Dirk Bertels

The greatest malfunction of spirit
is to believe things (Louis Pasteur)

Piano Groove Tutor - Web Version


Last updated on 20 February 2011

NOTE: This version has been superceded by 2 versions: The latest version Piano Groove Tutor v 0.7, and the earlier version Piano Groove Tutor v 0.5. This webstart version is still downloadable for those who want to experiment with webstart. There is also a page dedicated to the various coding issues encountered: See Piano Groove Tutor Coding issues.

This is the Test Bed for the Piano Groove Tutor. It helps you download the application and outlines some common issues you may encounter regarding Webstart and Midi on your system.

If you don't need all this, go straight to the Launch Button, and don't forget to leave a comment at the bottom of this page.

Before downloading ...

If your Java version is lower than 1.5, you will be prompted to update on clicking the Launch button. Don't hesitate to do this, it will make your browsing much more versatile in general.

The total download is about 1.3 MB. The first time 'round, there will be quite a long delay (half to whole minute) between when the application has downloaded and its start up, where nothing seems to happen.

If you find the download worked but you can't hear any sounds from the application, it possibly means that you need to download a soundbank from here. Once you downloaded the soundbank, you need to find the JRE, which on a Windows machine is usually located at something like

C:\Program Files\Java\jre1.6.0_03\lib

If there's no audio folder, create one, and stick the soundbank.gm file in there.

Once the application is downloaded, it will remain in cache and you can use it off-line (choose the 'save' option when webstart prompts you). Even when you're on-line and click 'Launch' again, it will still use your cached version (if you have one) unless a later version is available.

You can manage your web start cache files by clicking here.

This web version of the application includes 2 sessions containing 5 Funk grooves and 7 Salsa grooves.
A special thanks to Jonathan Wilson for letting me use his groovy funk licks and giving me support. You can find instruction piano video recordings of his and much more at his website.

There is a Comments section at the end of this page. If you have some spare time, please use it. I'm particularly interested in:

  • Your OS (XP, Vista, MAC, ...)
  • Your browser (Mozilla, Firefox, ..)
  • Whether you were prompted to download a newer Java version - and if so, did the update go well?
  • Did the download of this application go well?
  • Did you need to add a soundbank to your JRE?
  • General comments regarding the application.

Some general information on Web Start

Java Web start is a Java Program that can be executed directly on your computer. It is designed to be secure, and needs your permission to do even simple things like reading a file on your computer.

Web Start is a java technology that is integrated in most computers. As you may have gathered, it enables one to start programs downloaded from the web server. That of course has many advantages, the chief one being that only one version is needed. Web Start also takes care of updates and off-site operation - meaning once downloaded, you can use it without having the internet connected. To do that, just save the jnlp file instead of opening it.

Web Start is also supposed to take care of downloading the java engine in case you haven't got it installed. Don't hesitate to do that since it will be good to have anyway.

You can check if you have the java engine installed on xp, by going

	start -> run -> type: cmd -> in command window, type: java -version
It should give you a something like
	java version "1.6.0_03"
The JRE stands for 'Runtime Environment', which is the only part of Java that you need. Anything less than version 1.4 will give you problems. Web Start should prompt you to download the latest version in that case. If you have problems getting this going, please let me know in the Commenting Box below. These are the sort of issues I need to find out about.

Midi issues

Even if web start starts up ok, there's still the issue that your computer may not have its MIDI working properly. In that case you will find you can't open a .mid file in your media player.

The java 'jre' we mentioned before takes care of many of the midi functionalities. It has its own soundbank if needed, but as I understand, it uses the computer's sequencer and synthesizer. Again, most computers have all this stuff installed, but some may have problems there too.

Ironically, you may have trouble when you're a developer. Developers tend to use the Java Development environment (JDK) for writing code, which comes with its own 'Runtime environment' (JRE). For some crazy reason, the JDK still has old sound libraries present, named sound.jar (if I remember correctly). These need to be deleted since they are a remnant from days gone by and interfere with sound manipulation.