the lower area provides a
  139. large text field for notes. It is the same as in the quick view. Write what you want: TODO lists,
  140. lyrics, credits and sources from external Samples etc.
  141. ==== The Session Menu
  142. In contrast to the quick view, full mode offers menus, which can also be accessed via the usual keyboard shortcuts (Ctrl+S for saving etc.).
  143. * Save instructs all programs to save, the session continues to run
  144. * Save and Close ends the session, after all programs saved
  145. * Abort ends the session without saving the programs
  146. * Save As saves the session under a different name and closes the current session without saving. From now on you work under the new name.
  147. * Add Client offers the option to add any program, whether it is in the program database or not.
  148. * Any installed programs are suggested. Agordejo doesn't check them for usefulness for a music session, or even for runnability. You will find `ls` here as well as `agordejo` itself.
  149. == Program-Database
  150. Agordejos launcher is based on a program database, which is partly self-generated, partly
  151. maintained by hand. As in a start menu Agordejo will offer you only programs that are actually
  152. installed on your system.
  153. The database is created at the first start. Depending on your system, this can take some moments to
  154. a few minutes.
  155. If you are reinstalling or uninstalling audio programs, you will need to update the database via
  156. the command in the control menu. Program installations and system changes are even possible while
  157. Agordejo is running (even in a session). After a DB update you can immediately access all new
  158. programs.
  159. If you do not see an installed program in our launcher, but you are sure that it supports session
  160. management please report it to or under .
  161. In addition, you can add (in full view) programs that are not in the database.
  162. === For advanced users
  163. The strict rule is that only programs in the $PATH are included in the database. Absolutel paths
  164. are not allowed, even if you enter the program name yourself through the menu. However sometimes
  165. you just want to try out software, or you are a developer yourself and want to test without
  166. system-wide installation.
  167. In the control menu / settings is a tab "Program-PATH", where you can define and add your own
  168. search paths. One absolute directory path per line, no wildcards, trailing slash don't matter.
  169. For example: `/home/myuser/sources/newsequencer/bin/`
  170. These search paths are not stored in the session, but locally in your `~/.config` directory.
  171. == Tray
  172. Agordejo has a tray icon, if your window manager supports it. A click on the trayicon shows or
  173. hides Agordejo.
  174. If you close Agordejo using the normal window manager function, such as a click on the [X], the
  175. program and the session is not terminated, but minimized to the tray.
  176. A right click on the icon gives you access to common functions:
  177. You can directly start the most recently used sessions.
  178. If a session is already running you can save, cancel etc.
  179. Agordejo can also be completely exited here.
  180. == Network Sessions
  181. The functionality to distribute sessions over the local network is planned for a later program
  182. version.
  183. == Program parameters
  184. As an advanced user, you can start Agordejo in the terminal and add some parameters.. For a
  185. complete list please use the --help parameter.
  186. For example:
  187. * `--session newAlbum/mySong` starts the given session.
  188. * `--continue` starts the last active session.
  189. * `--hide` starts Agordejo as TrayIcon.
  190. * `--url osc.udp://myhost.localdomain:14294/` connects to this server, if available, or starts the internal session server at this address. This is a very technical option and probably not needed.
  191. * `--session-root /home/user/production2030` sets the root directory. Only sessions in this directory are displayed, everything is stored here.
  192. The combination of `--continue` and `--hide` is essentially what many people expect from Session
  193. Management: Resuming at the previous state, without any extra windows in their way.
  194. If your system uses a start menu you will find not only the normal Agordejo starter but also
  195. "Agordejo Continue" to start this mode directly.
  196. == Miscellaneous / Explanations / FAQ
  197. *Session Save and Exit responds slowly*: Agordejo is not a standalone program like an word
  198. processor. The participating programs in the session are not plugins either. When you end the
  199. session a signal is sent to all participating client to save. This may take a few moments where
  200. you are able to see "live" how individual programs terminate and disappear from the session.
  201. Everything is fine.
  202. *I have added a program but it does not save with the session*: Does the program support session
  203. management? If not, Agordejo cannot do much. But you can ask the program developers to contact us
  204. ( and we can work together on support.
  205. *The programs hang on exit*: Sorry about that. Actually, the programs themselves are to blame, but
  206. we are also interested in improving the situation by offering at least an emergency solution in the
  207. future.
  208. *Agordejo won't start! I start the program but I can't see anything*: Most likely Agordejo is
  209. running, but invisible, because you exited it from the tray last time. Is it in the tray? A
  210. message should have popped up, maybe you missed it. If there is no tray in your window manager, the
  211. program should always be visible. With all these special window managers in Linux it may be that
  212. the tray detection did not work properly. Contingency plan is to delete
  213. `~/.config/LaborejoSoftwareSuite/agordejo`. This will NOT remove any sessions, but only local
  214. settings such as the visibility of the program window. At next start Agordejo will behave like the
  215. very first start.
  216. *JACK crashed. A lot of programs hang. What can I do to prevent data loss?* Probably already many
  217. programs in the session are not running properly and are not reacting anymore. The best thing to do
  218. is to use the 'Abort Session' function and restart everything. If the data has actually been
  219. unsaved for a long time, you can also dare to save/exit. It may be necessary to re-draw some jack,
  220. or all, jack connections by hand at the next start. If you want to be on the safe side, you can
  221. manually make a copy of the session directory in your file manager before ending the session (with
  222. inevitable crashes).
  223. *A program update broke my session because it can no longer load its files.* Unfortunately, this is
  224. a problem that even Agordejo can't solve. It also happens with LV2 plugins and with all other
  225. software, such as office programs. If you fear that a program becomes incompatible in the future,
  226. write down its version number in the session notes, so that you can at least, in an emergency,
  227. reinstall the old program version (even if this is very is cumbersome).
  228. *What's better? Monolithic DAW or session management?* Why not both? There is no conflict. Session
  229. management is worthwhile with two or more participating programs, which one needs almost always.
  230. You should not feel compelled to suddenly make everything modular with individual programs, only
  231. because you use a session manager. Agordejo is designed to make your music production easier. If it
  232. is faster and more comfortable to manage all plugins and effects e.g. in a single "Carla" instance
  233. then you should do exactly that. If you basically want to do everything in Ardour, do that, but
  234. start Ardour anyway in session management, because no program can do everything alone and the time
  235. will come where you add a second one.
  236. Session management is another level of hierarchy. Sequencers or DAWs are not plug-ins themselves.
  237. Patroneo does not belong "in" Ardour and Ardour does not belong "in" Laborejo. Already in this
  238. example each of the programs fulfils a different role because the others follow a different design
  239. philosophy and cannot ever offer the same workflow. And more:
  240. Some programs can't host plugins, some can't export audio files. They are not bad programs, but
  241. programs that concentrate on one task. Furthermore, there is a lot of software that does not
  242. directly do music production, but still is connected in the grander scheme: Open Broadcast Studio
  243. (OBS), music player, word processors and graphic programs etc.
  244. *Agordejo contains functionality which is not within its scope*: Music production is very complex
  245. and complexity is inevitable. It's like a waterbed: if you press down on one side, something
  246. bounces up in another place. When you create a "clean and lean" program, which therefore implements
  247. only a part of the complete workflow, then the missing part pops up somewhere else. A minimalistic
  248. session manager provokes plug-ins (not LV2), helper-scripts, workarounds and hacks.
  249. E.g. not to include file management provokes user errors like deleting the wrong files. If the SM
  250. knows what to do and it can do it, then let it do it. Or crashes: Technically, crashing programs
  251. are not the "problem" of the session managers, but they are part of the software reality. Crashes
  252. happen every day and need to be handled. Can Agordejo simplify the work and help to restore good
  253. conditions again? Then that should be done. Session management is also an opportunity to simplify
  254. even complex technical scenarios, e.g. distributing sessions over the network.