Engraving options vs Notation options

I’m aware of the several options windows, such as Layout options, Engraving options and Notation options. Even after months using Dorico, I still have difficulty understanding why some options are put in Engraving options and some others in Notation options. (I understand Layout options, so I leave that one out for this topic). I’ve got two questions about this:

It’s clear to me Notation options are settings which make changes on a per-flow basis and Engraving options on a project wide level. What I don’t understand is how to see a logical pattern in the decisions made by the Dorico designer. I’m sure there has to be some kind of logic, so I’m asking how to recognize it.

For instance, in Notation options as well as in Engraving options there’s a category called “Barlines”. In both windows there’s even an equally named subcategory “Barline Joins”. But in both windows I see options which look more or less randomly placed in one of the option windows.

My other question is about how to set some of the Engraving options on a per-flow basis (the other way around is easy: just select all flows in Notation options to apply changes project wide). Let’s say I have two flows. In the first one I’d like to have single barlines between staves, in the second one I would like have those drawn in staves. How could I accomplish this without using separate Dorico files?

The division between is basically that Engraving Options affects how things are drawn, i.e. the graphical appearance of things (line thicknesses, distances, sizes, etc.), while Notation Options affects how things are notated. Notation Options materially affects the way the music is presented, e.g. determining beam groupings, accidental rules, etc., while Engraving Options is more about changing settings that you might think of as forming part of a house style. This division can be a little fuzzy, and in some cases the deciding factor is whether or not it would make sense for a setting to differ between flows in a given project, in which case it will end up in Notation Options. But we do try to take the view that things that affect musical apprehension and presentation go in Notation Options, and things that only affect graphical appearance go in Engraving Options.

We do plan to add some means of linking between the various places where these options exist to try to make it easier to find all of the places where options for a particular kind of item may be found.

As you’ve found, you can’t set Engraving Options on a per-flow basis: they are project-wide. For things like barline joins and bracketing to differ between flows, you will need to wait until we provide some additional tools for editing these things directly in Engrave mode.

I too struggle with finding in which of the various Options choices the topic I’m looking for lies. For example, I constantly scramble through several of the Layout Options (Players? Staves and Systems? Vertical Spacing?) to find my topic.

It isn’t a criticism — I’m sure there is a guiding principle at work, and even then some of the decisions must be difficult. So I’ve used Keyboard Maestro to set up three Reminder Screens of notes reminding me of keystroke shortcuts, Options locations, even a few instrument transpositions; in short any of the dozens of things I can’t remember.

My rule of thumb is: If I have to look it up twice, it goes into a Reminder Screen.

There’s a running joke in the team about the Layout Options dialog, precisely because it’s not always easy to remember which page options might be found on (the usual suspects being, as you say, Players and Staves and Systems). We have some improvements to the way the options dialogs are laid out coming in the forthcoming update that will hopefully provide some assistance in this regard.

I genuinely appreciate the candor. :laughing:

Thanks for your extensive and clear answer, Daniel! I’m looking forward to the next update.