Using song layouts

BandHelper allows you to select from several predefined layouts in the set list view, or customize the layouts to display exactly the info you need during your performances. You can watch a tutorial video, or read on for more details:

Choosing a layout

  • The first time you view a set list or smart list, you'll see a list of layouts to choose from. (We recommend More Buttons as a starting point.) When you view a set list or smart list after that initial selection, BandHelper will select your default (last-used) layout automatically.
  • To try a different layout, you can click the Layouts button in the top toolbar of the set list view. This lets you experiment with the different options, or switch between layouts for different situations.
    layouts popup menu
  • Many users pick one favorite layout and use it all the time. Some users set up different layouts for different situations, like rehearsing versus performing. It's more rare, but possible, to switch between different layouts while performing: you can set up the Next Layout and Previous Layout remote control actions or layout actions. Then you can cycle through your layouts by clicking a foot switch button or swiping on the screen.
  • Layouts can only be used in one orientation or the other (portrait or landscape). You can rotate your device to see the layouts available for the other orientation. You might see the same layout names listed, but those are separate versions sized for each orientation.
  • You can rename, copy or delete layouts from the Repertoire > Layouts list. However, layouts can be shared by multiple users. If there is a layout you no longer want to see, you should edit it and remove yourself from the Users list, rather than deleting it, if other users are listed there.

Using the standard layouts

BandHelper includes an initial set of layouts that provide a range of options for different performance styles and situations. You can review the list below to help decide which layouts will work best for you.

On iOS and Android, the standard layouts will be created automatically when you first install the app. If for some reason your device doesn't show these standard layouts, or only shows some of them, you can reload them by tapping Help > Utilities > Load Standard Layouts. This won't affect any layouts you already have. On macOS, the standard layouts are not created automatically because of the variable window size. It's best to move the app window to the desired size first, then go to Help > Utilities > Load Standard Layouts to create them. Also, the Load Standard Layouts function on macOS will only create layouts for the current window orientation (portrait or landscape).

  • Full-Screen Lyrics: This layout initially shows a large song list with buttons to access common functions for each song. If you click a document button, the document will open full-screen over the list, and you can double-click the middle of the document to hide it and return to the list. This is best if you want the largest possible lyrics, with minimal access to other functions.
    full-screen lyrics layout       full-screen lyrics layout
  • Overlapping Buttons: If you like viewing full-screen documents but want to have access to some other functions, you can use this layout. It consists of a document viewer that fills the width of the screen, but the top toolbar is still visible and a couple buttons are placed on top of the document. You can show the song list by two-fingered tapping anywhere on the screen, and the song list will hide again when you select a song. This is best if you still want large lyrics, but need access to a couple functions. (You can also access many functions using layout actions instead of visible buttons.)
    overlapping buttons layout       overlapping buttons layout
  • More Buttons: This layout is similar to Overlapping Buttons, but the document viewer is a little smaller, making room for more buttons. You can show and hide the song list the same way. This is best if you want to trade a bit of lyrics space for more button space.
    more buttons layout       more buttons layout
  • More Controls: If you want access to even more functions, including quick access to multiple MIDI presets, song notes and a full set of recording controls, you can use this layout. When you select a document, it appears over the middle area of the layout, leaving the recording controls and song list accessible. You can then double-click the middle of the document to hide it again. This is best for rehearsing when lyrics size is less important than access to alternate versions and practice tools.
    more controls layout       more controls layout
  • Big Fields: This layout includes a persistent song list and a set of buttons, as well as several large fields showing song info that you can easily read on stage. After you've selected a song and reviewed the info, you can click the document button or two-fingered tap anywhere on the screen to show the full-screen document viewer, then double-click the middle of the document to hide it again. This is best if you want to access various info about songs during a performance, not just lyrics.
    big fields layout       big fields layout
  • Split View: This layout shares the space between a song list, song buttons and the document viewer. This is best if you want to simultaneously view your song list and your lyrics.
    split view layout

Common requests

Here are some features of layouts that people commonly look for, and how to find them:

  • See a bigger document: Of the standard layouts above, Full-Screen Lyrics and Big Fields show the document viewer full-screen, and Overlapping Buttons shows it nearly full-screen. Try switching to one of those layouts.
  • Resize the set list text: You can click the Edit Layout button in the top toolbar, select Edit Song List, then click the options button in the top right corner of the song list, to adjust the text sizes within the song list.
  • Resize the lyrics text: You can pinch-zoom to resize your lyrics text, then click the document tools button in the top right corner and select Save Text Size. When you view lyrics, your saved text will be scaled to the width of the document viewer, so switching to a layout with a larger document viewer will show your lyrics larger, and switching to a layout with a smaller document viewer will show your lyrics smaller.
  • Access multiple MIDI presets: The More Controls layout contains separate MIDI buttons for each MIDI preset attached to the current song or the current layout. You can also add the Multiple MIDI Buttons item to any layout, or enable it within the song list options.
  • Add buttons for tempo, automation tracks, transposing, etc: You can click the Edit Layout button in the top toolbar, select Edit Buttons and Fields, and click an empty area of the layout to add a button to access these functions.
  • Remove unwanted buttons: If there are any buttons in your layout that you don't use, you can reclaim the space by clicking the Edit Layout button in the top toolbar, selecting Edit Buttons and Fields, and clicking the X button for an item.
  • Trigger functions automatically when selecting songs: You can click the Edit Layout button in the top toolbar, select Edit Details, scroll down to Actions and assign functions to the Song Selection Action. See the layout actions section below for more info.
  • Undo an unwanted change to a layout: If you're editing a layout and make a mistake, you can go to Settings > Account Sync > Roll Back, select the edit you want to undo and click Continue. Alternatively, if you're editing a standard layout, you can go to Repertoire > Layouts > [layout name] > Edit Details and click the Delete button, then go to Help > Utilities > Load Standard Layouts to recreate it.

Customizing the layouts

The standard layouts are enough for many people, but you can customize them to further optimize your workflow. If you find yourself wishing you had a layout that combined elements of different layouts, customization can make that possible.

  • In the set list view, you can customize your current layout by clicking the Edit Layout button in the top toolbar. You can then choose to edit the layout's Song List, Buttons and Fields, Document Viewer or Backgrounds.
    layout editing options
  • You can click an empty area of the layout to add a new item, drag existing items to move them or click the X buttons for existing items to remove them.
    layout editing
  • Some layout items have an options button in the top right corner. The options button on the song list allows you to control several aspects of the list display, like text size, song buttons and song fields. The options button on the document viewer lets you set alignment, columns and line wrapping. The options button on a text field allows you to set a color for the field or show a label with the field's name.
  • Some layout items have a resize handle in the bottom right corner. When resizing layout items, you can generally resize them to any proportion, but to return to the default proportion, you can double-tap the bottom right corner. If you resize an item far beyond its normal proportions, it will appear with a colored background to show its clickable area.
  • To move or resize a number of layout items as a group, you can drag a selection area starting from an empty area of the layout and encompassing the desired items. You can then drag or resize the selected area.
  • To align, distribute or consistently size a number of layout items, you can drag a selection area, then click the selected area's options button and click the Align Centers, Space Equally or Apply Average Size buttons.
  • The song list and document viewer can be shown and hidden with remote control actions or layout actions. They both have a Show Initially option that determines if they are shown when you first view the layout.
  • The song list and document viewer also have Expand to Full Screen buttons that provide a shortcut for resizing to the full screen size. On iOS devices without a home button, they also have Expand to Safe Area buttons to shorten the size enough to move the resize button into the accessible area of the screen. And the document viewer has a Cover Top Toolbar option that makes it expand over the top toolbar when showing it, but that is not available if the document viewer is shown initially.
  • You can add standard-sized (not resizable) text fields to the bottom toolbar by tapping one of the field slots, then selecting a field name from the list that appears. If you place any +1 or +2 items (which display info for the next song or the song after that) on the right side of the toolbar, BandHelper will move those fields to the right side of the screen. To clear one of the field slots, you can select Remove from the bottom of the list of fields. If you clear all of the slots, the bottom toolbar will be hidden and you can expand your other layout items into that area.
    add layout field
  • You can show or hide the buttons in the top toolbar by clicking the Edit Layout button, selecting Edit Details and scrolling down to the Top Toolbar Buttons section. These buttons provide immediate access to some functions without leaving the set list view, but take up space in the toolbar that you can reclaim by turning them off if you aren't using them.
  • You can turn on song selection and completion actions for a layout by clicking the Edit Layout button, selecting Edit Details and scrolling down to the Actions section. See the Layout Actions section of this tutorial for more info.
  • You can create a new layout from scratch by clicking the + button at the top of the Repertoire > Layouts list, or create a new layout based on an existing layout by selecting a layout, clicking Edit Details and clicking the Copy button.
  • If you copy a layout that was created with a different screen size, the copy function will prompt you to choose between scaling the layout to the current screen size, or keeping the original size. You will probably have to make some sizing adjustments to the new layout in either case.
  • By default, layouts will only be available to view on devices with the same screen size and orientation with which the layout was created. But if you turn on Scalable on the Edit Details page, the layout will be available on all devices with the same orientation, and will scale to fit different screen sizes. This allows you to maintain a single layout for use across different device models. However, due to variations in screen aspect ratios, the layout might not use the full width or height of some screens.
  • Layouts created on macOS will have the Scalable option turned on by default, so your layouts will still be available if you resize your app window. However, it's best to decide what app window size you want and then load standard layouts for that size.

Special layout items

Most of the items you can add to a layout are self-explanatory, but a few have special capabilities:

  • The Song List will display the songs in the set list as a scrollable list. It will always appear above the other items, so you can place the song list on top of other items and then show it temporarily when you want to select a new song. The options button on the song list leads to several options for controlling the display of the song list, such as text size, song buttons and song fields.
    layout song list options
  • The Song List Button allows you to show a song list that was added to your layout but hidden. You can hide a song list by tapping the song list button again, or selecting a song with the Hide Song List layout action set to Song Selection, or using the Hide Song List remote control action.
  • The Document Viewer will display a song's attached documents, chords and lyrics or video. It will always appear below the other items, so you can place items on top of the document viewer if you wish. In this case, those items will be displayed with a semi-opaque background for better contrast against the document content. From its options button, you can set the document viewer to display in one or two columns, and the Presentation setting on individual documents and song lyrics can override this on a song-by-song basis. The document viewer will have rounded corners if it is placed away from the screen edges, for a softer look, or straight corners if it is placed against any of the screen edges, for the maximum viewing area.
  • The Notes field places resizable and scrollable text onto your layout. You can pinch in or out to resize the notes text, and tap the tools button to show a menu with options to save or reset the text size.
  • The Document Button, Recording Button and MIDI Button will access the default document, recording or MIDI preset for a song when you tap it, but you can also tap and hold it to show a menu providing access to all the attached documents, recordings or MIDI presets.
    layout document button
  • The Multiple Document Buttons, Multiple Recording Buttons and Multiple MIDI Buttons will show a separate button for each document, recording or MIDI preset attached to a song. You can resize these items to lay out the buttons horizontally or vertically. If a song has more buttons than fit into the size you designated, the list of buttons will be scrollable. The Multiple MIDI Buttons also has an option to show either song-level MIDI presets, layout-level MIDI presets or both.
    layout multiple document buttons
  • The Page Buttons will display a button for each page of the current document or lyrics. You can resize this item to lay out the buttons horizontally or vertically.
  • The Automation Controls include buttons for managing your automation track, plus a location slider you can use to jump to different locations in the automation track while playing or recording. Behind the slider, the waveforms for recordings, tick marks for tempo downbeats and colored circles for other events are displayed to help navigate through the automation track.
    layout automation controls
  • The Recording Controls include a top row with play/pause buttons, next/previous buttons, a progress slider and a timer, and a bottom row with loop buttons and a speed control slider. If you only need the top row, you can resize this item to hide the bottom row.
    layout recording controls
  • The Master Volume includes a slider to control the output volume of all BandHelper's audio. If you enlarge this layout item, or scroll within it, you will see additional sliders to control the separate volumes for recordings, videos, tempos and starting pitches. You can orient the sliders horizontally or vertically depending on how you size this layout item.
    volume sliders
  • The Box and Line items allow you to add simple design elements to organize your layout. Boxes always appear as a background behind other items, and lines can be either horizontal or vertical depending on how you size them. The options button for boxes lets you choose a box color. The options for text fields, multiple buttons and the document viewer includes a Fit to Background Box button, which neatly sizes and positions the item to fit inside of a background box you have placed under it.

Layout Actions

You can also assign shortcuts to some of the functions available in the set list view, at the layout level. These are called layout actions. From the Layouts list, tap Edit Details, then tap any of the actions listed there. Then select one of the following triggers:

  • Song Selection: This trigger is fired when you select a song, either by tapping its name in the song list, swiping between songs, using the Next/Previous buttons to change songs, using a foot switch or other remote control device, or auto-advancing with the Select Next Song layout action. This is useful for starting one or more functions automatically when selecting a song.
  • Song Second Selection: This trigger is fired when you select the same song twice. This allows you to select a song once to view it, then select it again to trigger some actions. Or you can trigger some actions on the first selection and trigger other actions on the second selection. For example, you might want to send your MIDI presets immediately on the first selection, then look at the song for a moment before selecting it again to start a backing track.
  • Two-fingered tap: This trigger is fired when you tap with two fingers anywhere on the screen. This generally requires less accuracy than tapping a button, so you can use it to trigger any functions that you need to access quickly during a performance. (Currently, two-fingered tap gestures are not supported on Macs.)
  • Three-fingered tap: This is similar to the two-fingered tap, and allows you to access additional functions by tapping three fingers. (Currently, three-fingered tap gestures are not supported on Macs.)
  • Left swipe: This trigger is fired when you swipe horizontally from right to left anywhere on the screen. By default, this is mapped to the Next Song action, but you can change it to another action like Next Document, Next Layout or Next MIDI Preset. You can also disable it to eliminate accidental song changes.
  • Right swipe: This is similar to the left swipe, and is mapped by default to the Previous Song action.
  • Song completion: This trigger is fired when a song's recording, video or automation track ends (whichever is later), or when the song duration is reached, if the song doesn't use a recording, video or automation track. You can use this to "clean up" after a song by stopping a tempo click, closing a full-screen document or opening a song list, or to trigger the Select Next Song action to auto-play through your set list.

Sharing layouts

The layouts in your account are synced across all the devices in your account, but only the layouts assigned to you and matching your device screen size and orientation will appear when viewing a set list.

By default (in app versions 2022-08-19 and later), new layouts are assigned only to the user who created them. But you can share a layout with other users by going to Repertoire > Layouts > [layout name] > Edit Details and changing the Users field. Then the selected users can view your layout if they have the same screen size. This is typically only needed for layouts you have customized, because a set of standard layouts is generated for every user when they install the app.

If you customized a layout and want to share it on a different screen size, you have two options:

  1. On the website or any mobile device, go to the Repertoire > Layouts > [layout name] > Edit Details page and turn on the Scalable option. Then the layout will be available to view on any device in the same screen orientation. However, the layout will be letterboxed or pillarboxed depending on the screen size of the other devices. This is best if you want to continue editing the layout and have your changes appear on all the devices.
  2. On the mobile device where you want to use the layout, go to the Repertoire > Layouts > [layout name] > Edit Details page and click Copy for This Device. This will make a new copy of the layout sized for this device's screen. You can then click the other edit options, like Edit Buttons and Fields, to resize or move the layout items to fill the screen. This is best if you want to make full use of each device's screen.

Whether you copy a customized layout or change it to scalable, it's best to rename it so other users can distinguish it from the standard layouts. In any case, scalable layouts will appear with parentheses around their names on devices with different screen sizes, to help distinguish between them and "native" layouts.

Instead of scaling or copying a layout to a different screen size, you can find an existing layout for that screen size and customize it. You can edit a layout for any screen size and any user if you go to the Repertoire > Layouts list and scroll down to the Other Devices section. This is useful if you want to customize a layout for a bandmate without having physical access to their device. For simple customizations like adding layout actions, this can be easier than sharing layouts across screen sizes.

If you want to share layouts with users in other accounts, you can go to Repertoire > Layouts > [layout name] > Edit Details and click the Export button. The recipient can then import the file by going to Repertoire > Layouts and clicking the import button.