We are very happy to announce that finally, after years of work, we are able to release the new Freesound user interface (UI) codenamed Beast Whoosh (or BW, or Freesound 3). It was early 2017 when we first contacted the UI/UX designer Marc Ruaix to work on a new version of Freesound and prepare it for the future. Our initial intention was to only make a small update of the visual look of the website, but we soon realised that bigger changes would be needed not only on the frontend but also on the backend if we wanted to continue adding new features to Freesound and making its development more sustainable. After the design was finished, we started working on its implementation but only intermittently. We’ve only had a few resources (i.e. hours) to spend on the efforts for the new UI, and the changes that have been finally implemented in both the frontend and backend have been enormous (much more than we anticipated). Fortunately, while implementing the new UI we took the opportunity to also modernise and refactor a lot of the code that runs behind Freesound. And now, after all these years, we’re finally ready to release the new Freesound 🙂
This new UI has been in public beta testing for almost 2 years, and many of you have contributed providing feedback and suggestions which have made it much much better. Even though the essential structure of Freesound remains unchanged with the new UI, you’ll see that it introduces a ton of improvements in terms of workflow and features. Also, it provides new ground for adding more new features in the future. What follows is a list of the most important changes and new features implemented by the new Beast Whoosh user interface:
- Updated overall look and feel to be plain and make navigation easier.
- Responsive design that adapts to mobile phones and tablets.
- The new UI includes a light theme and a dark theme that can be configured in your account settings.
- Different website sections are now available through the upper menus.
- Some detailed information like sound downloaders, sound comments, similar sounds (and more) is now shown using modals which allow you to access that information without having to leave to a different page.
- Added more sounds (and packs!) in the front page.
- The “Random sound of the day” section of the front page has been turned into a sort of game in which the sound name and description is not shown initially so you can guess what the sound is before displaying that information.
- The new “Manage sounds” page will allow sound uploaders to better keep track of the upload process of their sounds and manage sounds afterwards.
- You can now edit the description of multiple sounds at once, just like when you describe multiple uploaded files at once. You’ll find how to do it in the manage sounds page.
- In the sound description or in sound comments, you can now add timestamped annotations/comments that will render with little play buttons. See an example of this in this sound. You do that by typing some thing like #1:27 your comment to indicate that at minute 1 and 27 seconds, something happens.
- The interface for describing and editing sounds now also includes a sound player so you can listen to the sound while describing/editing its information.
- The new “Charts” page shows some statistics about user activity. This sort of replaces the old “People” page. If you have ideas of other statistics to add to this page, please let us now.
- An option has been added to the account settings to show sound spectrograms by default in sound players (instead of the waveforms). Also, spectrogram and waveforms can be toggled in any player by doing alt+click on them.
- An option has been added to the account settings do enable/disable sound playback polyphony. The default is to enable polyphony, that is to say, two enable multiple sounds playing at the same time (which is how Freesound has worked over the years). Also, even if you have the polyphony activated, you can now do alt+click on the play button on sound players to stop any other sound that was playing and start playing the selected sound.
- An option has been added to the “advanced search” panel to show search results in a grid which allows to get more search results in less screen space (also, in grid mode 30 sounds are returned per page instead of 15). This addresses some concerns raised by users testing the new UI about the number of sounds visible on screen. The preference for grid display is remembered per user account.
- An option has been added to the “advanced search” panel to return only remix sounds in search queries. This will only return sounds that either have been remixed or are a remix of other sounds from Freesound.
- An option has been added to the licenses filter in the search page to filter results by Free Cultural Works approved licenses (that is to say, sounds under CC-BY or CC0).
- Sound bookmarks are no longer named, but they can still be categorized. Also, bookmarks are no longer public to other users. We’re planning many improvements in relation to bookmarks (including a rename to Collections), so stay tunned.
- You can now bookmark a sound by doing alt+click on the bookmark button, and this will save the bookmark under the last bookmark category that was used without displaying the bookmarking interface. This is a great way of quickly adding bookmarks.
- The “Map” page now has an option to filter by tag (and also embed the maps generated using that filter).
- The “Search” page now has an option under the advanced search options to Display results as packs. This options effecitvely allows to search for packs in the search page.
- The pages to display the full list of sounds or packs by a user now use the search page (with a username filter applied). This allows to further sort, match and filter the list of sounds.
- The “Tags” page now uses the same backend as the search page, which allows to filter by tags but also to apply other filters from the search page.
- The similar sounds option now returns 5 pages of similar sounds instead of only 1.
Note that during some days you’ll still have the chance to switch back to the old UI by using the three dots menu at the top menu of Freesound. However, this option will be disabled in the coming days.
That’s all for now,
We hope you enjoy the new Freesound!
frederic, on behalf of the Freesound team
EDIT: just for the record, I’m adding below screenshots of the Freesound landing page for the original website (back in mid 2000s), the Freesound 2 update (which happened in 2011) and the current Freesound 3 update (2023).