Confusion with Dorico videos

I am becoming increasingly confused by the videos produced by Dorico - not because they do not give very useful information, but the impression is given that one starts at Dorico 2 or 3 or SE, and the later ones build on that.

However, the assumption seems to be that if one starts with Dorico 4 , or 4.3, that these earlier videos can be used to start off using this comprehensive software, without taking into account the differences in the start screen, the options now available, or how it is possible to begin with so many new and useful (but all the more confusing, as the newer options/features are not useful for a simple beginner, at least, not at the start. )

How do I begin in Dorico 4.3 ? Where is there a video which will take a beginner like me up to a level where the newer options make sense and can be usefully used ? Where are the different start screens shown, so that the earlier videos can be used ?

I hope I am not the only one to be more and more confused by the remarkable options in Dorico, which cannot be usefully used at the beginning of compositions, but will be much more so later.

I think that’s a fair point to make. Lord knows the documentation and presentation staff people have their hands full and would love to address this if they can just get to it. You might try communicating with John Barron using Facebook messaging.

John Barron - Facebook

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@dspreadbury just postet this some time ago:

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I think the “First Steps” Guide is a good way of getting started, though it’s technically created in v3.5. There is also a video walk-through of the First Steps guide, which was done using version 4.

TBH, the new versions are largely “the same, but more”. The change in the sub-tools of Engrave mode was an early revision; as is the Key Editor.

I’m not sure I follow/agree/understand this. There’s no reason why you can’t use any of Dorico’s ‘remarkable options’ at the beginning of a composition, is there?

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Dorico’s help menu ( online option) is searchable by topic- just type it into the search bar- and has answered many of my quandries with good detail and step-by-step “Gary proof” ‘how to do its’. Its a great resource🙂

Bill has already encountered both the written guide and the accompanying videos, with ensuing discussion :slight_smile: an updated version of the First Steps guide that’s fully accurate for Dorico 4 is in progress, but of course it’s not a comprehensive guide that goes into detail about specific new options; that’s what the manual is for.

@bill19 many of the existing videos are organised into playlists: there’s one about each mode, one about master pages (now called “page templates” but the core principles are still the same), and so on. Therefore, you can look for a particular aspect of the app that you want to know more about, and watch the playlist on that topic.

Older videos should, on the whole, still be useful for the latest version. Yes of course the app will have changed somewhat compared to the version that was the latest when an earlier video was made; however, you should find that in most cases, the core functionality (or at least, one option of how to achieve something) will still be the same now as it was then, even if the appearance or location of a button etc has changed. As Daniel has written elsewhere, some updates are planned, but it would be an enormous ask to re-make every tutorial video afresh with each new version… particularly when the fundamental principles and approaches that will set you up well for using Dorico haven’t changed.

Many of John’s Discover Dorico sessions offer a longer-form walkthrough on a particular topic, and he does a good job of taking you from start to finish with few assumptions of prior knowledge (and if you are expected to know something already, he’ll probably have kindly added links to the video’s information).

If that is still not helpful to you, could you perhaps speak in slightly more detailed, example-driven terms about what options are confusing you, what information you’d like to know, and what you primarily are looking to use Dorico for? Such concrete reference points will help people point you in the right direction for your needs specifically.

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It is true that some of the videos are out of date but I’ve generally been able to have my questions answered with enough YouTube surfing. As Lillie_Harris suggests, the videos often have chapters which have useful headings. It is possible to quickly search for topics. To save time, turning up the speed of the video is a good idea: 1.25x to 1.5x works for me .

In general, the best way I’ve found to learn the program is to create a lot of different files — my own music, copying or orchestrating pre-existing music (like Haydn or Bach), test files in order to understand a particular feature — and getting used to the way Dorico does things. The manual is very dry and there are precious few pictures or examples. However, the manual is still extremely important to read carefully regarding the features you’re interested in (I usually print out a chpater). Googling “Dorico xxtopicxx” usually brings up the answer for me, both in video and text.

Other tips: make a cheat sheet document with excerpts from the manual re: difficult to understand/remember topics. Memorize and set up as many key commands as you can stand. The Jump Bar is your friend (look it up if it’s a new concept). Get a Stream Deck plus Notation Express’s Dorico profiles.

In short, the more you use it — i.e, the more you get confused and then figure out or look up the answer — the faster the learning process. But Dorico has to be used a lot because it is very different than, say, Sibelius, and also Dorico does a lot of things in what, at first, seems a very quirky fashion.

But — and this is very important — once I did learn it, I found it to be extremely fast, easy to use, and even intuitive. Note entry is superb, the playback interface is a vast improvement on Sibelius, it has hardly ever crashed, and scores looks great. The team is also very responsive.

The writing style of the Operation Manual is quite technical, it’s true, but I’m not sure it’s accurate that there aren’t many pictures or examples. Are you definitely looking at the most recent manual? Would you like to share some links/places where you would have expected supporting images but didn’t find any, in case it would be helpful to add some?

The OM contains hundreds (if not thousands, once you factor in individual button images etc) of pictures. Not every topic has some, but a decent proportion do; and quite often, you’ll find comparison images at the end of a task that show the two (or more) different ways a notation can appear. Most introductory pages about each notation include a large image showing it (or where possible, multiple instances of it) in a real, musical context.

For an introduction for beginners that contains more pictures than you can shake a stick at, there’s the First Steps guide – which deliberately includes accompanying pictures representing various steps in the process to support the progress of new users.

(As helpful as having hard copies can be to digest information, I would be careful about printing out chapters of the manual PDF: even if you’ve definitely landed on the latest PDF, that nonetheless can get updated fairly regularly within a product version’s cycle.)

First, when I wrote that the Dorico team is very responsive, this is exactly what I meant. Thanks so much for responding.

Second, I meant my comments to be taken as a very minor criticism. However, I was in-artful in expressing them and I apologize. I’ve worked on technical manuals but nothing of the scope of Dorico’s. It is an impressive document.

I typically use the manual online. I have found it lacking in pictures but, of course, I haven’t kept track. In the future, I will note some places and let you know.

Regardng the style, dry is not the right word, I agree, and withdraw it. What I was referring to is that in some places, unusual technical terms were, for me when I was first learning the program, somewhat opaque. For example, it took me a long time to understand the concept of an Endpoint Configuration, a term I’ve never come across before in a musical (or any other) context. I found it difficult to conceive of what they are, what they were good for, and how to use them (despite using DAWs and notation programs since Texture back in the early 80’s). In order to get a sense of the topic, I printed out the description,* studied it, created some custom ones and finally wrapped my head around the idea. Now, it’s fairly obvious but when learning, a real-world example (or two) of custom configurations with illustrations would be helpful. If there are any in the manual, there are none on p. 645/646 where they are discussed.

That said, I understand that when putting together a 1600 (plus) page manual, the last thing anyone wants — authors or users — is to add needlessly to its length. Again, the manual’s a great achievement, as is Dorico, and I’m very happy with the program, all the ways I can access information for help, and the willingness of the team to engage with the community, even when some us express ourselves poorly :slight_smile:

*yes, I’m aware the docs gets updated frquently. I don’t store a paper manual, but do find it useful to read on real paper when something is especially involved. As for my cheat sheet file, it’s regularly updated — I throw things out that I no longer need, update with new info as needed, etc.


What a delightful follow-up to come back to – don’t worry, I’ve read far starker criticism than your previous comment, which was perfectly fine in its phrasing by the way.

I simply wanted to make sure I’d taken the opportunity to respond to your comment, add a gentle defense where it seemed appropriate, and offer an open-ended invitation for feedback/suggestions of places where you would have found additional images helpful. (I keep my own spreadsheet of places where I’d like to add more pictures; I’m happy to add others’ suggestions to it!)

Endpoint configurations is a good one to bring up, as it is quite a Dorico-specific area of functionality, and is not something you can demonstrate with a single picture (unlike a hairpin or wiggly line, for example). The existing documentation around that whole playback zone (incorporating playback templates, endpoint configurations, expression maps, percussion maps) could do with a more fulsome introduction, that draws a clearer line through the set as a guide for users. Adding this updated framing of them is high up on my documentation to-do list, so I hope once we’ve done that, you’ll find the updated coverage helpful.

(A PS in case you’re interested – one metric I use for measuring the manual’s images is how many different pieces of music by female composers we’ve included, something of a pet project of mine. This year, we hit 100 different female composers, and due to a number having multiple pieces, something like 120 different pieces of music by them. Here’s the initial blog post I wrote about why I do this, and the follow-up from this year picking out a few of my favourites.)


Yes, I heard you on the Scoring Notes podcast talk about this! I love the fact that so many female composers are included. Do you know the Boulanger Initiative? Its executive/artistic director is Laura Colgate, a brilliant violinist.

I’m going to give some thought to what might have been useful to me when first encountering Dorico-specific areas like Endpoint Configurations. Among other things, I think it will help keep these concepts straight in my mind if I don’t use them very often. Will keep you posted!

Lillie_Harris: Here is a description in the manual that I think could benefit from illustration in terms of an image (or two): Hiding/Showing rests
It could also use a “for example.”

Hi Richard, that’s the Dorico 1 manual. Here’s the equivalent page in the Dorico 4 manual.


(If you could be so kind as to make sure you’re checking the latest manual, so that we can all be sure I haven’t already made the suggested improvements, that would be very helpful.)

Often, searching for help on, say, Google, often results in an old manual. It would be handy if the old manual web pages had a little window at the top that said, e.g., “there’s a later version of this topic” in orange. Just kidding about the orange! It’d be “super easy” (ha ha, kidding again) to run a script to add something to all the version 1, 2, 3 pages.

This has already been requested and the team has already answered that they are working on it… :wink:

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Hi, Lillie_Harris, I’m glad that the latest version includes an illustration. Let me explain how I linked to Version 1 of the manual, which was definitely not my intention, of course.

To get to the specific page I linked to, I simply followed a google search link (“dorico hide or show rests”). This was the first relevant result that popped up — in fact, it was summarized at the top of the result. It never occurred to me to search for an updated manual as I assumed that the first relevant google result would take me to the most up-to-date version of the manual.

I am likely not the only person who first uses google to search the entire web for answers to Dorico questions because it is so easy to invoke Google: Hit cmd-spacebar, type “google” and enter a query at any time, anywhere (at least that is the behavior on my Mac). That is a very fast operation — and seconds matter when working and trying to maintain a flow. Contrast that with: ensuring I’m within Dorico specifically, then hitting cmd-/, then choosing a language (and also choosing the web or pdf version), and then clicking to enter a search box, and then entering the quety.

However, in the future, I will try to look within the manual first.

I make a bookmark of the current version in my Browser.

Hello Lillie,
I have to respond to your invitation on the specific items I am finding similar to the download. difficult on Dorico, so where do I start ?

First, a look at First Steps: I have already said much about it, but there is more - for example, at the end of FS1 it is assumed that the entered copy is similar to the download, apart from the pager changes. This overlooks the changes which have to be made to the entered pages which are part of FS1, and are on pages 63 to 69. The first part of the video ends at page 50. It would be great if these pages (63 to 69) are placed before the end of part 1.

When starting FS2, the pages changes are good, and it is possible to bring the pages down to two,as shown. The problem comes when the section on playback on page 70.

Then, out of the blue, John suddenly announced that the version he is using has changed , from 3.5, to 4.0, then 4.1. How can this possibly help somebody to be able to accomadate these changes without warning ?

I stopped looking at this stage, so I will continue with some general points, making what I hope will be useful suggestions.

Suggestion 1 - On the front page of every video, give details of
Version - 1,2,3,4, or 4,5

Suggestion 2 - Whether a keyboard is being used for note entry (Have a link to the Tops videos, to show how note entry made by hand can be made, including Note before Entry (I think it is called)

Suggestion 3
whether the details are for Windows or OS - this can confuse.

Suggestion 4 - Links to useful videos, especially those dealing with specific areas (for example, a simple way to use Expression Maps, say a simple piece of music for some group of instruments, and how the EM changes can simply change the way the musical effects sound)

Suggestion 5 - Give some level of expertise/knowledge expected from those using the video concerned - beginner/intermediate and expert. This would at least give those looking to use a video on a particular aspect of Dorico an indication as to whether it could be useful.

Generally, I find Dorico an amazing program, with so many possibilities. The problem I find is that your tremendous team of designers, developers and programmers do not seem to realise that sometimes their creation is difficult to explain simply to mere mortals like me.

I am sure that many have memories of brilliant tutors , who really knew their subject, but were hopless as teachers, because they did not appreciate how others could not understand their work .

I hopr you will forgive my rambling, but I really do want to use Dorico successfully, but cannot always find out how to acheive it.

We’re well aware of the issue of online searches resulting in older pages from previous manuals. There are various options the manuals team are looking at to make it more obvious and easier to switch. For now, check either the URL (there’ll be the version number, e.g. /v4/ in it) or the logo or version number at the top left of each page. If it just says “Dorico”, it’s version 1. If it says “Dorico 2.x”, it’s Dorico 2. And so on.

There are several people on this forum who offer professional tuition services, if you’re in need of teachers that are not ‘hopeless’.

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