This is about the history of these programs
The first years
I started calling in 1998. Almost immediately I became aware: I need professional equipment. I bought a Hilton MA 150 – which still works fine today. My belief was the vinyl records will not be produced for a long time. Therefor I bought a mini-disc player (with adjustable speed). Together with the MA 150 it was installed in case from RSC (German vendor).
I digitized records bought immediately and copied them to a mini-disc. But there was the problem of the text. On records you had the sleeve or a piece of paper delivered from the producer. There was nothing for mini-discs. So I typed the text and printed it. So I had to bring a heavy case together with the speakers and a folder with all the typed texts to each clubnight. It worked – it was common at those years.
2003 – 2006 – Several attempts
There was the first laptop. I already had the digitized music and the typed text on my computer. But what to use to play it and how to organize?
I tried many things. For some time I used a combination of “Musik-Manager” (from a Czech programmer) and Winamp with plugins (Pacemaker, Lyrics viewer). I also looked at the “market”. I only found 2 acceptable (and free) programs: SQView and Caller Caddy.
Both programs had its Pros and Cons. But I was missing a way to see the text (Lyrics of singing Call) while calling and a way to view see modules while doing patter (as help for my bad memory). Also some other functions were missing. After some time Caller Caddy was not developed any more while SQVIEW became the standard for each Caller. If Sqview had been as good as today – I never would have started to develope own programs.
However, I started to use my knowledge as programmer and developed my own music player. It allows to show lyrics while the singing call is playing (text and music in sync). Therefor the name: “Karaoke for Callers”. Today you still will recognize some elements of the 2 programs mentioned (eg. use of tabs like SQVIEW and usage of databases which Caller Caddy had already then). I “researched” these ideas from there.
I am using this player since january 2006. For me this means I have a full history of my calling since 2006 due to the Caller Diary feature.
I have always worked on the program and tried many things. It soon had some sort of Choreo management – however I hardly ever used it. There was a collection of sequences – but how put them to use? I added playlists; It is possible to print lists; the microsoft Access database changed to SQLite.
2012 – 2016
I took early retirement in 2012 and had even more time for calling the programming. New versions followed. The internal structue was optimized. VB6 became Visual Studio – Today it is VS 2019.
But somehow I was not satisfied with the solution. I was able to display Singing Call lyrics as Karaoke, but nothing for patter. Nothing to help to prepare for a clubnight.
In addition in my cabinets and on my computer I had all kind of square dance stuff. Books bought, material from callerschools, HTML files, links to choreo …. However, each time i needed something the search started from scratch.
2016 – today
2016 I had some ideas, how programs could help me. I wrote the first modules (“Choreo-management” and “file-viewer”). The collected modules (sequences) ended in a database. They had be be put to use. I scanned the books (which meant I needed a reasonable scanner program) und filed them in meaningful folders (directories). This meant I need a program to show PDF, DOCX, HTML, TXT, vidoes and images to make use of that material.
- After short the first version was ready. Some attempts to write my on scanner program and my own wordprocessor were not so successful. But I “stumbled” on some free programs that a covering all a caller might need.
This was the birth of the “CallerToolBox” – a toolbox for Callers where several tools are combined with one starting point.
The collection and maintenance of the material was completed and acceptable soon. Some issues remained:
- How can the collected material be re-used?
- Sequences (modules) are depending on the way he are written (Flutter wheel or flutterwheel?, Half sashay or 1/2 sashay?) and how they are expressed (“Circle to a line” or “Circle up 4 – Head Men break – and make a line”??)
- How can flexibility be increased – as example changing teaching order or use of different databases
Well – by and by I found solutins:
- You have the option to copy data to a wordprocessor, print it oder save it in various formats
- There is the tipmaker – you can combine sequences to tips and use them online or offline
- I developed a Square Dance syntax using regular expressions. This allows to recognize and unify text and define teaching orders.
- All parts of the program are variable and based on databases. The data can be changed by the user. So each caller may design his/her OWN toolbox.
- The update of the program is improved and easy. No big deal to install new versions.
- Furter external programs are not delivered automatically, but can be installed within a few seconds when needed.
Sometime 2017/2018 I recognized that other callers may be interested to use the program and put up a website including documentation and both programs (CallerToolBox and Karaoke for Callers). Some callers loaded these versins and some are using the on regular basis.
I developed the programs for my own use only and use the each clubnight and for preparing for events. If others find them usefull as well – I’m happy 🙂
While doing all these changes several functions originally developed in Karaoke for Callers became obsolete (because they are now part of CallerToolBox). So I eliminated them from the player. Finally the Player became part of the CallerToolBox (as just another tool a caller may use – or not).
This also means that 2020 the website changes significantly:
- There is only one program to download (CallerToolBox). “Karaoke for callers” is included
- There will be no written program documentation any more. It was too time consuming to keep it up to date. The existing documentation is still available but will no longer be updatet.
- Instead there will be videos explaining the functions. It is easier to make a new video if functions change significantly.
- News (new versins; functins) will be shown under “News” in a blog.