Dorico SE -- Limited feature set

I’ve just begun exploring Dorico 3.1 via the free SE license.

I see in the following Steinberg announcement that Engrave Mode is only available in Pro:

  • Engrave mode is only available in Dorico Pro. It allows you to position items graphically wherever you want, and create and edit master pages that determine the appearance and layout of pages. If you find you need these finer controls over the appearance of your music, consider upgrading to Dorico Pro.

This strikes me as somewhat odd. I’d think it would benefit all if Steinberg enabled a smattering of Engrave Mode options. That would allow those using SE—or Elements, or the trial version— to get a better feel for Dorico’s full-fledged UX.

In exploring I noticed that Steinberg has this informative comparison sheet

Therein I see an Engraving area and a number of operational Engraving features listed:

 **Use other text fonts**  • Limited
 **Automatic collision avoidance**   • Limited
 **Note spacing settings**  • Limited
 **Staff and system spacing**  • Automatic

… but here on the Mac, indeed, I see not Engrave Mode tab.
The main tabs are [Setup] [Writing] —Engraving is missing— [Play] [Print]. And Command 3 has no impact on operation.

This suggests that the Engraving features (listed in bold above) exist outside of Engrave Mode. Is that true? If so, I’ll find them soon enough.



The default text font can be set in Preferences.

Automatic collision avoidance is, as the name suggests, automatic. That is to say, you have to live with whatever default values are set in Dorico.

You can make some adjustments to ideal gaps between staves and systems in Layout Options—Vertical Spacing. Note Spacing is also in Layout Options. You don’t have manual control, but you can set universal values.

I know the decision to omit Engraving Options and Engrave mode in Elements/SE was a very conscious one. Users would probably do best to demo the 30-day trial of Pro to see if they require the features it includes. If they need Pro features, only Pro is going to meet their needs!

Hi Dan,

Thanks for listing the locations of the various features I inquired about!

I had assumed that the feature set omissions in SE were conscious decisions by the development team.

I’m very sensitive to UX matters and discoverability, so I suggest the inclusion a disabled Engrave mode Tab, positioned where is would normally be … between Write and Play. If it were grayed out (and/or if a hover tooltip stated, “Pro version feature”) then new users would better understand the fully enabled nature of Dorico Pro,

Better yet, the registered non-Pro versions would be a stronger Dorico Pro teaser if Engrave mode was enabled but allowed only a limited number of Engrave Mode edits per score. The logicial conclusion users should have would be, “I love those features and how they work. I need them more often and better pony up and purchase the Pro version!”

I understand users can try those features in the Pro Demo, but realistically, how many Elements or SE users spend time back in an expired 30-day demo?


I got Dorico SE mainly to see if I’d like its tablature and guitar notation systems.

So I’m wondering about SE’s Guitar Tablature “limited” feature set. (I debated creating a separate post but some parts of my inquiry are related to this thread, so here goes.)

• Anybody know the main Tablature limitations in SE?

• Do SE and Elements share exactly the same limitations or does an Elements purchase unlock some tabalture/guitar features?

• Like the Engrave Mode tab, are various restricted features simply MIA? Or did development display them grayed out—to inform the user that there are plenty of useful features available in Pro, but that are not accessible in the other versions.

Thanks again!


With the exception of the sound set, I believe the only difference between SE and Elements is the restriction that applies to the number of players (and thus the templates - SE doesn’t include the ones that contain 3-12 players). Everything else is the same in Elements as in SE.

The difference between Pro and the other versions is not that “features” are disabled, but that you can’t change the default settings which those “features” use when the score is engraved.

At a quick count there are about 15 such “features” that affect the exact appearance of guitar tab - for example the scale factor the grace note tab figures, whether rhythm dots are shown next to the notes or outside the staff, etc.

I don’t think just adding a disabled “Engrave” tab would tell users anything useful. In the Engraving options there are about 50 main categories (one of which is tablature) and in total there are literally thousands of options that can be selected or adjusted. And that doesn’t include the other major options like note spacing, chord symbol design, customized note heads, font selection, master pages for formatting the score, etc.

Unless you are a music publisher setting up your own house style, I don’t think Pro users are likely to go searching through all these options. You just home in on changing some particular detail where you don’t like the default.