Dorico experiences

I have just completed the note input phase of an orchestral work.

It is more than 630 bars in length for an orchestra of 34 player / section staves before Divisi.

The majority of note input was done on Dorico for iPad.

The proof reading and condensing phase is now underway, mostly on the desktop.

Overall impression

TL;DR: quite brilliant.

Performance and reliability

Both Dorico 3.5 (Desktop) and Dorico for iPad have been remarkably stable. There have been a few crashes but with no loss of work to speak of, so auto save on both platforms works when needed. On such a big project (the project file is greater than 3MB) there are noticeable periods of unresponsiveness on the iPad when auto saving, but since the program has kept all my work intact over six weeks of working on a single file, I put that down as a plus. (Yes, I have made manual and Time Machine backups continuously, but unnecessarily as it turned out).

Any changes whilst looking at a condensed page of the complete project could take around 45 seconds on my 2014 Mac Mini so clearly all major editing work is done without the Edit > Condensing option ON and I can’t wait until I can afford an M1 Mac next year! But regular editing with the Edit > Condensing option OFF is absolutely fine even on the slower processor.

I suppose I could break the project up onto smaller chunks, but I haven’t done that yet as proofreading is quite a slow process anyway.

My iPad has a faster processor than my Mac Mini

Both on iPad and Desktop, crashes or stalls occurred on several occasions when dragging linked dynamics back and forth, so it was very difficult to come up with repeatable diagnostic files and scenarios with which to make a useful report to the developers.

Response from the Dorico team and community

Absolutely first class. Through the forum, they have patiently answered my questions and considered my suggestions and accepted the one or two bug reports I have made as issues on the forum.


I have only identified a couple of genuine bugs in Dorico for iPad - concerning editing very long notes; a dialog with a numeric field that wouldn’t accept input; erroneous feedback when assigning key commands. In other words: specific to the new platform and probably the Qt framework. Considering this is a first release, and the size of my project, this has been a very good experience.

There are one or two features missing, and probably one or two existing features I have missed.

Missing (or missed) features

These are feature request for both platforms which I have raised in separate posts.

Distinguishing between slurs and phrase marks

Go to next Rehearsal Mark


The problem you encountered with increasing the duration of a very long note has already been fixed in our internal builds and will be fixed in the next Dorico for iPad update, which will be coming soon (ahead of the release of iPadOS 15).

You should be able to navigate to the next rehearsal mark if you have the current one selected, either by hitting the right arrow on your physical keyboard or using the right arrow button on the secondary toolbar, I think.

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The 2014 Mini is only a 2-core, Haswell (4th-gen) CPU, so it’s to be expected that Condensing will be brick-slow.

But great to hear you’re enjoying it!

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Oh, and I meant to say that I’m very pleased that Dorico for iPad and Dorico for macOS have stood up to the demands of your project and you’ve found it an enjoyable experience. Here’s to many more.

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Great write up!

Encouraging to hear it worked out for you. I’ve had a few issues (for some reason, on Dorico only, I’ve been unfortunate enough to see more than my fair share of oddball crashes and such), but this gives me confidence to forge ahead with doing longer works on the iPad. Just last night I was wondering where I should be doing most of my work (pre mastering and final editing), but with your experience I’ll make it the iPad.

Again congrats Daniel and the team. For me this was entirely unexpected, and as unexpected was how much I’ve come to like and depend on it.

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@dspreadbury They certainly have stood up to the demands of my project, and exceeded them.
The main point of the exercise was to learn about this piece of music and I was worried I’d be side-tracked by all sorts of software limitations but, quite to the contrary, Dorico, and NotePerformer, (with a little help from Preview!) far from getting in the way have really enhanced my learning experience: being able to isolate sections of the piece, play and replay different parts has been wonderful.

So there are a couple of things that I should have mentioned before:

  1. The Apple Pencil. I certainly wouldn’t have been able to do so much on the iPad were it not for the Apple Penci, it’s been invaluable just selecting individual notes, deselecting other objects and dragging dynamics’ endpoints etc. and not just because of my large fingers.

  2. Accidentally editing notes (Not). I know many people might initially baulk at the selection extension buttons in the UI of iPad Dorico which require extra clicks than you have been used to on MacOS Dorico. But in more than six weeks, zooming in and out, swiping up, down, left right and touching the screen in all sorts of ways, I can’t recall an occasion when any of this caused me to make mysterious and difficult to find accidental edits. In that respect the UI design has been very successful in protecting the investment of effort into a project.

  3. NotePerformer. The project sounds wonderful on Dorico for MacOS. I’ve yet to tweak levels in the Play Mode’s dynamics and velocity lanes to any great extent. Wouldn’t it be great to have something like this on iPadOS!

  4. Preview (MacOS) Annotation tools have been really useful for managing source charts. (OK a bit nerdy)

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Yeah. I’m not complaining. Actually rather pleased that my old Mac Mini can hack it!

After years of working only in the DAW I am finding Dorico, especially on the iPad so refreshing. Sitting at my piano with my iPad and Dorico is really great - my handwriting has always been horrible.

AND this is a V 1 product? Amazing in my mind.

So much so I am starting to get the idea I could change my workflow almost completely over to iPad. Obviously Steinberg is confident enough in the future of iPad to spend the time and $$ on it - and things are only going to continue to improve.

Do you see a future (very soon?) where you could replace your desktop with an iPad? For the first time - after being a Mac user since 1989 - I am thinking I could.

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For my usual projects, yes. (Lead sheets and small band arrangements).

But for this particular project (even assuming I was able to toggle condensing on iPad) I don’t think I could do without the 27” Cinema Display of my Mac for working with the Page View of the orchestral score.

But I don’t know what options are available for connecting a large monitor to an iPad. My display doesn’t have USB-C.

For other applications like Pages, Affinity Designer, and Affinity Photo, I can do a lot on the iPad but usually need to large screen as well.

@kclements oh … and the availability and quality of the playback sound libraries and expression maps in the iPad. they just aren’t there AFAIK.

Yes, of course for mock ups it doesn’t compare (yet?). But i think you can get close enough with Dórico (with or without NotePerformer) if your working with live musicians for the final output.

And yea, screen size is a consideration. You can attach the iPad to an external screen, but it only mirrors the iPad with “bars” on the side. Maybe in iOS 16 we will get proper monitor management.

But I do like where this is all going.

Screen size (and my clumsy, large fingers) are an impediment to my using iPad Dorico for most of my work, but I also need more of the Dorico Pro capabilities to feel comfortable with the smaller version. Daniel has hinted that (with sufficient support) the Team might also offer a more capable version, although at a higher subscription rate. Time will tell.

The iPad just has become sufficient enough to accomplish a limited set of real work, for artists (2D/3D), writers and now composers. For art you can do full 2D work, and limited (sculpting with some hard surface) 3D. Writers have it the good for the writing part, but it’s clumsy for doing research. With Dorico we’ve got most desktop capabilities, but for final printing and stemming you need desktop.

I do all of these daily for game development, in order of suitability I’ve found

  1. 2D with Procreate (probably better than desktop)
  2. Composing with Dorico (everything but finalization)
  3. Writing with Scrivener (saving web research is clumsy)
  4. Sculpting with forge (missing a million features but good for practice and base mesh block out and concept)
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Brilliant Development team! Thank you for sorting this out so quickly.

Best part of using the iPad is that it focuses you, because it’s designed as a single app device and because of the limited peripherals and screen real estate. I’m much more easily distracted on the desktop or laptop.


It was really Serendipity that offered me the opportunity to verify that Dorico for iPad was really so capable. Turned out to be a life-saver.

I had wanted to look at this piece of music in detail for some time. I had set aside six to eight weeks to look after someone recovering from surgery. Because of this i was not able to spend much time where my Mac Mini was set up. Along came Steinberg’s announcement of Dorico for iPad. Now things were different, I could take the iPad with me and snatch some time on it when I could, and then “touch base” with Dorico for MacOS at those times when that was possible.

This all worked out a lot better than I expected and Dorico for iPad was more than capable of saving the situation, pretty much enabling a mental “life-saver” in these particular circumstances.

And, BTW, the music sounds brilliant on Dorico for MacOS!


And having said that, getting back on Dorico desktop, with full keyboard, big screens, surround monitors, full sample libraries is awfully nice after being on iPad. It just gets cramped after a while. So yeah it’s a great pair.


FWIW Full Score and audio here condensed for A4 paper, transposing score.

With the Surface devices getting TB4, I cannot see myself spending iPad Pro money to deal with the limitations of iPadOS as a platform (I do own an Air 3).

iPadOS has had multi-tasking since they split it off from iOS. It was just super annoying and difficult to activate and use until the current version. I don’t think I ever learned how to reliably activate and use it. It was always trial an error, until I got it to activate, Lol.

I still think most “issues” are due to limitations in the platform, not the form factor. iPads being “designed as a single app device” is less a design intention and more a side-product of the product line starting off as an “iPhone Plus, Cubed.” Apple stayed with tiny iPhone screens much longer than Samsung, so there was never really the impetus to build-in the split screen multi-tasking (or even window overlapping) that Samsung started on - almost a decade ago.

This was the result of Galaxy Note devices having 5.2-5.7" screens when iPhones were still shipping with 4" screens (Note 3, iPhone 5s).

me either. It’s very easy now though.