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Tech: Abc Converter

23 Dec 22 - 01:52 PM (#4160028)
Subject: Tech: Abc Converter
From: gillymor

Does anyone know what's going on at the abc converter page? When I enter an abc all I get is an "unauthorized" message.

23 Dec 22 - 02:20 PM (#4160034)
Subject: RE: Tech: Abc Converter
From: Helen

It's not just you, gillymor.

I thought maybe they'd sussed you out and decided you were a baddie. LOL

In Firefox it showed no other messages, but Hubby showed me a different browser last week - Microsoft Edge - so I tried the link in that browser and it came up with a message on the first page "Start your free trial now" so it appears that it is transitioning to a paid service.

Sad, because that is my go-to page for ABC conversion.

Maybe the subscription is not too hefty and it is a good, quick service so it might be worth paying.

However, I'd contact the site and double-check what's going on, to make sure it hasn't been hijacked or something similar.

23 Dec 22 - 02:56 PM (#4160038)
Subject: RE: Tech: Abc Converter
From: gillymor

Thanks for the info, Helen. I've a done a few tabs with this one and it seems a bit trickier than but it looks like you can convert guitar and banjo tabs to various tunings though I haven't delved into that yet.

23 Dec 22 - 03:16 PM (#4160043)
Subject: RE: Tech: Abc Converter

It's back

23 Dec 22 - 04:28 PM (#4160049)
Subject: RE: Tech: Abc Converter
From: Helen

Well, that was fun! :-D

Maybe it had a bit too much Christmas cheer and needed a chance to catch up to reality again.

24 Dec 22 - 07:03 AM (#4160093)
Subject: RE: Tech: Abc Converter
From: gillymor

I'm still getting the unauthorized notice on Firefox and Edge.

24 Dec 22 - 07:39 AM (#4160094)
Subject: RE: Tech: Abc Converter
From: Jon Freeman

Going by this thread at The Session, the mandolintab converter has been broken for a few weeks. A few people have tried to contact the site owner, Simon Becker, but have had no reply.

I think Helen is wrong in her suggestion so here’s mine…

When I had the converter at folkinfo, I wanted the option to run the conversion routines which run a few executables (abcm2ps, ghostscript, etc.) on a different server to the web server and the converter is in 2 parts – a backend and a frontend. The frontend on the version of the converter passed on to Simon sent an “access code” to the backend as part of its data. I can’t find the backend code for that version to be certain but I think the backend terminating and returning “unauthorised” is what happens when the access code sent by the frontend doesn’t match the backend.

If I’m right, I think the problem would be easy to fix IF Simon could be contacted.

24 Dec 22 - 04:42 PM (#4160156)
Subject: RE: Tech: Abc Converter
From: Anglogeezer

Try this    ABC editor   at the Montreal Session Tunebook.


24 Dec 22 - 05:16 PM (#4160160)
Subject: RE: Tech: Abc Converter
From: Helen

I'm happy to be wrong about a possible paid subscription, although I still think it's worth paying for if the cost is reasonable.

That "Start your free trial now" message did show up on Ms Edge, though.

03 Jan 23 - 04:44 AM (#4161123)
Subject: RE: Tech: Abc Converter
From: GUEST,David

I suspect either the site's owner (Simon Becker) or his service provider has changed access permissions on some service the converter needs to do its job. I've been using this converter for many years, and there have been a couple of occasions in the past when it's been broken (not in the same way as this time) and stayed that way for long periods.   I therefore suspect that it's inadvertent rather than deliberate that the converter has now become unavailable. I emailed Mr Becker about three weeks ago to alert him to the problem, but the email bounced because his inbox was full.

The previous time this happened, I resorted to Colin Hume's online converter, which is also very good, and am now doing so again

03 Jan 23 - 08:07 AM (#4161137)
Subject: RE: Tech: Abc Converter
From: DaveRo

The link in the OP works for me, and someone posted that it was working on 23rd December.
Have you tried refreshing the page, ignoring the browser cache (often control-R), or clearing the cache?

03 Jan 23 - 09:20 AM (#4161143)
Subject: RE: Tech: Abc Converter
From: DaveRo

Sorry - I'm wrong. It loads and looks OK but doesn't actually work.
If I enter some ABC I do indeed get 'unauthorised'.

04 Jan 23 - 09:29 AM (#4161244)
Subject: RE: Tech: Abc Converter
From: gillymor

It's still not working for me either but I'm getting used to Folk tab, that I've linked above. It does some things that
doesn't, such as converting abc's to guitar tab and the tab seems to be more usable with note values included. It also seems to have the capacity for converting them to banjo tunings and DADGAD guitar though I haven't checked out those particular functions yet. Of course it does standard notation as well.

05 Jan 23 - 12:22 PM (#4161400)
Subject: RE: Tech: Abc Converter
From: Jon Freeman

Interesting. I’ve just had a look at what FolkTab do. They are using lilypond (converting files from abc as needed) to produce the tab.

Some details here

The version of lilypond on the Linux distro for my PC has:

guitar-tuning (e, a, d g b e')
guitar-seven-string-tuning (b,, e, a, d g b e')
guitar-drop-d-tuning (d, a, d g b e')
guitar-drop-c-tuning (c, g, c f a d')
guitar-open-g-tuning (d, g, d g b d')
guitar-open-d-tuning (d, a, d fis a d')
guitar-dadgad-tuning (d, a, d g a d')
guitar-lute-tuning (e, a, d fis b e')
guitar-asus4-tuning (e, a, d e a e')

%% bass tunings
bass-tuning (e,, a,, d, g,)
bass-four-string-tuning (e,, a,, d, g,)
bass-drop-d-tuning (d,, a,, d, g,)
bass-five-string-tuning (b,,, e,, a,, d, g,)
bass-six-string-tuning (b,,, e,, a,, d, g, c)

%% mandolin tunings
mandolin-tuning (g d' a' e')

%% tunings for 5-string banjo
banjo-open-g-tuning (g' d g b d')
banjo-c-tuning (g' c g b d')
banjo-modal-tuning (g' d g c' d')
banjo-open-d-tuning (a' d fis a d')
banjo-open-dm-tuning (a' d f a d')
banjo-double-c-tuning (g' c g c' d')
banjo-double-d-tuning (a' d g d' e')

%% ukulele tunings
ukulele-tuning (g' c' e' a')
ukulele-d-tuning (a' d' fis' b')
tenor-ukulele-tuning (g c' e' a')
baritone-ukulele-tuning (d g b e')

%% orchestral strings
violin-tuning (g d' a' e')
viola-tuning (c g d' a')
cello-tuning (c, g, d a)
double-bass-tuning (e,, a,, d, g,)

11 Jan 23 - 01:31 PM (#4162103)
Subject: RE: Tech: Abc Converter
From: FreddyHeadey

Summary of alternative abc converters mentioned above and on The Session forum


Colin Hume's converter

DrawTheDots abcjs quick editor

Folk Tab

Jens Wollschl├Ąger's ABC-Transposer

Montreal Session Tunebook

The Session - ABC Editor

09 Feb 23 - 02:26 PM (#4164696)
Subject: RE: Tech: Abc Converter
From: DaveRo

Michael Eskin over on has written an online abc to staff notation and tab generation tool. It operates completely within the browser.

His post on - including demos.

10 Feb 23 - 10:08 AM (#4164770)
Subject: RE: Tech: Abc Converter
From: gillymor

I really like that one, DaveRo. It's easy to use, versatile (I converted an abc to mandolin and guitar, both standard and D sus tuning, tab and you can size your notation so it's possible to place multiple tunes on one PDF page. Thanks for the link.

10 Feb 23 - 12:29 PM (#4164781)
Subject: RE: Tech: Abc Converter
From: DaveRo

Michael has updated it regularly since he announced it less than a week ago, so you might check for new posts after the one I linked to. (In fact there already is one.) Also check the release notes in the tool itself.

I've tested it on Android and iOS. On iOS (iPad, iPhone) he warns that there are rendering issues, but I didn't notice any.

15 Feb 23 - 04:02 PM (#4165262)
Subject: RE: Tech: Abc Converter
From: Pappy Fiddle

I used to have a website, but I let it die, because 1) it costs money 2) nobody was looking at

So keep in mind where somebody is providing an abc converter, somebody must be paying to store it on a server somewhere and to provide the thing on request by your browser. Sometimes a little gratitude expressed will nudge them to keep it running another month :)

For the simple minded like me, a program that runs on your own computer and does not depend on the net at all might be better.

15 Feb 23 - 05:18 PM (#4165267)
Subject: RE: Tech: Abc Converter
From: Reinhard

Pappy Fiddle, Michael's converter runs completely within your browser.

So you can download it from his site onto your computer (in the online application click on Release Notes, click on GitHub, click on Code, click on Download ZIP, unpack the ZIP archive), open the converter file abctools.html with your browser, and everything works perfectly.

15 Feb 23 - 05:41 PM (#4165272)
Subject: RE: Tech: Abc Converter
From: DaveRo

Pappy Fiddle: A big advantage of an online tool like the one, or the one Michael Eskin has just created, is that the exact same program code will run on any device that will run a browser. That includes mobile phones and tablets such as iPads. To produce an installable program or app on a Windows desktop computer and both types of mobile device is a lot more work. And in the case of an iPhone or iPad it will cost the developer money for an Apple Developer licence, so it either won't be free or may contain adverts.

Though it's often not obvious to the user, there are two main types of online tool like these abc converters. Both load from a web server - so yes, they require a server to start with. The code actually runs on that server - the jargon is a 'server-side application'. The abc you type in gets sent to the server which sends its response for your browser to display.

Once loaded Michael's abctool runs entirely on your computer - the jargon is a 'client side' application. The abc you type is not sent to the web server, and all processing is done inside your browser.

And you're absolutely right about expressing your appreciation for free apps or programs that you use. Though that can be difficult to do; the feedback systems operated by Google and Apple on their stores, are not much good for that.

And I've just read what Reinhard wrote - and he's quite right - though it's not so easy on a mobile ;) (I've suggested to Michael that he uses service workers to operate offline, and I'm sure he'll get round to it when he's finished adding bells and whistles!)

16 Feb 23 - 03:46 AM (#4165285)
Subject: RE: Tech: Abc Converter

I've been using Nils Liberg's EasyABC for 6-7 years and never had any problems with it.

16 Feb 23 - 03:53 AM (#4165288)
Subject: RE: Tech: Abc Converter

I've also found Steve Mansfield's ABC tutorial at VERY useful over the years.