Search and browse the National Library of Australia's digitised sheet music collection
Last updated: 21 Apr 2013
In early 2013 the National Library of Australia released the Forte app (for iPads
running iOS 6+) to browse their wonderful collection of digitised sheet music.
For those of us without iPads (or with older iPads running iOS 5), or wanting something more light-weight,
this alternative is a HTML, mobile-friendly way of accessing this collection.
Click here to open this HTML digitised sheet music browser.
The Forte iPad app was developed by Jake MacMullin from Stripy Sock in conjunction with the NLA.
Read all about it here.
Thinking that I'm not alone in not having an iPad, I've tried to implement something which will
work on almost any device with a modern web browser, hoping that it helps make this collection more widely
This version is undoubtably not as polished as the iPad version.
I've used this as a learning experience to become acquainted with
the JQuery Mobile framework, and a "mobile first" approach
Notes for v0.3 - 21 Apr 2013
- Make selected music bookmarkable using the jqm-recommended light-weight page parameter-passing method of jqm.page.params.js
- Make other pages work a bit (or at least allow getting to home page) if they're bookmarked
- Fix bug with title browse for creators with lots of titles
- adding this to .htaccess file seems to encourage correct interpretation of utf-8 in the json:
Notes for v0.2 - 15 Apr 2013
- Add thumbnails to search and browse title results.
- Incrementally load long lists (such as the title list for 1890's): makes much more responsive on
older hardware, but does make browsing long lists less convenient.
- Add clear button to search/filter input, try harder to hide popup keyboard when ENTER os pressed.
- Fix bug with phantom home page help popup blocking search/filter input
- Tested on an old iPad with iOS 5
Notes for v0.1 - 14 Apr 2013
- Limited platform testing, but does seem to work ok
on PC/laptop, Nexus 7 tablet, Samsung Galaxy S1 (running android 4.2.2), and even an iPad 2
- The Forte app included a 11+ MB sqllite database. This version uses an extracted and compressed
version of that data which fits in 229KB of compressed json (639KB uncompressed). I think all the
data is there...
- Swiping to move between pages seems a little hit and miss. I'm using the JQuery Mobile defaults,
but maybe I need to tweak something.
- The music sheet images delivered by the NLA are surprisingly large - typically between 150KB and 300KB.
Watch out when using on a 3g data connection (same issue with the iPad app).
- It would be nice to show thumbnails on search and browse, but I'm worried about the bandwidth.
- Some browse lists (such as the title list for the 1890's) are quite large (~1000 items) and will be slow to
render and navigate on all but the latest tablet and smart-phone hardware (but should be
fine on most PCs).
- I haven't worked out how to make individual works bookmarkable. As this is one of the
best things about using a standard web page, that's a big deficiency I'd like to correct
in the next verion.
- I have seen the Forte iPad app demonstrated briefly, but I'm not really sure exactly what
it does, hence this isn't a "copy of it", more an "inspired by it". So, I've probably
omitted the best parts, which I'm sure I'll be told about.
Kent Fitch, Project Computing