SoundBox 3.1

Kingdom Hall Meeting Recording & Music/Video Playback

Special Announcement - January 2017

Dear Brothers

As you may know, a recent branch letter described how JW Library is being modified to help simplify the way songs and videos are played at congregation meetings, and recommended that Kingdom Halls use JW Library as a media player. We are delighted that JW Library is being expanded in this way. A system backed by Jehovah's Organization and available in numerous languages is surely the best long-term solution, and we look forward to enhancement of its media playing functions.

We understand that many of you currently rely on SoundBox for media playback at your congregation meetings, and we want to assure you of our support while you transition to JW Library. To ease the changeover, we will continue to fix bugs in the application, maintain existing media feeds, and respond to requests for assistance on the SoundBox Help Desk until December 31, 2018. However, we will no longer add new features to SoundBox, and the next release - scheduled for later this month - is likely to be the last "feature release".

We hope this answers some of the questions you may have, and are confident you will help us to support this exciting new development.

Your Brothers,

SoundBox Team

Questions and Answers

The following questions relate to the organisational adjustments referred to in the above announcement regarding the status of SoundBox. Note that "JW Library" is an official application produced by Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the version mentioned below is that which runs on the Windows 10 platform.

Q: I love SoundBox, why are you stopping development?

A: A letter dated Dec 2016 from the branch recommends using JW Library as a media player at the Kingdom Hall. We believe this is the best long-term solution and want to do everything we can to support the new arrangement.

Q: We don't think the cited letter mandates use of JW Library over SoundBox. Will you reconsider?

A: Our understanding is that JW Library is to be used. We cannot, in good conscience, continue to promote SoundBox as a media player for congregation meetings.

Q: Do I have to uninstall SoundBox?

A: No. SoundBox is a stand-alone application and you do not need to uninstall it in order to use JW Library. We recommend you create a transition plan that allows enough time for re-training sound operators and ensures there is no negative impact on the quality of media playback during your meetings.

Q: Why are you keeping SoundBox available for so long (until December 31, 2018) when you plan to stop development?

A: Currently, thousands of Kingdom Halls around the world rely on SoundBox for the smooth operation of their congregation meetings - many of them on systems that are incapable of running JW Library (e.g. Windows 7). Additionally, some of the features mentioned in the letter are not yet available in JW Library. We don’t think it would be kind or responsible to abandon our user base, but rather want to help them transition in an controlled manner. We believe this date will allow enough time for that.

Q: Will you provide support for JW Library?

A: No. We are sorry that we cannot provide support for JW Library. Please refer to S-144 or the JW Library online help files. Finally, if these resources don't answer your questions, your LDC may also be able to provide assistance.

Q. Will you continue to fix any SoundBox bugs?

A. Yes, until the end of 2018.

Q. If the meeting format changes will you update the timer functions?

A. Yes, we will make any minor adjustments to the timer structure until the end of 2018.

Q: JW Library keeps crashing, what can I do?

A: Be patient. We're confident that the usability and functionality of JW Library will continue to improve over time to the benefit of congregations worldwide. In the meantime, you can continue to use SoundBox alongside JW Library if required.

Q: Can I have JW Library and SoundBox open at the same time?

A: Yes, although we don't recommend it. There is an overlap of functions and you need to be careful of this (for example, both applications can be configured to control a secondary monitor).

Q: Can I continue to use SoundBox Timers and Recording functions, etc?

A: The letter is specific to the “media player” function, and does not address any other. We do not know what additional features JW Library will eventually include, so you may feel able to use SoundBox recording, timing, etc. while JW Library has no corresponding function. Note that it is possible to display the SoundBox timer on a 3rd monitor while using JW Library to display media on the main 'secondary' monitor. Additionally we are working on two open-source applications (OnlyT and OnlyR) to assist with timing and recording.

Q: Will SoundBox stop working after Dec 31, 2018?

A: No. SoundBox will continue to work but will no longer be updated or available for download on the website. This means that if a future Windows update prevents SoundBox from running or working properly, we won't fix it. The media service (automatic download of videos, images, etc for the meetings) will cease to function. The population of song numbers and meeting timers may continue for a while.

Q. What considerations should be made when moving from SoundBox to JW Library?

A. Please ensure your PC is able to run JW Library. In particular, it must have the Windows 10 operating system. At the time of writing, the following SoundBox features are not available in JW Library. Please consider your requirements against the list in order to plan and manage the transition in an orderly way.

  • Timing
  • Recording
  • Automatic download of media
  • Meeting countdown timer
  • Lyrics display for the old song book
  • Static image display (3rd-party)
  • Slide-shows
  • Display of images and video on a 3rd monitor
  • PDF display
  • MP3 playback (e.g. of pre-recorded meetings)
  • Presentation of web pages
  • Playback of 3rd-party videos (including branch-specific ones)
  • Resizing and positioning of lyric videos
  • Resizing and positioning of static images
  • Remote control of media playback and timing
  • API control of HDMI switching and other functions

Q: Can you please add "such and such" a feature?

A: We're sorry, but we will no longer be adding new features to SoundBox, nor recording a list of feature requests. Please don't submit any to us.

Q: Can you please add my language?

A: We will no longer be adding any new user-interface or media feed languages to SoundBox.

Q: I’m a programmer and would like to take on the development of SoundBox or use part of the SoundBox code, can you give me the code?

A: We're sorry, the program source code is not available. However, the 3 new applications we are working on (OnlyT, OnlyR and OnlyM) are open source and have a liberal licence.

Q: Why don't you just give SoundBox to the Organization?

A: We have made the offer but the proposition is not as straightforward as it sounds.