Reputational Risk

When I got optical fiber internet and thanks to a query with artificial intelligence, I discovered JackTrip, installed it and it worked right away! What a fantastic user-friendly and powerful technology!
So I thought.
The contrast with previous experiences on other platforms and with slow copper cable internet could not be stronger.
What I did not realize was that I belonged to the lucky few, whereas others struggle and some end up with a very unpleasant assessment of JackTrip which they may share if they have the opportunity.
The problem is that everyone is on his own. I try to assist those I can. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I fail.
There are several distinct problem areas that can be distinguished:

  1. Going in circles when trying to connect to a studio
    People invited to a studio they have never attended get a link with a prompt to connect via browser or to download the desktop app despite having it already installed.
  2. Being trapped in a studio one has left already and therefore being unable to join a different studio.
  3. Latency. According to some scientific research there seems to be a paradox: hearing themselves with just 10ms seems intolerable for many whereas hearing others with 25ms feels completely natural. Failing to tweak their setup for hearing themselves with no latency makes the whole experience unbearable.
  4. The easiest to overcome is the need for cable versus wireless.
    One might argue that it does not matter as long as people keep their mouths shut. But why should they? They have wasted their time and effort following an idiot like me. My reputation is not the problem. What matters is that such negative experience may obscure the perception of this technology before people have a chance to try it by themselves. For an enthusiastic user like me it becomes even more difficult finding likeminded souls.
    I sincerely hope that the JackTrip team finds ways to address these problems rather than rely on natural selection of the lucky few capable of working comfortably with this technology.
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@wollethom according to all of our feedback statistics, you seem to be in a minority with these “negative experiences.” We’d still like to understand and try to help you, but these things are probably better addressed via support tickets. (1) and (2) sound like bugs, but if so they are bugs that we cannot reproduce and would require your assistance. (3) and (4) sound like general issues with the broader technology industry, which JackTrip cannot address by itself.

It is difficult for me to give you an exact account of what others experience but (1) echoes with my own initial experience where after having installed JT on my computer, whenever I followed an invitation link I would get the screen where I have to choose between desktop and browser and when clicking on desktop the program would again start installing rather than just open. Should this reoccur I will guide users directly to support.

Regarding (2) it might be a feature rather than a bug, but when leaving a session (including my own), intuitively I expect to be done with it but actually the session continues until there is no sound or I turn it off manually. Until then I cannot join/open another session because this would mean I have more than one session running. I do understand that now, but it is not easy to get people to terminate a session in their studio when they panic and do not find the stop button which requires scrolling down to be found.
Regarding (3) and (4), although this is a broader technology industry issue, people are not dealing with the whole industry but they try to use JackTrip. And they need help with JackTrip, not with the industry.
I find the tutorials by @jstoltenberg excellent. Everything works fast and nice. Then come less tech savvy people and the magic is gone. I would not assume it is their fault. Perhaps it is worthwhile for you to test in real life situations with people who have no experience with JackTrip and find out what could help them and discover the traps they are likely to fall into.

There are people out there that can be persuaded to give JackTrip a chance although they might not be particularly tech minded playing acoustic instruments or not be among digital natives. They can come to the conclusion rather quickly that this is not for them if they do not receive more appropriate guidance. In particular if they are professionals they can act as multipliers, positive as well as negative.

For what it’s worth, we’ve been learning and iterating for over 3 years now, and tested real life situations with many thousands of people. JackTrip is defining a completely new category using completely new technology, which in relative terms is still in its infancy and not even accessible yet to many people. I consider this to be our biggest challenge. We’d all like it to get there, but it will take at least several years, if not much longer, before the rest of the world (audio interfaces, last mile connections, Wi-Fi, and the population’s general computer skills) catches up enough where this can “just work” for everyone.

I’m glad that you find Jan’s videos to be helpful! Education in general is our top priority, and the best actionable way I feel we can try to bridge these gaps. He’s in the process of making more instructional videos, and integrating all of them into our new knowledge base. We’ve been adding and updating knowledge base articles, and working on several ways to integrate these resources better into the product to help more people find them sooner.

(2) is intended behavior. Very few people use more than one studio, and you may be the first person we’ve encountered who hosts back-to-back sessions (fewer than 15 minutes apart) using different studios. This is the sort of thing that our “Advanced” subscription plan was designed for, which allows up to 3 concurrent studio sessions. We also have per-minute plans available without any session limits, but since these are generally intended for B2B use cases we don’t list them on our pricing page. Note that the “stop” button is hard to find in part because we want the concept of “session lifecycle” to be completely transparent for the 99% of people to whom it doesn’t apply. Also because it only exists right now in our “old interface” – we’ll be porting it over and phasing that out soon, which will make it a little easier to do.

(1) sounds like a bug, but we join other peoples studio’s all the time and don’t run into it. There are two edge cases I can think of that may cause this: (i) you log into your browser using a different (likely new) account than you used to register your desktop app, (ii) you download the app first but don’t install and register it to your account, and then click on an invite link. In both cases, your browser has no way to know you’ve already downloaded the app, so it would prompt you to download it again. I’ll look into it and think about if there is any way to handle these edge cases better.

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There may perhaps be a misunderstanding. I am not using several studios simultaneously and I must admit I do not even understand what this might be good for for and individual.
But I do have a number of studios to cater for different collaborations. For some people I work with, Turin is the best location, for others it may be Paris, St Ghislain, Cardiff, Madrid or Francfort.

Perhaps a word of explanation for the reason why I need different studios. I take part in different online courses with international audiences and to those within suitable distance from my place I propose to jam together. Furthermore, as lifelong expat I have, of course, contacts in different countries and it is a great pleasure to connect through a joint musical activity thanks to this technology.

Studio sessions automatically end after 15 minutes of inactivity (no sound detected), so the problem you describe would only ever happen if one were to try immediately going from one session in studio A to another in studio B (both hosted by the same person). This is possible but exceptionally rare. As you already know, a session can be ended sooner using the “stop” button. And even though it’s a very rare use case, work is already happening to make that a little easier soon.

I did some investigation into the edge cases described for (1) and in particular believe that we can do a better job for (1)(ii) where someone downloads the app and tries to join a studio via web browser before they install or register it to their account. Here is what someone would currently see:

That’s understandably confusing if they happened to already download it. Sometime this week we’ll push an update out that always displays the option to “Use Desktop App” when using a Windows, Mac or Linux computer. If they fall into (1)(ii) it will look like this instead:

And if someone installs and register the app after downloading, it will look the same as it currently does:

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thank you for being so reactive. I hope you have a chance to test this with some people who have no knowledge of JackTrip.
If the problem has to do with conflicting identities or with registration, would it not be an idea that people can test without an account before getting too serious? Eventually, of course, regular users may wish to have an account but if this is a requirement up front this could turn out to be too high an obstacle. Just an idea. I think Traktion/Waveform and PG music work like this and there are probably other examples.

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I believe that conflicting accounts are a real problem, and I’d go so far as to say it’s one of the largest problems plaguing every online service. Unfortunately, dropping identity requirements by definition compromises security, leading to many other problems. Even so, I would ideally like to be able to make authentication optional for people joining studios (not hosting), but unfortunately the work required to do that responsibly is far greater than what we could currently take on.


This discussion demonstrates the value of this forum. I feel it is important to have a place for JackTrippers feel safe to bring up issues and receive informed replies and feedback from other members of the forum. Thank you both for setting an example of this.