Avoid Collisions Lesson in first Steps/Layout & Formatting

I am doing the “Avoid Collisions” Exercise in “first Steps” and I am trying to understand the meaning of this sentence (in 2 parts, with results):

“When the property [Avoid Collisions] is activated but the checkbox is deactivated, the selected text items do not automatically avoid collisions or contribute towards Dorico’s vertical spacing calculations.”
<<what actually happened: "lH markings DID avoid collision (with hairpin) …were cleaned up and spaced perfectly. Yet the text above seems to indicate…what??? That the activation+no-checkbox does not do anything? And yet…this is the instructed action from the tutorial? They are instructing me to to do something that they say does nothing? Then why did it work? Please explain what this instruction is supposed to teach me. Then it goes on to say…
"When the property is deactivated, text items follow the default setting for text collision avoidance "
<<I see a difference when deactivated (back to un-edited version) but…>>

They never tell you what to expect when Collision Avoidance=ON and the checkbox is activated?? Why don’t they explain what this last combination does and why they didn’t use it? And why would something (Collision

avoidance) “turn on” and yet have its associated checkbox OFF? JPEGS attached

Properties that override an equivalent option that you can set globally tend to have the following:

  • Activation switch: turns the property on or off. When the property is turned on (“activated”), then the property takes precedence over the equivalent global setting.

  • Checkbox: allows you to enable/disable what the property is doing for the selected items.

In the First Steps example, the default setting for text collision avoidance (which affects all text items, anywhere in the project) is set to “on”. Meaning, the natural state for all text items is to avoid collisions.

Activating the property just for individually selected properties gives you the following options:

  • Also activate the checkbox: means the default setting is overridden, and you explicitly want these items to avoid collisions (including if you later change the default to be “don’t avoid collisions”

  • Don’t activate the checkbox: means the default setting is overridden, and you explicitly don’t want these items to avoid collisions (again, including if you later change the default setting)

The First Steps guide could go into all of this, but the other option isn’t relevant to this project. And the Operation Manual exists to explain all of this already:

It just so happens that in these bars, disabling collision avoidance and allowing those text items to revert to the positions they would be in if there were no dynamics or notes in those bars, results in them visually being in reasonable places. However, if they were on any other beat, you’d probably quickly notice collisions!

Maybe try moving them rhythmically right/left in Write mode to see how they don’t move out of the way of other notes. Then try moving them but with that property deactivated, and collision avoidance enabled.

Ok Lillie, so if I understand, activating the “Avoid Collisions” with no checkbox actually disabled collision avoidance for the selection, and it was an “accident” that this procedure improved the location of the lH items. In this case collision avoidance led to a better placement of “lH” because it removed the “overly eager” default collision avoidance that was in place. I read the lesson over and over but could not grasp why turning “on” something actually was a lesson in “turning off” the property. Thank-you.

What you are turning off (or on) is the Default Behavior rather than a specific implementation that forces a given behavior. If collision avoidance is the default, clicking the property on changes the default, which means collision avoidance is overridden (i.e. turned off).


This is obviously factually correct, but IMO the wording is still confusing (as Manny said). I prefer to characterise the switch as an “override” of the preference setting.

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